Helen Rose Outdoor Diary: Glen Affric
Glen Affric is a glen south-west of the village of Cannich in the Highland region of Scotland, some 15 miles to the west of Loch Ness. The River Affric runs along its length, passing through Loch Affric and Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin. It is reputedly the most beautiful glen in Scotland but others may disagree. Glen comes from the Gaelic ‘Gleann’ and means narrow valley. We were based in Cannich and travelled by bus from Glasgow to Inverness, a journey of about four hours. The bus passes dramatic scenery but it was a misty day and particularly at the Pass of Drumochter Pass which is at over 1.500 feet, there were no views but I remember it all from Munro bagging there. From Inverness we took the local bus to Cannich, just an hour on the bus.
Caledonian Glamping huts
In Cannich I stayed in the Caledonian Glamping Huts. I would describe them more as cabins and they are certainly very comfortable with proper beds, ensuite and catering facilities. They have views to the mountains and a deck to sit out on. They are in the grounds of the Westward Guest House which is also a nice place to stay with lovely breakfasts including fresh eggs from their own chickens. Alistair designed and built the huts from locally sourced wood with grass roofs. They are very warm and cosy and open all winter as they are so well insulated.
Tomich and Plodda Falls
The first day we drove to Tomich to walk to the Plodda Falls. Tomich is a Victorian Conservation Village with very attractive stone cottages. The golden retriever dog was first bred in Guisachan, an historic settlement adjacent to the village near the now ruinous mansion by Dudley Marjoribanks, 1st Baron of Tweedmouth, Laird of Guisachan and Glen Affric.
A statue to commemorate the breed’s founding was erected in August 2014 by Friends of Guisachan, a US based organisation of golden retriever lovers. We dined in the Tomich Hotel in the evening.
From the Cafe Tomich after the walk we could see up a small Glen to some colourful washing hanging over the burn. We were told this was the Fairy Washing as you would need to have wings to reach it. In Scottish Folk Lore, there are many myths associated with these washings.
The cafe is also the Post Office and gave the opportunity to send cards, an unusual past time these days of Social Media but still nice to receive. I was impressed by the substantial benches and tables outside the café.
We walked on to the Plodda Falls where the viewing platform is at the level of the top of the trees looking down to the falls 150 feet below. The summer had been unusually dry so the falls were not as spectacular as usual.
In the Guisachan Woods there were fields of Roseby Willow Herb which was just past flowering.
The following day we walked around Loch Affric from Chisholm Bridge. The Chisholm clan owned Glen Affric from the 15th Century, later becoming a sporting estate and the Forestry Commission bought it in 1951 and started the conservation of the old pinewoods in 1960. Our walk was on the northside of the loch to Strawberry Cottage at the far end of the loch. It was a bulldozed track and hard walking on the lumpy stones. The views of the hills around are spectacular and reflected in the calm water of the loch but we returned on the forestry path on the south side of the loch.
We looked up at the Munros we had climbed many years ago. If we had continued further walking in to the glen we would have reached the rustic hostel at Alltbeithe but 12 miles was enough for us on the day. In the woods we passed interesting mushrooms very big and red in colour, certainly not for eating. It was warm and sunny so we had welcome refreshment stops. You can read more about Glen Affric and download a map
Great Glen Way
On the last walking day, the plan was to walk the northern part of the Great Glen Way from Abriachan to Drumnadrochit. I just love the name which means ‘The Ridge of the Bridge’ from Scottish Gaelic. The Great Glen Way is about 73 miles long and crosses the Highlands from Fort William to Inverness as a a coast to coast walk or cycle. We set off from the road in to woods and very soon reached a quaint outdoor café nestling in the woods. It was full of character and fortunately it had stopped raining at this point. The cock was wandering about under the table and there was a table nearby set for the fairies to have tea! It is actually a wild camp site and also on Abriachaneco cafe campsite on t he great glenway scotland on Facebook. It is all eco-friendly and home baking was on offer. Some enjoyed the lemon drizzle cake.
After the break, we set off through more forest alongside Loch Ness. The mist was low in the rain so the views of Loch Ness were limited. The midges were out in force and the lunch break was very short. There is a hill nearby called ‘windy hill of the midges’ which I assume is midge free as midges are not around in the wind! The spider’s webs were noticeable on the vegetation from the mist.
On the way we passed a sign board indicating that Canadian lumberjacks had been brought in during World War 2 to fell the trees. They were soldiers of the Canadian Forestry Corps as part of the Canadian war effort. Cutting down British timber would save importing wood from Canada and the USA and thereby save shipping space for vital cargoes. The autumn colours were beginning in the bracken. It is certainly a season of mist and mellow fruitfulness.
We could see Urquart Castle near Drumnadrochit, home to the Urquarts but we abandoned the walk when we reached the road as we were very wet in the rain despite waterproofs.
I could not write about Loch Ness without mentioning Nessie, the Loch Ness monster and a huge tourist attraction. The tourist centre is at Drumnadrochit. The scientific community regards the Loch Ness Monster as a phenomenon without biological basis. Y Read more about Nessie
The name Drumnadrochit derives from the Scottish Gaelic Druim na Drochaid, meaning the ‘Ridge of the Bridge’. It sounds straight out of the film ‘Brigadoon’!
It was an enjoyable three days walking based in Cannich and having the opportunity to do low level walks in such a beautiful area. Thanks to Ian for organising it.
Coming attraction. Ardrishaig.
This section: Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary, Pat's Home Page Blog
- Compass Gallery: Gary Anderson RSW : Thoughts and Contemplations
- Scottish Opera Breath Cycle Programme for Long Covid Patients
- Kavya Prize – New Writers Prize To Celebrate Scotland’s Ethnically Diverse Communities
- Roy’s West End View: Battered Boris savaged by top Scots true blues
- People’s Palace 124th Birthday Celebration
- Wullie Davidson’s Blog: Extreme Global Weather Events of 2021
- Bob Law’s Blog: An Unusual Cross Country Ski Day in Glasgow
- Mika & Me Eyewear Glasgow
- G20 Young People to Climb Ben Nevis to support people affected by poverty
- Helen Rose Outdoor Diary: New Lanark and Falls of Clyde.
- Shaking Hands With Christmas – Brian Whittingham
- Is this ‘Black Bitch’ name ban really justified?
- Roma Night at The Rum Shack
- Mother India – Christmas Menu 2021 Set Menus
- Dante and Alasdair Gray Symposium
- Glasgow Film Theatre December Programme 2021
- Helen Rose’s Outdoor Diary: Ardrishaig. December 2021
- Christmas Craft and Flea, The Briggait
- Starry Skies at CCA
- A Very Buble Christmas at Cottiers