An enthralling walk through well managed woodlands out into open farmland with glimpses of the mountains to come.
Commencing with a walk up into the well managed woodlands of Craigmonie woods, the path now follows the Affric Kintail Way. Way marked by a symbol of a black and white rising sun over mountain peaks, the trail initially leads you through a diverse forest environment of exotic and native species. A few relatively steep ascents through the trees allows splendid views back down to Urquhart Bay and Loch Ness before the trail enters the quiet of the conifer plantations. Coming out into open ground with views over Glen Urquhart the trail continues through the small village of Shenval and further forest tracks as the Affric mountains come into view ahead. A section of road walking completes the day leading down into the friendly village of Cannich, complete with a fine stand of native Scots Pine.
A real highlight are the woodlands of Craigmonie at the start of the walk, which provide a real opportunity to become familiar with the forest flora and fauna local to the region. There are facilities to stop and enjoy a picnic lunch, but as there are no shops en route it is necessary to purchase either a packed lunch from your accommodation or stock up for the day a shop in Drumnadrochit. There are small supermarkets in the village for both food and drinks.
For evening dining, there is one public house/restaurant in Cannich, the Slater's Arms. Advance booking is necessary for evening dining here and while the Cannich accommodation can kindly assist with making a reservation, calling ahead would be advised.
A small 'Spar' supermarket is present in Cannich that often has maps for sale, along with other small essentials including blister remedies and packed lunch supplies.
The descents and ascents through the woodlands at the start of the walk can be steep and slippery after rain. The final section of the walk is along a relatively quiet but fast road. Extra care should be taken while following the 6km of road to Cannich, utilising the right verge facing oncoming traffic.
The Tourist Information Centre in Drumnadrochit at the starting point is great for obtaining a free 'Craigmonie and Balmacaan Wood' trail leaflet. The staff are also on hand to provide information.
Book ahead to reserve dining at the Slater's Arms in Cannich.
If you arrive in Cannich when the 'Spar' supermarket is still open, it may be prudent to purchase anything required for the following day that evening. This is due to the fact that they do not have a sandwich delivery every day and stocks may be low.
Some useful sites:
Waterproof boots with good ankle support are a must. Waterproof and windproof clothing is of course also a necessity, with gloves and hat to keep out the cold in the exposed upland landscape. Walking poles will assist on the ascents and descents. Midge repellent for the Summer months should provide some respite from the ubiquitous flying insects