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Autumn In Inverness

AlistairHorneAlistairHorne Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭

#Ad Paid Promotion with Visit Inverness Loch Ness

This year has been a strange one generally, not just for travel and for photography but for everyone and their daily lives. After a few months of lockdown restrictions, I was more than excited that I would be able to work throughout Scotland with local tourism boards and business in promoting local and exciting destinations that the general public can visit, with international travel on the sidelines just now. Visit Inverness Loch Ness were very interested to promote some of the beautiful locations people could visit and thankfully the trip in October could go ahead. 

My main aim of focus for the four days was Glen Affric, often described as the most beautiful glen in all of Scotland, for good reason. Stretching for over 30 miles from just outside of Cannich in Strathglass to Kintail in the west, the glen is home to one of the largest remaining Ancient Caledonian pine forests that used to cover most of the Highlands. The area is a Caledonian Forest Reserve, a national scenic area and a national nature reserve, meaning it’s beauty and significance in Scottish nature has not gone unnoticed. 

My personal favourite time to visit the glen is autumn, with a stunning foliage of orange on the trees and the echoes of the red deer stags a possibility. Considering it is an hour from Inverness, every time I have travelled to the glen, visitor numbers never hit the heights of other popular glens and spots in the country, maybe in part to the 10 mile single track road that is your only way to visit by car.

Driving up from the central belt and on entering the glen, I was happily surprised to see not just that the trip coincided with the autumn colours being at their peak, but with virtually no wind at all, it meant the reflections of the two main lochs were incredible and I took way longer to drive through the glen, as so many photo opportunities arose. After a long day on the road, I was very fortunate to be put up in one of the mini manors on the Achnagairn Estate, located 10 miles west of Inverness. These luxury self catering houses were the perfect getaway in between the long work days and are a great choice for large family groups who want to stay in the area. 

Early the next morning, I met up with Mike from In Your Element to go canoeing on the River Beauly. The company provides outdoor adventures all over Scotland, including other water based activities, archery, segway riding and gorge walking for families, corporate events and hen do groups. Mike was really informative about the local area and the wildlife we could see on the river, including raven and osprey nests on the riverbank. Luckily like the day before, the wind abided and the river looked like a still loch, with autumnal reflections whilst we were canoeing. It was so relaxing and a great mind reset in between the typical busy work day. 

Aside from the visits to the glen and the canoeing, one spot close by was on my list to visit, a popular spot all year round. Plodda Falls, a 46 metre waterfall, is a must see when in the area especially during the autumn period. A small walk from the car park brings you to a footbridge overhanging the falls, which was created in 2009 after the previous one was deemed dangerous. Walking the paths in the area gives you some great perspectives of the waterfall, and it’s size and power are not to be underestimated. Mother Nature at its finest.

On the final day for the trip, I decided to not just enjoy Glen Affric from the comfort of the road and the main viewpoints but take a hike and really explore it from the ground. The 10 mile loop around Loch Affric was the main aim of the day, starting at the main car park at the end of the glen. It genuinely felt like true wilderness, getting away from the road and any noise, aside from the wind in the trees and the occasional bird call. An expanse with rugged mountains, beautiful forests and serene water all within such a short distance of villages and the capital of the Highlands was hard to get my head around, as it was so remote and with little tourists. It felt like a different world. 

Boggy from the torrential rains the week before, the first half of the walk was slow but the views made up for the struggles. Aside from a few hiking cabins and the main Glen Affric Estate, the path wanders and meanders throughout wilderness, around the loch and the surroundings mountains, making you really appreciate how small you are in the landscape. When I do return to the glen next year, I plan to re-do this walk, as the low cloud cover showed glimpses of the peaks in the glen and I’d love to see them in their full majesty. It’s always great to see the same places with different weather conditions.

Just like that, my time in the Highlands was up. How quick it had flown by, but so many beautiful scenes had been viewed in the surrounding area at my favourite time of year to see Scotland. 

I want to say a big thanks to Visit Inverness Loch NessVisit ScotlandIn Your Element and The Achnagairn Estate for putting together the trip and itinerary and for making the few days up near Inverness a fantastic autumn adventure. If you’d like to know more or ask any questions about Glen Affric or the surrounding area, please get in touch!

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