This short leg leads down from Leachkin, on the western outskirts of Inverness, across fields and through a housing estate to meet the western bank of the Caledonian Canal near its confluence with the sea. The canal's towpath is followed inland to the Tomnahurich Bridge, a lift bridge that carries a road over the canal.
It then leaves the canal and follows a road to meet the River Ness by one of several islands in the rivers. What follows is a very pleasant end to the trail - it follows a path that takes several small suspension bridges across the islands to reach the eastern bank of the river. It then follows the eastern bank downstream towards the city centre, before a final short climbs leads up to the trail's northern trailhead in the grounds of Inverness Castle.
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 leg starts off on the road in Leachkin near the old hospital at NH637441. Turn right down a road, and follow it as it heads in a rough easterly direction, heading downhill as it passes a private car park on the left and the imposing Scottish National Heritage building on the right. When this road ends at a T-junction, cross the road ahead and continue on downhill along a path. After a third of a mile it passes near to some power lines and then curves to the left, passing houses on the right.
After a short distance at NH644440 the path turns to the right, heading across a grassy area between houses. At the end of the grass cross a road and continue along a gravel path, initially between more houses. It passes a playground on the left and continues across grass. After 100 yards on the grass turn half-left, skirting the last house of a terrace on the left to reach another road. Cross the end of this road and join a paved path that leads down to an underpass under a road. On the other side of the road continue along the paved path, initially with a golf course to the right. After a short distance turn right off the paved path onto a gravel path that heads on, initially with a fence on the right.
The path curves away from the fence on the rightand parallels one on the left, which separates the path from playing fields. It aims straight for a wooded hillside ahead; it goes through a little band of trees and climbs up steps to reach a surfaced track that parallels the Caledonian Canal at NH652442.
Turn right and follow the canal south-southeastwards for a third of a mile until the A82(T) is reached at NH654438. Turn left to cross a swing bridge over the canal, and on the other side turn right down Bught Road. After a quarter of a mile the road curves to the left; as it does so continue on towards Whin Island.
Do not cross a footbridge onto the island, and instead turn left to follow a path that parallels Bught Road on the left, with a small tributary stream of the river on the right. Soon a suspension footbridge is reached on the right at NH660436; cross this and on the other side turn left to walk northeastwards along a surfaced path that heads across an island in the middle of the river. At the end of the island it turns right to cross another footbridge that curves between trees onto a second island.
At the end of the second island turn right to cross another suspension footbridge. On the other side turn left to head north along a surfaced path that runs with the B862 on the right and the river on the left. After a while it crosses a short footbridge with ornate handrails to reach the main road, then turns right to continue north along the main road. It passes a long suspension bridge over the river, with the cathedral on the other side. At NH665448 turn right along an alleyway called Ness Place; go up a few steps and then turn left up View Bank road.
After a few yards the road forks; take the right-hand branch and follow it as it continues north. It swings slightly to the left and then right; at the right-hand bend turn left up the access road that leads to Inverness Castle. The stone marking the end of the Great Glen Way stands immediately to the left of this junction at NH666449, with fine view of the castle ahead.
The River Ness is a short river, flowing for about nine miles from the northern end of Loch Ness into the Moray Firth at Inverness. It is a large river despite its short length as it has to carry all the water from the hills that surround Loch Ness. Several islands are situated in the river on the outskirts of Inverness, and the Great Glen Way crosses two of these on its way to its trailhead in the city.
The red sandstone of Inverness Castle looks spectacular on any day, but especially in bright sunshine. It was built on a low bluff overlooking the River Ness in 1836, on the site of a much earlier castle. It must be a disappointment for anyone expecting a classically-styled castle of ancient age, but it looks magnificent nonetheless.
It is believed that an earlier 11th-Century castle was the one featured in Shakespeare's MacBeth. That earlier castle was destroyed by Jacobite forces in 1745 and the present structure built ninety years later. Although the castle is private, the grounds are open to the public. The Great Glen Way ends at a stone monument in the castle's grounds; it is certainly a more spectacular trailhead that the southern one in Fort William!
Inverness is a remarkably busy railway junction; lines come from Edinburgh to the south, Aberdeen to the east, the Kyle of Lochalsh to the west and Wick and Thurso to the north. The station is a terminus, which means that all passenger trains must reverse out of it. It opened in 1855 as a line east to Nairn (later extended to Aberdeen). The first stage of the line north opened just seven years later, along with the first stage of the line to the Kyle of Lochalsh.
Regular bus services serve the New Craigs Hospital in Leachkin a short distance down the road from start of the walk.
Inverness has excellent transport links; the main coach and rail stations are a short distance away from the castle, from where buses and trains can be caught to destinations throughout Scotland. The city's airport lies a few miles east of the town, and is served by regular coaches from the bus station.
As usual, Traveline Scotland is an excellent resource for planning public transport journeys.
This leg is mentioned in the following web pages:
Torvean caravan park
Grid ref: NH654439 (57.465471,-4.245663)
Bught caravan park
Grid ref: NH658439 (57.46509,-4.238335)
Acorn Guest House
Bruce GardensP: 01463 717021
Grid ref: NH661449 (57.474361,-4.234715)
Ardentorrie guest house
2 Gordon TerraceP: 01463 230090
Grid ref: NH667450 (57.475428,-4.224157)
Avalon Guest House
79 Glenurquhart RoadP: 01463 239075
Grid ref: NH659442 (57.467949,-4.23826)
3 Moray ParkP: 01463 232850
Island Bank Road
Grid ref: NH665445 (57.471037,-4.226896)
Craigside Lodge Guesthouse
4 Gordon TerraceP: 01463 231576
Grid ref: NH667450 (57.475287,-4.224431)
Eildon Guest House
29 Old Edinburgh RoadP: 01463 231969
Grid ref: NH670448 (57.473871,-4.22018)
24 Perceval RoadP: 01463 231 493
Grid ref: NH660453 (57.477906,-4.236318)
Heathcote Bed & Breakfast
59 Glenurquhart RoadP: 01463 236596
Grid ref: NH659443 (57.46916,-4.237504)
Kingsmills RoadP: 01463 235877
Grid ref: NH671450 (57.475786,-4.217157)
Hebrides Guest House
120a Glenurquhart RoadP: 01463 220062
Grid ref: NH658440 (57.466339,-4.238985)
Ness Bank Guest House
7 Ness BankP: 01463 232 939
Grid ref: NH666449 (57.474283,-4.226137)
Park Guest House
51 Glenurquhart RoadP: 01463 231858
Grid ref: NH659443 (57.469469,-4.237289)
St Ann's House
37 Harrowden RoadP: 01463 236157
Grid ref: NH658454 (57.478509,-4.239435)
Leachkin Lodge B&B
Upper LeachkinP: 07791 035574
Grid ref: (57.472483,-4.275441)
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