Gairlochy to Invergarry – 17.1 miles (894 total)
Being well and truly in the Scottish Highlands now means that internet and phone signals are very patchy. It’s an inconvenience as a visitor but it must be infuriating to those who live here. From Milngavie on, every single place I have visited, every hotel, bar, restaurant, shop where I have stopped, at every stage of the West Highland Way and, to a lesser extent, the Great Glen Way, has been packed with tourists – most of them European, many of them young. Tourism has to be one of Scotland’s most successful industries. It surely can’t be that difficult or expensive to offer them a strong Wi-Fi and mobile phone signal? Just thinking out loud.
I started this morning by crossing the swing road bridge at Gairlochy. I’d finished yesterday sitting at a picnic table watching the bridge being opened and closed to let a boat pass. Once it was reopened an articulated lorry negotiated its way across with only inches to spare. The water route through the Great Glen now changed from canal to Loch Lochy with the Great Glen Way following the northern shore of the loch. The track itself wasn’t on the shoreline but followed forest paths and roads as it headed along the Glen.
Quite a wind picked up early on causing the surface of the loch to become choppy as waves reached the shore below me. I was never too far above water level although my views were often restricted by the trees lining both sides of the path. When there were gaps in the trees I could clearly see the very busy Fort William to Inverness road on the far side of the loch. I had a better view of the steep hills lining the other side of the valley than on my own side.
Just after the driveway to the Clan Cameron Museum at Achnacarry, 2 walkers joined the path ahead of me, having obviously visited St Ciarans Church. One of the pair was Patricia, a lovely Canadian lady I first met yesterday. We are both the exact same age and had a great chat walking along the canal towpath as we started the Great Glen Way. She is doing it at a slower pace than me so I thought our paths wouldn’t cross again. Last night in my B&B I shared a table with another 2 Canadian ladies who are walking the GGW. People are so friendly and I find it interesting talking to them – it’s a lovely environment to meet and converse with kindred spirits. All 3 women have recent Scottish heritage and are happy to be here in Scotland on a walking holiday. The West Highland Way was just too busy to meet and talk to people, this walk is about right. Each time I say goodbye and move on is probably the last time I’ll ever see them – but your life is that bit richer for having spent a few minutes in relaxed conversation. I really love that aspect of way walking. After jumping with fright, and shouting my name, as I said ‘Good Morning‘ from behind, she introduced me to her younger walking companion, saying to me, ‘ It’s Day 58, isn’t it? ’. I soon moved off as I was travelling much further than them today.
As I approached Laggan Locks, which is another part of the Caledonian Canal linking Loch Lochy and Loch Oich, I saw a man up a ladder, painting the gable end of his cottage. Complimenting him on his work led us into conversation. It turns out that he is scheduled to cycle LEJOG, with friends, starting on July 4th. He reckons on taking about 17 days. What a small world it is!
I saved some walking distance by following the main A82 into Invergarry rather than the more meandering GGW, crossing, by bridge, over the River Garry in the process. By the time I reached my Guest House, I had walked a healthy 17 miles – all in brilliant, warm sunshine. Well, it is sunny Scotland, isn’t it?