The West Highland Way & Great Glen Way

Walked in August 2010

Day 11 - Wednesday 25th August

Laggan - Invermoriston
17 miles

We headed into the hostel at about 7.30 to eat breakfast which consisted of a pot noodle, beans and coffee, before using the bathroom and packing up to leave. We didn’t think the owners were too happy with us traipsing grass indoors, or for using the kitchen, bathroom etc while there were so many guests around, but at the end of the day they DID say we could do it!

We walked back up the road to rejoin the way and soon came to a disused and overgrown railway line. The old train platform was hard to spot as it was almost completely reclaimed by the undergrowth. We walked alongside Loch Oich, seeing a half-sunk boat on the other side, just below the remains of Glengarry Castle.

When we got to the end of the railway line and the far shore, we stopped for a break by the water’s edge and were soon passed by the two American guys we hadn’t seen for about a week. Moving on we now walked along the Caledonian Canal again for several miles, passing and chatting to the American guys and seeing a few boats on the water. The Sun was out now, and the warm weather was a drastic improvement on previous days. It was canal all the way to Fort Augustus where we were almost spoiled for choice when it came to places to buy refreshments and provisions.

Fort Augustus was clearly a tourist town (probably due to it being on the southern shore of Loch Ness) and there were a lot of people milling about the canal and shops. We first found a quiet pub on a side road and ordered a couple of coffees, before leaving to get some chips from a shop by the canal, and crossing the water to buy food and drink from the small supermarket. We then left the town to climb up a road leading into a wood where we found a quiet spot to eat our chips and some strawberries I’d bought, quiet that is until we started getting attacked by a couple of bored wasps. We then followed another forestry track alongside Loch Ness.

We soon caught sight of a couple walking ahead of us and moving fairly slowly. When we drew level with them they recognised us and it turned out they were the sole other campers at Gairlochy (Camp H20). We chatted for a while and found out they were from Israel and were relieved the weather had improved. They had looked as miserable as us at Gairlochy, and who could blame them? We left them behind and continued up the mountain track, at one point seeing a campsite symbol sprayed onto a tree in neon orange paint. We followed the painted arrows that disappeared into the gloom of the forest and eventually came to the bottom of a slope. Darryl had gotten ahead as I was filming, and when he came back along the path he said he had seen what had looked like a campsite but it looked distinctly ‘Hills Have Eyes,’ so we retraced our steps back to the path and continued on, hoping that the camping and caravanning site marked on our map would have space for us, since it was right next to Loch Ness and could be busy. We turned off the path to head down to the busy road, then crossed and walked to the site which didn’t actually provide camping. This was disconcerting, and we were about to move on when we decided to ask the cost of staying in one of their ‘hobbits’ which are long, cylindrical structures like hobbit holes that fulfil the same function as the wooden wig-wams we’d seen earlier in the trip. They looked good and we would certainly have appreciated staying in one, but it would have set us back about £17.50 each so we decided to give it a miss and maybe wild camp further along the track if necessary, or camp at Alltsigh. So we walked back along the road and back up the rough trail to rejoin the footpath.

At one point along the path we saw several names and messages spelled out in stones. Someone had obviously spent a lot of time leaving their mark on the trail.

It wasn’t far to Invermoriston and as we dropped down to near loch level we saw holiday chalets and B & Bs, but no campsites or hostels. Darryl asked a girl out walking her dog about campsites and bus stops, but she said she hadn’t been in the area long so couldn’t help (why are these people the only ones around when you have to ask directions?) The mention of bus stops however got me thinking, and I suggested that maybe we could get a bus from Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit and camp there two nights in a row. We could camp there for the night, then get a bus back to Invermoriston to do the stretch from there back to Drumnadrochit. It would mean not having to pack up our tents for a day, and we would also be carrying less the second day. We walked across the bridge into the town with a fantastic view of another bridge nearby and found the bus stop to check the times.

There was a bus headed in the direction of Inverness in twenty-five minutes so we waited, and when it turned up we asked the driver if he stopped at Lewiston near Drumnadrochit and after checking with his supervisor, he confirmed that he did. The sole passengers, we were soon speeding along the road beside Loch Ness, and about a quarter of an hour later we passed Urquhart Castle and arrived at our destination.

The campsite was on a farm which also operated a stables and horse-riding centre. There were two large fields to camp in and we chose the bottom one as there was plenty of space. There was a fairly large area of muddy, sodden ground near the road so we gave this a wide berth and camped near the other tents. It was about £7 each for a night. We paid up, pitched, showered then went off in search of a nearby pub to have a drink and get something to eat. After a wander around the houses we found the Benleva Hotel in Lewiston and settled down for a drink. Darryl ordered the steak and ale pie while I tried the Chicken Madras which was, unsurprisingly, very hot. We got back to the campsite as it was getting dark and got into our cold tents.

 

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