Saturday, 21 June 2014

Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit

We had been told by our hosts that red squirrels regularly visit their garden, and that there could even be the occasional red deer. I saw neither, but Rosemary saw a red squirrel from her bedroom before breakfast.

Fortunately the new route was well signposted and
well constructed, so navigation should not have been
a problem - though we managed to lose our way anyway
We were also told about the major changes to the Great Glen Way to the Northeast. There are large areas currently being felled, or due shortly to be felled, so there’s a major diversion to higher ground above the forestry. There was a map setting out the new route, but it turned out to be pretty obvious anyway.

The first stage out of the village was an uphill stretch on a minor road. The new route struck off from the old at a car park half a mile on. Clearly a lot of work had been put into the diversion. Part of it was on existing forestry roads, but where none had existed before the Way was very well constructed with gravel and ne bridges across the various streams.

It was actually something of a pleasant change to be walking through reasonably open country rather than through the dense woodland that characterises much of the flanks of Loch Ness. There were good views to distant mountains to the North and West, which tantalisingly seemed to be in sunshine while we were in gloomier conditions, and as we climbed sometimes almost in the cloud itself.

Good use made of trimmings on the new route
The only minor disadvantage of the new route was hat it was much higher, so involved a fair amount of climbing. Most of the route was above 250m, and the high point, when skirting a hill called Creag Dhearg, was at 432m. There were also some very steep stretches, where it seemed to us that the newly-installed path would rapidly become eroded unless retaining rocks were added. It did appear, however, that there was still some work to do, so perhaps this issue will be addressed.

And another picturesque use
of trimmings on a new bridge
About half way along the new route we had to cross a stream called Allt Saigh, which drains a large area of the hinterland above Loch Ness. This runs in a steep-sided valley, and is crossed by a forestry track, which we then followed for some distance before the path branched off into higher ground. Then it was a long woodland walk to reach the point where we rejoined the original route of the Great Glen Way. Unfortunately this was where we made the day’s big mistake, adding the best part of two miles to our efforts by taking the wrong route – effectively going backwards towards Glenmoriston. Only when we did some more effective map reading, after fifteen minutes of gentle downhill walking, did we realise where we had gone wrong. So we had to turn round and regain all the height we had sacrificed. All rather irritating.

A windbreak on the new trail - a good spot for a
few moments rest. Looking SW upLoch Ness.
When we had retraced our steps we found the marker we had missed first time around, and after a brief refreshment stop were able to resume our walk in the right direction. This was across an area of open ground, and then more rather gloomy forestry for the best part of three miles.

And the view to the NE over Loch Ness
The final wooded stretch was just below the small settlement of Grotaig, which comprises a few houses, a farm, and a pottery. After that it was road walking all the way in to Drumnadrochit. Initially this was pretty level going at the 250m level, in country that looks like a grouse moor rather than the more open hills we had walked through earlier in the day. The last bit was a steep descent down the minor road to rejoin the ubiquitous A82.

The final mile to our B&B was along main roads, fortunately provided with pavements to avoid the traffic. There was a village green with a tea shop, so we were able to reward ourselves before the final few yards.
Waiting for transport. Pulp or construction?

Our B&B, Kilmichael House, is noted for the three giant Wellingtonias in its front garden. We wre booked in to what were described as “economy” rooms in the annex, which were actually very acceptable. And made even more so by our hostess providing us with tots of malt whisky as a welcome.

Dinner that evening was at the local hotel. Like so many other places around the Loch it is monster themed, with a visitor attraction alongside the hotel itself. It’s obviously a major tourist attraction, but at least when we were there for dinner it was a coach-free day, and we had a very pleasant dinner.

Alan and Rosemary had proved excellent walking companions for the three days, and I was delighted that they had been able to join me after having had to cancel the two days they had intended to be with me earlier in the walk. I had been lucky enough to have company every day between Glasgow and Inverness, which is more than I had managed to achieve on any other two weeks of the walk in previous years. Given how far North I was now, and the distance most people would have to travel to join me, this was much more than I had originally expected.

We were up early for breakfast, after which Alan and Rosemary departed for the lake district in the car which they had driven there three days earlier. For me it was a taxi to Inverness station from which I took the early London train. So it was an eight hour journey back home to finish up the 2014 part of the walk.

Cloudy with occasional light  rain; hardly a glimmer of sunshine. 14-18C. Easy going on good tracks, much of which was the new route to avoid an area of planned felling. Last four miles into Drumnadrochit on minor road. Max altitude 432m, minimum 30m. 22.3 km, plus 2.4km when going wrong way and retracing steps. 732m of ascents, 768m descents. Midge factor 1.

1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog! I'm also doing a time-delayed end2end as it were! Only mine is from Dover to Cape Wrath, most SE to most NW points of UK.