This is an easy, short, circular walk from Blackmuir Wood carpark just outside Strathpeffer, which is a small historic former spa town about 30 minutes drive to the north of Inverness. To attempt this walk you will need to be reasonably fit and steady on uneven ground, and you will need walking boots as parts of the route can be muddy or wet underfoot. For those with more time, or wanting more of a challenging walk, there is the opportunity to continue along the Cat’s Back to the site of an ancient fort at Knockfarrel, which will add another 4 miles (2 hours) to your walk – we hope to complete this section and blog about it in the future on a day when the temperature gets above 0 degrees Centigrade!
How to get there
From Inverglen Guest House take the A9 North, and continue until you reach a roundabout with the A835, where you take the 2nd exit signposted towards Ullapool. Continue on this route until you reach the village of Contin, and then take the right-hand turn, signposted to Strathpeffer (A834). Follow the road and just before you get to Strathpeffer village, take the right hand turn onto an unnamed road, signposted by the Forestry Commission Scotland as Blackmuir Woods. There are car parking spaces on the right-hand side.
Start by walking back to the access road, and pick up a trail leaflet from the box by the information board at the car park entrance. Walk up the track towards the wooden lodges (where there are a number of wood carvings), and you will see a path off to the left with a waymarker sign. There are two trails that you can follow – the red markers are for the Red Kite trail, which will take about 30 minutes and is around 1.5 miles, and the green markers are for the Touchstone Maze trail, which is about 2.25 miles and should take about 45-60 minutes, plus the time you spend exploring the labyrinth itself.
As you approach the maze there are great views across farmland, down towards Strathpeffer, and to the hills beyond. The touchstone maze is a labyrinth of 81 rocks built in the 1990s following ancient designs. The stones represent the range of geological forms found across northern Scotland and includes some of the oldest rock types known in the world. There is a wealth of detail about the geology and origin of the rocks on the information boards at the entrance to the maze.
Coming out of the maze, continue along the path to the right, until you come to a track. Turn right to continue on the circular path to follow the green trail, which will lead you through the woods back to the wooden lodges and down past your start point to the carpark.
We enjoyed this walk on a crisp, frosty day in November, so bear that in mind when you look at the photos!
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