Walking Series: The Magic of Abriachan

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The last of my weekend walks whilst at home saw another member of the family join the pack, Mum. These days it usually takes a bit of carrot and stick action to get my Mum to agree to head into the hills, but I’m pleased to report that in this instance, from the word go she was nothing but keen! I had been mining the walk highlands website the previous night for suitable walks that would offer a bit of wilderness, some up-down action, good paths, under 1 hour from the house and should take no longer than 3 hours to complete. Added to this list that I wanted it to be a walk that non of us had done before, a tall order for an active, adventurous family who have lived in the area for at least 25 years. After a lot of searching I stumbled upon an area just south west of Inverness called Abrianchan. The fact that I found something suitable, that we hadn’t done before is testament to the huge quantity  and variety of different walks in the Moray/Inverness areas. It really is a region that even after 25 years keeps on giving.

A map of the Abriachan area.
A map of the Abriachan area.

Upon arrival we searched out a map and found this useful guide. We were headed up to the summit of Carn Na Leitire (434m), before walking down toward Loch Ness and cutting back to the south to complete the loop. All in we predicted it would take 2.5 hours.

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My Mum kindly pointing the out the summit.

From the car park we headed off on a well kept, narrow, winding forest path. As we snaked our way through the trees we came across a number of interesting man made buildings/features including a large forest school building (at the very start) complete with classrooms packed to the ceilings with interesting books, posters and lesson materials, we also passed a ‘play house’, on 10ft stilts, that was large enough to accommodate up to 5 adults and finally a wooden teepee (below) that was in the process of being built. These curios alone make the Abriachan Forest a must see for all families in the area. As a child I would have loved to have spent the day playing in and around these woods with it’s magical structures.

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We’re off: following the forest track past a wooden teepee in the making.

After about 45 minutes on the trail, approaching 1:30pm, our stomachs started to rumble so we promptly stopped for our picnic lunch. Usually we make this ourselves but due to a lack of supplies in the house and a lack of time we had to settle for the cheats option, bought sandwiches. We stopped at a Marks and Spencer on route to buy the necessaries. Now I know Marks and Spencer’s isn’t cheap but 4 sandwiches, some juice, biscuits, fruit and crisps set us back well over £20.  More than enough for a pub lunch.

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Guilty lunch: supplied by a certain Mark and Spencer.

With our bellies full and our wallets lighter we continued on, breaking free of the trees and up onto heather hillside. As you can see from the 1st image and those that follow, some of the views were breathtaking. We were lucky to have a clear day and could see for miles in every direction. It’s at moments like these that Scotland really comes into it’s own and shows itself in all its glory.

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Near the summit my Dad checks out three wooden totems, seemingly blown by the commonly westerly winds.
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My Mum and Dad recreating a scene reminisent of the Lord of the Rings. I wonder which ones Frodo and which ones Sam?

I must admit that due to our constant photo stops, food breaks and essential view pauses, we set a snails pace reaching the summit in well over an hour. If you were super keen I reckon you could have run from our car to the top in 20 minutes.  I think thats the beauty of this type of walk, it would be great if you really wanted a romp through the hills for a some exercise but it is similarly suitable for those that want to meander too and fro, looking at the view.

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The top at last, with stunning 360 views. Well worth the walk.

On the way back we walked along the ‘peat path’, passed a number of other sculptures and returned to the car park via a wide forest access road. On the return route we obviously had to have another break on an exquisitely carved bench in front of an exquisite view.

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A view to die for.

I must admit I can’t remember having such an amazing day out with my parents for a long time. No doubt this was partially due to the great weather but also the great walk. We have all agreed that this will rank highly in the Hughes family favourite walks and we plan on heading back in the middle of winter to explore it in the snow. To find out more check our the Abriachan Forest website.

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