Strathrory - Scotsburn Drove Road
Take a stroll at Strathrory
This traditional cattle route follows the banks of the Balnagown river to the fertile meadows of Scotsburn.
You'll pass through wild heather moorland and peaceful oak and pine woods, with glimpses of roe deer, black grouse and a rich variety of birds and wildflowers in summer.
No time for droving? Bring your binoculars and hunt for birds of prey at the Strathrory Viewpoint. There are panoramic views to the Dornoch Firth too, and gigantic channels carved at the end of the last Ice Age.
Our map guide to the Forests of Ross and Cromarty will help you discover Strathrory - Scotsburn Drove Road and surrounding woodlands.
The trail goes from one car park to another so you'll need to organise transport from the far end of the trail or be prepared to walk or cycle back to the start. The distance by road between the two ends is about 10 miles (16 km).
You'll find toilets, shops and places to eat in Alness or Tain.
Mountain biking trails
In the footsteps of cattle drovers
Walk from Strathrory to Scotsburn and you'll be travelling in the footsteps of Highland drovers as they drove their cattle to local markets in Easter Ross, or on to trysts (cattle sales) in Crieff and Falkirk. Imagine their relief when the heather-clad moor of Strathrory gave way to the gentle fields and crofts of Scotsburn.
No doubt the tired drovers received hospitality along the way, for this strath (or river valley) has been a good place to live for thousands of years. You'll see traces of some very old settlements, including three thousand-year-old hut circles and field systems from the Bronze Age, a hill fort mysteriously left unfinished two thousand years ago by its Iron Age builders, as well as more recent crofting settlements.
Long before anyone lived here this area was covered in a vast glacier. When temperatures rose at the end of the last Ice Age and the ice melted, enormous quantities of meltwater carved a series of channels into the hillside. You get a fantastic view of these giant drainage routes from the Strathrory Viewpoint, just over ¼ mile (400 metres) north of Strathrory car park. The Struie Channels are some of the best examples in Northern Scotland of this sort of glacial landscape.
You might also see hen harriers and other birds of prey from the Strathrory Viewpoint. We've taken away large areas of the conifer forest here because we found traces of dothistroma (red band) needle blight, a fungal disease which affects conifer needles. We'll replant part of the area with native Scots pine and leave the rest as hunting grounds for predatory birds such as the short-eared owl, which hunts during the day.
How to get here
From Inverness, head north on the A9 for 16 ¾ miles (26.8 km). After Evanton, turn left for the B9176 to Lairg and Bonar Bridge (the Struie road) and follow this for 7 ¾ miles (12.4 km). Continue uphill after Strathrory Bridge and you'll see the car park on your right at grid reference NH 667 778.
To reach the Strathrory Viewpoint, continue uphill for just over ¼ mile (400 metres) beyond Strathrory car park and look out for a sign on your right hand side. There's a small car park and picnic bench here.
The trail ends at Scotsburn near Invergordon. From Inverness follow the A9 north for 21 ¾ miles (33.6 km). At the Tomich / Invergordon junction, turn left and follow the singletrack road for 1 ½ miles (2.4 km), then turn right onto Scotsburn Road. After 3 ½ miles (5.6 km) you'll see a green Scottish Rights of Way sign on your left. There's a small area for parking at grid reference NH 733 763.
IV17 0XP is the nearest postcode, about 2 miles (3.2 km) before you reach the Strathrory car park from the south. IV18 0PE is the nearest postcode to Scotsburn, where the trail ends.
There are less strenuous, circular trails at Aldie Burn and Tain Hill, and a long moderate trail through unique bog woodland at Monadh Mòr. If you’re on a bike, the Morangie cycle route, a 12 mile (19.2 km) circular trail, has spectacular views. You can download maps and guides to nearby forests in Ross-shire and Sutherland.
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