August 8, 2008: Fort Augustus to Invermoriston
The skies seemed to be full of promise as Gavan and I made ready for our breakfast at Caledonian House on the fourth day of our walk. Our lunches were waiting for us when we dragged our big bags downstairs at 9:20 and we were soon heading down the last of the lock steps on our way to the ubiquitous A82. Here we turned left to cross the River Oich, escaping the highway up a steep tarmac path that was part of a semi-circular system utilized to keep walkers away from all the traffic. There would be a good deal of up and down today but we were again facing only a relatively short stage.
We were still in bed and breakfast land as we followed a road around a corner and headed back down toward the highway. A woman was out walking a giant Bloodhound (or perhaps he was walking her); the animal was only seven months old. We were not required to reach the A82, however, as waymarks pointed to a streamside path which soon rose steeply among tall pines. Once here we began a bit of a descent, following our path almost down to Loch Ness again.
The sun was making at attempt to break through as we again turned our back on the lochside scene, rising and falling on wide gravel roadbeds amid scenes of considerable beauty: the heather bloomed at the higher elevations and there was great variety among the trees. There was also plenty of water about in the form of streams and little waterfalls – bridges again helping us to estimate how far we had come. But views of the Loch itself were only rarely on offer – for we were screened by forests from views on our right.
After six miles we began to search for a place where we might sit down; I would say that the greatest deficiency on what was otherwise turning out to be a splendid route was its almost total absence of places to sit down: large stones or log piles were a real rarity, benches were like hen’s teeth. When we approached a fenced area belonging to the water company I suggested we try sitting on the ceiling of a cement water culvert and this proved possible. Gavan, eager to report on the contents of our sandwiches, now announced that we had spam and egg mayonnaise in today’s version. He seemed to be content with this until I informed him that it wasn’t spam, it was liverwurst. “You shouldn’t have told me that,” he complained, immediately abandoning his snack in favor of a ham and cheese alternative.
We had been walking alone for most of the morning but our lunch spot soon seemed to come alive with activity – starting with a family of cyclists. One little girl, coming up the hill toward us, narrowly missed running over a little mouse – which suddenly darted across the roadway. The Swedish girls passed by here as well, though this time I seemed to be get a little response from both of them. Our spot, however, soon proved attractive to another old enemy, midges, and hurriedly we packed up and stomped off.
As we started forward we were overtaken by Klaus and he was with us when we left our track for a left-hand turn into Glen Moriston, which the map shows our route penetrating in a westward direction for some distance –before heading back down toward the loch and Invermoriston itself. To our surprise, however, after only a short march to the west we were directed to a shortcut, a steep twisty path that plunged directly down to the River Moriston – saving walkers at least a mile in distance.
Gavan (who often walked well ahead of me on this day) was waiting for us at the bottom of this descent, which was made far more comfortable for me because of my cane. But as we headed along a roadway leading to Invermoriston Klaus said that he was still heading for a lakeside hostel four miles north of the town and we said goodbye for the day.
We reached the A82 and turned left, a view of the ruinous Telford Bridge on our left. At a crossroads we located the Glenmoriston Hotel and, though there wasn’t a single car out in front, we decided to see if its bar might be open. It was, and so at 3:00 we settled down to our pints – the only customers in the joint.
The hotel’s proprietor brayed and bragged in the background and soon got seriously on Gavan’s nerves. He was one of those chaps who makes you guess the answer to a question only he can answer – just so he can then tell you that you’re wrong. This he did several times, making us guess, for instance, the name of a distiller of a whisky he preferred. The Glenmoriston Hotel was one of those spots recommended as a dinner place for us by Mickledore but Gavan was so miffed that he suggested we look for alternatives.
There was one, almost next door, but its proprietor (in spite of the sign out front) said that he no longer did dinners, implying that he had been forced from this practice by sinister forces that he wouldn’t reveal – though we could ask anyone in town (and glancing all the while in the direction of the Glenmoriston). So there was nothing for us to do but continue our walk westward, on the Skye road, in search of our distant b&b, Braccadale. We arrived shortly after 4:00 and almost immediately a dinner reservation was made for us back at the hotel. We had walked only eight miles today, instead of the expected nine.
We each had a relaxing shower and I filled out our breakfast request forms before abandoning our room to Gavan – who was getting his first Olympics fix on the telly. Instead I sat down on a nice leather chair in the lounge and called London to check in on my dog. Our hosts, Bob and Carol, were very accommodating. They had a Westie named Jock; he came into our room and had a brief nap.
We next returned to the village crossroads, a ten-minute walk, and took our places in the dining room of the Glenmoriston. I have to say that the food was excellent. I had a Tuscan bean soup and a skate wing and sea bream main course, followed by a pear and prune compote and ice cream. Gavan had the pork and three jars of Guinness. The light was fading from the west as we walked back to Braccadale. Another family, with a dog named Archie, were just settling in.
In truth I had a rather rough night; my diet produced gas in abundance, Gavan (suffering from hip and back pains) groaned a lot, and at 4:00 am he had to turn on the telly to see what the Olympians were up to now.
To continue with the next stage of our walk you need: