(157) Forres-Sanquhar Loch-Cluny Hill Circuit (Moray)

Route Summary
A varied walk, with some hilly sections, mostly in mature woodlands in and around the attractive town of Forres, which enjoys a relatively mild and sunny microclimate, protected by the Grampian Mountains. There are a number of points of interest along the way.

Duration: 2.5 hours.

Route Overview
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Transport/Parking: There are frequent Stagecoach bus services that pass through Forres. Check timetables. There is free parking at the walk start/end point.
Length: 8.160 km / 5.10 mi
Height Gain: 191 meter.
Height Loss: 191 meter.
Max Height: 78 meter.
Min Height: 23 meter.
Surface: Moderate. All on good paths and woodland roads. A small section on tarred pavement.
Difficulty: Medium.
Child Friendly: Yes, if children are used to walks of this distance and overall ascent.
Dog Friendly: Yes, on lead on public roads and in busy public places.
Refreshments: Options in Forres.

This is a delightful walk around and about the leafy environs of Forres, an attractive Moray town blessed by a network of footpaths within the mature woodland on the slopes of Cluny Hill near to the town centre, and elsewhere on the south side of the town. Cluny Hill, with the distinctive octagonal turreted Nelson’s Tower on top, makes a very scenic backdrop to the beautiful setting of Grant Park, with its idyllic cricket ground at the centre of a natural arena. The route initially makes a partial circuit through the mature mixed woodland on Cluny Hill, diverting briefly for a view of the former Forres Hydro Hotel, now the college campus of the Findhorn Foundation. This fine Victorian building was originally a hydropathic treatment centre. Further woodland walking takes us to Sanquhar Loch which once provided cooling water to the Ben Romach distillery. It is a very pretty place, and provides a haven to diverse forms of wildlife. A traverse of the open, mature Sanquhar Woods takes us to the dam on the impressive Flood Alleviation Scheme near Chapelton Farm where there are views of the low hills to the south of the town. The successful scheme makes use of a large natural flood plain for the Mosset Burn, upstream of Forres. The route then passes by the visually appealing Leonchoil Hospital, now closed, which has been described as “the archetypal cottage hospital, [possessing] great architectural charm”. After further woodland walking, with tantalising glimpses of the tree-lined Muiryshade Golf Course, our return to Cluny Hill is made on an old right of way, the “Muiry Path”. The subsequent ascent to Nelson’s Tower, a patriotic celebration of Admiral Nelson’s victories, is rewarded by an expansive view of Findhorn Bay. The final section of the route makes a circuit of Grant Park, including the pretty sunken gardens. Our thanks go to the Forres Footpaths Trust. Our walk is largely based on their “Sanquhar-Chapelton-Muiry” route: https://bit.ly/3jmqdcw

Photos from walk  
Download Route Guide  (PDF with illustrated Waypoints)
Download GPX file  (GPS Exchange Format)
Access Walk on Viewranger
Access Walk on Outdooractive
Access Walk on Wikiloc

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