Top 5 Scottish Winter Walks: Glen Affric
Posted on Jan 18, 2016 by Alex Kendall
The perfect combination of forest, mountain and loch. For sheer rugged beauty, Glen Affric is hard to beat.
The fourth in our series of Top 5 Scottish Winter Walks: Glen Affric. Wilderness Guide, Alex Kendall shares another of his favourite winter walks for those keen to avoid the summits and keep within the glens.
Managed by the Forestry Commission and the charity Trees for Life, the Glen has been well protected. It is a designated National Nature Reserve, providing habitat for native species. Much of the conservation is an attempt to restore the landscape to before human action led to the decline of the original pine forest.
This walk is a circular route leading all the way round Loch Affric. It’s an excellent way of seeing the loch and its woodland while getting a feel for the wild open moorland and high peaks above it. The further you get from the car park, the more secluded the loch feels. Simply by heading further up the glen, the majesty of the hills opens up to you.
From the car park at the western edge of Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin, follow the track west. Then take the track which keeps to the right hand side of Loch Affric. Passing Affric Lodge, the track rises and traverses the hillside beneath the towering peak of Sgùrr na Lapaich. This follows the rough line of the loch shore above the woods.
Crossing the Allt Coire Leachavie, the route then begins to reach the western end of Loch Affric. Pass beneath the waterfall of Spùtan Bàn and follow alongside the small Loch Coulavie. Shortly after this, at the crag of Cnoc Fada, you’ll reach a junction. Follow the left turn that leads onto the track running along the southern side of Loch Affric. If you are lucky, red deer will be visible down in the valleys, where they shelter from the worst of the winter.
After crossing a footbridge over the River Affric to Athnamulloch, the route again traverses under steep slopes. This time you’ll be passing under the long mountainous arm of Carn Glas lochdarach. The southern side of Loch Affric is more wooded. Before you are half way back along the loch there are woodlands on both sides. This creates a great contrast to the open country to the west of the route.
Follow the track all the way through the woods, over the footbridge across the Allt Garbh. Then take a final left turn at the junction just 100 metres before the bridge back to the car park. Even if you haven’t managed to see any of the local wildlife, this is a walk to savour, as you try to imagine Scotland thousands of years ago.
Disclaimer: All walks are undertaken at your own risk, as walking can be a dangerous activity if the appropriate precautions are not taken. Wilderness Scotland does not guarantee full-accuracy of the information given and does not accept responsibility or liability. Winter walking is incredibly rewarding, but attention must be paid to your equipment even if staying at a low level, as even low level walks can be remote. It is your own responsibility to check the information with other resources, to know your own capability and to check weather conditions. Attention must be paid to your equipment; plan for the worst weather, carry a detailed map, compass, warm clothing, waterproofs, plenty of food and drink to last you the day and a head torch. If heading up high, take an ice axe and crampons and know how to use them, and always be prepared to turn back. Remember that a route description and a map are no use unless you can navigate with a map and compass. A GPS unit and the GPX route are a good back up but should be used as a guide rather than as a main navigational tool.
See other walks in this series:
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