The River Affric, Glen Affric
The River Affric, Glen Affric

Glen Affric is a secluded Highland glen about 15 miles west of Loch Ness, stretching south-west of Cannich. It is known - with good reason - as being one of the most beautiful glens in Scotland (though Glen Lyon in Perthshire rivals it in my opinion).

The River Affric runs down the glen, with roads on both sides of the river for the most easterly part of the way but past Tomich the southern route veers away from the river onto higher ground.

There are two major lochs in the glen, Loch Affric and Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin. The northern road ends at the Forestry Commission Scotland parking area at the western end of Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin.

Glen Affric is a wonderful mix of woodland, lochs and mountains. It holds one of the largest areas of Caledonian pinewood in Scotland. It has been named a National Scenic Area (NSA), National Nature Reserve (NNR) and a Caledonian Forest Reserve.

The eastern part of the glen is owned by Forestry Commission Scotland, who operate four parking areas for visitors, at Dog Falls, Loch Beinn a’Mheadhain, River Affric (the western end of the loch) and at Plodda Falls on the south side of the glen. Of these Plodda is by far the least visited; most visitors concentrate on the north side of the glen.

Pine woods on the River Affric circular walk
Pine woods on the River Affric circular walk

Glen Affric is a haven for walkers; there are miles of forest trails and long-distance paths going up into the mountains and moorland far above the river. and no less than 8 Munros (peaks over 3,000 feet) on the north side of the glen.

Serious walkers will want to tackle the 70km long Affric Kintail Way leading past Glen Affric Lodge and through the National Trust for Scotland's West Affric wilderness area to Morvich in Kintail, also owned by the Trust.

The Lodge was built in 1860 by Lord Tweedmouth, who is perhaps best known for being the first man to breed golden retrievers. The Duke and Duchess of York (later King George V and Queen Mary) visited Glen Affric Lodge in 1897.

The Lodge is the centre of the Glen Affric Estate, which takes in 10,000 acres of the National Nature Reserve. The Estate dates to the 15th century when this area was owned by Clan Chisholm and Clan Fraser of Lovat.

Beautiful scenery at Chisholme Bridge
Beautiful scenery at Chisholme Bridge

The Battle of Glen Affric

In 1721 a small band of armed men led by members of Clan Ross set off from Inverness to collect rents owed by tenants on the estates of Mackenzie of Seaforth, Chisholm and Glenmoriston. The estates were owned by William Mackenzie, 5th Earl of Seaforth, chief of Clan Mackenzie, who was in exile for his role in the Jacobite uprisings of 1715 and 1719.

In his absence, Mackenzie's factor, Colonel Donald Murchison had been collecting the rents and sending them overseas to Mackenzie. Murchison's men outnumbered the Rosses and ambushed them near Loch Affric.

After a brief skirmish where several of the Rosses were wounded they agreed to withdraw and never to attempt to collect Mackenzie's rents again. Walter Ross died from his wounds and was buried in Beauly Priory near Inverness.

The site where the 'battle' took place is uncertain.

The River Affric from the Dog Falls viewpoint
The River Affric from the Dog Falls viewpoint

Dog Falls

The most popular - and easiest to access - point for visitors to Glen Affric is Dog Falls, the first parking area you come to as you travel west down the glen from Cannich. There are three signposted trails from the parking area.

The Viewpoint trail is the shortest at 1.75 miles (2.9km). This trail leads uphill through the forest to a viewpoint where you can see Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhain below you and the mountains at the western end of the glen beyond.

The Coire Loch Trail leads through ancient pine woods to a lochan in a bowl of hills. You can continue past the lochan and climb one of the hills for excellent views. This trail takes 2.75 miles (4.5km).

The most popular walk is the Dog Falls Trail, which takes you through a lovely forest area beside the road before emerging at a viewing platform overlooking Dog Falls, where the River Affric plunges through a sharp gorge. This walk takes two miles (3.2km).

From our experience of visiting Dog Falls several times we have to say that the viewing platform is a bit disappointing; it doesn't offer a great view of the Falls due to the danger of getting too close to the gorge. Be aware that the viewing platform can be muddy, so be sure to wear good waterproof footwear.

But having said that, there are several places along the trail where you can easily walk out onto rocks beside the river for wonderful views, so don't be put off! This is still a lovely walk.

Dog Falls appears in our list of 22 Beautiful Scottish Waterfalls.

Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin
Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin

Loch Beinn a’Mheadhain

If you continue west along the minor road leading into Glen Affric you come to the second Forestry Commission Scotland parking area for Loch Beinn a’Mheadhain, about halfway down the loch. Unlike the car park at Dog Falls there are no waymarked trails, just a network of small paths leading through Scots pine and birch woodland to the loch. This is a lovely spot for a picnic.

River Affric

The third parking area is at the western end of the loch where the public road peters out. This is the most spectacular part of the glen, with wonderful views east along the loch and west to the mountains of West Affric.

This area abounds in wildlife, with red deer frequently sighted especially in autumn and winter. Keep your eyes peeled for golden eagles.

There are two colour-coded walking trails from the parking area. One leads up to the Am Meallan Viewpoint, offering simply wonderful views west over Glen Affric Lodge. The viewpoint trail is steep but short, about 0.25 miles long (0.6km). There is an observation platform and cairn at the top pointing out landscape features on the horizon.

The River Affric picnic area with Loch Affric beyond
The River Affric picnic area with Loch Affric beyond

The other trail is a circular route along the River Affric. The trail runs directly beside the water and through beautiful pine woods, with glimpses of Loch Beinn a’Mheadhain through the trees.

In addition to these three official parking areas on the north side of the glen, there is also a parking area at Chisholm Bridge, just before you get to the end of the loch. From here there is a trail heading uphill into the high ground above the river. You emerge from woodland into an open area of moor and meadow fringed by trees, and the scenery is simply stunning.

Plodda Falls

On the south side of the glen, west of Tomich, is the fourth Forestry Commission Scotland parking area in Glen Affric at Plodda Falls. Unlike Dog Falls, where it is difficult to get a good view of the waterfall, at Plodda you get a spectacular view of a magnificent waterfall as it plunges almost straight down a 151-foot-high cliff.

A viewing platform juts out over the top of the falls, allowing you to look straight down over the plume - if you have a head for heights! You can also view the stunning falls from the base, and wander through a plantation of magnificent Douglas firs that once formed part of Lord Tweedmouth's estate.

Looking straight down over Plodda Falls
Looking straight down over Plodda Falls

Getting There

Glen Affric is well signposted on a minor road heading west from Cannich, off the A831 between Beauly and Drumnadrochit.

Please note that all of the Forestry Commission Scotland parking areas are pay and display. Parking isn't cheap, but at least you can re-use a parking ticket at any of the Glen Affric parking areas for that day.

About Glen Affric and Dog Falls
Address: Cannich, Highlands, Scotland
Attraction Type: Countryside
Location: On a minor road heading west from Cannich. There are four Forestry Commission Scotland parking areas along the glen.
Website: Glen Affric and Dog Falls
Forestry Commission Scotland
Location map
OS: NH283282
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express


Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest

Plodda Falls - 2.7 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Corrimony Chambered Cairn - 6.4 miles (Prehistoric Site) Heritage Rating

St Columba's Holy Well, Invermoriston - 11.3 miles (Historic Church) Heritage Rating

Allt na Criche Waterfall - 12.7 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Divach Falls - 13.1 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Fort Augustus Clansman Centre - 13.3 miles (Museum) Heritage Rating

Loch Ness Centre - 14 miles (Museum) Heritage Rating

Falls of Foyers - 14.2 miles (Countryside) Heritage Rating

Nearest Holiday Cottages to Glen Affric and Dog Falls:

Nearby accommodation is calculated 'as the crow flies' from Glen Affric & Dog Falls. 'Nearest' may involve a long drive up and down glens or, if you are near the coast, may include a ferry ride! Please check the property map to make sure the location is right for you.

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