Section 1 - Inverness to Drumnadrochit
32 km or 20 miles
For the first part of the Loch Ness 360° walk, which takes you from Inverness to Drumnadrochit, you will follow the Great Glen Way (GGW). Look for the blue signage with a dark blue thistle along the route.
Step by Step Guide
From Inverness Castle, start following the signage for the Great Glen Way towards the River Ness and the Ness Islands. This is a beautiful Victorian park in the middle of the river. The route then takes you towards the Caledonian Canal, which you cross at Tomanhurich Swing Bridge. Take a right once you have crossed the bridge. Then follow the towpath until you see signage for the Great Glen Way heading uphill on your left. Follow the route uphill past the golf course and the houses of Kinmylies until you reach the Scottish Natural Heritage building. Walk between the building and car park, cross a road and look for the blue marker next to a disused building. From here you start heading away from Inverness.
As you head away from Inverness through Dunain Community Woodland, don’t forget to turn around and take in the amazing view along the Moray Firth! The route now takes you through woodland with glimpses of Ben Wyvis to your right. Near the small settlement of Blackfold the view starts opening up and you leave the woodland behind and walk along a well-made path over open moorland. The path eventually drops down onto a small road.
From here on, you follow the minor road for about 4 km, past a few houses and access roads. Watch out for traffic, as there is no pavement. But, you can expect very few cars here. After you pass a drive leading to a house at “Woodend” you will spot a GGW marker and a path on the right leading away from the road. This path is quite narrow and leads through some woodland with fields to the right. Not long after you’ve walked along the trail, you will start seeing hand-made signs advertising the Eco-campsite and Café, which is open all year. After the café in the woods, the path carries on for another kilometre or so until you cross a road.
Once you have crossed the road, a woodland track lies ahead and you will see Abriachan Woodlands Trust’s facilities on your left. There are public toilets and picnic tables available here. Keep following the signage for the GGW along an uphill forestry track. Several other local walks and bike trails are signposted here, just look for the blue GGW markers. You come to a fork in the road where you take a right, again this is well signposted. As the trees start to open up you pass through a gate and leave the Abriachan Woodland Trusts’s area.
The path starts to descend now across open moorland, you will see a farm building on your left. After another gate you find yourself in woodland again on a slowly descending track. Through the trees you can catch the first views of Loch Ness on your left! If you want to enjoy a picnic with a view, a viewpoint is signposted here with a blue marker. The descent becomes noticeably steeper from here on.
You will now start a steep descent on a woodland path towards Drumnadrochit. There are some hairpin bends along this part of the trail that can be slippery with fallen leaves, so take care. You will cross a couple of small streams here, one without a bridge, but it is small enough to cross without any great difficulty. Finally, you emerge from the woods at a gate and you will see Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle on your left! There are fields on either side of the path here, if you walk with your dog it is extremely important you keep your dog on a lead and away from livestock.
On the final stage of this section of the GGW you pass through more gates into Tychat Estate, along more fields and around the back of a house. You can already see the nearby A82 below and before long you emerge onto a drive that leads to this busy main road opposite the small harbour at Temple Pier. The final stretch into Drumnadrochit is along the pavement next to the road. Not the most scenic or enjoyable part of the walk, but at least this means that you have almost reached your destination!
In Drumnadrochit you will find hotels, restaurants, cafes, shops, ATMs and a number of visitor attractions.