30th April – Laggan Locks to Fort Augustus

20190430 Halfway to Inverness
Halfway to Inverness – we’re getting there…

After a hearty breakfast Wyn and I left Forest Lodge at 8.35.  Laura and Lorraine could not have been better hosts.

Initially we made our way warily along the A82 to get back to Laggan Locks.  Once there, the path followed the canal amongst woodland, until it crossed the A82 and joined an old railway line at Invergarry station.  The railway opened in 1903, joining Invergarry and Fort Augustus.  It was designed to be the first section of a line linking Fort William with Inverness.  Unfortunately the timing was wrong, none of the other sections were built, and the line closed in 1946.

20190430 Loch Oich
Loch Oich

The railway goes through Leitirfearn Forest Nature Reserve, running parallel to the shore of Loch Oich, with occasional views across to the far shore.  Evidence of General Wade’s military road can be seen below the railway.

20190430 Aberchalder Swing Bridge
Aberchalder swing bridge

At Aberchalder Swing Bridge we crossed the A82 and followed the canal to Cullochy Loch. We were looking forward to coffee at the teashop by the bridge – but naturally it was closed.

20190430 Yacht in Cullochy Lock
At Cullochy lock

From Cullochy, the trail follows the canal to Fort Augustus.  This section lacked interest, except at Kytra Lock where we stopped for an early lunch.  A boat was coming through the loch, and I was surprised it was called the “Orlik”, the surname of my brother-in-law.

20190430 Orlik in Kytra Lock
The ‘Orlik’ in Kytra lock

At 1.30 we arrived at Fort Augustus, walking into the town alongside the flight of five locks which form the entrance to the canal for boats leaving Loch Ness.  Our hotel was very near, so we treated ourselves to a reviving beer before settling into our room.

20190430 Approaching Fort Augustus
Approaching Fort Augustus

Fort Augustus is obviously a tourist centre, with crowds flocking to the locks and the souvenir shops.  After the solitude of the path, it is quite a contrast.  We have been surprised how quiet the Great Glen Way has been, compared with the West Highland Way.

20190430 Fort Augustus Lock
Fort Augustus Lock

28th April – Fort William to Spean Bridge


20190428 Looking back at Fort William
Looking back at Fort William

Yesterday was a quiet day catching up on things in Fort William.  A very helpful laundromat sorted out my washing and I managed to get a haircut.  Wyn arrived soon after 4.00pm and we both enjoyed our meal at the Alexandra Hotel.

Breakfast with several coach tours was a bit of a scrum but we managed to escape to the quiet of the bistro.  As the hotel lift only took two people, and as the people on the tours all seem to have two huge cases each, we took to the stairs and departed at 8.45.

The path through the housing estates of Fort William, Inverlochy and Caol was fairly uninteresting. The original Fort William and Inverlochy Castle are on the route but little remains of either.

20190428 Corpach Sea Loch - entrance to the Caledonian Canal
Corpach Sea Loch – the entrance to the Caledonian Canal

At Corpach we reached the Caledonian Canal near the sea lock and walked up to Neptune’s Staircase, a series of eight locks. We had a brief stop at the top and then set off towards Gairlochy.

20190428 Wyn resting at the top of Neptune Staircase
Wyn at the top of Neptune’s Staircase

There were almost no boats using the canal and it was therefore very exciting when a large yacht appeared. The walk was easy and as the day progressed and the low cloud lifted the north face of Ben Nevis started to appear.

20190428 Yacht on the Calendonian Canal
Exciting yacht

At Moy there is a very attractive swing bridge. This was installed so that the farmer can access his riverside meadows. It has its own keeper as only one side of the bridge can be opened manually at a time. The keeper uses a small boat to cross the canal and open the other half.

20190428 Moy swing bridge
Moy swing bridge

Just after 1.00 we arrived at Gairlochy Locks and stopped for lunch. Our accommodation for the night was at Spean Bridge which involved another 6k of road walking.

20190428 Carn Mor Dearg with Ben Nevis in the distance
Carn Mor Dearg with Ben Nevis in the distance

This took us past the famous Commando War Memorial at Spean Bridge which was justifiably very busy with tourists.  We reached the Spean Bridge Hotel at 3.15 and have a comfortable cabin for the night.  As we are getting old we have sorted out a taxi for tomorrow morning, rather than reverse the walk back to the canal.

20190428 Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge
Commando memorial at Spean Bridge