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After crossing Loch Ness on the ferry, I'm was planning on going south from All Na Goire to cross loch Mhor at Gorthlek house and on along Aberchalder Burn. I'm not always clear on the extent of land access, and it looks like there is a botanical garden at the site, so I'm not sure if it's ok to walk through there, and I haven't seen any mention of the route from previous challengers. Any advice?
There shouldn't be any problem. I'm not quite certain exactly which route you're planning to take and can't find any reference to a botanical garden anywhere. I'd guess that you intend to use the road and tracks which lead past Wester and Easter Aberchalder? I've been along this way and there are no issues.
Scottish Access Law is pretty universal and you can mostly go anywhere, with a few exceptions, the main ones being plain common sense - ie. growing crops and private gardens (the latter known as curtilage). It's best to assume that the area immediately surrounding a "big hoose" will be off limits but there are usually ways around and, surprisingly often, there will be signs to direct walkers on a route which will cause no upset. You may encounter "private road" signs in a few places but those are aimed at discouraging vehicular traffic.
Sadly, there are just a few places where landowners remain proprietorial regarding their land and will attempt to deny you access. In most case, the walker will be in the right but such encounters are usually unpleasant and can leave a sour taste in the mouth. "Stand your ground" will appeal to the combative but I'd blame no-one for exercising discretion in that situation. Relax though, such disagreeable meetings are very rare and most of the time you'll be welcome, tolerated at the very worst.
I haven't been there either, but I assume that from Ault-na-Goire you want to take the forest track in south-westerly direction and turn to south-east to end up at the back of Gorthlek House.
On sattelite images that forest track ends in the middle of the forest, though the trees have been harvested here.
I am affraid the people of Gorthlek House will consider the woods southwest of their House as their 'garden', and I would not venture into it. You could be right that it is a botanical garden.
To reach the B862 you could cross the two fields adjacent to their 'garden', which also involves crossing walls, fences and barbed wire.
Google Streetview shows the lane to the House as far as the gates (NH 54532 21149). It seems easier to reach this point, where the one field you need to cross beyond the forest has a nice iron gate. The lane will bring you to the B862.
I am wondering if the detours to avoid the tarmac are worth the trouble, and I remember the B862 past Erogie as an interesting and very quiet road on an early morning walk some years ago.
Bart, you're right, I'd misunderstood Brennen's query. And you're also right that passing through the grounds of Gorthleck House would represent incursion into private curtilage. There may be ways to avoid doing so, as you speculate, but the upshot is to ask, as you very sensibly do, whether the effort is worthwhile. Bear in mind that the "shortcut" from Ault-na-goire is entirely through commercial forestry plantations, which are ugly places at the best of times. I've walked along the very quiet road from Errogie a few times and it's been very pleasurable, with views which you certainly won't see in the tree factory. Honestly Brennen, stick with the road and you won't be disappointed.
Thanks, all, for the advice!
I tried emailing the folks at Gorthlek House to see if there was an acceptable path there (haven't heard back), but I agree it doesn't seem worth the trouble given that the bit of road walking doesn't sound that bad, so I'll reroute.
They charge £5 for entry on the Open Gardens Scheme - I’m sure they’d let you walk thru for a fee. And it does go to charity. Still, if you’re on the Forest track, you could cut down the fire break and then follow the forest edge to the road to avoid their garden. Although it’s not always possible/easy to walk fire breaks.
The road in question is very rural, you could also go past Errogie and then follow the east side of the Loch Mhor to Aberchalder.