A Great Place for Close Encounters with Red Squirrels, Pine Martens and other Highland Wildlife
A pleasant walk between the Old Fort in Fort William and Old Inverlochy Castle along the banks of the River Lochy. The return route is through the village of Inverlochy, with its tribute to Aluminium Industry, the main employer of the region. The walk includes a section along Wade’s Road (between Inverness and Fort William) built by the military under the direction of General Wade in the early 18th century.
Look out for otters, geese, waders, dabbling and diving duck and otters on route.
Old Inverlochy Castle is an impressive, now ruined, 13th century castle that borne witness to the antics of powerful ancient families, kingly ambition and clan rivalries. Old Inverlochy Castle is strategically situated at the south-western end of the Great Glen on the banks of the River Loch, just north of Fort William. Old Inverlochy Castle was the site of two major battles in 1431 and 1645. There are three informative interpretation boards on site, one focussing on the external structure of the castle, another on the public and private facilities offered by the Castle and another on key events in the history of the castle. There are some fine mature sycamore and horse chestnut tyres fringing the castle.
The walk passes through mixed deciduous woodland (with sycamore, beech ash, alder, and willow) and rough grassland. The latter supports bents (Agrostis spp), meadow grasses (Poa spp), tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) and crested dog’s tail (Cynosurus cristatus), as well as a mixture of ruderal, meadow and marsh plant species according to local conditions and season. There is some encroachment of woody species. There are also some lovely clumps of male fern (Dryopteris spp) on route
Excellent views are afforded of the Ben Nevis Range and fast flowing waters of the River Lochy.
Good views of Lochaber Hydro-Electric Power Scheme are afforded. The Hydro Electricity Power Station was completed 1929 and designed to serve the needs of the Aluminum Smelter. It includes a 24km /4.6 m diameter tunnel to deliver water from Loch Treig and Loch Laggan to the turbines in the powerhouse via two pipes (five massive steel pipes) and two parallel penstocks. The scheme was designed by Charles Meik and implemented by William Halcrow with construction beginning in 1924. The PowerStation harnesses the potential energy of the headwaters of River Treig, River Spean and River Spey (when in spate) as well as surrounding burns.
1. Start at the Old Fort by the roundabout and skirt around the rear of Lochaber College (Carmichael Way), veering right by Lochaber Archive Centre and passing infront of the Dive Centre. The route affords good views of the harbour and loch.
2. Continue passed the Dive Centre and pick up a tarmac path bounded by wooden fencing.
Follow the path passed several houses and the Shinty pitch.
3. Where directed, follow the sign to Inverlochy Castle, crossing a tributary of the River Lochy and turning left onto the Great Glen Way (signposted Inverlochy Diversion).
This is a lovely section of the walk, following the watercourse fringed with mixed deciduous woodland.
4. Take the left path where the path diverges, skirting close to the River Lochy through alder woodland, and passing by some house on the right.
5. Cross a couple of bridges and then head through rough grassland on the well defined path. Good views are afforded of the Nevis Range and the Lochaber Hydro-Electric Power Scheme.
If desired, take a short diversion to the confluence of the water courses and cross the pedestrian bridge for good views of the River Lochy.
6. Continue towards the railway line, bridge and Wade’s road.
7. At the bridge, Turn left along Wades Road, veering right by The Soldier’s Bridge and under the rail bridge to Inverlochy Castle as signposted. The old castle soon comes into view. Continue along the road to the front entrance at the top of the road. The castle is best accessed by the outer gates.
8. After spending time exploring the castle, return to the Soldier’s Bridge and then continue along Wades Road, following the Great Glen Way. The Great Glen Way follows the railway line passing by the PowerStation, and the village of Inverlochy heading in a straight direction.
9. Take the path skirting the shinty field, passing behind the Premier Inn and the Nevis Complex. Return to the Old Fort.
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