GGW day 6

A world speed record not quite broken, a ruined castle, an abandoned Canadian lumberjacks’ camp, a secret cafe and first views of Inverness.

Tuesday 23rd August, 2011

The final full day of the walk. I got the same bus as I’d got yesterday morning, but because I was only going as far as Drumnadrochit I was able to start walking a lot earlier.

The path starts by following the A82. At first alongside the road but then on a separate path. A couple of miles in and the path started to climb away from the road.

Temple Pier
Temple Pier

Information boards told the story of how, on the other side of the road at Temple Pier, on the 26th August, 1952, John Cobb’s Crusader had arrived and been lowered into the water ready to begin preparations to attempt to break the World Water Speed record. Crusader was the first water-borne craft to be designed and built for jet propulsion. The board shows a picture of a white craft looking more like a space capsule than a boat.

Information board

Over the next month Cobb and his twenty-strong support team used the pier as a base as they carried out trials on the loch. The world record attempt took place on the 29th September, 1952 amid great excitement. The Inverness Courier reported what happened next,

“She skimmed over the course … but then seemed to bounce twice on the water … next moment the horrified spectators saw the boat plunge into the loch in a whirl of spray and foam flecked with flying wreckage”.

John Cobb was killed in the crash, the cause of which has never been explained. Although, Cobb did have the triumph of travelling on water at over 200 miles an hour, this didn’t count for the world record. For it to be official he needed to travel a measured course of one mile and then return. The average speed over the two runs would have been used to calculate the official speed, but as he crashed before completing the second mile his average speed couldn’t be calculated.

Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle on the peninsula

Continuing, I came to a nice spot where I could look along the loch and get a good view of Urquhart Castle. The ruin is said to be the most photographed site in Scotland, partly because it is very picturesque, but also because it is known as one of the spots where Nessie the Loch Ness monster has been most frequently spotted.  

Further along, I came across more illustrated information boards. This time they informed me of a Canadian lumber camp that had been here during the second world war. Huge supplies of timber were needed for the war effort and extra forresters were needed to provide it. The government put out a call for help and by 1941 over 2000 Canadian lumberjacks had answered the call and arrived in this part of Scotland. Many were from Newfoundland and so the men became known as ‘Newfies’.

information board

The timber they produced was used for mine props, obstruction poles to stop enemy craft from landing on beaches and fields, telegraph poles, crates for shipping military equipment and for building accomodation and mess rooms for soldiers.

path through trees

Many of the men married local women and whilst some settled in Scotland, others returned home with their Scottish wives. A Highland Canadian Wives Club was formed to help women prepare for life in Canada after the war. Little remains of the lumber camps now apart from a few odd bits of cable and railway.

path over moor path over moor

highest point signThe path joins a forest road and I followed this to the highest point on the whole GGW at 375m. The road then descended for a way to get to Abriachan. This is a kind of woodland outdoor centre with a car park, picnic tables, eco toilets, and lots of bird houses and sculptures. I stopped here for lunch.

bird houses eco toilet

signs for the cafeA short while further on I bumped into the Canadians again (we’d been passing each other all day) as they were emerging from what seemed to be overgrown brushland. There is a campsite and cafe hidden away in it and they’d just stopped for a cup of tea. Curious, even though I’d already eaten, I picked my way through boggy paths to find it. It’s quite a bizarre place run by an eccentric couple. It seems overgrown yet is actually maintained with fruit and veggies growing, chickens roaming about and a pond. I had a freshly squeezed orange juice (yum, vitamins – something I felt I was lacking living on instant noodles and cup-a-soups) and chatted to the couple.

They’ve owned the land for a few years and live in a caravan on it. They started offering camping as way of getting people to camp officially rather then wild camping and using what is essentially their garden, as a toilet. I got an elaborately hand-written receipt for my orange juice; something to do with placating the tax man.

path path

treesThe path continued on the level and then met the road which I followed across the Abriachan plateau for a couple of mile or so. Then I joined a path which rises again and got my first views of Inverness in the distance. The path began descending and entered a forest through which I walked for several miles. The path then drops steeply into Inverness. I had to stop several times to give me knees a break. Once on the outskirts of Inverness I was back to walking through a housing estate just like at the beginning of the walk.

view of Inverness Inverness

The path joins the canal again near the campsite. I was about 2 miles (if that) from the end of the walk at Inverness Castle but didn’t see the point in walking past the campsite into Inverness, just to walk back out the campsite again, and then walk back in again tomorrow to get the train. So I went straight to my tent instead.

Distance walked = about 16 miles.

Author: Anne

Join me in my journey to live a life less boring, one challenge at a time.
Author of the forthcoming book ‘Walking the Kungsleden: One Woman’s Solo Wander Through the Swedish Arctic’.

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