3rd May – Drumnadrochit to Inverness

20190503 Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle

Wyn and I left Drumnadrochit at 7.15, anticipating a long day before reaching Inverness.

Initially the route follows the A82, before turning into the Abriachan Forest and ascending up to 380m.   Around 9.00 we stopped for a break and had just restarted when the snow began to fall.   For the next few hours we were treated to bouts of snow and hail.

20190503 Wyn battling through the snow
Wyn battling through the snow

We reached the eco-campsite near Abriachan, and stopped for bacon rolls, coffee, tea and cakes.  The food was excellent – but be warned, it is not cheap, and you might want to check on prices before ordering anything.

20190503 Five Star Cafe at the Eco Campsite
Five Star cafe at the Eco-campsite

Suitably replete and having been joined by Ove, a German friend we had met on the trail and whose partner had decided to stop at the cafe, we set off along a minor road with increasing views as the weather improved.

20190503 Five star breakfast stop
Improving weather as we leave the Eco campsite

After an hour or so of road walking, it was back into the forest before receiving our final dose of hail.

20190503 Wyn in the forest
Final dose of hail…

Descending Dunain Hill, Inverness can be seen but the final 6k has still to be completed.

20190503 Storm clouds over Inverness
Just 6 more kilometres to go…

The trail links areas of greenery in a clever way eventually leading to the Caledonian Canal and along the banks of the River Ness.

20190503 Crossing the River Ness
Crossing the River Ness

We passed Inverness Cathedral on the opposite bank of the river.

20190503 Inverness Cathedral
Inverness Cathedral

Then with a short sharp climb the trail ends at Inverness Castle.  We arrived at 4.30.

20190503 Inverness Castle
Inverness Castle

It was great that Wyn was able to join me for The Great Glen Way, and we are looking forward to completing the Offa’s Dyke Trail later in the summer.

20190503 Wyn at the end of the Great Glen Way
Wyn at the end of the Great Glen Way

Tomorrow I am going to Braemar for a week with my friends from MAC (Mountain Activities Club).   I will resume blogging again next Sunday.

2nd May – Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit

20190502 Wyn in a fairy glen
Fine weather for walking through the fairy glen

Wyn and I had had a superb meal at the Glenmoriston Arms last night and were pleased that breakfast was not until 8.00.  It was 9.00 before we set off in fine weather but with a poor forecast for the rest of the day.

The day started with the mandatory ascent from the glen up into the forests.  The route took us through some charming woods which had a “fairy glen” feel about them, with thick moss covering the base of the trees and any exposed boulders.  A short detour to the Stone Seat promised extensive views of Loch Ness, which failed to materialise due to the height of the surrounding trees.

20190502 Loch Ness from the Stone Seat
Loch Ness from the Stone Seat

More interesting, and as it turned out useful, was the Stone Cave.  This was apparently constructed to offer shelter to a washerwoman on her frequent journeys from Allsigh and Invermoriston.  We stopped for a short break, and the promised rain began in earnest.  We took advantage of the cave to don our wet-weather gear, which was needed for the rest of the day.

20190502 Sheltering in the Stone Cave
Welcome shelter in the stone cave

A gentle descent down to Allsigh was followed by a long climb up to the day’s high point in Ruskich Woods.  Any possible views of Loch Ness and surrounding area were lost in the cloud and murk.

20190502 Up in the clouds in the conifer plantation
Up in the clouds

The most important question on our minds was, “Would the teashop at the Loch Ness Pottery at Grotaig by open?”  Thankfully the answer was yes.  Not only was it open, but it was crowded with more walkers than we had seen in days.

20190502 Loch Ness Pottery Teashop - A port in the storm
Loch Ness Pottery and Teashop – a welcome port in a storm

After coffee, tea and cake, we departed for the last 5 miles to Drumnadrochit.  Most of this was along a minor road, with a short detour into woodland, before emerging onto the A82 for the final section to our accommodation.  We arrived just after 4.00.

20190502 Wyn on the path down to Drumnadrochit
Bleak walking down to Drumnadrochit

As we had not stopped for lunch, we booked an early dinner at the Fiddlers Restaurant, which we would both recommend.

Our plan for tomorrow is to leave at 7.30 at the latest, as we have a 20-mile day, and the weather forecast is not great.

1st May – Fort Augustus to Invermoriston

20190501 Looking north along Loch Ness
The view along Loch Ness

Last night in the pub there was a closure notice for today’s route due to Scottish Water working in the area.  The diversion added 7k to the distance we would have to walk.  Wyn was sensible enough to check their website, and we were relieved to find that they had finished the work early and the normal route was open.

20190501 Wyn on a typical section of the trail to Invermoriston
The trail to Invermoriston

After a less than spectacular meal last night, the cold buffet for breakfast was fine, and we left Fort Augustus at 8.30 hoping to beat the rain to Invermoriston.  After a steep climb up to a forest track the route meandered, gently rising and falling, in and out of conifer plantations.  Loch Ness was mainly obscured by the trees but occasional glimpses could be seen where felling had taken place.

20190501 Across Loch Ness
Loch Ness

Near to Fort Augustus it was just possible to get sight of Cherry Island, the only island on Loch Ness. The island is in fact a Crannog, or man made island.

20190501 Thick moss carpeting the pine forest
Thick moss carpets the pine forest

The morning passed pleasantly watching the occasional boat moving on the loch and looking out for the water company employees who were finishing off their improvements.

20190501 Telford's bridge at Invermoriston
Thomas Telford’s bridge

Around 12.15 we dropped down and entered Invermoriston. Thomas Telford’s Bridge and the Falls of Moriston were striking and would be very impressive when the river is in flood.

20190501 Falls of Moriston
The falls of Moriston

Our B&B for the night did not open until 3.00pm so we were forced to take refuge in the Glenmoriston Arms.

Tomorrow will be a longer day so Wyn and I are glad to be able to relax this afternoon.

20190501 Snack stop
Snack stop!

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

29th April – Spean Bridge to Laggan Locks

20190429 Looking back on Loch Lochy and Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis with Loch Lochy in the foreground

After breakfast I investigated the Commando Exhibition that is in the Spean Bridge Hotel.  The Commandos were based at Achnacarry House, 7 miles from Spean Bridge.  They trained in all weathers in the surrounding countryside, and there are numerous Information Boards giving an insight into their preparations.  The exhibition at the hotel is well worth a visit and gives some idea of what they achieved, albeit at great human cost.  There is a copy of Hitler’s order to the German Army instructing them to “annihilate any Commandos who were captured”.  My generation has been truly blessed not to have had to fight any wars.

20190429 Looking up Loch Lochy
The view up Loch Lochy

Al’s Taxi delivered us back to Gairlochy at 9.05.  After a short walk on a road the trail descended into beautiful woods near to Loch Lochy.  The sun was shining, the spring flowers were making an appearance, the birds were singing and all was well in our world.  Someone had even taken the trouble to carve an eagle on a tree stump.

20190429 Eagle woodcarving
Eagle woodcarving

Around Bunarkaig and Clunes there was much evidence of the activity of the Commandos, including a concrete landing craft which they used for training before taking to the real thing on Loch Lochy.

20190429 Concrete Landing Craft used for practice by Commandos
Concrete landing craft

After Clunes the trail passes through a large plantation, the highlight of which is the Giant Redwoods (sequoia).   Although very tall, these are really just babies.

20190429 Wyn at the base of a giant redwood near Clunes
Wyn beside a giant redwood near Clunes

The Great Glen Way continues through the forest, gently rising and falling.

20190429 Beautiful spring colours
Beautiful spring colours

There is an exquisite wild campsite at Glas-Dhoire where we stopped for lunch, complete with its own beach.

20190429 Glas-Dhoire campsite
Glas-Dhoire campsite

Passing on, enjoying good views through the trees of Loch Lochy and some beautiful properties on the opposite shore, we left the woods at Kilfinnan dropped down to Laggan Locks.

20190429 Looking down on Laggan Locks
Looking down on Laggan Locks

We arrived at 3.15, and Laura from Forest Lodge came to pick us up so we avoided a walk along the A82.  As we were booking in Laura volunteered to drive me to a local garage to buy some beer, which was a very kind gesture and much appreciated.

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