The South Loch Ness Trail was originally opened in August 2011, stretching from Loch Tarff to Inverness. The path is 36 miles / 58 km long and follows the wilder, more untouched south side of the loch, with varied scenery and superb views down onto the famous waters.
With the Great Glen Way already stretching along the north side of Loch Ness there was an opportunity to add one additional path to link Fort Augustus with Loch Tarff, allowing walkers to combine the two long distance routes and complete a full circuit of Loch Ness.
In 2018, Visit Inverness Loch Ness and SSE completed a project to add the additional path from Fort Augustus to Loch Tarff, linking the two spectacular trails and could officially launch the 80mile Loch Ness 360.
To promote the launch of the trail and create a sustainable event Visit Inverness Loch Ness planned the Loch Ness 360 Challenge to take place in 2020. Held over three days, the event includes an ultra-marathon, three marathons and a mountain bike race. Due to the pandemic the event has been postponed until May 2022. It is expected to bring competitors and their friends and family to the area to stay in local accommodation and they will be encouraged to discover the destination.
The trail had over 2,000 people pass a people counter close to Loch Tarff in the last twelve months and the positive impact has been felt by a range of accommodation and activity providers as well as local shops, cafes and restaurants.
Visit Inverness Loch Ness also appointed a Loch Ness Ranger through a partnership with Highland Council that has been in place through the summer of 2021 and had promoted responsible behaviour from visitors and local people, whilst also providing information and adding signage for longer term impacts.
Visit Inverness Loch Ness will continue to support the success of the South Loch Ness Trail by marketing the route, promoting safe and responsible visits and use of local businesses. There are also plans under way to refresh some of the original signage and use the opportunity to promote shopping and staying local. The trail has a bright and sustainable future and is positioned well to capitalise on move to slow and responsible tourism that is focused around local authentic experiences.
Michael Golding, Visit Inverness Loch Ness CEO said: “With a need to move to a low carbon tourism economy and a visitor desire for authentic slow tourism experiences, the South Loch Ness Trail is well positioned to play a key role in the future of our destination.”
“With the support of key stakeholders, the trail has continued to develop as has its importance to local businesses. Likewise local people have benefitted from having such a great opportunity for fresh air and spectacular views on their doorstep.”
“We will continue to worse closely with partners and stakeholders to ensure the South Loch Ness Trail and the Loch Ness 360 fulfils its potential and continues to grow from strength to strength.”
Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director said: “I’m delighted to see the 10th anniversary of the South Loch Ness Trails being marked.
“These trails really are a brilliant resource for visitors and local people alike. Their popularity helped lead to further investment to create the Loch Ness 360, and looking ahead to 2022, stimulated major new running, cycling and walking events in the area.
“Visitors are drawn to the Highlands for their stunning landscapes and scenery and the trails play an important part in helping visitors to not only enjoy the area but to slow down and stay a bit longer as well as promoting more responsible forms of tourism, creating economic and social benefits for the region.”
Craig Cunningham, SSE Renewables Project Manager for Bhlaraidh Wind Farm Extension, said: “The South Loch Ness Trail has proved a tremendous success since opening 10 years ago and SSE Renewables is proud to have been able to support its development. The trail borders several SSE Renewables sites in the Great Glen and it has been rewarding to see it develop into such a popular route for members of the community and visitors to the area. Our ongoing plans for growth in the Highlands, including wind farm extensions at Bhlaraidh and Achany South, will allow SSE Renewables to continue to support valuable projects such as the South Loch Ness Trail for years to come.”
Kevin Stacey, owner and founder of 42Cycling, said: “Linking Fort Augustus back to Inverness or vice versa, the South Loch Ness Trail has opened up access to complete a full 360 of Loch Ness by bike. Ensuring relative safety and calm away from larger
vehicles. Having this trail in place has been hugely beneficial to 42cycling. We offer a super guided cycling experience on Mountain or Gravel Bike with many possibilities for creating more varied cycling experiences. We strongly recommend cycling the full Loch Ness 360 route taking in and linking both the Great Glen Way and the South Loch Ness Trails as part of an 80 mile, over 3000ft of climbing spectacular Ness.”
Links & Information
History – https://lochness360.com/blog/story-so-far/
All names from images listed from left
Image 1 – Michael Golding –Visit Inverness Loch Ness CEO, Chris Taylor VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, Lindsay Mackinnon TicketToRide Owner, Craig Cunningham SSE Renewables Project Manager for Bhlaraidh Wind Farm, Graeme Ambrose former Visit Inverness Loch Ness CEO
Image 2 – Lindsay Mackinnon TicketToRide Owner
Image 3 – Michael Golding –Visit Inverness Loch Ness CEO, Craig Cunningham SSE Renewables Project Manager for Bhlaraidh Wind Farm, Chris Taylor VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, Graeme Ambrose former Visit Inverness Loch Ness CEO, Lindsay Mackinnon TicketToRide Owner
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