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Loch Garten Loop Walk

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Macs Adventure Ltd Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Loch Garten
    / Loch Garten
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure Ltd
  • / A rare sighting of a Crested Tit in the nature reserve around Loch Garten
  • / The Boat Country Inn & Restaurant
    Photo: The Boat Country Inn & Restaurant, The Boat Country Inn & Restaurant
m 300 250 200 8 6 4 2 km RSPB Loch Garten Osprey Centre Boat of Garten Railway Station Boat of Garten Railway Station
Walk the tranquil trails around Loch Garten on this easy-going loop walk from the village of Boat of Garten.
Distance 9.9 km
3:30 h
63 m
63 m
A relaxed loop walk around the RSPB Nature Reserve at Loch Garten. During the breeding season the loch is a favourite haunt of the Osprey who fly over from Africa to breed in Scotland.  If travelling between November and March you are unlikely to see these seasonal visitors, unless visiting at the end of March. There are plenty of other bird species to see if you have the patience to sit by the trail for a while and soak up the peaceful atmosphere of these beautiful Caledonian woodlands. Keep an eye out for over-wintering ducks or divers on the loch, or ellusive Crested Tits and Scottish Crossbills in the pine trees. 

Author’s recommendation

If you're intent on spotting some of the rarer bird species binoculars, muted coloured clothing and patience are essential. 
Profile picture of Catherine Allan
Catherine Allan 
Update: December 10, 2020
Highest point
246 m
Lowest point
203 m
Best time of year

Safety information

The trail is easy-going and should be suitable in all weathers, but only head out in conditions that you are comfortable walking in. Please note that the occassional mountain biker also uses the trails around the loch, so do be mindful of this. In wet conditions the exposed tree roots on the path can be very slippery so please take care and mind your footing. 

Tips and hints

Points of Interest

Abernethy Nature Reserve

Loch Garten is part of the RSPB Abernethy Nature Reserve, which contains some of the last remaining portions of Scotland's ancient Caledonian forest. The reserve is also home to over 5,000 animal and plant species that are rare or endangered, making it a wildlife haven protected by UK and international law.  There are many great opportunities for the flora or fauna enthusiast to spot something of note.

For more information about the reserve and what you can expect to see from season to season check out their website: 


Food & Drink

Boat of Garten has a small local convenience store for basic groceries attached to the Post Office, The Boat Hotel with bar and restaurant, a small family-run restaurant called Anderson's (checking opening times and booking ahead is essential as they aren't open 7 days a week) and the 1896 Gallery Cafe. 


The Boat Country Inn & Restaurant (222 m)
OS Grid
NH 94317 18924
57.248759, -3.753093
57°14'55.5"N 3°45'11.1"W
30V 454557 6345328


The Boat Country Inn & Restaurant

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km – From outside The Boat Country Inn & Restaurant TURN RIGHT onto Spey Avenue, then in 200m TURN RIGHT again to pass under the railway bridge.

0.50 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON the pavement as the road bridge crosses the River Spey. After the bridge the pavement disappears so do take care and walk on the right-hand side of the road into oncoming traffic (stepping onto the verge to let vehicles pass). In 400m come off the roadside onto a narrow path on the right-hand side of the road just before approaching a T-junction in the road.

1.20 km – The path leads you right around the corner past the T-junction so double back then TURN RIGHT off the road (B970) into the Abernethy Nature Reserve car park in the trees. In the car park TURN LEFT passing an information board on your left and pass between the wooden posts to follow the path into the trees.

1.30 km – Where the path splits BEAR RIGHT following a signpost for the ‘Red Trail’.

1.90 km – At a fork in the path BEAR RIGHT, the left fork is signposted for the red trail (this is where you will re-join the path after the loop). Keep a look out for the narrow path going off to the left for the next instruction as it’s easily missed.

2.80 km – BEAR LEFT here off the wide path onto a narrow but clear path. If you reach a sharp bend in the track then you’ve gone too far and should retrace your steps for 100m.

3.90 km – Continue following this well-defined trail towards Loch Mallachie. Follow the loch shore for 100m then at a T-junction, ignore the green arrow to the left and TURN RIGHT. The trail soon diverts from the loch shore.

4.80 km – Here the path meets the shore of Loch Garten, the larger of the two lochs. Continue STRAIGHT ON following the well-defined trail through the forest with the loch on your right-hand side.

5.30 km – BEAR LEFT away from the loch into a car park, follow the track through the car park and up to the road.

5.60 km – At the T-junction with the road (the RSPB Osprey Centre is approx. 700m to the right along the road) cross it and continue STRAIGHT ON to the narrow dirt path into the trees. In 50m at a T-junction in the path TURN LEFT and continue with the road down on your left-hand side.

6.20 km – Briefly join the Speyside Way as the path comes down to the road, cross the road then continue STRAIGHT ON the trail with the road now on your right-hand side.

6.50 km – Here you’ll pass close by a lochan in the woodland with a wooden boardwalk heading out over the lochan. Take a look before continuing STRAIGHT ON along the path.

6.70 km – At a gravel lay-by with a wooden barrier crossing the track to the left, TURN LEFT off the Speyside Way (which continues by the roadside) and walk around the barrier to walk along the track into the trees.

7.90 km – Arrive at the path junction where you split off to the right to begin the loop part of the walk. Now continue STRAIGHT ON the track and retrace your steps to the Abernethy Nature Reserve car park, and finally into Boat of Garten.

9.90 km – Arrive back at The Boat Country Inn & Restaurant, in the village of Boat of Garten.


all notes on protected areas


OS Grid
NH 94317 18924
57.248759, -3.753093
57°14'55.5"N 3°45'11.1"W
30V 454557 6345328
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


Notes for walking the route in winter:

No specialist equipment, such as ice axes or crampons, is required as the route is largely low level and doesn't involve any mountain walking. However, if the weather forecast for your trip is very cold with snow and temperatures below freezing we recommend wearing a pair of strap on ice grippers like YakTrax to give a little extra grip on pavements or any icy patches if you decide to go ahead with the walk. Walking poles are also great for extra balance in snowy/slippery terrain.

You'll also need a waterproof jacket and trousers, a warm insulated jacket (either down or synthetic), with wicking baselayers and a fleece top to wear underneath as well. Warm walking socks along with a hat, neck warmer (e.g. a "Buff"), and warm gloves/mitts will also be required. A small daypack less than 25 litres should be more than ample. You can wear either walking boots or walking shoes, according to your preference, as long as they have a good tread for grip. You may also wish to bring gaiters, in the unlikely event of encountering deeper snow in the valleys, and a head torch.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, we recommend bringing a rechargeable battery pack. 

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9.9 km
3:30 h
63 m
63 m


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