Five of the best woodland walks near Inverness

THE Highlands is one of the most amazing places to see, but the region is bigger than many countries, including Wales, so is difficult to explore.

Culloden Battlefield. Picture: David Moir

So if you don’t want to travel great distances from the Highland capital, here are a few suggestions for walkers and tourists.

Forestry Commission Scotland boast that there are fabulous forests lying waiting for people to explore just next to Inverness.

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ORD HILL

Ord Hill. Picture: Douglas Scott

Some people reckon this is the best viewpoint in Inverness. Trails wander through open, mixed forest, with wonderful views over the Moray and Beauly Firths. The sunset over Craig Phadrig can be spectacular.

You can find the tumbled remains of an Iron Age hill fort here too. People living here would have been the nearest neighbours to the fort on Craig Phadrig: the two settlements must have dominated the land and sea around them.

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CULLODEN FOREST

Ord Hill. Picture: Douglas Scott

Right on the edge of Inverness, this popular forest is a great place to walk, run or ride. It is also full of history.

The trees cover part of the site of the battle of Culloden, and the Prisoners’ Stone is a grim reminder of that fateful day on Culloden Battlenfield..

St Mary’s Well has a Christian name, but it’s a reminder of pagan traditions. It’s still used as a place to make a wish and leave a scrap of cloth as a healing charm.

CRAIG PHADRIG

Among the hundreds of ancient sites hidden in Scotland’s forests, Craig Phadrig’s hill fort is one of the most impressive.

It was probably first built in the Iron Age around 300 BC and then, for some reason lost in history, abandoned and burned. Later it was re-occupied as the headquarters of a powerful Pictish king.

Today the walls are easy to see as an oval shaped mound at the top of the hill. Imagine all the comings and goings as you explore the forest, with glimpses through the trees of Inverness and the Beauly Firth.

DAVIOT WOOD

Daviot Wood is a great place to relax that’s just on the doorstep of Inverness. The paths here are wide and level, so they’re ideal for family cycling.

The forest here is relatively young, but it already shelters much more varied wildlife than the open moorland that was here before. Dragonflies breed in forest pools, owls hunt through the trees at night, and deer may well be watching you as you walk.

REELIG GLEN

Reelig Glen is a narrow, steep-sided gorge, cut by the rushing waters of the Moniack. The woodland is a mixture of old conifer and broadleaved trees, but its real glory is a stand of Douglas Fir trees that are well over 100 years old. They soar above you to a height of about 170 feet.

One old giant measured over 200 feet (64 metres) in the year 2000 – the tallest tree in Britain at the time. After a local competition, it was named Dughall Mor – Big Douglas.