Just outside Inverness, high above the shores of Loch Ness, is the 130-strong community of Abriachan.
Once made up of crofts and farmland, most residents now work in Inverness and beyond, but Abriachan’s community spirit has never left.
After the purchase of two square miles of woodland, the Abriachan Forest Trust was formed as a social enterprise. The trust created a network of attractions to welcome visitors while also creating jobs.
Now, Abriachan Forest offers visitors the perfect opportunity to spend a day enjoying the beautiful Highland landscape. For families with an active streak, or those looking to get a little closer to nature, there is so much to see and do in this woodland wonderland.
Suzann Barr is the learning coordinator at Abriachan and over the years she has seen the community develop into a thriving hub of residents and visitors.
“The woodland offers something for everyone. The 8.6-mile Kelpies Trails are suited to mountain biking enthusiasts, while those who prefer a gentle walk can follow the footpath network.
“Among the trees lining the footpaths, there are lots of secrets and surprises to discover, making it the perfect family adventure. From the top of the hill there are fantastic views. You can see along the Great Glen to the Moray Firth in the east, across Loch Ness to the Monadhliath, and in the opposite direction you can spot the Affric hills, the Fannichs and Ben Wyvis.”
Along with the appeal of beautiful scenery, the surprises dotted along the walking trails will delight younger visitors.
Treehouses, birdwatches and mud kitchens can be found along the paths, providing a chance for children to be hands-on with nature, get a bit muddy, and have fun in the process.
Or for those seeking a bit of adrenalin, the mountain bike trails are also a great way to get the family active.
The forest school has proven to be immensely popular; running as a full-time nursery, amenities, staff and resources are put to good use outside school hours to offer holiday activities, workshops and classes for adults and children.
Abriachan Forest provides the perfect escape from city life. If you are visiting Inverness then it is worth venturing south to spend a day in the forest, exploring the trails, getting muddy and enjoying nature.
Nestled in its tranquil spot overlooking Loch Ness, you will feel a million miles away from anywhere as you take in the beauty of the Highlands.
Where: Abriachan Forest Trust, Abriachan, Inverness IV3 8LB.
Cost: Trails are free to enjoy. Charges vary for events and classes.
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