Share your Steps | Heather Walks the Great Glen Way

 (This is an excerpt from a recent blog posted by one of our Walkers on The Great Glen Way, read the unabridged version here)

Great Glen Way Stage 4: Fort Augustus to Invermoriston

 

View of Loch Ness from the moors on the high route of GGW Stage 4

I believe I may never have explained what exactly the Great Glen Way is, so I will take a moment to briefly describe it as I had never heard of it either before I booked this trip. There is a long, well-marked hiking trail that spans the middle of the Scottish Highlands reaching from the Atlantic to the North Sea coast. The trail is listed as 73 miles in some places, 79 in others, and is typically split into six stages. Our walk is split into seven stages, since the last day would otherwise be 19 miles. We have completed four stages at this point, and with additional walks to lodging and sites, have already logged ~47 miles. The trail is a combination of canal-side packed gravel towpaths, forest tracks (more narrow paths), moorland wider paths, and logging dirt roads. In the beginning, there was almost no elevation gain. Now shit is getting real.

Today we were able to walk right out of our front door and onto the GGW trail, where we quickly left the road to stay on forest track and moorland crushed stone path for the entire day (no canal paths … yay!) The first two miles climbed quite steeply uphill until we popped out above the forest, and directly into a rain shower. I was a little bit bemoaning my fate that I had chosen to take the “high route” to enjoy the views of Loch Ness only to have the views blurred by rain clouds. Just as I was slipping into despair (I was even carrying my umbrella then as a shield against wind and rain), the rain stopped, the sky cleared, and we enjoyed a blue sky littered with the perfect amount of clouds to make views and pictures perfect.

Train bridges along the Great Glen Way

The only parts of the whole Love Productions mini train track debacle I found interesting were the bridges they constructed

Great Glen Way Walking Holidays Forest Tracks

Lovely forest track that shows the dark forest on both sides

Crannogs on Scotland Walking Holidays

Explanation of crannogs, which are pretty awesome

Walking Holidays in the highlands

It was raining the whole time in the forest, but we could hardly tell

Waterfalls in the Scottish Highlands

We ascended along a waterfall

Lochs on the Great Glen Way

Stormy views over the south end of Loch Ness, looking west down the Great Glen Way

Great glen Way Hiking Scenery

First pictures were taken in the rain

walking The Great Glen Way blog

The sun finally started to come out – there is nothing like blue sky in a place that’s gray 95% of the time

Views over The Great Glen Way

I was much more enamored with the views from this day than Lucy

We hadn’t been up at this height yet on our trip, and it was definitely novel to see the moors filled with heather and the views of Loch Ness below and distant mountains from the viewpoint of the Craig. It was a tough, undulating route, but not overly long, and soon we were dipping back into the dense, dark forests heading toward the village for the night, Invermoriston, which has a population of about 250 and only one restaurant for dinner.

 

Walkers Experiences hiking in Scotland with Celtic Trails

This was what I had always imagined Scotland to be – endless moors with stormy skies

Scottish Trails, walking holidays in Scotland

I could’ve stayed up there all day

Scotland Walking Holidays

There was a wind break about half way on the stage. This portion of the trail was built fairly recently, within the last 5 or so years

Celtic trails walkers take on the Great Glen way

Anywhere you stopped, you heard water running – there are streams and waterfalls everywhere and if you step off the trail, you realize the ground is wet and soft pretty much everywhere

Caterpillars in the Scottish countryside

Our only wildlife – caterpillars

Nature on the Great Glen Way

An open thistle

We only saw two other sets of hikers the entire day, including the family we met two days ago on Stage 2 from Missouri/Colorado, along with a solitary young man hiking extremely fast in only shirtsleeves. He was the first and only person we saw for maybe 6 miles, and we were sure he was an apparition.

Forest Trails on the Great Glen Way

Some photos of the descent

Path to Invermoriston, with Celtic Trails Walking holidays in Scotland

Invermoriston is in a lovely spot to the left of this photo

The village of Invermoriston has a pretty large set of falls right in the town, some cool old bridges, and the site of St Columba’s well. He was said to have visited the Glen in the 6th century AD and drive the evil spirits out of the spring found there. There is exactly one store that closes at 1pm on Sundays (much to our chagrin; I said surely it was only open on Tuesdays during a full moon since everything always seems to be closed when we get there). There is exactly one gift shop that sells, of all things, clogs and leather products. There is one cafe, and one restaurant. The restaurant was actually delicious, and we ate there for both lunch and dinner, where we enjoyed a wild mushroom crostini, venison casserole in a juniper/wine reduction, pea soup, and a wild berry shortbread sundae with “luxury” vanilla ice cream. It lives up to its name. We sampled a few more beers, and Lucy discovered that stout is a little more palatable to her than the other beers I’ve tried so far.

Thomas Telford vbridge over River Moriston on the Great Glen Way

Old bridge over the River Moriston

Waterfalls on the Great Glen Way

Waterfalls in the middle of town

Glenmoriston Arms Hotel on the Great Glen Way

Our lunch and dinner spot for the day, the only choice in town. Luckily it is delicious.

Scottish pubs on the Great Glen Way

Belhaven Black Scottish Stout

The one gift shop. I didn’t really ponder the source of those skins, and yeah, I’m about 99.9% sure they are real.

St. Columba's well, Invermoriston, Great Glen Way

St. Columba’s well

Bridges on Great Glen Way Walking Holidays
Walker Experiences on the Great Glen Way

Luxury ice cream sundae. We always shared the desserts at least.

We are a little intimidated by tomorrow’s hike, which takes us back up a steep track to the highest point of the trip, traveling a minimum of 14 hilly miles to the town of Drumnadrochit. Today’s total for the hike portion was just around 8 miles.

‘compiled by James Robinson/Celtic Trails from Heather Bruemmer’s blog on walking the Great Glen Way

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.