Day 13 Garlochy to Fort William (Glen Nevis) Wednesday 25 May

Distance 13.90 miles, cumulative 217.66 miles, 8hrs 45 mins, walking time 4 hrs 30 mins, pace 3.1mph, camped Glen Nevis campsite. 

After a very cold night we awoke to a bright but fresh day. The Scottish airforce launched their first major offensive as we struck camp, even the Scottish couple next to us said they were particularly bad. Once back on the path which continued to follow the Caledonian Canal the midges retreated and we continued along the canal  to it’s end at a series of eight locks, Neptune’s Staircase. We completed the final three miles of the Great Glen Way to reach Fort William where we spent a leisurely three and a half hours resupplying and forward  booking camping all courtesy of  Scot Rail’s free wifi which reached us sat in Morrisons cafe! Other supermarkets are available but may not be adjacent to a Scot Rail station. 

Lynn could live in Wetherspoons, so it was inevitable that we should enjoy a long lunch there before the last few miles walking up Glen  Nevis to the camp site which sits directly beneath Ben Nevis. 

Today’s milestone was finishing the Great Glen Way and tomorrow we start the West Highland Way which we follow for it’s entire length to the northern outskirts of Glasgow. This will occupy the forthcoming week taking us through the Nevis and Glencoe ranges and along Loch Lomond. 

Thank you for the comments on the photos. It is a little difficult to upload more each day on to the blog as often the broadband we are using has limited bandwidth and the uploads fail or take a while. However the good news is that we are taking loads of photos and on our return we may host a showing – bring caffeine and your pyjamas. 


Day 12 Laggan to Gairlochy 24 May

Distance 14.40 miles – cumulative 203.76 miles – 5 hrs 50 mins – walking time 4hrs 30 mins – pace 3.2 mph. Camped Garlochy Holiday Park
Frances at Lilac Cottage provided a continental breakfast presumably named for it’s size. We were joined by another walking couple and two fellas walking together both going in opposite direction to us walking the Great Glen Way. We are finding the company is always interesting given a shared passion for walking. There is also mutual quizzing to gather route intelligence, especially tea stops.
For the second day In a row the weather has been glorious. So…….drum role…….trumpet fanfare……the legs came out!

This landmark gives rise to a morning of angst along the lines of ‘does my bum look big in these (shorts)’. After 30 years of being together Steve still has not quite perfected the art of mixing genuine sincerity and spontaneity when giving the stock reply ‘no, of course not darling’. It was helped today by Lynn being reminded that the shorts she is wearing are a children’s size, a fact that will be approved of by her side of the family who always appreciate avoiding paying more tax than is necessary.
The day was spent walking beside Loch Lochy an area used during WWII for Army and Royal Marine basic commando training. Numerous plaques explain the remains of training installations, many of which are being preserved as memorials to the Commandoes and the role played by the local area, which is very suited to practising amphibious warfare.
Today we passed the 200 mile mark. Some readers who we gave our route plan to have spotted that our actual cumulative mileage is some 12% in excess of our planned estimated mileage. This is mostly due to going off route to campsites or poor estimates of distance taken from maps. Unspoken is that Steve’s planning was rubbish, fortunately Lynn is very tolerant and forgiving.
We spent the afternoon sunbathing by the tent and cooking our first ‘camp’ meal -almost hardcore now. From our tent pitch we had a view of the Ben Nevis range, a pleasure which awaits in a couple of days time.

Day 11 Invermoriston to South Laggan Monday 23 May

Distance 19.04 miles – cumulative distance 189.36 miles – 9 hours – actual walking time 6 hrs 10 mins- pace 3.1 mph – B&B Lilac Cottage
Over a hearty breakfast in Dornoch View B&B courtesy of the very fine host Hayley we had tuition in the correct pronunciation of Scottish place names on our route from a group of Scottish walkers. We got tested at the end breakfast. They also asked if I was in the Forces and remarked to Lynn that she looked as if she had military background. Lynn is still trying to decide if that was a compliment or not – Steve is staying strictly neutral. 

We continued along the Great Glen following Loch Ness, after a mile we had to choose between the high level route and low level route. The high level route is longer and climbs 330 metres – our heads said low level, thinking the long game, our hearts said high level. After a short debate hearts won – and we were rewarded with a spectacular walk with fine views down the Great Glen and Loch Ness.

Halfway was Fort Augustus the last place to stock up for a few days. Fort Augustus is very much on the tourist trail with coaches dropping off for Nessie boat trips. From here the route follows the Caledonian canal which strings the Great Glen Lochs together connecting Inverness on the East Coast to Fort William on the West Coast for boats. 

After crossing the A82 the route is along a disused railway alongside Loch Oich. The railway, intended to also connect Fort William to Inverness was never finished and only the Eastern end ever ran before being abandoned. 

After an evening meal at a loch side holiday centre we faced our first moral dilemma when with just a kilometre to go to reach the B&B a car pulled up beside us and asked which way we were going. It turned out she was our host for the night and she offered us a lift. At the end of a long hot and tiring day this was something of a test you will be pleased to learn that Lynn did not waiver politely refusing the lift and the offer just to take our rucksacks – Steve had already loaded his rucksack in the boot and put his seatbelt on and reluctantly got back out. 

Now you might think we are going soft having two consecutive nights in a B&B (or just sensible) but we were meant to be camping in the grounds of a hostel. However the hostel had been booked for the exclusive use of a large group of school children and much as we would have enjoyed an evening with loads of noisy kids they were not offering camping. 

Thanks to Tim and Lois for the suggestion of doing an Ironman triathlon next but we are not thinking of doing any explosive sprint events in the foreseeable future. 

Day 10 Drumnadrochit to Invermoriston

Distance 15.92 miles – cumulative 170.32 miles – 5hrs 40mins – walking time 4 hrs 50 mins – pace 3.3 mph – B&B Dornoch View

We got caught out first thing when just as we thought the tent was dry to pack away for a few days ( B&Bs for the next 2 nights) it poured down, within seconds we went from bright sunshine to torrential downpour. 

Just as quickly the day turned into a beautiful sunny day and the scenery was stunning as the  Great Glen Way took us above and along Loch Ness. The Great Glen Way had a high level and low level option and we took the high level route and were rewarded with fantastic views down the Loch and of the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe mountain ranges beyond. 

Had a close encounter with an adult deer as we neared the end of the day but just as we had the photo lined up a car frightened it off.

We had a very friendly welcome at the B&B which is used by plenty of walkers and cyclists. 

We still have all our toe nails and no blisters, our feet and bodies generally are holding up very well. Due to the finer weather the Scottish airforce have made an appearance and they have landed two successful strikes on Lynn. 

Thanks for all the comments. If you are reading the blog then please do not be shy and add some comments if you have not placed any so far – they really help to motivate us. 

Day 9 Beauly to Drumnadrochit 

Distance 20.64 miles – cumulative 154.4 miles – 7hrs 5 mins – walking time 6 hrs 20 mins – 3.2 mph – camped at Borlum Farm

From Beauly we continued south along minor roads through the Abriachan Forest. We passed a small group preparing for a wedding in the forest – looked a bit like they were setting up a water station for a running race with a line of trestle tables – all a bit Totnes. We joined the Great Glen Way and passed over it’s highest point after about a mile. All downhill we thought to Drumnadrochit – but a roller coaster of ups and downs followed. As we were anticipating our first sighting of Nessie the light showers turned into a full on thunder storm. We were ill equipped compared to other tourists who had prudently carried umbrellas. Camping in a near empty field we were soon joined by numerous groups of walkers and cyclists of various nationalities. 
Having been in each other’s company for over a week we agreed a trial separation – Steve was sent shopping and Lynn stayed at the site and did the laundry. Steve was very tempted by a passing number 19 bus to Inverness until he remembered he was only wearing a waterproof jacket,  over trousers and boots. 
At the pub we each had an extra free drink when our food order got lost – same map reading skills as us – so our final walk back to the tent was a little erratic. 

Day 8 (20 May) Evanton to Beauly

Distance 19.03 miles – cumulative 133.76 miles – 8hrs 20 mins – walking time 6hrs 5 mins – pace 3.1 mph – camped Lovat Bridge caravan park.

The sun came out together with Lynn’s arms. Left Evanton and continued along national cycle route 1 to Dingwall, where we spent 1.5 hours in Tesco’s cafe (other supermarkets are available) using the free wifi to upload our blog , accommodation/camping booking and planning for the coming week.

After climbing out of Dingwall we left route 1 and passed through the Muir of Ord to finish at Lovat Bridge near Beauly. 

The campsite is the practice site for the local pipes and drums so we had live music in the evening. 

Beauly is the site of an old monastery  and one monk remains who continues to uphold his vow of silence.

Dornoch to Evanton

25.96 miles – cumulative 114.73 miles – 10hrs 15 mins – walking time 8hrs 5mins – pace 3.2mph – camping pod Blackrock caravan park.
Today was full of milestones as our route left the east coast and swung west towards the Great Glen which we follow to Fort William. Our next visit to the seaside will be Somerset hopefully it will be warmer and drier there.
We were woken early by seagulls but we needed an early start for our longest day so far. The first stint was 8 miles to Tain along B roads, the A9 and forest tracks concluding with crossing the Dornoch Firth road bridge to leave Sutherland and enter Ross and Cromarty. We entered Tain passing the Glenmorangie distillery (Steve’s favourite malt – hint) and had a second breakfast in a cafe. Our route to Evanton then followed the national cycle network route 1, so we finally said goodbye and other words to the A9.

An uneventful day except for passing the 100 mile mark and completing our first week. Steve said he saw a deer and a fox both of which Lynn missed. Steve has form for seeing foxes and Lynn is convinced he was hallucinating.
The weather started dry but was wet for the afternoon and evening hence rather than put the tent up we opted for a ‘camping pod’ which proved to be very cosy. Lynn was very impressed and has ordered one for the garden. Steve suspects it will be his new home. 

Day 6 Brora to Dornach

19.55 miles- cumulative miles 88.77 – 8hrs 5mins – walking time 6hrs 35mins – 3mph –  camped Dornach Caravan site

Started the day with an hour lie in due to rain but it cleared up and stayed dry.

Left the A9 (hurray!) and walked along the beach from Brora to Golspie passing through the grounds of  Dunrobin Casstle. Saw loads of seals including females waiting to pup. A first for us was seeing an Otter all of this wildlife slowed our progress as the seals demanded and posed for photos. Had to rejoin the A9 for a further 7 miles (boo!) and much to our collective competitive disgust we were overtaken by another walker who was obviously in a hurry, hardly spoke to us and hardly moved aside for the passing traffic and he was only wearing trainers (on his feet) he will be lucky to survive past Inverness. 

When we rejoined the A9 our eager anticipation for traffic lights was at last fulfilled with a fine set in Golspie. 

The final 5 miles was along minor roads next to the Moray Firth so even more seals and bird life. Dornach is a tourist centre busy with golfers.

Day 5 Helmsdale to Brora

Distance 10.58 miles – cumulative distance 69.22 miles – 3hrs 35 mins – actual walking 3hrs 30mins – pace 3.1 mph – camped Brora caravan club site.

After a large Scottish breakfast we set off on our last full day on the A9. A few dodgy bends with very narrow verges meant we played chicken with a few lorrys. Most drivers have left us plenty of space. The weather has been fine and Steve’s arms put in an appearance and no wooly hats required. An early finish left us with a free afternoon so we went for a walk along the beach into downtown Brora. The campsite is in a lovely location adjacent to the links golf course by the beach with fantastic views along the coast.

Thanks for all the comments please keep them coming. Our apologies for not answering each one individually but cell and wifi coverage has been intermittent.

Following a request for more photos of Steve, Lynn’s best effort so far is below.

Clearly our last spot the odd one out photo was too challenging for some, today we hope to have found the right level. 

Spot the odd one out

…..the A9…….