Day 18 - Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit
Location: From: Invermoriston To: Drumnadrochit
Mileage: 14.5 Mi.
Weather: Foul, Rain and Drizzle all day
Lodging and Cost: Bridgend House
GPS Location: 57°20’12” N and 4°28’ 48” W
Highlights: View of Loch Ness, but with minimal views, my B&B room and hot shower at the end of day
Summary of the Day:
I got up at 6:30 this morning and packed up as usual and waited on Hawk and Little Pony to get to breakfast. After breakfast we headed out into the rain, as it was scheduled to rain all day today, which it did. The trail started off going up a steep incline for about a mile before leveling off some. I was ahead of Hawk and Little Pony and stayed that way all day until just before we got to Drumnadrochit at the end of the day. I came to where the trail split left and right, to the left for the height route and right for the low. I decided on the low route because you couldn't see anything either way high or low. I just put my head down and walked on. Finally I got to a little fork in the trail with the name,on my map of Grotaig There was a sign on a post that said pottery and teas. I turned left and walked up 200 meters to a little pottery shop. The sign pointed toward the back and said teas. When I went in I saw a man sitting there drinking a pot of tea and eating some kind of cake. I had seen him before on the trail. He was from Southwest Scotland and was a really nice guy. A man came out from the back and ask me what I would like to eat or drink. I ordered a pot of tea and the Scotsman said that the banana bread was really good, so I ordered that as well. It was good. We sat there and talked for about 20 minutes, when another man came in. It was the man that I have been passing on the trail for days, he was from England.. We spent a good hour there just drinking tea and talking about everything from trail to how to pronounce some of the words in Scotland. I asked how to say the word for this place, Grotaig, and even the man from Scotland didn't know how to say it. That made me feel somewhat better, because I couldn't say any of the words that I read since I got here. Finally Hawk and Little Pony came in as I was about to leave, but I decided to stay a while with them. They ate and had tea as well, so after about 45 minutes they were ready to go. We made our way to the city of Drumnadrochit, or Drum and everybody seems to call it. It was only 4.5 miles. Now the search for the B&B started. Hawk asked two different people and neither of them even knew about it. This wasn't a good sign considering that the entire town only had about two restaurants that I could see and several little trinket shops and about 6 or 7 B&B’s. So while Hawk and Little Pony sat and had a beer I decided to go across the street to the tourist info center and ask. When I ask her she said oh yes go directly across the street where the tables with the big umbrellas are and the B&B is on the corner. Well I followed her instructions to the letter and when I got there it was a restaurant on one side and a Deli on the other. So is guess that she was wrong. Finally Hawk walked up the street to another B&B and asked there and the man there said to go up the street just a little and it was on the right. We did and it was. It's a nice place, not as nice as some of the ones that I've stayed in but it has a good bed and a hot shower, so I am happy. We got reservations at the best restaurant in town, so everybody told us, and really the only real restaurant in town. Basically it is a pub with about 8 tables. I do have to admit that it was good. After dinner I left The two of them sitting their having a Drink or two, but I walked back to my room to get stuff ready for tomorrow. We have eleven more miles to go and we’re done and will be in Inverness for the night before taking the train back to Glasgow. This trip is coming to a close and I'll be going home, but the journey is completely over yet as I will was to Inverness and get one more chance to walk around the town and shops, so until then the journey continues…
Day 17 - Fort Augustus to Invermoriston
Location: From: Fort Augustus To: Invermoriston
Mileage: 8.9 Mi.
Weather: Cloudy day and cool
Lodging and Cost: Bracarina House
GPS Location: 57°12’53” N and 4°36’ 60” W
Highlights: Views of Loch Ness (and no monster), large conifer forest
Summary of the Day:
I was up at 7:00 this morning and packing up for a short day of only 8.9 miles. I was really glad to see that the rain passed through in the night. It rained so hard last night that I don't know how there could be any more water in the clouds. I met Hawk and Little Pony in the restaurant at 8:00 for a light breakfast and then grabbed the gear and left. Today I pretty much walked my pace and only met up with them a few times during the day. It was a nice walk on the trail, as there was no road walking after we got out of Fort Augustus. The trail climbed up above Loch Ness and it wasn't too long before I saw outcroppings that looked out over the loch. Loch Ness is the largest loch in Scotland and is also the deepest loch at 755 ft. After a while the trail started to drop in elevation and head down to water level but wasn't visible due to the large conifer forest that I walked through. It was like walking through a Black Forest as even the sun was unable to shine through. The terrain stayed low for the rest of the day and finally I got to the road just outside the village of Invermoriston. It was then that Hawk and Little Pony caught up with me and we turned and walked toward the town.
I refer to this as a town but that is a misnomer because the only thing that would qualify it as a town is the sign that says "Welcome to Invermoriston." They only have one hotel and one B&B. They also have a small newspaper and a shop called the Clog and Craft shop. I went into it to look around, and I can spend 20 to 30 minutes in just about any small shop looking and never buy a thing. This shop was so small that I walked in the door and turned left and walked maybe 15 ft. And turned to come back up the next isle maybe 15 ft. And turned right and walked out the door. They had leather goods, mostly leather hats and belts, but not much else. It was kind of a bust, so we all headed up to the hotel And I had a cup of tea and a bowl of Potato and Leek soup. I nursed that along for about 30 to 40 minutes and by then it was about 2:50. We thought that check in time was 3:00, but now it had started to rain and we walked up to the B&B that we were staying in, and by the way it was right next door to the hotel, only to find out that check in wasn’t until 4:00. So we were off back to the hotel to wait out the clock and hopefully the rain.
I was sitting in the lounge area when a man and his wife were checking in for a few days and he was unloading their car. I saw him bring a guitar in so I ask him what kind of guitar he had and he told me that it was a Gibson J 45 and he stopped right then and opened the case to show it to me. He handed it to me to look at. This would have excited my grandson Ben as he plays and loves to see and play any guitar. Mike told me that he was left handed and I could see that is was a left hand guitar, but it was really a pretty one and in great shape. He told me that he went all the way to New York City on 23rd Street to buy it and paid a $1,000.00 for it. Mike is 72 and we talked about different bands from our time (the 50s and 60s) and when he saw Bela Fleck and Sam Bush with Jerry Douglas play in the UK a few years back. I told him that I used to go to Merlefest in North Carolina and he said that he’s always wanted to go to that. It turned out to be a great afternoon. He did play a little while we were there. He said that if they had an open mike at the hotel that night that he was going to try to play, but I found out they didn't.
Anyway 4:00 finally came around and I headed off to the B&B to check in. The woman said that she had a special room for me, and as it turned out it was on the first floor and in the back part of the place. Actually in was back behind the kitchen. As it turned out this is a great room, it is big with two beds and a big TV and great Wifi. I actually have my own entrance out the back door and I have access to the kitchen. From hearing Little Pony talk, they didn't fare as well. They ended up upstairs and they have three twin beds. I met up with them for dinner at 6:30 and we discussed getting out of here earlier in the morning as we have a 14 miler and it’s supposed to rain all day so it could be a wet nasty day.
The hike is rapidly coming to an end. We will get into Inverness on Sunday afternoon and on the train back to Glasgow on Monday morning to catch a flight back to the U.S. Tuesday. Until then, there is more journey ahead and adventures to have so let the journey continue.
Day 16 - Laggan Locks to Fort Augustus
Location: From: Laggan Locks To: Fort Augustus
Weather: Beautiful blue skies very few clouds and cool to warm temperatures
Lodging and Cost: The Lovat Hotel
GPS Location: 57°8’37” N and 4°40’ 56” W
Highlights: Walking along the canal of Loch Lochy, seeing the Invergarry station project (restoration of a railway system from 1911), walking along Loch Oich and seeing the scenery along it including the ruins of Invergarry Castle. Seeing the big boats on the loch and going through the locks. Visiting the small town of Fort Augustus on Loch Ness (home of the Loch Ness Monster).
Summary of the Day:
I got up at 7:15 this morning and quietly started to pack up before going down for breakfast. The B&B was really nice, but the walls were pretty thin and I didn't want to disturb Hawk and Little Pony in the next room. About 8:00 we all went down and had a good breakfast. After breakfast, we were driven back up to the Great Glen water park and let out on the trail. Within about five minutes I came upon a sign that said that there was a new project being started, the Invergarry station Project. This is going to be is a restoration of the railway system that ran from Invergarry to Fort Augustus, but was abandoned in 1911. Right now there is a nice old train engine and the station platform.
It wasn't long before off in the distance across the canal that I saw the ruins of the Invergarry Castle. This castle was once the seat of the MacDonells that hosted the Jacobite cause and hosted Bonne Prince Charlie. The castle was later burned down. Shortly after, I came to the Bridge of Oich on the Loch of Oich and I saw a lot of boats coming up and down the canal. There were several locks along the way. It was interesting to see the boats come into the lock and the lock tender would start filling the lock or draining the water out to help people move up and down the canal. I noticed in the distance that the mountains had started to change and weren't as steep as the ones back to the South along the West Highland and that the soil had also started to change as well. We walked for several hours and then we noticed that we were getting close to the little town Fort Augustus. This is really a quant little town and right in the center of town is the canal and two locks. I talked to the lock keeper and she said that people come there just to see the boats be raised and lowered in the locks. There is a restaurant between the second and third lock and they have a sign that says the patio is for customers only and if you don't buy something that it will cost you £10 to sit there.
I had a pot of tea and a bowl of potato and leek soup and watched the boats come down through the locks. A man came up and wanted to know if he could sit at the large picnic table with us. He was coming down the canal from Fort Williams and going to Inverness over the next two days. He was interesting to talk to. He was on holiday for a week with several friends for one of their birthday celebrations. We ask if he was enjoying his holiday, but come to find out his real job is a sea captain on a ship. He said that he was enjoying the trip but that was more like work. It turns out that he has sailed pretty much all over the world. He once picked up a large sailing boat in Savanna Ga. and took it up the intercostal to Norfolk, Va.
After I finished my tea I went off to look through some little shops and see what I could see. There aren't too many shops in this town, mostly B&B’s and restaurants, and not a lot of trinket shops especially considered it is getting close to the end of the season and they are starting to sell off all of their inventory, although it was still fun to look. We are at the headwaters of Loch Ness, and there is Loch Ness monster stuff everywhere. I asked the sea captain about the monster and he had little to say about it, but that he didn't believe too much in it. I spent about an hour looking through all the shops and didn't see much of anything that I would want.
I headed back up to my room to clean up and get ready for dinner at 6:30. We had a reservation at that time. If you don't have reservations you might not get seated to eat. We ate at the hotel restaurant where we were staying. It was supposed to be a 5 Star while it as real good the only thing that I saw 5 Star was the price. I don't mind paying a little more for a meal but when you pay £16.95 for a venison burger and chips, (fries), and £6.95 for a small glass of wine I think that is a little too much, and that's before the conversion to the dollar, which is at least $1.35 to £1.00. The food was good and plentiful, so no complaints here and I only have a few days left and then back home. After dinner Hawk, Little Pony and I went our separate ways until in the morning at 8:00. Tomorrow we have about a 9 mile day and it shouldn't be too hard, so the journey will continue….
Day 15 - Gairlochy to Laggan
Location: Gairlochy to Laggan
Mileage: 12.7 Mi. + 1.6
Weather:Cloudy with no rain and cool
Lodging: Glen Albyn Lodge
GPS Location: 57°4’16” N and 4°46’ 42” W
Highlights: Walking along the loch and also seeing a lot of big trees and birds
Summary of the Day:
I got up at the usual time of 7:00 and finished getting packed and ready for breakfast. At 8:00 I wandered downstairs to the breakfast room. They had a nice setup with several types of cereal and fruit available. Teresa brought me a small pot of coffee to start. I was waiting on Hawk and Little Pony to come down. Finally they did and then the hot meals were served. Teresa was going to drop us back at the trail about 4.5 miles away on her way to work, but that was at 9:15 so it gave us plenty of time to eat and get our gear together before we had to leave. Right on time we piled into her car and she ran us up to the trail. When we got there people were already standing around getting ready to walk across the bridge to start. What I had read about today's hike was that you cross the bridge and walk level along the loch, but the trail crossed the bridge and then went up the road, which was up hill. This didn't last too long before it leveled out and then turned right off the road to a path which headed back down toward the loch. The next thing right in the middle of the trail was a sign that said "trail closed due to tree felling ahead," and then said to "bushwhack" back up to the road. We thought about it for a couple of minutes and not hearing anything in the distance decided to just go forward. We walked for 10 minutes or so and then we heard machinery ahead, but kept on going. Hawk and I saw the logging trucks down below picking up logs that must have been cut yesterday. They didn't see us so we just pushed on through the work site. We walked along the shore of Loch Lochy for a while before the trail did go back up to the road, which we followed for a long time.
I passed several historical sites. The first one that I saw was a restored landing craft used here during the Commando training during World War ll. Also there was the first Achnacarry House, which was originally built in 1655 and later destroyed and rebuilt in 1802 and used as the base of the training camp for the 25,000 British Commandos. We walked the roads a lot today drawing close to the loch and then going back up the Mountain and losing sight of the loch all together. Finally after a long while we finally got on a dirt track and it got back down nearer the loch. All this up and down stated to take its toll on Little Pony’s ankle, as she had twisted it a few days before. I could tell that she was starting to favor it some. As the day wore on she started to get slower because of it, but she made it through and we got down to the final loch at Laggan and found the little café by the name of the Eagle Inn, which is on an old ship. You board the ship and go below deck and there is a bar and tables. It's a really a unique little pub/restaurant and the food and hot tea was good. I had some fresh, homemade tomato basil soup, which was thick, creamy and very hot. After about 30 minutes or so we finished and left because we knew we had another 30 minutes to go to get down to the Great Glen Waterpark where we could have the people in the office call the B&B where we were staying tonight. They did and in about 15 minutes the man showed up.
As he took us back to the B&B he told us that we could eat at the hotel about a 10 minutes walk away by foot, but Little Pony told him that she couldn’t walk and besides it was starting to rain. He agreed to take us there but said that he might not be able to come back and get us and that we might have to call a taxi. After we cleaned up he loaded us up and took us to the restaurant, which according to Little Pony was a 5-star restaurant. It didn't matter to me, for all I knew was that it had people eating inside and the food was great. I had the pork loin with asparagus and some ravioli. After dinner we had the restaurant call the taxi. He was there in about 5 minutes and brought us back to our room. By now it was dark and raining pretty good. The man charged £5 and it was well worth the ride. Now it's getting close to bed time and Hawk and little Pony were heading off to bed.
I am going to do a little planning for tomorrow. This has been an interesting trail and so completely different from the WHW. Tomorrow isn't supposed to be as hard or long so I guess we’ll see then. We only have four more days until we have completed the GGW and then it’s off to Glasgow and back to the States and back to life off the trail, but until then the journey continues…
Day 14 - Fort William to Gairlochy
Location: Fort William to Gairlochy - GGW
Mileage: 10.7 Mi. + 2.0
Weather: Cloudy at the beginning of the day and then blue skies later on
Lodging: The Braes Guest House
GPS Location: 56°53’46” N and 4°54’ 20” W
Highlights: Walking along Loch Linnhe at the beginning of the Great Glen Way, seeing the ruins of the old fort. Seeing the ruins of the Inverlochy Castle, and seeing an old steam engine train go by in the distance. Walking along the Caledonian Canal at Corpach Locks. Watching the bridges turn and open up for boats and small ships to pass by.
Summary of the Day:
Today was an interesting day as I got up at 7:00 because we were supposed to have a short level walking day of only 10.7 miles. We ate breakfast at 8:00 and finally were ready and walking out the door of the B&B at about 9:15. We didn't take into account that we had about two miles to walk back across the town of Fort Williams to get to the beginning of the Great Glen Way. It wasn't so bad because I liked the city. Finally we got to the sign that said that it was the beginning of the trail. It was in a park where the old fort ruins were. After we finished taking pictures, we headed out on the trail. Looking across a field we could see in the distance an old steam engine train pass by. As I rounded the waterline of Loche Linnhe I saw the ruins of the Inverlochy Castle. It had a lot of overgrowth around it but you could still see it. We continued along the Loch and then crossed over the River Lochy, which was a feeder River, and in the distance I could see Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Scotland. I walked along the river through a small township and then finally came to a small hill that was pulling us away from the river only to discover that it lead up to the bank of the Calendoniancanal with about three locks for raising and lowering the water when boats and small ships want to pass through. We walked up the canal for about a mile and a half only to come to a bridge that had a bridge operator who was just starting to turn the bridge so that a small canal cruise ship could pass through. Our timing was right on this one.
Shortly after that we came up to NeptunesStaircase, which is a series of eight locks along the canal that was built between 1803 and 1822. It was interesting to see and to watch them raise and lower the water. After that I just strolled up the canal with great views of mountains and pasture lands with cattle and sheep along the way. After about four miles more I came to another bridge with a boat coming down the canal and needing the bridge turned. This time it was a manual bridge and a man and his wife were on either side of the bridge preparing to manually turn the bridge. I got great pictures of the two of them turning the bridge. When they had finished doing that and the boat had passed the bridge, I went up to the couple and asked if they could tell me how much it would cost the boat operator to do this. They told me that is about £19 pounds for every 10 meters of the boat. It usually ran about £190 to £220 pounds, but that was for eight days on all the lochs. It was truly a lucky day for us as I'll bet that they don't usually get that many boats coming through and we got to see two in the course of two hours.
When we left the bridge tenders we pushed on to Gairlochy to make a call to the owner of the B&B where we were staying. We finally got there and the temperatures were starting to drop and we were getting cold. We finally reached Gairlochy and another lock with another boat, but coming up the river this time. We found the telephone booth that we needed to use to call the B&B so that he could come and pick us up to take us four miles to his place for the night. The phone booth looked like the Tardis from Dr. Who. Hawk called the man and about 20 minutes later he showed up and took us back to his place. It was a nice guest house, but was in the middle of nowhere and they don't do dinner. He said that he would take us to a restaurant not far away. After we got cleaned up and ready to go we loaded up and went to the restaurant where he dropped us and said to call when we were ready to come back. As it turned out the restaurant was closed, permanently, but the bar also served food so we stayed and ate. The place smelled like mold and that wasn't good, but the food was. After we finished the waitress called the man and he came back for us.
When I got back it was getting time to go to bed as tomorrow is going to be another longer day than the guide book says it will be. It looks like it could be about 15 miles, so I guess it's about time to sign off for the night and rest for the second day on a new trail , the Great Glen Way. So as always the journey continues...
Day 13 - Zero Day at Ft. Williams
Location: Fort WilliamsZero Day
Lodging: Myrtle Bank B&B
GPS Location: 56°48’46” N and 5°7’ 11” W
Highlights: The town of Fort Williams, The West Highland Way Museum
Summary of the Day:
I got up at 7:00 this morning to get ready for a zero day and to meet Hawk and Little Pony for breakfast at 7:30.After we finished, I hit the streets and started my day of looking around. Today was a great day on several levels. First, it was a day off and a day of touring a town and every little shop in it. The one thing that I really like doing is walking through all the shops and looking at their items for sale and spending time talking with the shop keepers. I learn so much about the town and their way of life. One example happened this evening as I was walking through a small shop and got to talking with a woman working there. We spokeabout the Beatles and how much my grandson liked their music even after so many years of them being gone when she said that years ago she was in a small pub in Liverpool and saw them play. She said that it seemed like yesterday. There are so many things to see in towns that get missed by the tourist that come through because they only see the big obvious things and don't wander down the little streets and the little out of the way shops.
Later in the morning I met up with Hawk walking down the street and we went to lunch together before he met up with Little Pony so they could go see the West Highland Way museum. I had seen it earlier this morning and spent almost two hours there. It was great. The day just flew by, but I saw just about everything here and it wasn't long before it was time to find a place for dinner. Hawk and Little Pony wanted to go to a restaurant that didn't have anything I wanted so I ventured off on my own. I found a nice little restaurant, the Mureno restaurant above the Ben Nevis Bar. It overlooked the loch and I saw the sailboats out in the water. The food was great and plentiful. When I finished I thought about the rocky road sundae for desert, but I resisted and headed back to my room as it was getting dark, cold and was misting a little.
When I got back I started to get things organized to move out tomorrow as a new trail begins. I will leave here around 9:00 in the morning on the Great Glen Way for the next week. I just hope that the farther North that I go that I can be as lucky as the last 12 days and only get a little rain, but it will be what it's going to be and that's just part of the adventure. So let's let the journey continue…
Day 12 - Kinlochlevel to Fort William
Location: From: Kinlochleven To: Fort William
Mileage: 15 mi.
Weather: Blue skies and cool temps this morning, until about 12:00 and then it started to get overcast and foggy with light drizzle and rain.
Temperature: 55° F
Lodging: Mytrie Bank B&B
GPS Location: 56°48’46” N and 5°7’ 11” W
Highlights: The views as I walked through the valleys, which was most of the day., walking through Fort William on the walking street and looking in the shop windows on my way to the B&B.
Summary of the Day:
I got up at 7:00 this morning, which was late, because I couldn't eat breakfast until 8:15 and the taxi didn't come until 9:00. I was eager to get started as this is the last day of the West Highland Way and this trail is finished. Also it’s going to be a longer mileage day of 15 miles. When Little Pony came down for breakfast, she said that her foot was hurting and that she was going to take the bus to Fort William. When the taxi came to pick us up, the taxi driver said that she would drop Little Pony off at the bus stop. For the rest of the trip back to Kinlochleven where we got picked up the day before there were four of us, which included a couple from New Mexico and Hawk and myself. The ride went quickly, it seemed that we were back at the trail in less time than the day before.
When we got to the trailhead the Canadians were already there and preparing to start out. There were a lot of others that we didn't already know and we moved quickly beyond them. It didn't take long and I was out of my long pants and walking in shorts. It felt to good to be bare legged. The sun was shining and it was getting pretty hot. It wasn't long before we were at the top of the climb and looking down into a very long, maybe three or four mile level to down hill trail. Hawk and I were making great time, so about noon we decided to take a quick break and have a bite to eat. We both had brought cookies and fruit from the resort from last night. We had no sooner finished eating than the sky clouded over and the fog started to roll in. We decided that we better put on pack covers and rain gear. After about 15 minutes it all stopped so off went the rain gear.
I met a couple of older gentlemen from Wales that were hiking the WHW. We chatted for a few minutes and then I was on my way. For the better part of the rest of the day the trail was level or slightly downhill. We only had two major up hills and they were both short and it took no time to get up. We finally reached the main road heading into Fort William. This was only supposed to be about 1-1/2 to 2 miles in but it over an hour to get into town and to our B&B so I believe that it was longer. Upon arriving at the B&B we found out that reservations had been messed up. The woman said that Hawk’s reservation had been paid for but was cancelled and that my reservation was intact but wasn't paid for. She explained that she would call Mac Adventures and get it straight tomorrow. I showed her my receipt of where it was paid and she said not to worry. The room is really nice. We agreed to meet at 6:00 and walk back into the center of town and find a restaurant and have dinner. In the mean time it was clean up and rest for a little while. It’s nice to have some time to get everything cleaned up and that way tomorrow we have a completely free day to just wander around town and look in the shops and take some pictures.
Hawk came by my room at six and we took off for town center for dinner. We found a nice little tavern, The Grog & Gruel. I had a pizza and a beer for dinner. I was going to get a 9” pizza, but the waiter said that it wasn't that large and that it might not be enough considering that I had walked all day, so I decided to get the 12” and while it had a lot of toppings it was not that thick and I was able to eat 7 out of 8 slices and was not stuffed. After that, Little Pony wanted to go to a pub for a glass of wine, so I said goodbye and that I'd see them for breakfast at the B&B and then I walked back to my room. Tomorrow is a zero day here and it's a good way to end the first part of the hike. Now that the West Highland Way is finished we will prepare to start the Great Glen Way on Tuesday. It is a much shorter trail and this will finish up our time in Scotland and be on our way home. And so the journey continues…
Day 11 - Kingshouse to Kinlochleven
Location: From: Kingshouse To: Kinlochleven
Mileage: 9 mi.
Weather: Beautiful with blue skies
Lodging: Clachaig Inn
GPS Location: 56°39’52” N and 5°3’ 23” W
Highlights: Climbing and reaching the highest point on the West Highland Way, seeing all the views from the summit.
Summary of the Day:
I got up at my usual time around 6:30 and started packing up. When I went the bathroom to brush my teeth, I found that there was no cold water in my room. Not too different from yesterday when I checked in and was taking a shower and all the water cut off. This time I tried the hot water faucet and it came on, but was cold. After I finished brushing my teeth I went down to report the problem and the lady at the desk said “oh sorry about that” and that they would call a plumber, and she then offered me a pint of bottled water. Anyway it didn't matter much as I was leaving right after breakfast and frankly wouldn't be back.
About 7:30 Hawk and Little Pony came down and we ordered breakfast. The eggs and veggie sausage was really good. While eating, Little Pony decided that she was going to take the bus from here to Kinlochleven and bypass the walk today, as her foot was hurting and she didn't want to hurt it further. Hawk got the bus schedule for her and he and I took off walking around 9:00. It was a cool morning at about 47° F. This was going to be perfect since, according to the guide book, it was a really tough climb to the summit of a huge mountain. For the first three miles, the trail paralleled the road and then finally made a turn away from the road and started to climb. The profile showed the trail climbing nearly straight up, but as it turned out it was just a steady climb for about a mile until we reached the summit. There was a rock cairn. From there, you could see 360°. One side was down a valley between two mountains and one side was looking at a mountain across a gulch but the most spectacular view was off to the East, which looked down below and across a loch in the distance. We spent about 30 minutes there before heading down.
We thought that it wouldn't take too long to get down to the town where we were going to picked up by a taxi to take us to another town and hotel, as all the hotels were booked in Kinlochleven. This was supposed to be a 9-mile day. We had just finished four miles and we were looking down the side of the mountain at all the switch backs, but we couldn't see a town or where the trail was leading us. We took off and it didn't seem too long before we hit a dirt road, which was a steeper downhill than the up hill we had just come up. We followed that road for well over an hour and yet no town was in site. Finally we started seeing people walk up the road with little kids and small dogs, and we knew that we were close as most people don't walk too far away from main roads.
We kept walking into the town of Kinlochleven and found a little restaurant where we waited for the taxi that would come at 3:00 to pick us up. We ate a bite of lunch and within about 30 minutes the taxi came and whisked us away to the town of Glen Coe and to the Clachaig Inn. This is a resort area. We went into the bar and there was Little Pony having a glass of wine. The women running the hotel came in and got us to come and register then took Hawk and Little Pony to their room. I was having a bowl of strawberry sorbet. When I finished I found her and she took me to mine and mentioned to me yours is a very nice room and I think you'll like it. She was right; it is really nice and I have a large window looking out to the large mountain and other views. This is probably one of the best rooms that I've had here in Scotland.
After cleaning up, I went for a walk around the grounds to see what was here. We all agreed to meet at 6:30 for dinner in the restaurant. The meals here were just as good as all the other ones that I've had. We discussed a little about our walk tomorrow and when we will get picked up in the morning and what time we’ll meet. Tomorrow will be our last day on the West Highland Way. We’ll finish in Fort William. We will take a day off the next day and then the journey will continue on the Great Glen Way.
Day 10 - Inveroran to Kingshouse
Location: From: Inveroran To: Kingshouse
Mileage: 11 mi.
Weather: Beautiful sunny day with strong cool winds
Lodging: Kings House Hotel
GPS Location: 56°39’4” N and 4°50’ 27” W
Highlights: Walking the old military road and being able to look at the views, seeing the massive mountains
Summary of the Day:
I got up at 6:45 this morning, and got packed up and was ready to go. We had agreed last night that we would meet at 7:30 for breakfast and be ready to leave by 8:30. The breakfast was really good. I always get the vegetarian breakfast. This is generally two eggs, vegetarian sausage, toast and jelly with coffee and juice. After we finished and we're ready to head out, our Canadian friends came out and started as well. We all took off and it wasn't long before we saw them in the rear view mirror. It's hard to get eight people to make any time hiking. I moved faster than Hawk and Little Pony, so they fell back as well.
It was a great morning for hiking the trail as it had an uphill slant to it and the temperature was in the mid to high 50s with a nice brisk wind which made it cold if you stopped, but okay if you kept walking. The trail, while it was mostly a vast, wide-open valley and mountains, passed many conifer plantations along the way. At one point I came to an old stone bridge that crossed the River Ba. Shortly after, you will come to the ruins of Ba Cottage, but frankly after searching around for it, all I saw was about four big stones and that was all that was left of the Ba cottage. It was time to move on to other sights.
Finally after walking several miles up I came to the summit, and off to the left of the trail, up on top of the hill was a small rock cairn. From this cairn you had great views over the Rannoch Moor, the largest uninhabited wilderness in Britain, which is 50 miles square. This summit is 445 meters or 1,460 ft. high. From this point the trail starts to drop down and the wind is started to pick up. It travels downhill all the way to the Glencoe Ski Center, which has a little coffee center, but is 200 meters off the trail. I opted not to turn off there but instead to continue to the parking lot and wait for Hawk and Little Pony there before proceeding on to the Kingshouse Hotel. After they caught up with me, we continued to the hotel about a mile away. When we got there they had a mix up on the rooms, where they put Hawk and Little Pony in a room with two single beds and me in a room that didn't have a bathroom but you shared one with three other people. Hawk had a talk with them about their room and got that straightened out so that they got a double bed. I still didn't know at the time that I was sharing a bathroom down the hall with three others. When I went to my room and discovered that I went back and said that I had paid for a room ensuite, which means that you have a bathroom in your room, so they quickly changed me out as well. I have a big window in my room that looks out to the mountains. It's a nice room, although there was still one minor problem with the room. When I went in to take a shower, I turned the water on and had to wait about five minutes for the water to get hot. It finally did and all was good. I climbed into the shower and was enjoying the nice hot shower and was all lathered up and my hair was full of soap when the water shut off. I was soaped up and no water. I didn't know what to do next, so I waited and after about five minutes of standing there the water came back on but not for the shower, only for the faucet below. I had to get on all fours and put my head under it to rinse off. After a while I was completely rinsed and I got out. The water in the shower has never come back on even after I mentioned it to them.
At 6:30, I met up with Hawk and Little Pony for dinner. It was a good dinner. I had the steak and ale, which is like roast beef and potatoes with vegetables. It was well prepared. One thing that I can say is that I've not had a bad meal in Scotland yet. After dinner we decided to head off to our rooms. There isn't much in the way of Internet here, as it comes and goes, mostly GOES! I think that sleep will come shortly and quickly as tomorrow we have an 8-1/2 mile hike, but it is a tough uphill hike and we have to be in the town of Kinlochleven by 3:00 to meet a taxi that will transport us to Glen Coe to our hotel. The city of Kinlochleven didn't have any rooms to put us up in because there is a big cycle festival tomorrow and Sunday. I'm sorry that we couldn't stay there because I think that the festival could be fun, but such as it is with that, we’ll just see how the day goes as we progress up the trail and I'll close off for tonight by saying the journey continues.
Day 09 - Tyndrum to Inveroran
Location: From: Tyndrum To: Inveroran
Mileage: 10 mi.
Weather: Started out cloudy and around clouds cleared and blue skies and full sun
Temperature: 64° F
Lodging: Inveroran Hotel
GPS Location: Unavailable at this location
Highlights: Views from the trail (old military road), views of the valleys and the two mountain ranges.
Summary of the Day:
Slept in this morning until 7:00 and then got up and packed everything before going to breakfast at 8:00. Breakfast was really good and the best coffee that I've had since getting to Scotland. We, as well as about 10 Canadians, left the cottages at the same time around 9:00. It was an easy walk along the old military road up the valley between mountain ranges and looking over at the Scotrail train system and the highway on the other side. Today was pretty much the same all day. We walked on the old military road and in between the same two mountain ranges. We followed and crossed under the railroad tracks several times until we got to the Bridge of Orchy, and that's the last time that we connected with the railroad.
After I came into the village of the Bridge of Orchy I walked down to the Bridge of Orchy Hotel and had a pot of tea and waited for Hawk and Little Pony. When they got there they ordered lunch. Right after they had ordered, the group the 10 Canadians came walking in and ordered. They were getting their order before Hawk got theirs. He went and asked why and was told that they had preordered before they got there. I remembered a few days before when we ordered in another town and people came in after us and got served first. I stuck with my tea but still had to wait on them to get theirs and eat it. After they finished eating and paid their check, we took off. I didn't stop until I got to the hotel that we are staying in. When we arrived our luggage hadn't but I still went to my room and cleaned up. It wasn't too long until the delivery people showed up with the luggage.
I had a 6:30 dinner reservation, but you needed to place your order by 5:00 because they prepared your meal so that when you came in a 6:30 they presented you meal within about 5 minutes. This is a pretty unique way of running a restaurant. After dinner we all parted company and I came back to my room to get ready for bed. While today was a good hiking day and the views were pretty, it was a pretty bland day as we saw the same things and views over and over. Hopefully tomorrow will be new views and landmarks, but we will see. And so the journey continues.
Day 08- Inverarnan to Tyndrum
Location: From: Inverarnan To: Tyndrum
Mileage: 12 + 3 Mi.
Weather: Beautiful , some clouds but mostly blue skies
Lodging: Dalkell Cottages
GPS Location: 56°26’7” N and 4°42’ 40” W
Highlights: Walking through the valleys looking at all the mountains on both sides, going into the conifer forest, seeing the rivers that we followed and seeing the people fishing. Most of all having a good day with no rain.
Summary of the Day:
I woke up at 5:00 a.m. but laid there until 6:30 just thinking about the day ahead, what the day would be like, and what I'd see today. I finally got up at 6:30 and packed up to go to breakfast. At 7:30 the restaurant finally opened and I headed over for a cup of coffee and to meet Hawk and Little Pony. It was a good breakfast, typical eggs toast and veggie sausage. About 8:00 we put our ship-ahead luggage in the pick up room and left. The day started with a mild uphill, but nothing too hard. I was feeling pretty good and slowly got a head of everybody. It wasn't too long before I decided to stop and wait for them. I saw a man coming up the hill that I'd never seen before so I waited until he got nearer and I spoke. We started walking and talking. He is from Miami, Fl. and he is here with his brother and nephew. As we walked I learned more about him and what hiking experiences he had.
He told me that he was section hiking the Appalachian Trail. He said that he hiked every year and he had gotten as far North as Virginia, up around Roanoke just north of Dragon’s Tooth. He and I stayed together until we got to the junction where the trail continued on toward our daily destination and the other way went down to the small town of Crianlarich. The West Highland Way trail folks have started a thing similar to what they have on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, where you get a passport and get it stamped daily. When you get finished in Ft. Williams you present the passport book with the stamps in the book and they give you a certificate of completion. One of the stamps has to come from Crianlarich, which is about a mile out of your way. We decided to walk down and get the stamp. As it turned out, after the walk down we decided to eat lunch at a restaurant right there where the trail meets the road, but it was closed so we walked to the next one about a quarter mile farther, only to find it also closed. The only one that was open was a hotel, which was farther. After we got there and waited to be waited on, we ordered tea and the soup of the day, but even that took a long time. We ended up spending an extra hour getting the stamp in the book. At this point Little Pony decided that she was going to take a bus to our destination and meet us there, so we parted company and Hawk and I started walking back to the trail. The rest of the day was a delight. The trail had a few ups but mostly it was either level or down hill.
We ran into two guys from Scotland who were walking the WHW for charity. It was for cancer. One of the fellow's wife had brain cancer. They were camping along the way and fishing in all the streams. The one fellow had a really nice fly rod. After we left them behind, we picked up our pace and pushed for our room. We finally got here around 4:00 only to find Little Pony already here and in their room. The rooms here in this cottage are a little small but are very nice and really clean. I now know why in the UK they call the bathroom a water closet. When I went into my room there was a bed and a small desk and the closet with bi-fold doors. I wondered if everyone shared a common bathroom down the hall or something, so I figured I'd look for it but first I'd put my bag in the closet as it was taking up most of the floor space in the room. I opened up the bi-fold doors and there was the bathroom, complete with everything you needed. Boy was I surprised.
After cleaning up and resting for a little while we all decided to head to the restaurant just up the street for dinner. I had a great hamburger and chips(fries) and for the desert I decided to get the ice cream sundae. What a way to end what turned out to be a perfect day of hiking! We walked back to our rooms and prepared to go to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a shorter day so we can leave a little later tomorrow. Again it's about time to go to bed and rest. This journey will continue and to all I bid you a good night.