Cnoc Mor and the Touchstone Maze (Strathpeffer)

An interesting short walk from Strathperffer taking in a 269m marilyn summit, the “Cat’s Back”, the friendship stone, a hill fort and the Touchstone Maze artwork. The walk is on paths and tracks with some sections waymarked.

Route Map

route map

  • Distance: 4.5 miles / 7 km
  • Ascent: 650 feet / 200 m
  • Terrain: Forest tracks and paths. Some paths are unsurfaced.
  • Start/finish: Forestry Commission car park at NH 478 573, accessed from the A834 at the southern end of Strathpeffer. Refreshments etc available in Strathpeffer.

From the car park proceed on the green trail turning right on to a forest track. Ignore the sign indicating left through a gate and keep straight on passing a couple of lodges. Approximately 600m beyond the lodges the track bears sharp left. At this point leave the track using a trodden path on the right. This path climbs steeply up the wooded hillside until it reaches a wooden stile. However, a few metres before the stile, strike off to the right on another steep path which heads up to the Cnoc Mor summit area and another wooden stile. Cross the stile to reach the summit triangulation pillar. Although at 269m this is the highest point it is not a good viewpoint due to the surrounding trees.

Leave the summit in a roughly northerly direction on a trodden path following the fence line. After a short steep descent a wooden stile is passed (the one that you did not cross earlier). Do not cross the stile but keep to the path on the right hand side of the fence. The gradient is now more gentle and the views open up as the path descends the hill. Approximately 750m after the stile a bealach with a wooden signpost is reached. Keep straight on passing through the gate.

The path now heads up hill along the ridge line known as the Cat’s Back passing the Friendship Stone memorial which commemorates the link between Dingwall Academy and Nalband, Armenia following the 1998 earthquake. Beyond the memorial the path splits, with the left hand option being the more direct route to reach the small parking area ahead. Walk through the parking area and climb uphill again to reach the summit of Knock Farril vitrified hill fort.

Return to the car park and bear right through a gate onto an obvious track. The track skirts the north west side of the Cat’s Back at a lower height (perhaps it should be known as the Cat’s Belly). Stick to the main track for just over 1km, ignoring paths to the right heading into Strathpeffer, until an obvious junction is reached. Keep looking back for views of the fort. At the junction bear right downhill, once again on the green waymarked route. Keep right again, still on the obvious path to reach the Touchstone Maze.

The maze is actually a labyrinth rather than a maze and was built in 1995 using stone quarried from across Northern Scotland. After the maze continue on the surfaced path which forms part of the green waymarked trail. Keep in the forest ignoring a turn off to Strathpeffer, and then keeping right at a path junction so that you follow the forest edge. After about 1.25km the path meets up with the forest track close to the lodges at the start of the walk. Turn right to head back to the car park.