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Tourists invited to woodland ‘gem’

A ‘little gem’ of forest and ancient woodland near Loch Ness is being billed as an even more perfect spot for a bit of quiet recreation and relaxation thanks to a new 10km walking route.

Craigmonie and Balmacaan woods near Drumnadrochit have been the focus of a partnership project involving Forestry Commission Scotland (which owns Craigmonie), Woodland Trust Scotland (which owns Balmacaan) and the Craigmonie Woodland Association.

Together they have created a leaflet guide to the woodlands and have installed way-markers and interpretation boards to help people get the most out of their visit.

“These amazing woods are hidden away next to Drumnadrochit, just 15 miles south of Inverness, and they are well known and well used by local walkers, cyclists and horse riders. They really are a wonderful resource for tourists, too!” said Eleanor Garty, Woodland Trust Officer for Balmacaan.

“It’s a fantastic location with five different way-marked walks that should offer something for everyone – from amazing broadleaf woodland to the marvellous views across Loch Ness from the top of the hill,” she explained. “You can also keep your eyes open for red squirrels, bats, badgers and a host of other wildlife or if you prefer, visit the Victorian ‘ice-house’ or what is thought to be the remains of an Iron Age fort."

The site features a range of trails to suit all levels and that are easily accessible on foot from either end of the woodland. The newly signposted 'Glen Coiltie loop' is 10km of moderate walking which starts in Craigmonie woodland, follows forest tracks onto Cnoc a Bhuachaille and returns through Glen Coiltie.

For a less strenuous visit you can also choose from:

• Craigmonie Trail: 1.6km, fairly strenuous, steep sections, goes to viewpoint overlooking Loch Ness.
• Milton Trail: 2.5km, moderate, has Milton viewpoint with interpretation board.
• Oakwood Trail: 1km, easy, loops round a 'kettlehole' in oak woods.
• Balmacaan Trail: 2.5km, moderate, through oak woods.

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