Loch-an-Eilein
(Loch of the Island)

An easy walk, with picturesque views, within a sheltered, ancient Caledonian Pine Forest.

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Length of Walk:   3 miles (5 kilometres)

 

Loch-an-Eilein - a place steeped in history, set in Rothiemurchus within one of the largest remaining ancient Caledonian Forests.  Roe deer and red squirrels are seen quite often within these forests, and there is plenty of birdlife, butterflies as well as interesting plant life to see.

To reach Loch-an-Eilein, turn off the B970, about a mile from the Coylumbridge junction.

If you are starting out from the car park at the visitor centre, spend some time in the centre.  In the 18th century, the area around the visitor centre used to be a flourishing timber industry, and some of the trees in the Caledonian Forest, date from around that time.   The information available at the centre will enhance the pleasure of a walk in this area. 

On leaving the centre, take the track to the left, and head clockwise around the loch.  Follow the track, passing a bench which is sited by a large stone.  As you walk westwards, the loch appears to grow in size.  At its head, there is a wooden bridge.  Look left, and you can see over Loch Gamhna.    A track surrounds Loch Gamhna if you wish to make a diversion.  Loch Gamhna, now very shallow, was once a glacial loch.   Completely different from Loch-an-Eilein, although only separated by a few metres, it is worth taking this brief detour.   

Continue clockwise, past another seat, the path veering left past Kinnapole Hill.   A memorial to a Duchess of Bedford is situated on this hill.

Continue on for around 20 - 30 minutes until you reach Loch an Eilein Cottage.  The cottage is surrounded with cherry trees.  On reaching the north end of the loch , the views open out to see the ruins of the castle.  This is the best view point for taking photographs.  The castle was once a stronghold of the Wolf of Badenoch who died around the turn of the 15th century (featured in our Local History section).  The Jacobites, retreating from Cromdale in 1690, besieged the castle, led by Dame Grizel Mor Grant, widow of the fifth laird Grant.  At this time the castle was connected to the shore by a causeway.   The causeway was lost when the water level in the loch was raised in the 18th century.   Test the unique triple echo, by shouting and hear your voice bounce of the ruins of the castle to the hills.


Osprey fish this loch, some of them nesting in the locality of the loch. There are other rarities of birdlife that nest in this woodland.

From here you are only a short walk back to the visitor centre and car park.


Apart from birdlife, there are various plantlife and fungi. Some of which are found in only one other area of the country.  Although a popular area, it is seldom busy.   The views, peaceful atmosphere and the wildlife make this a paradise worthy of exploration.