I promise you, without a word of lie, that this is probably the best granny walk in the Highlands. Why? Because it combines with what I call one of the finest view to effort ratios around. 10:1. by that I mean you get the most amazing view for the least effort which is very handy when finding somewhere to exercise granny.
The walk, known locally as The Cat’s Back runs along the top of a small ridge just to the south of the Highland village of Strathpeffer. The little village is a Victorian Spa town and was once a thriving holiday resort, there are a number of large hotels, a rather splendid pavilion and a museum. The Museum of Childhood boasts one of the finest collections of antique children in Scotland. (Oh no it doesn’t) It’s a great place to water the old dear after her exertions and the kids will love it there. For some inexplicable reason it is one of the few places in the UK where you can still hire penny farthing bicycles.
There are two ways of doing the walk, you can climb up to the ridge from Strathpeffer although this does involve a fairly steep climb. The easiest way is to head for Dingwall from Inverness and turn left on to the A835. You then take one of the B roads to the right and this will get you up on to the ridge which is called Knock Farrel on the OS map just above Loch Ussie. You can the wander back and forth on the ridge as much as you like.
Photo David Yates
A friend of mine, Bob Pegg, who lives in Strathpeffer, is one of the finest story tellers in Scotland. He is also a great liar; storytelling is, after all, an advanced form of lying. According to Bob there are two rocks on the summit of the ridge which have been fused by great heat. This occurred when the Celtic warrior Finn McCool, also responsible for the Giant’s Causeway, was visiting the area with a hunting party. If I remember the story right Finn headed off hunting with his warriors leaving his women folk in the care of ginger runt. The women mocked this bloke and in revenge he walled them in a hut and set fire to them. Hence welding the stones.
On his return Finn flew into a rage and beheaded the ginger warrior. He and his party then found a cave where they vowed to sleep forever only to be wakened by three blasts on a hunting horn if the nation was in peril. A shepherd boy found the cave and blew his horn. Unfortunately he only blew it twice and Finn and he companions have been in there for hundreds of years half awake and writhing in their sleep in an attempt to waken. A little like me on a Sunday morning.
I hope you and granny enjoy it even if you don’t run into Finn.
Bob Pegg http://catsback.magix.net/public/