The Northern Shore of Loch Arkaig
- Location: Great Glen
- Starting Point: Neptunes Staircase Carpark, Banavie
- Trail Length: 52 miles
- Time Required: Day/ half day ride
- Route Type:
- Family / Recreational
- O.S. Map: OS Explorer 399 and 400
- Parking: At start, and also at Clunes Forest Carpark to shorten the ride.
If you crave quiet roads and remote wild country…and you need it the fast way on a road/race bike…this is a ride for you. It is possibly the quickest route into the very heart of Lochaber.There is the option for those on mountain bikes to cycle for about the first six miles on the Caledonian Canal Towpath.There are great views of Ben Nevis from both the B8004 and from the towpath.
Turn right from the Neptune’s Staircase Car Park onto the B8004 for Gairlochy. Mountain bikers cross the canal to the right hand tow path.
Turn left onto the B8005 as you approach Gairlochy. Your route to Clunes is waymarked as the Great Glen Cycle Route.
The tree lined road hugs the shore of Loch Lochy. Watch out for a row of wooden houses on your right. This is the hamlet of Clunes. The road then swings to the left to enter a small steeply wooded valley called the Mile Dorcha –‘the Dark Mile’. A place steeped in Highland history.
It then opens out to a striking view along Loch Arkaig.
On the right are the spectacular Eas Chia – aig Waterfalls.
Go straight on - along the road that hugs the northern shore of the loch. This track like road ducks and dives as it affords the chance for a decent spin of about 12 miles, 18.5 kms. At its end you will find that the road has disappeared into the landscape to become a stalker’s path.
As you turn enjoy the tangible silence of this lovely place. Once it clamoured with the noise of an army barracks in the eighteenth century.
The magnificent stands of ancient Caledonian pines are also worth noting on the southern banks of the loch. In autumn the hills ring with the calls of the red deer stags.
Retrace the northern shore miles. Turn left onto the wooden bridge across the end of the loch. Turn left again. The Achnacarry Estate (watch out for estate vehicles) includes the Clan Cameron Museum. It is well worth a visit. At the end of the estate road turn right onto the B8005 to return to Banavie.