Testing the water on Loch Ness walk
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A little family adventure was in order after the children had returned to the regular routine of school and nursery for the first time in several months.
With little chance for a summer holiday this year, getting them – and us – active at the weekends is becoming increasingly important, especially as we don’t know how long the good spell of weather might last.
In fact, as I write this, I think it may already have ended!
This walk is a shortened version of a route I have enjoyed many times between Inverfarigaig and Foyers on south Loch Ness-side – the distance reduced to give our two-year-old a chance to complete most of the circuit under his own steam.
When we set off from the Farigaig forest car park, just off the B852 shore-side road at Inverfarigaig, Matthew was first to fire up the steep hill at the start of the trail. I had to slow him down to wait for the rest of the family, as he powered his way up despite his little legs!
The car park at Farigaig forest is open but the toilets there remain closed, so please bear this in mind before travelling.
The route follows the track straight ahead, ignoring a bridge off to the left and the red route that climbs to the right higher up. Meg and the girls caught up with us, and all the children were delighted to be exploring the little paths that shoot off, as well as discovering a little half-made shelter beside a tree.
The distractions were useful, as the way ahead continues to climb for some distance, albeit not as steeply as at first. Keep straight ahead at a couple of track junctions that follow.
After a little clearing where electricity cables pass overhead, we finally got to enjoy some downhill. A tree had fallen across the track, which made for a great hurdle as we all took turns to leap over it like Olympic athletes – in our heads, at least!
At the bottom of this little stretch, a right of way sign points to Inverfarigaig and Foyers via Loch Shore, with some further details about the route ahead.
We turned right here, following the instructions that send you left onto a grassy path before reaching a house at Easter Boleskine. The route leads past a beautiful little pond, where we paused to watch the dragonflies buzzing around above the water, which was topped with lilies and other aquatic plants.
The grassy path goes past the house and back up to the track beyond it, from where there are spectacular views over Loch Ness and Meall Fuar-mhonaidh, the prominent hill on the opposite side. We were blessed with perfect weather for taking in this captivating view.
But there wasn’t too much time to enjoy it, as Matthew wanted to run down the steep track that zigzags to reach the old military road at the bottom, so I was on running-alongside duty!
Crossing the road and turning right, there is a small path off to the left that leads down past a tree to descend through a fairly steep, wooded area. It’s not easy to spot from above, so if you miss it – as we did – you can continue to a gate a short way along the road and turn left onto the access road beyond.
Either way, a blue marker post beside the corner of a fence marks the point to leave the access road and descend through bracken to pass the edge of the substation. The path bends right at the bottom of a series of steps to skirt the edge of the woodland then follow an increasingly clear track that slowly drops to Loch Ness-side.
There are some steep drops at first down to the loch, so care is needed to keep younger children away from the edge of the path.
However, further on it is possible to get right down to the water and, secretly, that’s what I’d been intending to do all along. We found a sheltered spot behind a little spur, and sat down in the sun.
While the kids enjoyed exploring around the rocks, I got into my swimming gear and took a dip in the chilly water of Loch Ness.
Safety first – I stayed well within my limits and inside the sheltered area, as well as having my tow float on and my wife watching me from the shore. Loch Ness is a powerful beast, and is not to be underestimated.
Once I’d braced myself for the cold, it was exhilarating to be in there, with such a magnificent backdrop. Before lockdown, I had been building up my pool swimming to try to gain some competence, but this was the first proper swim I’d had in months.
Matthew has been missing his swimming lessons and wanted to get in on the act, too, so I took him for a very shallow splash near the shore, where he squealed with delight – and cold!
The sun was shining so we soon warmed up after drying off and enjoyed a relaxing time in this beautiful spot.
The rest of the walk took us up past a couple of houses then back to the shore at an old pier, before rising again to meet the road a few yards from the turn-off to the Farigaig car park, where care is needed crossing the main road.
We’d enjoyed the best of this beautiful corner of the world, and dipped our toes into the wild, just for a while.
Farigaig forest walk
Distance 4 miles / 6.5km
Terrain Forest tracks and loch-side paths; some steep hills and nearby steep edges
Start/finish Farigaig forest car park, Inverfarigaig
Maps OS Landranger 26; OS Explorer 416
Taking a refreshing dip after a warm walk on south Loch Ness-side
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