Category Archives: The Great Glen Way

The Great Glen Way Chapter 9 (final): From Drumnadrochit to Inverness

Today is a long walk, the longest of the trip. The distance from Drumnadrochit to Inverness is 29km. After a lovely breakfast with excellent coffee, we say goodbye to the owners of Kilmore farmhouse, Colin and Frances, and start walking. We are lucky again: the weather is sunny, but not too warm.Soon, we are on the hills. The highest point of the walk is 380m high. It’s not much, but there are lovely views everywhere.

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After about 15km, we see signs for a café. We follow them and they lead to a campsite. The campsite offers tea and food. We rest for a while and watch a large, black pig wander freely.

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After our rest, we continue walking. Again, we pass so many fallen trees.

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Soon, we see Inverness in the distance.

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We walk towards the town and enter the grounds of an old hospital. After that, we cross the River Ness on a beautiful suspension bridge.

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Then we see Inverness castle, and we are happy.

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We have walked the Great Glen Way.


Great Glen Way: Chapter 7 From Fort Augustus to Invermoriston

Today is quite a short walking day: only 13km. Before we begin, we have coffee and read the newspaper in Fort Augustus. We look at our map. We have two choices. Either we can take a low-level route through the forests to Invermoriston, or we can take a higher-level route. We choose the higher-level one. In the forest, we find lots of mushrooms. Some are edible and some are not.

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Soon, we leave the forest and are walking across the hillsides with Loch Ness below us. Some people believe that Loch Ness has a monster in it. Today, we can’t see any monsters! Six rivers fill Loch Ness. Loch Ness is 37 kilometers long and 230 meters deep in places. The volume of water in it is greater than all the water in all the reservoirs in England and Wales.

We are enjoying the weather while we admire Loch Ness. It is a perfect day for walking: dry and a little cold.

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After five or six kilometres, we stop and make tea. There are special, sheltered places on the hillside for this.

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When we come into Invermoriston, the first thing we look at is the old bridge. It was built by Thomas Telford, the same man who built the Caledonian Canal.

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The Great Glen Way Chapter 6: From South Laggan to Fort Augustus

The next morning, Neville takes us back to South Laggan and we start walking again. Today is a shorter walk. It is only 14km. We are walking beside Loch Oich and following an old railway line and one of General Wade’s old military roads.

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General Wade came to Scotland after the Jacobite rebellion in 1715. After he built the new roads, it was easier for the British government to send soldiers to the Highlands. In other words, the new roads extended British government control of the north of Scotland.

The canal is busy today. There are lots of boats waiting in its locks.

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At Bridge of Oich, we stop. It is an unusual bridge. It is made of granite and iron and was built in 1849. Because there was a danger of floods, James Dredge, the bridge’s designer, built a bridge with a single span across the River Oich. He used a cantilever design. The bridge has two separate parts; so if one part falls down, the other should stay up.

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Near Fort Augustus, the sky begins to darken. A few drops of rain fall. But we are lucky again. The heavy rain only comes later in the evening when we are indoors.There are five locks near Fort Augustus. Today, many people in the village are using them as bridges to cross from one side of the canal to the other.

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Before we find our accommodation – Sonas bed and breakfast, the home of Jimmy and Lorna Service – we walk through the town and find a seat beside Loch Ness.

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Our journey starts there tomorrow.

The Great Glen Way (Chapter 5) From Spean Bridge to Drynachan cottage

After breakfast, Colin drives us back to Gairlochy after we buy some sandwiches and drinks in Spean Bridge.

We thank him and begin again. We plan to walk 22km. Our route takes us along the north shore of Loch Lochy. The loch’s water is dark grey, the same colour as the sky.

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Again, beautiful trees are all around. There are even some sequoias. The land here smells fragrant. There is bog myrtle and heather. Again, we stop to make tea. Then a girl with a bike stops and says hello. Behind her, her little dog follows. The girl begs a favour. ‘Could you help me put my dog into my rucksack?’ she asks. I hold her rucksack and she drops the little dog into it. Then she puts the rucksack on her back and happily cycles away. Facing forward, the pug has one paw on each of the girl’s shoulders. Its head nuzzles the girl’s ear…

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We arrive in Laggan. We have accommodation booked at Drynachan cottage in Invergarry. Neville from Drynachan cottage comes to pick us up. The cottage is beautiful. Some say that Bonnie Prince Charlie stopped and rested here in 1776. When we enter Drynachan cottage, Sonia, Neville’s wife, greets us. She shows us the lounge. A large DVD collection fills one wall. ‘There’s a DVD player in the room,’ she tells us. I choose Hitchcock’s North By North West, one of my favourite films. After dinner, I open the window a little and begin to watch the DVD. My eyes start to close…

Suddenly, something wakes me up. A black thing swoops past my face. I jump up. Was I dreaming? No, there’s a bat in the room! But now it has gone. Where did it go? Then I see it next to the kettle. It has landed and crawled behind the biscuit tin. As carefully as I can, I put a plastic bag over it, open the window more, and gently drop the bat out.

The Great Glen Way Chapter 3: To Fort William

The train journey continued. North of Tyndrun station, we passed Ben Dorain. To me, its shape was like Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain. The train crossed two viaducts, curved around Ben Dorain, and then continued north.

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We passed other places: Bridge of Orchy; Rannoch, Corrour (the highest railway station in Britain), Tulloch and others too.

Fort William has a population of about 10,000, so it isn’t a big town. However, many people visit it because Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain, is there. The valleys, or glens, near Ben Nevis, are also popular with movie makers. For example, Braveheart, Rob Roy, and Harry Potter were made there.

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Finally, the train arrived at Fort William station. Walter and I left the station. We had our rucksacks on our backs and were looking for our first place to stay, the Nevis Bank Inn. We began walking to it. On the way, we passed the Duncansburgh Church, near the official start of the Great Glen Way. The name comes from Sir Duncan Cameron. Because he was rich and important, he tried to change the town’s name to Duncansburgh. He didn’t succeed. In Gaelic, the name of the town is ‘The Garrison’. Why? General Monck, who was part of Oliver Cromwell’s army, built a wooden fort in the area in 1654. Then General Mackay built a stone one in 1690 and gave Fort William its name. Fort William has a martial history.

But we weren’t thinking about the town’s history or its names. We were thinking about tomorrow, because tomorrow, our walk started.

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The Great Glen Way Chapter 2: From Queen Street Station to Arrochar

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The first public train reached Fort William in 1894. It was steam then; now it is diesel. When our train to Fort William arrived, we quickly found our seats, put our rucksacks above us on the luggage racks, and sat back.

We were on the left side of the train carriage. ‘It has the best views,’ said one of the passengers. I hoped she was correct. Around us, other train passengers were talking. Most of the voices were Scottish, but there were other languages and accents too. A few minutes later, our four-hour journey started. I began eating my sandwiches and Walter bought a cup of tea from a woman who was pushing a trolley.

Eventually, we left Glasgow behind. We were now travelling beside Loch Long, and could see the mountains at Arrochar ahead of us. Arrochar is a small village at the top of Loch Long. In the mid-thirteenth century, King Hakkon of Norway sailed to Scotland. He wanted to be king of Western Scotland; and in 1263, his ships sailed into Arrochar. The Scots didn’t want King Hakkon as their king, and they fought the Norwegians at Largs. Thirty-five years ago, Walter and I stayed for the weekend at Arrochar Youth Hostel. On the Saturday, we climbed Beinn Nanairn. When we reached the top of it, there was thick snow and we couldn’t see. It was dangerous, but Walter was good at reading maps. On the Sunday, we had to return home. But we had no money. We couldn’t buy food or a train ticket. We had to walk and hitchhike back to Glasgow on empty stomachs.

We laughed when we remembered how hungry we were. This time, we had plenty of cash!

The Great Glen Way Chapter 1: At Glasgow Queen Street station

Chapter 1: At Glasgow Queen Street station

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When I ask Walter to go with me on the Great Glen Way, he immediately agrees and I am surprised. Walter is an experienced climber: he has climbed more than 200 mountains in Scotland. But he hasn’t done a long-distance trail before. Also, he has his own business, so he is very busy.

‘When do you want to go?’ he asks when I call him.

‘The second week of August,’ I reply.

‘I am going to Cyprus with my wife and son, but I will be back at the start of August. How long is the walk?’

‘Nearly 80 miles.’

‘How long does it take?’

‘Five or six days.’

‘Okay,’ says Walter. ‘Let’s do it!’


A few weeks later, Walter and I met in Glasgow Queen Street station. Walter had our train tickets to Fort William, the start of the Great Glen Way. With our heavy rucksacks on our backs, we shook hands. Then we sat, had coffee, and waited for our train to arrive. We talked about our families. Walter’s son’s broken leg was healing well. My wife was visiting her family in India. We also talked about how quickly time passes. When we were high school kids, we went climbing together many times. The last time we went into the Highlands together was more than twenty-five years ago. Now we were nearly fifty years old. Could we walk so far? A few weeks before, another friend of ours quit the West Highland Way because his knees were too sore. Would our knees be strong enough? Would we finish the walk? We were determined, but sometimes that isn’t enough.

‘Can I do it? Can I finish the walk?’

Neither Walter nor I asked the question, but we both thought it.