Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Day 52 : Invergarry to Invermoriston

Wednesday 7th March 2007

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Distance Walked: 17.2 miles
Start Time: 9:30
End Time: 15:37
Elapsed Time: 6:07
Weather: Sunshine and showers.
Distance walked so far: 1017.8 miles

Brad is from New Jersey and, on his first trip to Europe, has already seen more of the continent’s major cities than most Europeans will ever manage. Across the sunlit breakfast room we compare stories of our two contrasting journeys, and end up feeling rather envious of each other’s escapades. Rather than waste time in England, he spent a weekend in London then came straight up to Scotland. It’s easy to understand why. There may be many interesting sights down south, but Scotland feels unique and, just as importantly, actually seems to welcome visitors. I tear myself away from the warm hospitality of the Invergarry Hotel and head out into the light morning mist.

It’s a few miles along the A82, by the shores of Loch Oich, before I can rejoin the Great Glen Way at Bridge of Oich, from where it again follows the Caledonian Canal northwards. Like so many of the feats of engineering that allowed Scotland to prosper, the canal has Thomas Telford’s skilled fingers all over the design. Here it runs parallel with the River Oich and, as the sun finally usurps the grey bursts of rain, I almost begin to warm to the monotonous pounding, especially when it leads to Fort Augustus, the little town at the southern end of Loch Ness.

Now here’s a place that is known throughout the world, though probably for the wrong reasons. It doesn’t have the surface area of Lomond, but it is by far the bigger of the two. It’s almost unimaginably big, actually, but these two stats might help you to try. If you were sufficiently minded, and had a lot of help, you could fit all the people in the world into the waters of Loch Ness, three times over. And it’s so big that it holds more water than all the lakes and reservoirs in England and Wales put together. It’s a real monster.

True to form, the Great Glen Way lurches away from the shore and insists on plunging through yet more bland forests, obscuring the sight of the water for much of the time. Through the sporadic clearings though, the view is simply stunning, and I grudgingly admit that it’s only truly possible to appreciate the scale of the landscape from such an elevated position. It’s mostly a view of pine though, and a slog up and down the slopes. Most of the Great Glen Way uses the route of the Great Glen Cycle Path, and it’s certainly geared towards bikers rather than walkers. It also seems to lack the range of accommodation that was so reassuring in the Highlands, which is maybe why the stop in Invermoriston proves to be such a welcome relief.

I nestle into the beautifully comfy Glenmoriston Arms Hotel, just as the Support Crew arrives to administer a final hello. She tells me that I stink, and I say what I think of her too. To be fair, the sack of clothes hasn’t been washed since I set foot in Scotland and the hum is almost overpowering. I add the task to my “To Do” list, somewhere between “Finish Walk” and “Find A Job”. It’s good to set priorities, but at the moment mine do not especially centre on personal hygiene.

Song of the day:

The Arlenes
“Lonely won’t leave me alone”

There was a time I thought I knew /
About life and what to do /
And now it’s plain /
I know nothing at all

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