Day 59

Invergarry to Invermoriston – 17.5 miles (911.5 total)

Today’s walk started with a path climb out of Invergarry into Nursery Wood, then a series of forest trails, before descending towards Aberchalder at the head of Loch Oich. A change (for the worse) in the weather had been forecast with the possibility that rain would arrive today, more likely tomorrow. I am so used to warm, dry walking conditions that I found myself having to remember my routine for double-wrapping all my technology and valuables in freezer bags for extra protection. As things turned out, it was cloudy, but warm, early on, with the sun appearing mid-morning and ending up with another scorching, sunny day.

Path out of Invergarry

At Aberchalder another section of the Caledonian Canal connects Loch Oich to Loch Ness. When I had returned to canal level, the Great Glen Way was – according to my Ordnance Survey map, anyway – supposed to cross the Bridge of Oich, which was built in 1854 and renovated in 1997 by Historic Scotland. Whoever now owns the cottage at the bridge has decided to padlock the gate at one side thereby making it impossible for pedestrians to cross. If there was another way of crossing it then I couldn’t find it. So, after a little bit of dithering about, I crossed the main Oich Bridge and the Swing Bridge to continue along the canal. I asked the lock keeper at Cullochy Lock about it but he said he wasn’t aware of the problem.

Locked gate at the Bridge of Oich
Bridge of Oich

There followed a pleasant long walk to Fort Augustus on a path sandwiched between the canal and the River Oich. At the town itself it was interesting to see the queue of small cruise boats, tied up, waiting to descend the series of locks, 7 or 8 vessels at a time, to eventually be discharged into Loch Ness. I had intended to get some biscuits and soft drink in Fort Augustus, but the town centre was so busy with tourists I headed straight out of town following the signs for the GGW.

Caledonian Canal
Fort Augustus
Boats crammed in to the Fort Augustus locks

Yet again my route was uphill, first on road then on forest path. Unlike the previous 2 days, I was suddenly aware that I was not meeting any fellow way walkers. It was strange to be walking alone, beautiful as it was, through long stretches of forest. At the top of my climb I found a bench offering the first elevated view of Loch Ness. My pack was feeling heavy and the heat was tiring so I sat down to drink some water and admire the scenery.

Portclair Forest
Loch Ness
Loch Ness

I was just about to leave when a young girl appeared, carrying a heavy pack. She had started at Fort William yesterday morning, wild camping, and was halfway to Inverness already. Made me feel ordinary, I can tell you! She was Belgian but spoke perfect English… with an American accent. I’ve come across this before – they pick up the accent from films and television.

I took the Low Route

Then, I was amazed to see yet another, unrelated girl with a heavy pack, appear, so now we were 3. This second girl was the one I met yesterday morning walking with Patricia. She’s from London and, like me, had walked the West Highland Way then straight on to the Great Glen Way – again she’s wild camping. I introduced them to each other, gave up my seat, then moved on after a few minutes talking. My perception of the modern Miss has certainly had a major overhaul this last 2 weeks.

The only island in Loch Ness

There followed a rollercoaster 6 mile walk through Portclair Forest, ending in a switchback, to my destination at Invermoriston. The hotel – and a welcome pint – was straight ahead, once I’d crossed the bridge over the River Moriston, and, thankfully, my B&B was right next door. I’ve now walked over 900 miles. Somehow it seems more when I see it written down. More importantly, I’ll have to be prepared for rain tomorrow.