South Laggan to Fort Augustus, 16Km
I stayed at the Forest View B&B in South Laggan last night. It was a little island lapped by the A82 main road. I had to edge along the non existent verge and then waited 5 minutes for a break in the traffic to cross the road but in the end I brought the traffic to a standstill with a daring leap into the road, waving my pole in the same manner in which I’d deterred that bull on the Southern Upland Way. Once successfully inside, I decided against going out for dinner, not just because of the traffic but because there was nowhere to go. The two ladies in charge (both former secondary school teachers) cooked spaghetti Bolognese and a school dinner dessert for £13 and alcohol was banned. And just to cap it, I forgot to wear my face mask and had to write “I will not forget to wear my face mask” one hundred times.
I met a couple who I’d seen previously on the West Highland Way. The woman, Rose, is walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats so I was immediately interested. We both face the same challenge of how to get from Inverness to the finish. The trail only exists on the map and isn’t passable in many places; the cliff top sections force you to the very edge and the road is long, dangerous and without any views of the wild coast. We’re both starting on Thursday so Rose will join me for the first half. That’s where I have to skip a stage because there’s no accommodation but, of course, she can’t do that. And there’s one more problem: a nest of vipers sunbathing on the rocks just north of Brora but I didn’t mention them.
Today’s walk was the ultimate dream if your target is 40Km+. A straight, smooth disused railway line along Loch Oich followed by the towpath along the Caledonian Canal. I tried my best to slow down but soon the tourist haven of Fort Augustus came into view, with its steep sequence of locks into Loch Ness. I was comfortably in time for a cappuccino.
I looked around the lock side shops, browsed the tartan blankets and shortbread biscuits, ate lunch, walked around a bit more, got an ice cream then went to the B&B where Phil welcomed me with the usual, “You’re early”.