Saturday, 2 July 2016

Great Glen Way - Day 3 - Sun's Out Hammock's Up..!

17/06/2016



" Sun's Out Hammock's Up...! "

Waking up early in the morning to the distant hum of a boat engine cruising up Loch Ness I lay for a while checking the days weather forecast & again checking the route map planing my refuelling stops & where to pitch up for the last wild camp of the trip. 
The weather was looking promising for the day with no rain & the grey skies clearing later in the day so I was optimistic that I could find a suitable spot & hang the Hennessy Hammock up to sleep in for my final night as I always have the perfect sleep in it.
Loading up the bike once again I head off along the GGW to see what the day brings.


I read somewhere but I can't remember where that the horseshoe shaped scree slope was created by the Loch Ness monster.
If I remember correctly the folklore tale said that it was made because someone had placed a bottle of whisky to coax Nessie out of the loch, which she did climbing up then sliding back into the murky depths of the loch in the process creating the scree slope you see above.





A long twisting & winding path lay ahead.


The route was very exposed & open along this section thankfully there was no wind.

Reaching the top of the last big hill along the high route I stopped for ten minutes just to more or less stare along the massive Loch Ness hoping to catch a glimpse of Nessie & slightly saddened that once I reach Fort Augustus that will be the last I see of the loch. 

There were a couple of tourist boats one a slow cruiser & the other a faster rib craft which both stopped beneath the horseshoe scree slope, so I'm guessing the folklore tale must be part of the tourist sightseeing excursion.



Another seating area overlooking the loch & the horse shoe crag on the eastern bank.



Down below is Fort Augustus & from this lofty vantage point you can see the Caledonian Canal & River Oich next to one another & further up Loch Oich, it was here I felt pretty let down by the weather over the last couple of days, imagine how good the photos would of been in clear sunny weather !




Downhill all the way now to Fort Augustus.





The twisty trail drops back down quite steeply back into the trees & I arrive at the route option for GGW users heading northwards to Inverness if they want to choose the high or low route.






I was half expecting to see some Ewoks as I rode through some parts of Inchnacardoch forest some of the trees were massive.


Arriving in Fort Augustus, it was a bit early in the day for a fish supper so I opted for a couple of sausage rolls & a mug of tea.
Once I'd scoffed my rolls I went back into the shop to buy water to fill the camp site water bladder & a couple of bits'n'bobs to keep me going throughout the day.

Off I went once more crossing a bridge which spans the River Oich, I stopped for a few minutes watching swallows skimming the water surface scooping up hatching aquatic insect breaking through the water.


The GGW route now joins up with the Caledonia Canal.



Here at Fort Augustus the Caledonian Canal joins Loch Ness with Loch Oich, a swing bridge for traffic to cross & a series of five locks which lowers & raises boats which ever way they are heading.





I watched a yacht use the locks, lifting it up so it could continue to follow the Caledonian Canal & merge into Loch Oich in the Fort William direction.


Interesting to watch how the lock system works, a clever yet simple idea.

A wee reminder for canal users that they are heading into the  Nessie zone of Loch Ness.

The top of the five locks & looking southwards down the Caledonian Canal.






Cycling along the canal towpath felt like gliding on ice after the last couple of days going up & down hills, the scenery along the canal side was very picturesque.

The Caledonian Canal & the River Oich flow next to one another.











Arriving at Kytra Lock an immaculate wee place just like the picture on a shortbread tin.

Along the whole GGW route dotted about here & there are these composting toilets & for a small fee of £10 you receive a key with a one month lifespan & once you have completed the GGW you can send the key back in a pre-paid envelope.






Plenty to see cruising along the tow path & I was surprised how very few people I passed while riding along, I thought these tow path sections would be busy with folk.




Crossing over a lock as the route now runs along the opposite side of the canal.





Over on the other side of the canal now at Cullochy Lock & here in the above picture you can see an overflow weir from the canal into the river Oich.



Another swing bridge which the A82 road crosses the canal.



Now at the beginning of Loch Oich where the loch tapers off into the River Oich & a split to the right hand side where the canal starts again after the loch, the red marker being an indication to boats which way to go so they don't end up in the river.




Rounding the head of Loch Oich to link up with one of General Wade's military roads from the 1700's which was later converted to a railway in the late 1800's & completed in the early 1900's.





Not sure what these riveted iron boxes are exactly for, but one of them had a lot of water pouring from the end of it so I'm guessing they were installed to allow water from the hill diverting it away from the railway.



I even found the bat cave on my travels.


Information panel reporting the purposes for both General Wades military road & the railway.



HMS Blazer (P279)
&
 HMS Ranger (P293)
both Archer class patrol vessels of the Royal Navy cutting through the country from west to east using the Caledonian Canal.

The remnants of a former dwelling.




This old derelict cottage lying in ruins seems such a waste as it has great a view overlooking the loch.
Next to the cottage another of the GGW composting toilets.




Waterfalls, loch views, log piles & rhododendrons along the forever changing trail side.

On the other side of the loch is Invergarry Castle which was the seat of the Chiefs of the Clan MacDonnell of Glengarry a powerful branch of the Clan Donald.
The castles position overlooking Loch Oich on Creagan an Fhithich (the Raven's Rock) in the Great Glen was a strategic one in the days of clan warfare. It's not certain when the first structure was erected on Creagan an Fhithich but there are at least two sites prior to the present castle.


Stone gabions as well made as these are worthy of a picture & place in this blog post, a mix up of nature harnessed by man in a pleasing form, their purpose shoring up an unstable hill slope.

Cool wee holiday chalets here at the southern end of Loch Oich, it must be a midge nightmare here after rainfall with all the pine trees & being next to the loch.













Invergarry Station Project which entails rebuilding the station & establishing a railway museum on this site dedicated to the Invergarry & Fort Augustus Railway, a replica signal cabin is planned along with sourcing rolling stock.
It will be good to see once it's finished, 
check out the link below.




Reaching the southern end of Loch Oich which seemed to zip past in no time at all compared to Loch Ness.


Laggan swing bridge allowing road traffic on the A82 to cross.








Quite a few boats & yachts moored & some waiting to pass through  the locks in the south bound direction to Fort William here at Laggan Locks.

I was recommended to give this restaurant a try as the food is meant to be amazing but I was getting close to my campsite for the night & had other plans for food since the rain had cleared up I wanted to do some camp fire cooking tonight.



Amazing engineering & even more amazing to think that the whole Caledonian Canal was dug out by hand.






Crossing over the canal again at Laggan Locks onto the western side.




It was a busy wee place here at Laggan Locks, loads of boats moored up & there was people everywhere who all seemed to be busy, earlier in the day I passed a small yacht with a Norwegian flag & I spoke to a Dutch women at her yacht here so the canal system must be popular with sailors from other countries too.





Can't fault the GGW for information panels along the route plenty of history to keep you updated at different locations along the way.







It's a few years now since I had a house with an open fire, but even now I still miss the hard graft of chainsawing trees & splitting logs to keep the home fires burning. It was almost an obsession of mine & every time I see a log pile it brings back great memories & I do appreciate a good log pile.






Riding through the Clunes forest I had an area picked out on the route map that I thought would be a good camp spot for the night, but when I got to that area there was one of those composting toilet cabins & looking into the woods behind it I could see three tents pitched up, so this is obviously a popular area for wild campers.
Not a very social person & liking being alone in my own company I cycled by & started scanning for an alternative camp site for my last wild camp of the GGW trip.


The photos here don't really show this rock fall at a really good scale but it was huge & some massive rocks had rolled down the hill smashing down trees on their way down, the road had been cleared from the debris but it looked quite recent.







A mile or two further along the trail I passed this area & looking down into the woods it was carpeted with wood sorrel & looked like a very inviting & perfect place to hang the Hennessy Hammock.
Leaving the trail I rode down through the trees & I was not disappointed, it was perfect, I'd found an even better place with loads of trees to hang the hammock up for the night & a nice clearing down below with an ideal place for a camp fire & just beyond was Loch Lochy where I could find drift wood along the shores & somewhere to have a wash.
Hanging up the hammock & settling into my home for the night I went off to explore the area.




Wandering along the shores of Loch Lochy it was like I was the only person in the world, so quiet & peaceful with just the sound of the loch water lapping up onto the granite covered shore for company just the way I like it.




After collecting some driftwood for the camp fire I lit it up & got some water on the boil for a nice mug of coffee.






While drinking my coffee I built up the fire with more wood to give it a good heart so that I could cook some camp fire sausages.
 In the mean time I went for another daunder along the loch shores collecting more firewood & at long last for the first time on this journey the sun made an appearance breaking through the overcast sky...

...which gave me a real feel good factor as I settled into the night enjoying the great outdoors smelling the sausages cooking on the camp fire & the smell of the woody smoke, listening to some music enjoying the wilderness...
 ...can life get any better than this ?

And that's it for day 3 of the GGW, visit soon to read the final instalment of the trip.
Bye for now.