Sunday 21st August, 2011
This morning even though it was Sunday the Fort Augustus shops were open and the tourists were out in force. I only had 8 miles to go today, but my pack was feeling heavy and my feet were feeling weary. This was the first day where it wasn’t flat and I was looking forward to a bit of inconsistency in the terrain.
I was now following Loch Ness and would do until almost the end of my walk. Loch Ness is one of the largest lochs, only Loch Lomond has a larger surface area. By volume however, it is by far the largest, containing more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. It is just under 23 miles long and is 1.7 miles across at its widest point. Loch Ness is of course famous for its monster, but though I kept a good look out I didn’t catch so much as a fleeting glimpse of it.
Leaving Fort Augustus, the path immediately began to climb. It follows minor roads for a while, but is soon on forest tracks. The path kept its height with a few undulations. It was hard to see the loch for a lot of the time because of the tree cover. But it was also hard to hear (and see) the traffic down below on the busy A82, something which I’m not complaining about. Every now and again there would be a break in the trees and the chance to stop and drink in the view.
At one such viewpoint I was perched on a conveniently placed large, flat rock enjoying coffee from my flask when two older Canadian couples came along. They were walking the path too, but staying in B&Bs and using a baggage carrying service. I chatted for a while before moving on. I continued to see them on and off throughout the rest of the day.
As it got towards the end of the day I felt I was beginning to tire of carrying my back. The next two days are long days with a lot of hills and a lot of miles and I wasn’t sure how I’d go on. I decided to check out buses when I got to Invermoriston to see if it was possible to easily get to and from the Inverness campsite. If I could do this I could leave the bulk of my gear there and sleep there for the remaining three nights just getting a bus at the beginning and end of each day.
Almost at Invermoriston the path dropped steeply through woods to reach the main A82. Unfortunately because of damage to the trees the path had been closed for safety reasons. I had to follow a lane instead which added another couple of miles to my day’s walk. I really wasn’t in the mood for this. I was tempted to try the path and probably would have done if I didn’t have my big pack. When I got to the other end of the path I could look up into the woods and see the damage. It would have been really difficult to get through as trees were all across the path. So I’d made the right decision to follow the detour.
I found a bus stop and checked the timetable. It being a Sunday I was hoping I wasn’t too late for the last bus. It was fine and I only had about 20 minutes to wait. The bus dropped me outside the campsite which is actually on the route of the GGW. I could see tents from the bus so thought I didn’t have far to walk. Wrong. The campsite is big. And the entrance is at the far end. I had to walk all the way down the side road to get to the entrance. The field for campers without cars was then at the other end of the campsite and so I had to walk all the way back again. I ended up with my tent quite close to the road and the bus stop, yet a good 10-15 minute walk away. I was not a happy bunny. It was good to get my tent up though and know I didn’t have to carry it tomorrow.
Distance walked = 10-11 miles (8 ‘official’ miles plus a couple for the diversion and the best part of a mile getting to the field I put my tent up in)