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    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    70 m
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    7.0 km
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
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    Directions to Trailhead

    Loch an Eilein Walk

    Loch an Eilein Walk

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    Table of contents

    Escape to walk among the towering pines of the Rothiemurchus Forest and see their reflection on the dazzling waters of Loch an Eilein on the Loch an Eilein Walk. The 7.0 km trail is one of Scotland’s most popular, and for a good reason! Unfolding around the entire perimeter of the loch, this route also features a lovely extension to take in neighbouring Loch Gamhna, a quieter and less travelled shoreline. Great paths and lack of ascent make this a top choice for families looking to experience the beauty of Cairngorms National Park.

    Route Description for Loch an Eilein Walk

    Lofty pines, dazzling loch views, and the sounds of wildlife filling the air sums up the Loch an Eilein Walk in Aviemore, Scotland. Rounding both Loch an Eilein and the smaller Loch Gamhna, this walk invites you to immerse yourself in a peaceful corner of the Cairngorms National Park and enjoy its bounty of beauty. The section around Loch an Eilein unfolds on a good, well-maintained footpath; however, the stretch around Loch Gamhna is not maintained and reportedly very muddy in places. If you prefer to skip Loch Gamhna, you can continue on to complete the loop around Loch an Eilein, returning to the start point.

    No matter what time of year you visit Loch an Eilein, she’s guaranteed to put on a show. With towering pines reflecting on the water and the soft lap of the loch on the shore, this walk is perfect for those looking for a slice of peace and serenity and the opportunity to commune with nature at its best.

    From the car park, spot the path on the far end with signs for “Loch an Eilein.” Pass through a gap in the wall and opt to visit the information centre on the right, or continue on the path that leads you to the shoreline to begin a clockwise circuit. Take the footbridge that leads up towards the pines and enter the forest. You’ll soon pass a cozy white cottage, signalling to look out for the gate ahead which you’ll pass through.

    Enjoy the melody of the birds going about their business in the forest and continue on the main path, soon crossing another bridge before keeping right to maintain the lochside trail. When the path approaches a fence found on your right if you’ve decided to skip Loch Gamhna, continue ahead to cross another footbridge to complete the circuit around Loch an Eilein. Those wishing to take in the quieter (albeit muddier!) shoreline of Loch Gamhna can turn left to head towards the second loch.

    You’ll see Loch Gamhna sparkling up ahead with Creag an Fhitheach painting the backdrop. When the path forks, take the smaller path on the right to round the loch. More pinewoods and brilliant lochside scenery pave the way as you complete the section around Loch Gamhna, soon reaching a T-junction where you’ll rejoin the main route by turning left, spotting Loch an Eilein on your right.

    Follow the ‘footpath’ sign and walk another stretch that leads to a gate. At this point, you’ll stumble upon the idyllic scene of Loch an Eilein Castle, a 14th-century ruined castle perched on a small island out in the loch. It’s believed the castle was once used as a hideout to avoid mainland threats, including thieves and is said to have been once owned by Alexander the Wolf of Badenoch.

    Proceed to complete the loop by following the track to return to the car park where the walk began.

    Trail Highlights

    Loch an Eilein

    Loch an Eilein is a freshwater loch in Cairngorms National Park, located a few miles south of Aviemore, Scotland. Its name means “loch of the island” in Scottish Gaelic, and it’s a popular area for walkers due to its scenic shoreline and surrounding pine forest.

    Loch Gamhna

    Loch Gamhna is a small freshwater loch in the Cairngorms National Park. It’s connected to the larger Loch an Eilein by a small stream, and many choose to walk the perimeter of the two lochs in one go.

    Loch an Eilein Castle

    The Loch an Eilein Castle is a 14th-century ruined castle found on a natural island in Loch an Eilein around 100m from the shore. The castle was initially built as a hideaway from mainland threats, namely thieves, and was later the site of conflict referencing the Jacobites in the 17th-century. In the late 18th-century, the castle was abandoned and has since become a ruin.

    Other Great Walks in Cairngorms National Park

    Check out our trail guides to Ben Magdui, Loch Muick, Ben Vrackie, and the Mount Keen Walk. Or see all of our Cairngorms walks.

    What to know about hiking the Loch an Eilein in 2024?

    In 2024, there are no reported significant changes to the hiking conditions on the Loch an Eilein trail in the Cairngorms. The path continues to offer a scenic route through mature pinewoods and past the iconic island castle. Check recent weather, as if it has been raining you can expect significant muddy sections, especially the optional extensions around Loch Gamhna.

    Insider Hints for Loch an Eilein Walk

    • Parking at Loch an Eilein is monitored by an attendant daily and costs £4.50 .
    • Dog’s are permitted on the trail when leashed, however, there is a fun “doggy zone” where your furry friend can run free and enjoy the surroundings. More details available at the visitors centre.
    • Swimming is permitted in Loch an Eilein, so if you fancy a dip, bring your suit along.
    • Nearby Aviemore (15 minutes by car) features several great places to eat, drink, and stay. For more information on bars, restaurants, shops, and overnight stays, follow the link here:

    Getting to the Loch an Eilein Walk Trailhead

    To get to the Loch an Eilein Walk from Aviemore, take Craggan More Road and Dalfaber Drive to Grampian Rd/B9152. Continue for 1.6 km before following Grampian Road/B9152 and B970. After 6.6 km, arrive at the car park where the walk begins—found at the end of the minor road that leads to the loch.

    Route Information

    • When to do:

      Year-round access

    • Backcountry Campsites:

      Glenmore Campsite

    • Pets allowed:

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly:


    • Route Signage:


    • Crowd Levels:


    • Route Type:


    Loch an Eilein Walk Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

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