Day 34 – Into the Great Glen

Fort William to Gairlochy, 16Km

A canal towpath, like a former railway track, is a dream for the long distance walker. There’s no need to navigate (unless there’s more than one towpath!), no gradient and the path is fairly straight. Huge distances can be covered in a short time. For example, I finished today’s stage at 11.35 even after a 7.30 breakfast and making two stops along the way. Had I continued I would have completed stage two by 4pm. It’s a fine sunny day, around 21 degrees and if Paul was here we’d probably have done stage 3 as well. However all the accommodation is booked so nothing can be changed and that’s why I’m sitting in the cafe adjoining the tourist shop in little Spean Bridge. They have a lovely tartan blanket which the cat would like.

Colin at the Riverside Lodge Gardens B&B said, “You’re early” as if he was expecting me to crawl in on my hands and knees, as the sun was setting. I advised him to move house farther up the trail but he showed me his specimen trees in the gardens so I guess we’re all stuck in Spean Bridge.

Wouldn’t you have thought there’d be a string of barges making their way up to Inverness, laden with food and other essentials, especially now that all our HGV drivers have vanished. We’ve already been warned not to expect turkey for Christmas dinner because there’s no workers to pluck them, let alone drive them to the shops.

Anyway there was nothing on the mighty Caledonian Canal today except for a couple of small boats chugging along not much faster than me. Tomorrow it’s Loch Lochy which should be much more exciting.

The railway crosses the Caledonian Canal
The series of locks called Neptune’s Staircase
I had a nice stroll up the Caledonian Canal
A swing bridge in action at Gairlochy

14 comments on “Day 34 – Into the Great Glen

  1. That all looks very pretty but I bet the sun shining helps.
    Record temps in Scotland at the moment I hear?!

    • I think it must be a record summer and the midges have given up their campaign for this year

  2. Amazing to see proper yachts in the canal and not just barges. Are they turkey smugglers?

  3. Looks like a beautiful day all around. Any notable cheese yet?

    • This country is a disaster for cheese. Some Scottish cheddar and that’s about it. We shared a cheeseboard the other night; not worth a photo. I’ll keep looking, maybe on Orkney

  4. Tassie Kaz

    Hi Tim,
    Congrats on completing the WHW & setting off on (love English; ‘off on’) the GGW. Glad you showed a map yesterday; very helpful for those of us uninitiated to that part of the world.
    Agree totally about canal paths; I clocked up 35km in under 6 hours on the VF (CeC to Vitry le Francois)…a storm front hot on my tail was part motivation for my haste… 😄
    Take care & Gambatte.

    • Thanks and I’m glad you liked the map. Although it’s not labeled you can guess where each path starts and ends by the change of direction. There is a more useful map on the website under Scotland. We took the straight Roman Road rather than the canal out of CeC which was so awful it was one of my highlights of the France section of the VF. Cheers, Tim

  5. David Anthony Ghiorso

    It was great walking the Highlands through your stories and experiences. The Great Glen Way had it own personal charm and you are correct, one cannot get lost on it.

    • Hi David, I’m just discovering it’s charm now. I had a fab day along Loch Lochy and so much more to come.

  6. Just watching ‘ exploring Northern Ireland ‘ on more 4.
    Have you ‘done’ Ireland yet?
    Looks like some lovely walks there.

    • You’re right and I made two excellent trips to the Republic in the early 1980s but nothing since.

      • Roger Clarkson

        Dublin marathon wasn’t it?

      • Yes Dublin 1983 and who could forget Edinburgh in 1984 and Skye

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