A dog friendly walk from DogPeople

A dog-friendly walk from DogPeople
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Blackmuir Wood, Knockfarrel and Cnoc Mor (7.5 challenging or 6 medium)

Hamish walked this route whilst staying in a dog friendly holiday lodge at Blackmuir Wood, Strathpeffer. The walk starts from the nearby public car park for Blackmuir Wood and passes the lodges, grid ref NH 4795 5733.  The entrance to the wood and car park is at the western end of Strathpeffer by the old youth hostel building on the A834.  This circular walk visits a recently made as well as the site of an ancient hill fort.

Leave Blackmuir car park on main track marked No access for unauthorised vehicles (i.e. heading away from the road).  Pass pond on your right hand side (RHS), then Fir Lodges.  Go through (or besides) metal gate (access for RADAR parking) and follow main track gently uphill to the marked parking spot. 

TURN LEFT on track marked with green, blue and red route hoops (waymarked trails). Pass red marked post then bear RIGHT following green and blue markers.  Follow clear path (one section diverted because of fallen trees when we walked).  The path winds through the wood, later passing close to edge of wood on your left hand side (LHS) with views of Strathpeffer.

Pass wooden finger post that indicates left to Strathpeffer and ahead to Touchstone Maze.  Also pass green and blue marker.  GO AHEAD to the maze passing through it on its LHS near to an information board.  Continue ahead uphill as path joins from your hard right (if you look back down the joining path you will see the green and blue marker).  Keep to the main path uphill.  KEEP AHEAD as a track bears to the right to reach a wooden marker post carved with a stags head.

-  plenty of room to the left to pass by.  Go ahead on clear track.  There are good views on left to Ben Wyvis (which had snow on it when we walked). Grid ref here NH 4944 5779.

Keep to the main track as a lesser track bears left down to finger post.  Follow the main track uphill to crest of ridge and small parking area with bench and finger post.  TURN LEFT as indicated on the finger post to Knockfarrel  ΒΌ mile (also Dingwall 3 miles).  Follow path to top of hill with fantastic views of the Cromarty Firth and Loch Ussie Go ahead to descend (NH 5043 5850), passing patch of pine trees. Continue ahead to reach a stile with wire strand fence (we lifted the strands apart for Hamish to step through).  Continue ahead with a fence on your RHS. 

At wooden finger post (left to Fodderty, right to Dingwall) TURN RIGHT through a wooden kissing gate.  Follow path with a fence on your LHS.  Cross a wooden footbridge over a stream to reach a stile and gate.  GO THROUGH THE GATE and follow a path towards a fence.  Keep the fence (or remains of) on your LHS.  Follow path as it zig-zags uphill passing a couple of mature Beech Trees, then a mature Oak (where another track turns left) to the top of the ridge. 

At the top note a wooden finger post (left to Dingwall) at grid reference NH 5167 5839.  TURN RIGHT (to Cnoc Mor 2 miles), through a gate or over a stile to reach a metalled lane.  Follow the lane in front of houses.  Continue ahead as another metalled lane turns right towards a farm.  Continue ahead as another lane signed Dingwall Road turns left (continue ahead signed to Strathpeffer and Cnoc Mor).  Pass telephone box and letter box.  Follow lane as it BEARS HARD RIGHT by a bungalow called The Hollies (do not go ahead on a smaller lane).  Keep ahead past a bungalow on your right then take the left fork (uphill) towards a finger post. 

TURN LEFT at finger post (or cut the corner via a small path) towards Cnoc Mor (the finger post is at the car parking spot passed earlier on the way to Knockfarrel).  Follow a path up to and along a ridge.  Pass sculpture stone(presented to local school children by Armenia after their fund raising efforts to help earthquake victims).  At fence with kissing gate and four-way finger post continue ahead for Cnoc Mor and Contin.


For medium route

TURN RIGHT before next fence and follow track through a gap between stones to enter woods.  Follow track downhill, through trees, to reach a cross tracks beside a blue hoop marker post.  TURN LEFT and follow it back to your starting point (car park or lodges).

For more demanding Cnoc Mor route with very steep descent near end and two stiles

Go ahead over a step / platform stile (Hamish managed this as the platforms are wide) to join a small path with a fence on your RHS (NH 4950 5768).  Keep the fence on your RHS following the path up and down a series of short but quite steep hills until you reach the trigonometry point at NH 4906 5702 where you can enjoy superb views on a good day.  After taking in the views go over the fence via another step / platform stile into the wood (Hamish had to be lifted as the platforms are not as wide - lots of dogs will get over by themselves).  Follow a minor path to the right in a circular route around the top of Cnoc Mor (quite steep drops to the left) almost back to the fence.  Ahead you will see a step stile passed on the way up to Cnoc Moor.  TURN LEFT away from the fence then left again to join a path going steeply downhill through the wood.  There were fallen trees when we walked but we stuck to what appeared the most major path - this was very steep in places - but the map indicates another path forking left part way down (this may be slightly less steep!).  Either path reaches a forest track at the bottom of the hill - TURN LEFT and follow the track back to your starting point (lodges or car park).

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