Merkinch Nature Reserve and the Caledonian Canal.27 Oct 2020
On of the great things about King Street Apartment is that so many wonderful walks can be enjoyed right from the doorstep. Inverness is fortunate to have many interlinked footpaths leading along the river or canal and out into open countryside. You’ll find information signs at strategic points and these all have a map showing the path routes and approximate times. You’ll see, too, that routes can be interlinked or shortened to offer all sorts of options for how far you want to walk or how much time you have.
One of our favourites is the circular route along the riverside to Merkinch Nature Reserve and the Clachnaharry Sea Lock, where the Caledonian Canal meets the Beauly Firth, and then back to the apartment via the Muirtown Basin and locks. This offers lots of opportunities to see wildlife and to watch boats passing through the canal locks, and you can easily do the whole walk in a couple of hours.
Start the walk by going down to the river and turning left. Then just follow the river downstream as far as you can go. At one point it’s a bit industrial for a short stretch, with boatyards and ships chandlers, but that’s all part of the story of Inverness.
It’s well worth taking the short side path (signposted) out to Carnac Point. It’s a great viewpoint looking over to the Kessock Bridge and the Black Isle, and there’s a reasonable possibility of seeing the famous Moray Firth Dolphins. There are also a few picnic benches, so it’s a good lunch spot.
After re-joining the main route continue towards the old Kessock Ferry slipway. (There used to be a ferry crossing to the Black Isle before completion of the Kessock Bridge in 1982.) The square house you pass on the right used to be a coastguard station and there’s some interesting local history around the Kessock Ferry disaster of 1894.
Just after the slipway watch for the small path taking off to the left into the Merkinch Local Nature Reserve. This leads along the top of a constructed sea wall between the sea and the reserve. It’s worth taking time to divert down into the reserve to explore its walkways and bridges across the wetlands before retracting your steps up on to the seawall path.
There are usually herons either on the shore or at the side of one of the salt marshes, and at low tide the water’s edge is busy with waders.
Continue across the railway and up on to the Caledonian Canal towpath.
If you want to cut the walk short turn left here to re-join the route at the main road but it’s well worth turning right across the railway again and walking out to the end of the canal at the Clachnaharry Sea Lock.
Cross the canal by any of the locks and return on the other side towards Clachnaharry Village.
There’s a great wee pub at the west end of the village and, if you fancy a more substantial lunch, it usually serves meals and snacks.
Continue back along the south side of the Muirtown Basin and after crossing over the busy A862 continue up the canal towpath to the top of the Muirtown Locks. There’s usually some boating activity to watch as you go. Cross the canal again at the top of the locks and look for the stairs leading down to Fairfield Road.
Walk the whole length of Fairfield Road (it’s not too far) where continuing straight across along Grieg Street will bring you back to the apartment.