We recently returned from Scotland, where enjoyed 3 short hikes in the Spey valley as part of our travels. This has to be the best country for hiking I have ever been to. There are almost more hiking “paths”, marked by signs that actually say “path”, than there are roads for vehicles. Everything is quiet, untouched, …and ancient. Most pleasing of all is the fact that the people who live there enjoy their own landscape even more than we do. One of the key signs of this is the sheer abundance of hiking information online, complete with ordinance maps and landmarks spelled out, even for the smallest trails.
Our first hike was the “Falls of Acharn” trail.
Starting just on the the northeast tip of the loch, at the Kenmore club cottages, we crossed the stone bridge towards Kenmore and turned off towards the loch shores.
Following the shoreline, we came out on road to Acharn, along the south shore of the loch and walked the 2 miles to Acharn, past an ancient Crannog and several sheep farms.
When we reached Acharn, the trail turned south and climbed the mountain side. I’m sure most locals would be amused it they knew we thought of that gentle grade as a mountain, but the terrain is certainly a lot more undulating than Ontario.
We stopped for breath MANY times, to look back at the loch and the slope we had just covered.
While the road continued straight up the mountain, we eventually found “Hermit’s Cave” – a man-made cavern built into the hillside to our left, just off the pathway. We could tell how old it was by the stunted height of the opening, built for an older shorter era of humans.
A nervous crawl through the dark tunnel, had us emerging on the other side to a valley well worth the climb – Acharn falls, cascading down the hillside.
Further up the hillside, was a network of wooden bridges from which you could see a series of pools and rushing water, on its way back down the hill side.
Having crossed the falls and the valley, we stopped for a donut, and a much easier walk down the hill side, now with the falls to our left, and open fields to our right. Through the trees you could see loch Tay again.
The banks of the cliffs were lined by ancient beech trees. I’ve not often seen any deciduous trees quite that old in Ontario.
And then a 2 mile walk back along the road from Acharn to Kenmore… and we are back at loch Tay as the daylight is leaving.