The vibrant green and completely lush underbrush climbing up the trees and creeping across the floor of the forest struck me first as I entered the darkly lit canopy of trees in the national park forests surrounding Fort Augustus.
Fort Augustus has about six major walks and hikes in the region that take between two to six hours each; this was a major factor for staying in the area for about a week. Most of my Scottish days were structured around hiking during the day and exploring the small towns and then finding great local pubs with music and entertainment in the evenings.
All roads lead back to town essentially so I was told to just pick a direction and walk until I found a path jutting off of the road and into the forest. Many of the paths lead up high above Loch Ness with glimpsing views of the shimmering blue through the trees while others lead down to the gushing River Oich. This river feeds into Loch Ness and serene paths through the woods are fairly empty of other hikers.
For me, empty paths are the perfect invitation to sing out loud (and off-key, I admit) as I wandered and hiked along the paths. Like any good hiker I take along lunch and then search out the perfect spot for my picnic.
My favorite spot discovered is actually just a 15 minute walk out of town along the road and then a short walk across a cow pasture. I would like to say that it’s a secret spot, but a group of campers rowing the length of the lake actually found this gorgeous beach first. The spot, Borlum, is at the very tip of Loch Ness; the entire 23 miles of the lake simply unfolds into the far distance in a shimmery expanse of clam blue waters.
Huge shady trees dot the bank of the eight-foot wide pebbly beach and it’s hard to convey just how gorgeous it was to watch the sun begin to set and cast its warm orangey-yellow light over the water.
There are a lot of tranquil walks in the region and I found Fort Augustus a pleasant and undeniably charming town, truly. It’s small but sweet and the town manages to nestle itself nicely between the forests, lake, and rivers and the gorgeous natural setting over-powers the chatter and bump of tourists that crowd the sidewalks.