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Visiting Glen Affric and Walking to Dog Falls

We’re lucky to be able to share wonderful photographs taken by a recent guest when they went to Glen Affric.  They took a walk around Dog Falls, which is a beautiful forest stroll through ancient Caledonian Pines. This type of forest is considered to be one of the few truly natural landscapes in the UK.

A view of the green Caledonian pines at Glen Affric

Dog Falls itself is a dramatic waterfall in a rocky gorge.  If you do an extended walk here, you can find a wonderful small lochen (Coire Loch). This is a great spot to find rare dragonflies. Climbing back up to the main path there are excellent views.

The paths are all well marked and laid out, with three options to take. Combining all three makes a great circular walk. The river itself (River Affric) is wide and very pretty, bordered by pinewoods.

Fast flowing river, tumbling over rocks

You’ve got a good chance on these walks of spotting roe deer. You may even see pine martens (which you can also find in the garden at Pinewood!)  If you’re a bird watcher, watch out for the rare crossbill and rarely seen capercaillie.

The Scottish Highlands in Spring

We love the Highlands of Scotland all year round, but Springtime holds a certain charm for us.  We feel blessed to bask in the glorious colours that this season brings with it.  From the blue bluebells, to the yellow gorse and fields full of rapeseed.  And when you get a couple of those sights together, it’s even more magical!

Mixed colour cows near a yellow field of gorse near Abriachan

There are lots of rapeseed fields wherever you go, especially around our area near Inverness as it’s quite agricultural. And we are very lucky to have some beautiful bluebell woods near Pinewood, let alone all the hedges along the small roads are covered in them right now.  For woods, we love to do the River Beauly Circuit and pop along into Croiche Wood.

Blue bluebells in a green wood near the River Beauly

I wrote about this walk in one of my recent newsletters – have you subscribed?  The wood is ablaze with a carpet of bluebells at this time of year.  It’s wise to remember that if you’ve travelled up from further south, we usually get our seasons a little later than you. So while the bluebells have all gone now in the south of England, they are still a riot of colour up here.  They only popped their heads out only a few weeks ago.

And as for yellow of the gorse – well, we don’t need to go much further than our own garden to get a sight and a whiff of that!

Yellow gorse in the foreground with dark mountains behind from our garden at Pinewood

Do you know what smell the gorse gives off? It’s coconut! Most folks consider gorse a nuisance, as it’s very widespread!  And most gardeners up here spend a lot of time cutting it down.  It’s a large, ever-green shrub covered in prickly needles (watch out!) Very interestingly enough, we just found out that you can in fact eat the yellow gorse leaves!  We had it at Nourish Inverness where Capability Browns held their first vegan Supper Club (look that up, that’s a must go to!)  She used the gorse flowers to decorate a pearl barley risotto with AVVA Gin spiced butternut squash. Other garnish was rocket, dandelion leaves, all drizzled with sweet fig vinegar.  Anyway, I digress….

Come up north during Spring time and savour some of these colourful sights for yourself.  Next stop – Summer!

 

Outdoor activities in the nearby area

One of the many good things about our location here at Pinewood, is the multitude of places to visit, mountains to climb and activities to pursue.  This month’s blog will focus on some of our recommended activities to do in the nearby area (watch out for a future blog specifically on walking and mountains).

So, where to start!  Do you like messing about on the river, do you like canoeing?  We are 10 minutes from the village of Beauly, which sits on the River Beauly – a great river for novice canoeists. The River Glass becomes the River Beauly – both riverbanks brimming with lush vegetation and wildlife. Paddling through the spectacular Aigas Gorge is like being in a scene from Lord of the Rings!  Or try canoeing on Loch Ness, this very famous loch and look out for Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster as you go.  While we’re talking about Beauly, there is some great fishing along the river too.

Back to Loch Ness – how about a cruise on this famous loch and visiting Urquhart Castle, or journey from Tomnahurich Bridge and cruise through the Calendonian Canal. The Jacobite Cruises have many different tours on offer.

Seems like we have a water theme going on today – so how about dolphin watching? One of the most popular places to see dolphins is at Chanonry Point, between Fortrose and Rosemarkie on the Black Isle.  You can even go on a dolphin cruise. Chanonry Point is a good place to spot dolphins as it’s a favourite spot for them to find food. This part of the Moray Coast is not only famous for bottlenose dolphins, but also harbour porpoises and even whales, especially the Minke whale.

Back to dry land, a local company called In Your Element, offer many great outdoor activities in the Loch Ness & Inverness area, from abseiling to archery, bushcraft skills to climbing, gorge swimming and gorge walking.  The list is endless! Photo below courtesy of their website.

And why not bring your bike when you visit?  We have some super quiet, empty country roads around Pinewood which are great for taking your road bike on, with many routes giving excellent views over the Beauly Firth and Loch Ness.  Or bring your mountain bike.  Abriachan Forest just a few miles away has purpose made mountain bike tracks.

Just a wee taster of some of the many activities you can do during your stay!