This leg starts off in the car park at Invermoriston and takes a minor road that twists and turns up a wooded hillside. After a steep climb the road is left behind and a track is follows around the hillside. It soon leaves teh track and plunges downhill along a path, passing a stone cave (a good shelter in the rain) before joining a track that follows the hillside at a lower level.
Four miles after leaving Invermoriston the track crosses a stream, with the Alltsigh youth hostel a short distance away to the right. The trail starts a long and steady climb uphill, including a couple of switchback loops, before levelling out. If you are lucky you will get occasional glances over Loch Ness far below.
The track summits and starts contouring the hillside; it soon ends and a footpath continues on, slowly descending to meet a track at a low level before heading uphill along a path, emerging out of the woodland to meet the end of a public road in Grotaig.
5 hours 46 minutes
Map of the leg
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format.
This walk starts off at the car park in Invermoriston at NH420166. Leave the car park and turn right to follow the A82(T) northwards for a short distance until it curves sharply to the right, with a junction with the A887 off to the left. Turn left along the A887 for a few yards, passing the Glenmoriston Arms Hotel on the right, before taking the first road to the right.
This road climbs steeply and steadily up a series of switchbacks through dark trees. After 0.6 miles the gradient of the road starts to flatten out as it crosses a bridge over a stream at NH420171. Immediately after this turn sharply to the right to join a forest track that re-crosses the stream on another bridge. The track starts to climb as it contours the hillside. Half a mile after leaving the road the track crosses the Allt Coinneag on a bridge; soon afterwards the track forks. Take the right-hand branch which becomes a rough path, and when it forks once more at NH428169 turn right to continue steeply downhill along a path.
This path ends at a wide track, which is followed northeastwards for about 2.4 miles through the trees, passing a stone cave at NH436169 that can be used as a shelter in wet weather. The track slowly descends to reach a bridge that spans the Allt Sigh burn at NH455191.
(if you want Alltsigh youth hostel, then a track leads downhill to the right, passing a white house and ending at the A82(T). The Youth Hostel is a short distance along the road to the right.)
The trail crosses a bridge over the burn before curving sharply to the right and then the left in a long loop. It soon regains a northeasterly direction, and over the course of the next mile it gently climbs; all junctions are well marked with both cycle track and Great Glen Way signs. At NH465201 the track curves around a left-hand hairpin to continue climbing before taking a right-hand hairpin. After another two-thirds of a mile there is a second big set of left- and right-hand hairpins at NH468209, after which the track starts to level off at a height of about 300 metres.
It continues in a north-easterly direction through the forest for a little over a mile until it crosses a bridge over a stream and suddenly ends at NH479222. Here a narrow and rocky path starts a slight descent through Ruskich Wood. It continues for a mile until it meets another track. Turn left to follow the track as it starts heading steeply downhill.
This track starts to descend before rising again, and as it curves to the right at NH494237 a Great Glen Way signpost points off to the left along a path. Take this path as it climbs uphill to a deer gate; go through this and continue along the path through broad-leaved woodland. It soon curves to the right to head down towards a stream, then crosses the stream; shortly afterwards it curves left through a field gate and continues climbing. It parallels a stream on the left to reach a gate. Go through this to reach a surfaced road near the old fort at Grotaig (grid reference NH490237).
Places of interest
Invermoriston and St Columba's Well
Invermoriston is a small village nestled on the northern bank of Loch Ness. Sitting amongst forested hillsides around the mouth of the River Moriston, it is perhaps most famous for the fantastic twin-arches of Telford's bridge over rapids on the river. The bridge was completed in 1813 after a rather prolonged construction; it was replaced by the modern bridge nearby in the 1930s, leaving the magnificent structure traffic-free.
St Columba's Well is very easy to miss; it is situated in a little hollow right beside the main road in the village. It is rumoured (and can be little more than a rumour) that local druids placed a curse on the well, and St Columba defied them by drinking from it.
The village has a hotel, the Glenmoriston Arms Hotel, a post office and a large free car park.
location UID #317
Dun Scriben Fort
Dun Sciben Fort is a vitrified fort situated just below Grotaig on the northern side of Loch Ness. Little now remains above ground level, although some walkers use it as a wild campsite.
location UID #318
Loch Ness possibly has to be the most famous location in the entirety of Scotland, eclipsing even Edinburgh Castle in the public's imagination. Just the statistics are mind-blowing: it stretches for nearly 23 miles from Fort Augustus in the southwest to Inverness in the northeast; it is over 1.5 miles wide and is an incredible 230 metres deep. It contains more freshwater than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined.
Yet these figures are not why people visit. It takes a certain something for a place to develop a mythology, and Loch Ness has mythology in spades. It is far from the remotest place in Scotland and the scenery, although grand, is far from the best the country has to offer. So why is it so popular?
The answer is a little sighting made in 1933.
The A82 main road follows the northern shoreline of the loch, whilst the southern shore is much less accessible and quieter for much of its length.
location UID #315
The Loch Ness Monster
The Loch Ness monster is a mythological beast which, like the Yeti, has managed to become an international phenomena. A monster was first reported in the seventh century by Saint Adomnan of Iona, although this was in the river rather than the loch itself. There was a long gap before the next believable sighting, when George Spicer and his wife saw a strange creature cross the road in front of their car. Other on-land sightings were seen until 1963, after which they have all been in the water.
Many photographs have been taken of the monster over the years, but some have been proved to be fakes or suspect whilst others are too grainy or inconclusive. I am a great sceptic and am all too aware that the human mind is exceptionally able at making connection between arbitrary events (just think of the Rorschach test), and it is all too easy to dismiss most of the sightings.
I am not alone. Most scientists believe that the Loch Ness Monster does not really exist; that even the lake's vastness is too small to feed and hide such a large beast. Yet knowledge of science is irrelevant as you stand next to the shore and find your gaze roaming hopefully across the water, looking for odd ripples and wondering, for a moment, what lurks underneath.
A great deal of tourism around the northern shore of Loch Ness depends on the mystique around the monster, and it is possible to buy Loch Ness Monster tea-towels, shirts and even, God forbid, Tam o' Shanters.
location UID #316
Invermoriston has a bus stop on the A82(T), from where several bus services operate each day on the Citylink 919 route lead between Inverness and Fort William.
However Grotaig is a different matter; it is situated at the end of a long road that has no public transport links. The only sensible way to get to public transport will be to link this leg with the next one to Drumnadrochit, from where bus services can be caught back to Invermoriston.
As usual, Traveline Scotland is an excellent resource for planning public transport journeys.