Home » Hiking » 2014 Scotland Trip » GGW Day 4 (Monday) – north of Invermoriston to north of Drumnadrochit (29 km)

GGW Day 4 (Monday) – north of Invermoriston to north of Drumnadrochit (29 km)

It was certainly not the best night’s sleep I’ve had, possibly even the worst on this trip so far – I think I was worried about my campsite. In the end it was a fine. A bit cold though! A few locals also commented on the low temperatures overnight yesterday and today so it wasn’t just me being an unseasoned Australian!

I set off bright and early (~7:30) and it was still quite chilly. There were birds everywhere, absolutely stunning views and stunning weather to go with it. This high path was really worth it, not yet for the views over the loch, but for the views to the north.

The stunning view to the north, and some of the newly made path (less than a month old!)

The stunning view to the north, and some of the newly made path (less than a month old!)

The new route incorporated some sculptural works and, as I had time to kill still, I mucked around for a long time trying to take the perfect photo!

One of my many photos of the sculpture on the new "high section" of the Great Glen Way.

One of my many photos of the sculpture on the new “high section” of the Great Glen Way.

More walking brought more stunning views. Also an amazing atmosphere which is impossible to capture in a photo. It was quiet except for the chirping and birds and the rustle of trees (and European tree rustle, not gum tree rustle too). Wow. It really was a magical place.

I crossed over a cute troll bridge, with a display of some poems done by local primary school students, then went up a big hill. It was definitely worth it for the views at the top! Again, WOW! Again, Loch Ness is HUGE! You can see a picture of me and the loch here.

The troll bridge! Delightful.

The troll bridge! Delightful.

The weather was so lovely and it was a cruisy day so I had lay down on a bench for a while and listened to the wind and the birds.

The bench where I lay down for a nap.

The bench where I lay down for a nap.

The path went through some more pines the came out into beautiful woodlands and fields. I saw what looked like a child’s tree fort through the trees which was, funnily, at the same spot that a pre-Roman fort was marked on my map! I was looking for a fort there, . . . just not that kind!

Some beautiful native forest.

Some beautiful native forest.

A couple of cyclists rode past the other way and commented on the “amazing views from here”. I wanted to reply “wait until you see what is to come!!”, but being on bikes they probably wouldn’t be taking the high route. I then got to have a lovely long pat with a big black bearded dog, Smuggler (I think), and a chat with his owner.

Two cows, with possibly one of the best views in the world.

Two cows, with possibly one of the best views in the world.

Next stop was a pottery that was mentioned in the guides (Loch Ness Clayworks). I love potteries, but they are not the best places to shop when hiking! Luckily for me they have also recently started operating as tearooms as well. I had a browse then had a lovely cup of tea (made by Jonathon) and some shortbread, plus pats with Jack, a black Pekinese with the most amazing coat. . . . brushed every second day! He is from Kent and hasn’t had a winter there yet so it could be interesting when he first sees snow. A large loud group came through while I was there, and another solo guy, both with dogs. I bought a small bowl as a present, hoping that if I was careful I could get it through the next two days without breaking it!

The next section of walking was along country roads. I still had heaps of time so I followed a butterfly for a while. I passed three guys having lunch by the side of the road. They looked like the same super serious three from Fort Augustus but I thought they would’ve been long gone by now?!

Then it was a long wind down the hill into Drumnadrochit. I took a scenic detour through town, past some local houses (almost all B&Bs!) and the graveyard. I saw some signs coming through town for the local Highland Gathering. It had been on Saturday! I’d missed it by only two days!!

My first view of Drumnadrochit (this trip!)

My first view of Drumnadrochit (this trip!)

It was only ~2:30 so I wandered around town seeing if there as anything I wanted to do or somewhere I wanted to eat. I finally tried Fiddlers, and found out they’d just finished serving pub food. I actually had some appetite today so didn’t want just the cafe food next door. I went up to the Drumnadrochit Hotel where the bistro was supposed to open at 3pm. After waiting until 3:30 (and it still wasn’t open), I asked reception, who said it should be open, then finally asked the cafe staff. They informed me they’d just shifted from peak to shoulder hours and “it’s not worth opening it up for one person”. What?!?!?! It’s not like I’d implied they should open it just for me, but maybe they could change their signs, or at least tell reception what’s going on!!

They said they were opening at 5pm so I went into the Ness Centre, which is an award winning display of information relating to the loch, and in particular, the Loch Ness Monster. It was quite good with lots of scientific information and facts, not too dumber down for tourists. It is done in a series of rooms with audio-visual displays telling different aspects of the loch. Information suggests that there is no large marine creature living in the loch. There is simply not enough fish to support it. Also, the idea that it’s a plesiosaur took a bit of a beating by the fact that the loch was full of ice (full, not just covered over) and then not connected to the sea anymore so it’s very unlikely that a plesiosaur could’ve got in there. They’ve also done a full sonar sweep of the loch (although this is far from conclusive). Other things all the sightings could be are large seals, lost sturgeon (fish), seabirds seen at funny angles, boat wash (the loch is so huge that a boat is often out of sight when the wash arrives) or hoaxes (some of the famous photos are). That said, the final room had loads of fairly compelling eyewitness accounts. I spent a lot of time in the final room, waiting until 5pm for dinner!

The Loch Ness Centre

The Loch Ness Centre

I went back to the Hotel and the bistro was still not open. A guy walked past with breadrolls at 5:10 so I asked him. “No, we don’t open until 5:30”. WHAT!?!?!??! I was pretty pissed off by this stage and walked out, partly on principal, but also because it was already getting late and I still had to get out of town and find a campsite (pine forests again on the north side of town).

I started walking, eating the rest of my lollies to cheer me up. I got my second injury for the walk when I climbed a fence (which was on top of a 4’ high stone embankment) to rescue a sheep with its head stuck in a fence. Luckily just a small cut on my hand . . . although I also brushed some stinging nettles and my finger got a bit red and swollen (and hurt!). There was a bit of walking next to the road, with some lovely views of Urquhart Castle (which I went to last time I was here), then some fields, . . . then into the pine forest.

As usual, the pine forest was on a steep hill and not at all promising for campsites. It was also getting quite dark – partly due to the hill and pines but also that it was now 10 days closer to winter than when I first arrived. There were very few flat spots (ie none), although I noted a couple of possibilities in case I couldn’t find anything better. Then, I looked back as I was going around a hairpin bend, and there was a big flat spot that had obviously been used as a campsite before. It was flat, clear and soft. Yay!

What I saw when I looked back, while getting a bit desperate for a campsite (the camera has compensated the exposure - it is actually a lot darker than this!)

What I saw when I looked back, while getting a bit desperate for a campsite (the camera has compensated the exposure – it is actually a lot darker than this!)

I set my tent up then had some dinner – bread and cheese. Thanks a lot Drumnadrochit Hotel!! All day I’d eaten breakfast (muesli and milk), 1 muesli bar, a cup of tea, shortbread, ¼ of a packet of lollies and a piece of pita bread and several bits of cheese!

My campsite, set up with a much more realistic light level.

My campsite, set up with a much more realistic light level.

GGW4

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7 Comments

  1. Jackie says:

    Love the sculpture, toll bridge and the two cows with possibly one of the best views in the world. I imagine the forest campsite was extremely dark at night? Strange noises? Hope you’ve managed to get fed in your next post 🙂

    • Helen says:

      The troll bridge was pretty cool! Near the two cows, I also saw the biggest sheep ever – I thought it was a rock until it moved! This campsite was pretty dark, and probably the eeriest so far. Not too many strange noises, just normal animal stuff and pine forest creaking! (Also, see the reply to Anna’s question about being scared out there) And only food from my pack (plus some shortbread) most of tomorrow . . . but made up for with an amazing dinner at the end of my walk!

  2. annathrax says:

    We’re you ever scared camping alone? That last campsite photo looks scary! I wouldn’t sleep!

    • Helen says:

      No, I actually wasn’t. I tried not to let my thoughts go down that path anyway, but also my tent was so cosy and homely inside. It really felt like such a safe place to go into. I also figured that Scotland was a pretty safe place to hike (no big animals that would kill me and generally safe, friendly people) plus the weather was reasonably tame most of the time so I wasn’t worried about trees falling on me or anything. I was a bit surprised that I wasn’t at all nervous out there but as well as all the reasons above, I think I was just so happy to be out in nature on my own that all the ‘nature’ noises were a comfort more than an alarm.

      • annathrax says:

        Fair enough. I thought of scotland as relatively safe too. Still, im such a wimp, i dont think i could ever camp by myself. Animals or weather dont bother me, its the freaks out there!

  3. Was it easy finding wild camping spots on the GGW?

    • Helen says:

      It was much harder than on the WHW, because it is much steeper (you’re basically on the side of the Great Glen walls the whole time) and a lot of it is either in pine forest (terrible for camping) or near civilisation. That said, I probably always could’ve found somewhere, just maybe not as flat/sheltered/hidden as I’d like, or exactly where I wanted. There seem to be a few offical “wild” camp sites (like that one near Leitirfearn) that have been put in, plus some actual campgrounds, to make it easy to camp the whole section . . .maybe not as “wild” as you’d like though, especially not in peak tourist season. I also didn’t do much research for this bit of the walk so didn’t know about them beforehand! You can certainly do it (I’m a novice at wild camping, and hiking/camping in general, and I managed) but it was not as easy as the WHW, or an “away from civilisation” hike.

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