Thursday, 26 May 2011

Loch Affric Circuit

Tuesday 17th May

We're on holiday at a holiday cottage in Eskadale, close to Beauly just off the road towards Cannich and Glen Affric. The cottage is great, just what we were all looking for. Set in its own grounds it's a long way from any serious civilisation and sits on the south side of of the river Beauly. Having had a couple of shorter walks on Sunday and Monday, we set off on what we were hoping would be a more demanding longer walk around Loch Affric.

Mo and I did this walk a long time ago, (June 2009 to be precise), and at that time we had set off not knowing whether there actually was a complete circuit. That first time we had set off in an anti-clockwise direction, mainly because I knew the path made its way down the length of the loch. This time however we decided that a clockwise direction was best because Mo and I remembered from before that this was a bit of a slog through a Scots Pine forest at what was the end of a long day.

 Through the forest - Scots Pine & Birch

The reward of course is the fantastic view of the loch and glen when we cleared the trees for the first time just beyond Affric Lodge.

 Loch & Lodge - what a location!

With the loch on our right and mountains all round we walked, well strolled if I was being honest, along a well maintained estate track and met no one except a 4 x 4 complete with trailer that passed us. There's a nice feeling walking along on a pleasant day in the Scottish hills while somebody else is working!

 The views just go on and on!

Eventually we reached the head of the loch and, where the river feeds into the loch, we came across some estate buildings, a pretty decent bridge over the river and what looks like a bothy. We never went in because there were people already there and we couldn't decide if they were walkers or workers so we decided to have our lunch by the bridge.

 Head of the loch


The weather by now was set fair but we knew that the forecast was for it to breakdown later in the day with stronger winds and showers. With this in mind we kept lunchtime to a minimum and set off over the bridge and back up the opposite side of the loch. The walk along this side of the loch was more exposed but with the wind at our back we were still comfortable and, in sheltered spots positively warm! The views however stayed just as stunning.

 Looking back along the length of the loch

We took another break where the Allt Coulavie burn crossed the path and the dogs, and the boys, decided that a paddle would be a good idea to cool off. Big kids!!

 Big kids!!

 and dogs of course!!

By the time we set off again the weather was beginning to close in and the wind definitely had the feel of rain in it. We passed the junction on the path that leads up to the three Munros of Mam Sodhail, (the highest mountain on the mainland north of the Caledonian Canal), Carn Eige and Beinn Fhionnlaidh. Way back myself, Andrew and his mate David, (they were the grand old age of 11 at the time), had bagged the first two of these on a beautiful June day in 1991. Great memories.

 The weather closes in

By the time we had reached the lodge again we were getting rain showers fairly regularly but the sun between showers was still pleasant. Only in Scotland!! There was a fair amount of building work going on around the lodge with what looks like a new visitor centre and maybe a holiday cottage that looked very tempting!

 Fancy a week here?

From here it was an easy walk along the estate track along the river and back to the carpark. It had been a fantastic day, with great views and nice memories. We had set off around half past nine and were back at the car just after three, tired and a little stiff but happy!

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