The Trail of the 7 Lochs is a circular route so there is no designated starting point. For the sake of argument I have started this talk-round at the Forestry Commission Exhibition Centre at Inverfarigaig, as there is good parking, a picnic spot and toilets. There is parking suitable for a horse trailer just past the junction with the B861 (if you are heading west) on the Dores – Foyers Road.
For those who want to ride the full Trail with horses, you might think about riding it as two loops (a figure of eight) basing yourself at Loch Ness Riding (member of the BHS Horses Welcome Scheme) where you can get stabling, turnout and parking. B&B accommodation is available in Dores as are bar meals at the Dores Inn and there are self-catering log cabins at Drummond Farm itself, though these need to be booked for a minimum of 2 nights.
There is also accommodation for horses and humans at Cullaird Farm, Scaniport and at Whitebrige.
We have marked the Trail with our logo on plastic discs, but sometimes waymarkers may be missing (mostly due to vandalism). Along some of the route, the tracks are shared with the newly formed South Loch Ness Trail which is marked with blue waymarker posts and a squirrel logo. Where this happens, in order not to cover the countryside in a plethora of signs, we may put our T7L discs onto the blue posts as well. So for the Trail of the 7 Lochs always just look for our waymarkers.
You should take a map with you and a compass (in case of inclement weather) and have the skill needed to use both of these. As the weather can change quickly, please make sure you have adequate foul weather gear with you and a basic first aid kit and provisions.
From the Forestry Visitor Centre head up the hill at the back of the building and follow the markers left, right and left again, going up the hill which will give you stunning views up Loch Ness. Carry on over the hill with a lovely lochan on your left (perfect picnic spot) and down to the Glenlia road. Turn right and then left at the forestry way marker to cross the burn and then go up the narrow track bearing right. Follow this to the forest road and then go left and immediately right again onto another narrow path which is also way marked with Forestry way markers with yellow tops which you can follow till you come out on to the tarmac road again.
Turn left up the road and after about a kilometre, turn right at North Muirnich up the gravel road known as the Vennel. At the end you will come out onto a tarmac road. Turn left and follow the road past the Boleskine Church and on to the Garthbeg crossroads. Go straight over the road and follow to Garthbeg Farm. Go through the deer gate on the right of the steading and then steeply up to the left passing an old quarry and up to another pair of gates. To through the deer gate on the right onto the hill track, which shortly takes a rightangled bend to the left.
Follow this track through two gates to Migovie, bearing right at the house and onto their access road. Follow the road over the cattle grid and on to Wester Aberchalder. Go over the bridge past the house. This has metal sheets on it and if you have a horse you may want to lead over it.
Turn right after the bridge and over another cattle grid. At the right angle bend in the road keep going straight on to Ballindalloch. Just before the house go through the gate on the left into the field and and follow the fence round the front of the house and through another gate onto a grassy track which takes you on in front of Farraline house and out to the tarmac drive. Turn left on the drive and carry on to the junction with the B862. Turn left and then take the next road junction on your right.
Follow the road up the hill past Newlands and then take the next track on your right past Torshelly. Follow this track to the end and through several gates till you come back on to the tarmac road.
Turn left and then go left in through the next forestry entrance.
Turn immediately right and follow this track parallel to the road for about a kilometre. The surface of this track is strimmed heather and bracken. Turn right and come down onto the road again. Turn left and keep straight on through Torness and over the bridge on the road. Go past the cattle grid and then turn right on to the hill. Follow the markers to the new piece of track which goes through a gate in the fence and then up hill for about 100 m. Follow the strimmed heather track which bears left above Loch Ceo Glais to the end where you need to go through the gate and cross the burn. This line is also marked with white plastic fence posts.
If you are there during the period of March 20 to May 20th the farmer has requested that you now go through the gate on your left and straight up to the road through another gate in order to avoid the lambing/calving areas. Then turn right on the road and take the next turning on your right to rejoin the route along the Loch Duntelchaig road after the second cattle grid.
During the rest of the year, after crossing the burn go about halfway up the hill (crossing some quite wet ground). Take your own line but I would suggest if you have a horse to get off and lead until you gain the harder ground. and then take a line of about 2 o’clock and follow the markers inside the fence to the road at Loch Duntelchaig. Turn right along the road over the causeway and turn right again onto a fairly rutted track. Go up here and, at the cattle feeding clearing, go straight on through the birch trees and through a bridleway gate in the fence, following the track back down to the road.
Follow the road past Dalcrombie Farm and Ballachar, past two cattle grids and take the forest road on the left into the Leiterchuillin Wood and up past Loch a’Choire. Keep left at the junction on the way up the hill and go to the top and over to the other side. Carry straight on down past Leitterchuillin House on your left and out past the Scottish Water Sluice at the end of the loch and onto the road.
Turn left on the road and then take the next forestry entrance on your right into Duntechaig wood. Head up the hill and the track narrows to a path. Horses please do not ride on this footpath but rather make your own track in the heather so that you don’t erode it. It is only a short distance to the top. Go through the gate and turn right onto the bigger track. Follow this down to the end and come out onto the tarmac road.
Turn right on the road and go through the cattle grid gate. Take the next forestry entrance on the left into Tordarroch Woods and follow track to t-junction. Ignore the side track going off on your right. At the t-junction turn left and follow this track right around Loch Bunachton through three gates (one of these is an electric wire - bungee type and there may be some small dexter cattle in this section). Follow the track up to the road then turn left.
Take the first right onto s track just past Mains of Bunachton. At y-junction at ruin keep right and carry on to gate into Loch Ashie Woods. Keep left at the first junction and after about 800 m turn right and follow sandy track for a bit more than a kilometre, between a couple of large rocks and then keep left to go through a bridleway gate and left to the bridge over the water run-off from Loch Ashie. Turn right over the bridge and ride up the road past the Water Treatment Plant.
Just before the gate onto the road turn there is the option to right over the heather and through the double gates and out onto the moor . Bear left up towards the fence and then follow roughly inside the fence to the right and exit the moor through the gate opposite the drive down to Drumashie Farm. There may be cattle in this section. (Alternatively you can just go up to the road and turn right along it till you get to the farm drive).
Turn right along the road and then take the next turning on your left down the forest road between the fields (you are requested not go down the road to the farm). At the end of the fields, go through the double gates straight ahead into the wood. Follow the track down, ignoring the first and second tracks to your left. When you come to the t-junction at the bottom of the wood turn left and follow this main track all the way to the end. You come out of the wood and keep straight on where another track joins from the left. Cross the old bridge at the ruin (just a pile of stones now) and come out through a gate to the tarmac road.
Cross over the road and follow this track round the RHS of the first gate and then through two more gateways. At the t-junction with the forest road go left, keep left at the y-junction and take the next turning right down the track with the electricity lines. . Go straight on to the end of this track and through the gate onto the moor. Follow the waymarker post at roughly 2 o’clock to track and gate on your left into farmyard. Watch out for hazards around the farm! Go through the farmyard and out through the gate at the grid. Follow track to end and exit though gate to the right of the next grid at the road.
Cross the road and ride past Drummond Farm.
Follow the road past the cattle grid and through Erchite Farm. Follow the track past the farm and at the first bend in the track turn left up the hill and go through the tall gateposts (no gate) and follow sheep paths above and parallel to the old stone wall (watch out for loose bits of wire if you are riding). When you get to the burn, go through the small gate, cross the burn and then go through the other gate into the forestry.
Ignore the track on the left and follow the main track to the t-junction. Turn left and follow main track without turning off till you pass above Whitefield (just the barn still standing) . Keep left here and after about 50 m. you will come to a clearing with a grass track going off on the left parallel to the main track. This is signed for the Fair Haired Lad's Pass. Take this track and after about a kilometre you will come to the zigzags at the bottom of the pass. Climb the path (very steep at the beginning but the views at the top well reward the effort). Follow path over the top and down into the forestry again.
Come down the hill and at the junction turn right and exit the forestry at the pass gate onto the road. Cross over the road and over the cattle grid and into the wood opposite. Follow track to the end and then turn right and come back out of the forest at the gate at Balchraggan. Up to the road and turn left. Ride down this unfenced road and through a gate and then past a cattle grid – the stunning Dun Dearduil on your left – and carry on down the corkscrew road to the forestry houses at Inverfarigaig. Turn left on the B861, cross the bridge and then first left to the Forestry Centre.