The Affric Kintail Way: A guide to the trek
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The Affric Kintail Way is a waymarked walking trail stretching across 71 km between Drumnadrochit and Morvich. Start your trip along forest paths with views onto Glen Urquhart, and finish by walking through the wild and remote corners of the famous Glen Affric.
We like to split this walk into 4 stages with 5 nights’ accommodation, including 4 nights in hotels and B&B, and 1 night in the most remote Youth Hostel in the Highlands which is only accessible via foot or bike.
Glen Affric is often described as one of the most spectacular valleys in Scotland. This trip will see you walking through breathtaking scenery as you pass ancient Caledonian pinewoods, dramatic lochs and waterfalls. The overnight stay at Glen Affric Hostel really adds to the experience as you wake up in the tranquil valley before setting off on the last leg of your trip.
Other highlights include wildlife spotting as you can often come across red deer, playful otters, and ospreys during your walk. Nature lovers may also enjoy walking in September as you can spot an array of mushrooms including delicious chanterelles (a perfect addition to your dinner at the hostel!)
Most enjoyable stages
The final stage from Alltbeithe to Morvich is known to have some of the best views of the trip. Wake up in Glen Affric Youth Hostel and take in the tranquillity of your surroundings. On today’s walk, you’ll notice how the path starts to narrow and the views become even more impressive with every twist and turn. Make sure to take it all in as you pass impressive waterfalls and open views onto the imposing Beinn Fhada and the Five Sisters of Kintail before reaching the shore of Loch Duich in Morvich.
Alpine Exploratory offers the following holidays based on our Affric Kintail Way research:
Affric Kintail Way
Alpine Exploratory's 2022 research on the Affric Kintail Way was led by: Dan in March
Is it for me?
Long distance paths
Scotland has an impressive array of long distance routes. Completing any of these multi day trails are a great way to explore some of the country’s best landscapes and wildlife. The Affric Kintail is still somewhat of a hidden gem compared to the popular West Highland Way.
Is the route obvious?
Route-finding on the Affric Kintail is among the most straightforward of any of our routes. The path is waymarked with the white and black logo throughout (see photo of logo below). This combined with our routecards and map makes navigation relatively easy on the trail.
What's it like underfoot?
Underfoot you will find well maintained paths on the way. Most of your miles will be on wide, pebbly or stony forest tracks with some short unavoidable road sections on stage 1 and 2.
On stage 4 from Alltbeithe to Morvich, the path becomes narrower and rockier with some steeper descent. This being said the rockier and steeper sections are short-lived and for most of the trail the gradients are gentle and the terrain is mostly gravel.
Can I manage it?
The Affric Kintail Way will suit most walkers used to multi-day treks, walking perhaps 5-6 hours a day, with one shorter day in the middle, over the course of 4 days. The emphasis is on steady completion of miles, rather than difficult terrain.
Is it technically difficult?
The Affric Kintail Way is not technically difficult, with no climbing, via ferrata, ladders or any other hazards other than walking. The walking, as above, can be muddy, rocky or rooty especially through any temporary diversions, but it is always purely walking.
When to go?
Alpine Exploratory's Affric Kintail Way season runs from the start of May to the start of September.
We set this period to avoid the worst of the winter weather. For the warmest temperatures choose the high summer months of July and August. September sees shorter days but can see crisp beautiful days and the autumnal colours will start to show throughout the glen. Be prepared for heavy rain at any time too! Earlier in the year, in the Spring, there can be spells of wonderfully warm and dry weather (no guarantees!)
Where to stay?
Start the trip with a B&B near the shores of Loch Ness, 3 nights in hotels on route as well as 1 night in the remote Glen Affric youth Hostel. This friendly eco-hostel is only reached on foot or by mountain bike and is a goal of walkers and Munro-baggers.
Here's a brief guide to the places and experiences on the Affric Kintail Way on our classic 4-stage schedule.
The Affric Kintail Way starts at Drumnadrochit, a small village on the Western shore of Loch Ness. This is where you will spend your first night on the trip. Your first walking day will begin the next day as you start with a walk through Craigmonie woods with plenty of views onto Glen Urquhart. This day is mostly along Forestry tracks and woodlands until you reach the small village of Cannich for the night.
Leaving Cannich, an undulating forestry track takes you to the River Affric. Here you can take a short detour to the Dog Falls viewpoint. The dramatic rocky gorge is a great place for a mid-morning snack before carrying on with your hike. As you continue along the trail, the path takes you up to enjoy the views on Loch Beinn a'Mheadoin and the beauty of Glen Affric slowly starts to uphold. You end this stage at the River Affric car park which is as far as cars can go in the glen. Here you'll be picked up by a taxi to take you back for a further night in Cannich.
A shorter day today as you resume your walk from the River Affric car park. Today is the day that the views really start to open up onto the glen and you'll be able to immerse yourself in some of Scotland's finest scenery. After following the loch, the track eventually comes to a bridge over the River Affric with the mountain of Mullach Fraoch Choire peering over the glen. After here the path starts to narrow and you'll continue on a winding around the path until you see the Alltbeithe hostel beyond the bends of the river. The green painted building is hard to miss!
The final stage on the Affric Kintail Way has a real feeling of remoteness and is probably the most spectacular of all the stages. After passing lonely Camban Bothy, you will soon cross the watershed at Cnoc Biodag. Wallking under the impressive shadow of Beinn Fhada on one side and the Five Sisters of Kintail on the other side, your journey takes you down the length of Gleann Lichd to finally reach journey's end at Morvich. Congratulations on completing the Affric Kintail Way!
The Affric Kintail Way in context
Hike the Affric Kintail Way with Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory offers a self-guided walking holiday along the Affric Kintail Way. Our self-guided holidays set you up for a successful trek under your own steam. We book and pay for your accommodation along the whole route; and we send you our well-received info packs including routecards for all the walking, the maps, emergency cards with essential info for accidents, and detailed notes about the local transport. We specialise in tailor-made arrangements, so if you fancy doing the Way in a super-fast time or over a few more days, let us know and we'll fit your trip to suit you. You may also want to add an extra night or two at the Glen Affric Youth Hostel to bag some of Scotland’s famous munros too. It’s your trip, so just let us know your preferences.
The Affric Kintail Way compared to treks in the UK
The Affric Kintail Way is the shortest UK based holiday that we have on offer and can be completed over a long weekend.
In terms of terrain, the first 3 stages of the trail follows forestry tracks and gravel paths. The fourth stage is a little harder, and more comparable to the West Highland Way.
Hike the Affric Kintail Way with Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory offers one walking holiday in Glen Affric and we welcome you to book our classic 4-stage trip. Alternatively, you may also like to add on some extra nights at Glen Affric Hostel. This is a great base for those keen to bag some of Scotland’s famous Munros during their time in Glen Affric. Please contact us to discuss options.
Our self-guided holidays give you what you need to complete the route under your own steam. We book your accommodation in a mix of B&Bs, hotels and 1 hostel. We also provide you with detailed routecards, the local maps, lots of notes and offer on-call support from 8am to 8pm whilst you are hiking.
One key thing to note on the Affric Kintail Way is that you will need to carry your own food (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for your 1 night at the Glen Affric Youth Hostel. We think this is definitely worth it for a night spent in the beautiful glen.
Please ask us any time for more details. Please feel free to describe your walking experience and preferences, and we'll suggest which trek you might enjoy most.
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Affric Kintail Way enquiry form