Friday, 23 November 2012

Great Glen Way - Laggan Lochs to Fort Augustus

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 23 November 2012
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith, David Boother, Wendy Boother, Joss Johnson
Accommodation - Laurel Bank Lodge, Fort William
Start Point - Laggan Locks (GR NN28661 96326)
Start Time - 10:42
Finish Point - The Bothy, Fort Augustus (GR NH37893 09166)
Finish Time - 15:32
Duration - 4hrs 55mins
Average pace - 2.31mph
Distance Walked - 11.38miles
Height Ascended - 226.80metres
Height Descended - 240.72metres

Peaks visited

Walk Summary
Second day of trip and everybody keen to walk. The only caveat was that after yesterdays peak bagging (Bidein Bad na h-Iolaire) and difficult descent the general consensus was to do a flat walk. With only 147m of ascent on the planned route, this section of the Great Glen Way from Laggan Lochs to Fort Augustus fitted the bill. As well as being the flattest, at 10.66 miles, it was also the longest planned walk of the trip, but that did not bother anyone and the option to cut the walk short at Bridge of Oich would not be needed.
So with the sun shining and the weather forecast being much better than the day before we set off in the taxi full of anticipation.
Unfortunately the weather forecast was wrong again. It was a nice bright start but by the time we reached bridge of Oich the milky blue sky had been replaced by grey cloud and a very steady 'wet' rain. But the wet picnic seat and splashes in coffee cups from rain drops did not deter us from sitting down and having lunch.
With more than half the route completed at this stage we set off in the rain for Fort Augustus. With me stopping (but less often) for photographs and Wendy pushing on because she had not put on waterproof trousers (something to do with believing the BBC weather forecast) the group was fairly spread out. Not a lot of chatting either, just getting our heads down and getting on with the job in hand. Perversely it was a great walk enjoyed by all.
What is it about the inverse relationship between adverse conditions and the enjoyment of the walk?

Walk Description
1.) With Loch Lochy behind you stay on the right (west) side of the Caledonean Canal and head north.
2.) Very soon you pass the floating pub The Eagle Inn on teh Water. Unfortunately (a) it was too soon in the walk to stop and (b) it was closed anyway to stop for a drink, but it would make a good place to stop if doing this leg of the Great Glen Way in the opposite direction.
3.) Very soon you enter a thin strip of coniferous woodland as you follow the route of the Caledonean Canal.
4.) As you exit the wood the path veers away from the canal and very soon you reach the busy A82 linking Fort William to Inverness.
5.) Carefully cross the road and with the Laggan Swing Bridge on your leftgo more or less straight over going down the track to the Activity Centre and Holiday Park.
6.) Very soon you reach the disused Invergarry Station, opened in 1903, closed to passengers in 1933 and closed completely in 1947.
7.) From here the route is easily followed without problems. Look out for Invergarry Castle on the opposite side of Loch Oich.
8.) Soon after the castle you will pass Eilean Dubh - The Black Isle. According to the OS Explorer map there is a causeway from this side to the Isle but with the recent heavy rains we did not notice it.
9.) From here there is not a lot more to mention until you reach the end of Loch Oich and the path turns left just before Aberchalder Farm then quickly right to cross the old railway bridge over Glen Buck.
10.) On the other side of the bridge the footpath turns back alongside the bridge to the end of Loch Oich.
11.) Carry on round to where the Caladonean Canal and River Oich flows in to the Loch.
12.) The Bridge of Oich marks more or less the half way point of the walk and is a convenient place to stop for refreshments at the conveniently placed picnic table.In spite of the heavy rain which splashed in our coffee cups, when we were here it makes a great place to have lunch.
13.) Scope for confusion at the Bridge of Oich. The map says cross the bridge and walk along west bank of Caladonean Canal. However the thistle signpost indicated to stay on east bank. We opted for this option crossing canal at Cullochy Lock.
14.) As you leave Cullochy Loch prepare yourself for a simple walk following the Great Glen Way with the River Oich on your left and the Caladonean Canal on your left.for 3km to Kytra Lock. 

15.) From Kytra Lock it is more of the same all the way to Fort Augustus. Apart from the pouring rain the other thought that entered my mind was how many people it took to dig the canal by hand over 200 years ago. 
16.) If the canal is impressive as a feat of 19th century engineering the 7 lochs that lift the canal from Loch Ness is truly amazing. As this is the end of the walk allow yourself time to admire and explore.
17.) The only thing remaining for us was to have a well earned pint and get dried off in The Bothy whilst waiting for the taxi to take us back to Fort William.

More Photographs
Early sign of a rainbow as we leave Laggan Locks
Click on photograph to view slide-show

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