Friday, 4 October 2013

Great Glen Way Day01 - Inverness to Abriachen

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 04 October 2013
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith, Joss Johnson
Accommodation - Premier Inn - Inverness (River Ness)
Start Point - Inverness Castle (NH 66636 44973)
Start Time - 09:29
Finish Point - road out of Abriachen near Loch Laide (NH 54134 35668)
Finish Time - 15:27
Duration - 5hrs 58mins
Average pace - 2.08mph
Distance Walked - 12.40miles
Height Ascended - 462.62metres

Peaks visited


Great Glen Way start point
near Inverness Castle
After all the preparation and training not to mention the 3 days "time zone adjustment" and "altitude aclimatisation" in Inverness, the time had finally arrived when we approached the statue of Flora MacDonald, looking along the Great Glen for Bonnie Prince Charlie, from behind the castle and headed for the stone marking the start of The Great Glen Way.
So after photographs we all set off humming the Dambusters theme, not knowing quite what we had let ourselves in for or if we had done enough preparation.

Jacobite Loch Ness cruises
from Tomnahurich swing bridge
The day had been split in to three sections with the plan to cover the first 2 before lunch leaving the longest section but less than half of the days distance until after lunch.
The first section started off at a relaxed pace along the southern bank of the River Ness before crossing to Ness Islands and ending up on the north bank just before Whin Island. A short walk up Bught Road to the A82 canal crossing at Tomahurich Bridge returned us to waterside walking albeit away from the Great Glen towards the sea lock at Clachnaharry. 
Creag Dunain Hospital
As we turned left away from the canal, this would be the last time we would see water until well into the second day.
What would become familiar blue marker posts guided us through housing to fields where we could see Creag Dunain Hospital along with the radio masts on top of Dunain Hill. A short climb brings us to our first checkpoint of the day in the grounds of the hospital on Foresters Way.

A final look back at Inverness
A further and slightly steeper climb away from the hospital gives us our last glimpse of Inverness and the reward of a pretty reservoir at the top of the ascent. Following the reservoir round brought us to the first set of electricity transmission lines and the type of terrain through pine woods we would become increasingly familiar over the coming days. Passing the next set of transmission lines took us in to even thicker woods and a steady but gentle climb for the next hour to where the path nearly joins the road at Blackfold cottage.

Typcal and easy to follow path through
woods all the way to Blackfold 
Expecting to be joining the road and with the time near 1pm we chose to have lunch at the side of the path near an information board explaining that the path we had just followed was once used as an ancient drovers path to transfer cattle from the north to markets in Creif and Falkirk selling to buyers from as far south as Suffolk, Essex & London.

Follow signs along new part of GGW
avoiding road between
Blackfold and Wester Altourie
The next stage to Wester Altourie marked the first deviation from the planned route. The familiar blue marker post pointed us straight on and not towards the road we were expecting to join. However after about a quarter of a mile the path was heading further away from the road and not on any marked path on the map. We decided to retrace our steps back to confirm we had not missed any further signs taking us towards the road. We had not and concluded the path we had followed was correct and was in fact anew taking The Great Glen Way away from the road. It did rejoin the road just passed Wester Altourie and stayed with the road through Ladycairn and to the last checkpoint at the entrance to Caiplich Farm.
The path rejoins the road
just past Wester Altourie

The path through the woods is just after the farm entrance and is also signposted to Abriachan Cafe. With Joss and Gina leading the way I was thinking a visit would be inevitable especially as further signs displayed hot chocolate, then coffee, as well as tea and finally cakes. However by now the sun had disappeared, it had started to drizzle and the end of the walk and a dry taxi beckoned.
All smiles at end of first days walking
Unfortunately checking my phone revealed no signal was available on Orange or for that matter with T-Mobile on Joss's phone meaning there would be extra walking towards Abriachan. Fortunately we did get a weak signal as we walked towards Abriachan and after a 30 minute wait in heavier drizzle the taxi from Inverness arrived to take us back to base.
A most enjoyable days walking with everyone looking forwards to a well earned bath and evening meal.

More Photographs
St. Andrews Cathedral from Inverness Castle and the start of The Great Glen Way
Click on photograph to view slide-show

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