I was delighted to be invited by a new pal, Izzie, to join her group of running ladies at the weekend for a loop of Loch Affric. Every month, they aim to run a half-marathon somewhere new and on trails.
I’ve visited the area of Glen Affric in the Scottish Highlands before and I knew how beautiful it was:
Loch Affric trail running loop
The loop around Loch Affric is 11 miles. We added another two miles to reach 13.1 miles, which is a half-marathon distance.
I would describe the trail along the northern shore as rocky and undulating, with lots of bog and burn jumps for interest.
The track along the southern shore is wider and firmer underfoot but also features longer and more sustained ascents. We all decided that there seemed to be more ascent and descent!
The final kicker towards the car park finished me off after 13 miles of fairly sustained running.
Mid-way, we added an extra two miles out and back from the western end of the loch and along the long-distance Affric Kintail Way. (Note to self: Take a look at the Way and consider running the length of the route.)
The scenery throughout the circuit of the loch is stunning. We enjoyed a mix of forestry, open moorlands and high mountain tops all along the glen. There are many Munros either side of the glen and seeing the summits reminded me of a great outing last year when Hubby G and I mountain biked to the Hostelling Scotland Glen Affric Hostel (currently shut due to Covid) and then walked three Munros to the north.
Our friendly and chatty group of running ladies was fortunate with the weather. While rain had been forecast, we experienced only a few drops. Mostly it was warm and dry, until the last few miles, which felt muggy-hot.
The midges can be a real pest in Glen Affric and the car park was particularly bad (it always is!). When we stopped to re-group, we chose breezier locations to keep off the worst of the nasty wee beasts. We had all sprayed on Smidge and amazingly I escaped without a bite.
I absolutely loved the outing and it felt like the perfect Saturday morning of trail running. I am still pinching myself that places such as Glen Affric are only an hour from my new home.
I also felt very welcomed by the others and throughly enjoyed meeting new outdoorsy women.
Loch dip and picnic
We followed the run with a quick dip / paddle in a nearby loch. I am not going to tell you where it was because there are plenty of nice places and I’d rather keep some locations a secret!
I admit I was ashamed by my lack of imagination with my own picnic. I had quickly bought pork pies and a Scottish egg from the supermarket, while others brought a spread of amazing home-made produce. I was more than happy to offer feedback (!) on a vegan quiche and vegan chocolate treats. They were amazing.
The midges came and went with the sunshine and breeze but mostly they stayed away, which seemed very surprising given how close we were to the midge-ridden car park!
Making new running friends
I confess that one of my biggest anxieties of moving north had been leaving behind good friends, especially outdoorsy friends. Many have, or plan to, visit us but it is the day to day that I was worried about.
I feel so chuffed to have made some nice friends already – and to have been so kindly welcomed into their friendship groups.