Hiking Around Loch Ness: Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh
If you are looking at options for hiking around Loch Ness then you won’t be left disappointed. There are several walks near the loch and in the surrounding area which offer some incredible views.
One of the most common hikes is Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh (pronounced MELL-FOOR-VANEE).
Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh is the largest peak in the Loch Ness area and can be seen from up to 30 miles (48km) away on a clear day. If you choose your day wisely in terms of the weather then on the summit you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of Loch Ness and even as far down the Great Glen as Ben Nevis.
With a summit of 699 metres (2293 ft) Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh is actually considered a Graham which, although no comparison to hiking a munro, shouldn’t be taken too lightly. See my article The Mountains In Scotland: A General Guide for a more detailed explanation on how the Scottish mountains are categorised.
Hiking Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh
You actually have two options when hiking Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh: drive up Bunloit hill and start closer to the summit, or start down in the village of Drumnadrochit which will add an extra 5 miles (8km) to your hike.
The most common of the two is undoubtedly driving up the Bunloit hill. Check out the map at the bottom of this post, there you can zoom in and see the exact location of the car park.
If you’re coming from Inverness then follow the A82 towards Drumnadrochit, pass through the village and take a sharp right straight after the bridge just beyond the petrol station. This is the start of Bunloit hill; just follow this winding and sometimes very steep single track road all the way up to the car-park at the end.
This is the starting point of your hike.
It’s worth noting that, if you are planning on doing some more hiking around Loch Ness, several start or pass through this area.
If you do decide to start the Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh in Drumnadrochit then the walk begins as you turn off the main road after the bridge. Continue along the initial flat section of the Bunloit road and, instead of curving left to carry on up the hill, take the track to your right which continues straight ahead. This is a track with no vehicles which takes you up a couple of miles before meeting the road again. Continue this road up until you see a footpath on the side. The footpath will follow the humpy section of the single track road all the way to the car park at the end.
You’ll see a bridge on your left which goes down to the Loch Ness Clayworks (known as ‘the pottery’), avoid this and stick to the path on your right. There are signs which say ‘hill footpath’.
This is a pleasant path passing through a brief forested area with fields on your right. There is a stream which the path follows and straight ahead lies the summit of Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh.
You’ll then cross over a road with two gates on either side.
The path continues through the woodland and will then begin a steep ascent. This ascent provides some beautiful scenery. After this ascent, you’ll pass through another gate which almost marks the end of the wooded area. Continue up the hill on the obvious path ahead which leaves the forest behind and approaches the looming summit of Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh ahead.
Continue up onto the moorland and climb over the giant deer fence which is in place. There’s a stile for you to go up and over and if you have a dog there’s more than sufficient space between the fence wires.
Continue along the self-explanatory path ahead on the ridge leading up the mountain. The path will pass through a rocky section and then dip down before the final steep ascent up to the summit.
Being an extremely popular route the very visibly worn with some quite boggy sections. At a leisurely pace, the climb itself shouldn’t prove to be much of a challenge to anyone with at least a basic level of fitness.
After the steep ascent, there are a couple of false summits. Don’t be fooled by the first cairn you reach, this isn’t the actual summit, the actual summit is just up ahead beyond the dip after the initial false summit.
Here there are several cairns with the highest point being at the far end of the plateau.
From the summit, you can enjoy some amazing views of Loch Ness and the south-western munros down the Great Glen.
To the north-west you’re looking at the munros of Glen Affric and, on a really clear day, looking west you may even get a glimpse of the Cuillins in Skye.
The conditions on the top tend to be extremely windy which adds a big chill factor. Each time I’ve climbed Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh I’ve spent very little time on the actual summit. If you take a picnic or some snacks then the best place is in the dip just between the false and actual summit. Here you’ll be a lot more sheltered from the wind and there are some rocks and banks for you to sit on.
The descent follows the exact same path back down to the car park. Take your time and enjoy the amazing views of Loch Ness as you descend. If you’re walking all the way back to Drumnadrochit then just follow the path along the roadside which will lead right down to the village.
If you want to head up Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh then you should aim for as clear a day as possible. Check out The Met Office for the most accurate forecasts.
It can generally be climbed at any time of the year. Conditions can, however, be harsh in winter with the risk of heavy snow and blizzards. For the best weather consider going up in summer or autumn, spring is also perfectly doable but with a slightly higher risk of rain. There may be snow on the summit from November to as late as April.
So if you are planning on hiking around Loch Ness, Meall Fuar-Mhonaidh is an extremely pleasant hike which offers spectacular views of the loch and the Great Glen valley. It’s not a difficult climb and is a great option if you have young kids and would like a slightly longer family walk.
Take your camera, some decent walking shoes/boots, a raincoat and you’re good to go!
As always, thanks a lot for reading and please leave any comments below! 😀