During the past few weeks Neil and I have enjoyed half-day explorations of some previously unexplored local woodlands. As home is just west of the Moray Firth, we have enjoyed superb views down to the water of the Beauly Firth, north over the Black Isle and west to the glens of Cannich, Strathfarrar, Affric and beyond.
Yesterday was a wonderfully crisp, clear winter’s day with sunshine to boot so we choose to enjoy a wee bimble to a local (put previously unvisited) wood and lochan.
To get to the starting point to this walk (NH 482457) I give you directions from the WalkHighlands site:
A maze of minor roads run up and across the hillsides to the west of Beauly. This walk begins from the end of the public road at Drumindorsair. There is a turning area at the end of the road and a request not to park here; it is just possible to park one car a short distance back down the road where a track goes off to the west – be careful not to obstruct any routes. The walk begins from the end of the road; from here take the track through the gate on the left.
We looked at the parking place suggested by Walk Highlands, and comments by fellow members of the geocaching website, and opted not to park where suggested. We drove back towards the exit point for the path (NH 492458) and parked on a wide verge near a passing place. Chose your parking spot with care as this is a busy working landscape with farmers and estate workers coming and going with machinery.
Leaving the minor road at Drumindorsair we passed the estate sign warning us that it was still hind stalking season and to keep to the path.
As we wished to leave the path to go look for a geocache we thought it best to keep an eye out for stalkers and listen for gunshot. As it happened as we were walking along the estate track we were passed by a couple of estate workers in a pick-up truck. They didn’t stop to warn us off so were hoped this meant they wre not just about to start aiming high power rifles at anything that moved. We soon discovered they were heading out to do a spot of moor burn – the land must be managed for grouse as well as deer – and they were lighting small fires in a couple of places. Luckily for us the smoke was drifting away from where we planned to go.
We quickly gained height up this well-made landrover track and soon were out onto the heather moorland with wonderful views looking east over the forest to the Beauly Firth.
With the Kessock Bridge in the distance.
As the track headed north we had views across the open moors, with scattered Scots pines to the easterly peaks of the Glen Affric and Strathfarrar mountains.
Our first view of Loch nam Bonnach, with the wee cluster of Scots Pines between it and wee Loch of Loch na Toinnidh in the foreground.
We left the track here and headed north west along a small path that lead up the slopes of Cnoc na Teine to look for the geocache hidden hereabouts.
The view northwest towards the Fannichs was interrupted by the wind farm near Fairburn.
After successfully finding the cache, we ascended the top of Cnoc na Teine which gave a better view of the Moray Firth.
This is all very boggy ground here, but today with it being below zero degree Celsius, we were able to hop about with dry feet.
Descending the craggy slope we regained the main track. Soon Loch nam Bonnach came into view ahead, backed by a distant view of Ben Wyvis.
We skirted the edge of the loch and followed the track as it swung south heading into the forest. The map shows the track as running just inside the forest boundary, but there has been fairly recent felling and after a short section under the trees we were soon out in the open again. The track is very rough here having been churned up by the forest extraction vehicles and the frozen puddles were like ice rinks and the frozen mud like walking on very uneven cobbles.
Shortly we left the forest track and took a much smaller, more overgrown path through the trees. This path was again very waterlogged and in places it was actually standing with water, not just ice.
We soon reached the edge of the forest and emerged onto the minor road just a few hundred metres from our car. Having completed this walk we felt it may be worth doing again in the summer and trying for a very early start to get up to the Beauly firth viewpoint in time for sunrise.