Saturday, 28 August 2010

Day 8 Balbeg to Clunes

Friday 27th August 2010

Today started with another 5 miles of hiking along forest tracks until I reached the first small town of the day, Invermoriston. On the way it was reassuring to see 2 other tents in clearings and realise that I wasn't the only person who'd spent the night in the forest.

The cafe in Invermoriston would've had my business if it were open, but it was still shut at 10-00am during the peak tourist season. My money was spent in the convenience store instead. Rejoining the Great Glen Way there was a short sharp climb out of town, then more forest tracks all the way to Fort Augustus. The glimpses of Loch Ness were spectacular again, but disappointingly infrequent.

Fort Augustus, at the south west end of Loch Ness, was a very pleasant place to stop for lunch, I relaxed for an hour there watching boats navigate the pretty locks. Whilst here I indulged in another local delicacy, Irn Bru.

When I continued on my way there was a welcome change, the endless hilly forest tracks were gone and I was treated to a flat walk along the tow path of Caledonian Canal. Not a single pine tree to hide the scenery. The flat grass section where the path starts to follow the bank of Loch Oich was a treat for my feet after all the rocky surfaces of the last day and a half, it almost felt like walking on a luxurious carpet.

For a few miles the path follows the peaceful shore of Loch Oich, some of it on a disused rail bed. I found the remains of Invergarry Station, abandoned in 1942, particularly fascinating. Where the path crosses the A82 at Invergarry I took my next break on a grass verge.

Only a mile or two further down the canal I was easily persuaded to stop again when I stumbled across The Eagle Barge Inn at Laggan Locks. It is quite literally a pub and restaurant on a docked boat. I left an hour and a half later with some hot food and a couple of pints in my belly feeling all the better for it. The laugh-a-minute landlord was a great character who made all the customers feel very welcome.

After Laggan Locks the Great Glen Way turns into forest tracks again, though flatter and less rocky than previous sections. I pushed on for over another hour, but when one of the afternoon showers, which had been light up to that point, turned into a cloudburst I hastily erected the tent and settled down for my 5th night under canvas in Clunes Forest.

GPS data click here

Mileage today; 29.39 miles, walking time 7 hrs 36 mins, average walking speed 3.9mph

Weather; Sunny spells, afternoon showers. Max 16C

Cumulative mileage; 190.19 miles
The wonderful Eagle Barge Inn
Fort Augustus, Nessie is big business here

A rainbow over Laggan Locks

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Hi :) I'm a 49yo father of three from Exmouth, a lovely seaside town in Devon. In parts of Exeter I'm well known as the local milkman where I've been making traditional doorstep deliveries for 15 years.