For this exciting day of fairly low level walks you will be collected from your accommodation, airport or railway station and head out for the tour we have designed with you in advance of your arrival.
Before you know it will be leaving the built up area of Inverness behind as we head north across the Kessock Bridge, completed in 1982 and opened then by the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. From the bridge itself one is able to command magnificent views out to the headlands of Chanonry Point on the Black Isle and Fort George on the other side of the inner Cromarty Firth. To our left we see the commanding Strathconon Mountains away in the distance and just below us the remains of the historic Kessock Ferry and the sea entrance of the famous Caledonian Canal. We won’t have time for a stop so early but your personal guide will fill you in with the detail as we drive on.
The Black Isle, a strange name for a peninsula but we do things slightly differently in the Highlands as you will find out and appreciate. At its mid point we head west for the old Tryst village of Muir of Ord, until 1908 home of one of the areas main auction marts, being as it was on a main Drovers' road, now home of both the Ord Maltings and the famous Glen Ord Distillery. Only if you insist will we stop for a dram of its famous product, Singleton of Ord Whisky, but an option if you feel you need something to give you energy for the day ahead.
Passing the Glen Ord we soon reach the much dammed valley of the River Conon and a closer look at the Strathconon Mountains with the volcanic type peak of Sgurr A’ Mhuillin at 879 meters, a majestic Corbett Mountain. Swinging further west, after encountering the Black Water River, one of the sources of the Conon Valley, we climb the hill of Kinnahaird for our first scheduled stop, the Village of Strathpeffer Spa.
The development of Strathpeffer as a Spa village owes much to Anne, the Duchess of Sutherland and Countess of Cromartie and her astute husband the 3rd Duke of Sutherland who found that there were many prepared to pay 6 shillings to take the horse drawn coach from Inverness in order to take the health enhancing miracle spa water. World War I saw the demise of the village as a Spa but not its charm as a visitor attraction.
However it is not the village that is our destination. We will park up and on foot take the track that the Victorians used for their afternoon carriage drive to the top of Knockfarrel. The track follows in the shadow of Cnoc Mor (the Cats Back) before we climb the short rise for our first view of Loch Ussie with its three beautifully decorated pine tree islands.
Knockfarrel itself has a whole history of its own going back to the days of the Picts here in the Highlands of Scotland, and with its association with the profiteer, the Brahan Seer. Views from the top of Knockfarrel are simply breathtaking, covering as they do almost every point of the distant Highlands. Immediately down below we get the spectacular view of the valley of the River Peffery as it winds its way into the Cromarty Firth via the county town of Dingwall.
We will return to our transport via a lower route where we can catch an aerial view of Castle Leod, home of the Mackenzie Clan Chief, Lord Cromartie, Viscount Tarbart, in the passing, and the carved stones of the Blackmuir Woods Maze.
Time now for a lunch break with Strathpeffer offering a number of options, including the Red Poppy situated in the restored Strathpeffer Pavilion with its Victorian charm and history. After lunch we have another choice to make. Whether we head further west for a walk around the Achilty Forest, or head further north to tackle the slightly steeper climbs of Fyrish Hill. (Or if you prefer just a gentle drive around the beautiful scenic area of Easter Ross)
Achilty Forest offers a number of picturesque walks through a mixture of pine tree lined paths and open lands with a number of deviations depending on available time. One such detour which should not be missed is Rogie Falls. This popular beauty spot lies on the River Blackwater, a contributory of the River Conon. Although not especially high or spectacularly, its tree lined banks and the opportunity to catch a salmon leaping up the falls make them a must for both visitors and locals alike. A second little detour finds us at the beautiful Loch Crann where swans and otters share a peaceful time together. The highlight of the walk however is to be found on reaching the viewpoint of the forest, offering as it does magnificent views of the many hills and mountains around this area with Loch Achilty in the foreground.
For those wishing a slightly more energetic walk we can head north through the old Viking town of Dingwall, into the land of Ferindonald, home of the old Highland Clan, the Munro’s, making for the Hill of Fyrish home of the famous Fyrish Monument. Here we will take the path up the 1500 foot hill to the top of Fyrish and see at close hand the Monument and hear the history behind the construction of such a folly. Apart from the monument and the pleasant walk through the fir lined path one cannot help but wonder at the fantastic view which awaits them as they near the top. Indeed Fyrish offers stunning views across to the rich farmlands of the Black Isle, along the Cromarty Firth coast to the Sutors of Cromarty and the North Sea, while behind it sits the commanding Mountain of Ben Wyvis, the highest mountain on the East Coast.
Regardless of the options selected we will make sure that your leisurely journey back to your destination will offer something different to the outward one.
As with any walking you are advised that strong foot wear (or comfortable trainers) and protective clothing will be required as in Scotland it is said you can get all the four seasons in one day.
W02 Easter Ross Walks: £270 for up to six passengers.