Waterfalls and butterflies by a charming loch

Loch Arkaig

Glimpse wings and waterfalls at Loch Arkaig

Loch Arkaig is a hidden gem, fringed with woodland and open hills and tucked away off the beaten track between Fort William and Inverness. You can enjoy a picnic beside the waterfall at Chia-aig, at the east end of the loch, then look for butterflies at the more remote Allt Mhuic reserve.

Parking Picnic area Walking Mountain access

Fancy a nibble?

You’ll find places to eat in Spean Bridge.

Walking trails

Cycling trails

Mountain biking trails

The bonnie Prince and the butterfly

Bonnie Prince Charlie is said to have sheltered in a cave on the hillside above Chia-Aig after the battle of Culloden. Nowadays you might come across a wedding party: the waterfall is sometimes used as a beautiful place to get married.

The reserve at Allt Mhuic has important populations of two scarce butterflies, the Chequered Skipper and Pearl-bordered Fritillary. The best time to see them is from mid-May to the end of June, when both species are on the wing. There are dragonflies on the lower slopes too. But you can enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and marvellous scenery at any time, and watch for otters down by the loch.

This was Butterfly Conservation’s first reserve in Scotland. You might see Highland cattle grazing on the hillside: they keep the grassland in the right condition for butterflies. Find out more in our leaflet about the reserve.

Contact: Lochaber Forest District

Address: Torlundy, Fort William

Postcode: PH33 6SW

Telephone: 0300 067 6870


How to get here

To get to the Allt Mhuic butterfly reserve, continue along the north shore of Loch Arkaig. The reserve is at grid reference NN 120 912.

For Chia-aig waterfall, head north on the A82 from Fort William past Spean Bridge, and turn left at the Commando memorial, grid reference NN 176 888. From here continue for 9 miles (13km) past Gairlochy canal bridge and follow the single track B8005 past Loch Lochy to Loch Arkaig. The car park is at grid reference NN 177 889.

Using SatNav?

PH34 4EJ is the nearest postcode, at Bunarkaig on the shore of Loch Lochy. Continue for another 2 ¾ miles (4.4 km) to reach the car park.

Nearby places

Download our guide to more fabulous forests along the Great Glen.

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