Day 14 - Fort William to Gairlochy

Date: 9/20/2016 

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 

Temperature: 54°F 

Lodging: The Braes Guest House 

GPS Location: 56°5346” N and 4°5420” 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...

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