Thursday, 10 October 2013

Great Glen Way Day07 - Gairlochy to Fort William

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 10 October 2013
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith, Joss Johnson
Accommodation - Travelodge - Fort William
Start Point - Gairlochy Locks (NN 17605 84208)
Start Time - 10:19
Finish Point - Fort William (NN 10456 74287)
Finish Time - 16:45
Duration - 6hrs 26mins
Average pace - 1.61mph
Distance Walked - 10.38miles
Height Ascended - 110.85metres

Peaks visited

Day07 at Gairlochy
Final days walk start point
Picked up by Nevis Taxis this morning and time to renew acquaintances with Ronnie who drove us to Lundavra (pronounced lun-dah-vraah) for the start of a stage of the West Highland Way to Kinlochleven we walked last year.
It was the same week we walked Laggan Lochs to Fort Augustus that gave us the inspiration to attempt the entire Great Glen Way this year so fair warning therefore to Joss & Gina about doing the West Highland Way next year. Maybe even do the Peddars Way as a local training walk first.
There was a general feeling of satisfaction and achievement during the journey to Gairlochy knowing this was the last leg of the challenge, however for me there was mixed feelings for the very same reason.
Aonach Mòr, Carn Mòr and Ben
Nevis from Gairlochy Locks
Although it was bright with sunny spells it was still cool enough to consider leaving our coats on. I took the option to dress for 10 minutes in to the walk. Suffice it to say Joss and Gina kept their coats on.
After being dropped off we loaded up our packs and crossed the bridge carrying the A8004 across the Caledonian Canal near Gairlochy top lock.
Looking ahead to the Ben Nevis massive as thick cloud hung menacingly around the peaks and high gullies reminded me my dress code would be for a different season had we been heading there.

But we were not, so with the forecast for the day being bright with sunny spells we turned right and followed the towpath towards Neptune's Staircase and walks end at Fort William.
Not sure if it was because of the weather or the fact our mood was upbeat, but we reached  Moy Bridge at a record 3 mph pace despite Gina stopping to take off her coat and me stopping for lots of photos including one as we approached the bridge. Unfortunately that was the only one I took as we were all preoccupied by the site of the bridge keeper manually winding on a winch to open the bridge on this side of the canal. That was enough for the small waiting boat to pass, however had there been a larger vessel the keeper would then have to get in a boat and row herself across to the opposite bank to open the other side. It has been thus since the canal was built and no doubt it will remain so for the future.
Often some of the days best
views are as you look back
The next stage was about as perfect as we could expect. The weather was fine and views crying out to be photographed around every corner. We also took our time to make sure we did not pass either Loy or Sheangain aqueducts without recording the event, but although we found Sheangain aqueduct with the help of signposts for Torcastle and nearby cottages we are not sure if we passed Loy Sluice or Loy aqueduct. In truth we passed them both but not really sure what we photographed.

Ben Nevis from Banavie
By the time we reached Neptune's Staircase it was close to lunch and as was becoming tradition we had a short diversion to The Moorings Hotel for soup and coffee. An hour later we returned to the canal with views of Ben Nevis ahead and set off on the last leg of our journey.
By now we were getting sight of some familiar peaks and radio masts around Fort William including Cow Hill, Meall an t-Slamain on the opposite side of Loch Linnhe and of course The Ben itself. 
Very slow pace as every step we took there seemed to be an even better photo of Ben Nevis or surrounding peaks. Corpach Lock was idyllic but the best views of Ben Nevis were saved for the end as we approached Caol.
The UK's highest point from
your front garden in Caol

Crossing Soldier's Bridge brought us to Inverlochy Castle and the familiar blue signs directing us right along the banks of the River Lochy rather than along the rail line as indicated on the OS map. Turns out it was a much better route we caught sight of the Mallaig steam train being laid up for the night near the castle with Ben Nevis as a backdrop.
The end is in sight.
Marker point in the ruins of
the original "Fort" William
Even after 7 days walking this last section seemed to reveal scenes that could not be ignored and had to be recorded on film (or on disc as is the case these days) delaying our arrival at walks end and the stone plaque in the grounds of the original "Fort William". But so pleased we did. While it is great to have a schedule we were really pleased the 1.75 mph planned schedule we had set allowed enough time to stop and rest, or stop and view, or just stop and enjoy the experience over the whole week.
The speed we actually walked at was 1.87 mph including all stops and lunch breaks and it is the pace I would use when planning any future walks with friends.
Well done Joss & Gina and thanks for your company. Hope we can repeat it again some time in the near future.
More Photographs
Ben Nevis beyond Caol
Click on photograph to view slide-show

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