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Clare
Clare

Day 6: Around Loch Ness

When we woke up this morning it was a bright sunny day in Culloden :) 

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The place where we're staying is really beautiful.

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While I was still sleeping, Tim got up and had a stroll around outside.

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This is the house which has our apartment in it.

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Once I'd got up and we'd had breakfast, we went for another stroll together around the nearby roads.

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Although it was only about 09.30, it was already starting to feel warm in the sun. I should probably have taken this as a prompt to go back and put sun cream on, but I didn't think!

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We got in the car and started driving. Our rough plan was to drive along the eastern shore of Loch Ness towards Fort Augustus. Unfortunately, the Sat Nav didn't quite find the road we were hoping for and we ended up following a different route through the mountains instead. While I was initially disappointed not to see Loch Ness, the views from the road were stunning. When we were getting close to Fort Augustus, we saw a sign for a small parking area and decided to take the opportunity to get out of the car for a stroll. I saw some other people coming down from a viewpoint on the far side of the road, so we decided to give that a go.

We didn't have to walk far before we began to get some excellent views :) 

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Not quite Loch Ness, but it was still very pretty!

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The path climbed upwards, but it didn't feel as steep as the walk we did at Aviemore yesterday.

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The higher we climbed, the further into the distance we could see.

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It was a spectacular landscape, and there was lots of purple heather to admire too.

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I had assumed it would be quite a short walk, but we continued climbing higher above the road.

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Rather than leading to a single viewpoint, the path seemed to provide new views every time we turned a corner.

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We passed another small lake which was shimmering in the sunshine.

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Eventually we seemed to have finished climbing upwards and followed a flatter section of the path along the top of the hill.

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When we turned around we could still look back towards the first lake we'd seen...

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...and there were some amazing mountain views too.

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We weren't sure how long the trail was going to be, but it was tempting to just keep going.

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After a while it started to lead downhill...

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...and as we turned a corner we got our first glimpse of another lake.

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This was Loch Tarff.

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It was only a small loch but it was really pretty, with a few small islands in the middle of it.

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We realised that the path was leading down towards it, so we decided to follow it the whole way down and then return to the car via the road.

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As we got closer to the lake, the views were even better.

 

We could have stood and looked at them all day.

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We needed to get back to the car though to continue with the rest of our day, so once we got to the end of the path we retraced our steps along the road. Fortunately it was the sort of road which is quite pleasant to walk on :) 

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We ended up driving straight through Fort Augustus, as it didn't look like there was a whole lot to see there. From there we got onto the main road, which leads around the western shore of Loch Ness. 

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Finally, we could see it :) 

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Loch Ness is huge, and we followed the road around it for about 18 miles to a small town called Drumnadrochit.  There's a Loch Ness monster exhibition there which I think we visited on our first road trip around Scotland in 2010.

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Today we decided to give it a miss and took a small side road leading away from the lake, signposted towards a place called Cannich. We were planning to drive to a place called Glen Affric, which a leaflet we'd picked up from tourist information in Aviemore yesterday had described as one of the most scenic places in Scotland.

We got a bit sidetracked though, when we stopped at a Spar in Cannich to buy some water. The lady behind the till recommended that we drive to the nearby village of Tomich to get lunch and told us that from there we would be able to visit a waterfall called Plodda Falls.

We were feeling pretty hungry at this point so we decided to take her advice! Soon we were in Tomich, having lunch in a beer garden with a beautiful view :) 

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It was so good that we stayed for pudding too!

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From Tomich it was only a few miles to the waterfall, which is located on some Forestry Commission land. We followed a wide trail through the trees.

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There were two waymarked trails - a white one and a green one - with the green one being longer. We decided to follow the green one.

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The green route led us quite steeply downhill, which is always a bit disconcerting when you know you have to go back up again to get back to your car.

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Eventually we emerged at a river bed.

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From here the path led back up again.

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Partway up we saw a signpost to a viewpoint. I debated whether to follow it because it seemed to involve going downhill yet again, but I'm glad we did, because when we reached the bottom this was the view we got of the waterfall :)

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The problem with having been to Iceland is that it ruins all future waterfall experiences for you; nothing can compete with the likes of Gullfoss and Dettifoss. But for a waterfall outside of Iceland, this one was pretty impressive.

From where we were standing at the bottom of the falls, we could see a viewing platform at the top. There was some more uphill to do to get there!

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When we did, we found the views from the top weren't actually as good as from down below.

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It was hard to capture in a photo anyway, but you can see the views more clearly in the video :) 

Once we left the platform behind, there was just a bit more uphill to do before we got back to the car.

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Then we were finally on our way to Glen Affric! There's a single track road which leads through the glen and there are various parking places to stop and admire the views. The road runs alongside Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin, one of two lochs in the glen.

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We got some spectacular views of it as we drove along, but unfortunately in the photos we tried to take it was obscured by trees.

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The road comes to an end at the far side of this loch, before you get as far as the second loch, Loch Affric.

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We left the car in a carpark here an started following a signposted viewpoint trail.

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In what seems to have been the theme for today, this involved walking uphill.

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It was worth it though, as we were soon able to look down the glen towards Loch Affric.

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It was really beautiful - I can see why the leaflet described this as one of the most beautiful places in Scotland.

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There was definitely a lot more we could have seen and done in Glen Affric, but it was after half five now and we were feeling tired, so it was time to head back towards Culloden. I think today easily wins the prize for most scenic day of the holiday :) 

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