Wow. Just wow. Before I test your patience with a second Great Glen Way blog I just have say thank you for the comments, public and private, on yesterday’s missive. You give me confidence to try another. This is me grinning and feeling blessed, with the much more interesting Loch Ness in the background. Thank you. 😀
This is Day 2 and my route continues southwest, from Drumnadrochit to Invermoriston. For the statisticians out there this is slightly more than the middle third of Loch Ness. It was a relatively short day at around 14 miles with a choice of following a ‘high’ route or a ‘low’ route.
The low route skirts the loch and is ideal for cyclists and horses. The high route has some significant ‘ups and downs’ but the ‘ups’ are rewarded with magnificent views of Loch Ness and on a clear day Ben Nevis may be seen well to the south with the Cluanie Mountains visible to the west. There was no choice to be made.
However let’s not jump ahead. They follow the same path for the first few miles then split. The route out of Drumnadrochit was a series of beautiful but uninspiring tree and scrub-lined minor roads significantly improved by being travelled following a wholesome scrambled egg and smoked salmon breakfast. As I gained height I noticed a resemblance between the flora and scrambled eggs. I wasn’t hallucinating. Rather the broom, previously merely present, was now more abundant. Never had I seen such coverage. We southern Englanders are familiar with the extensive show of rapeseed blooms in springtime but this broom was even more dramatic given the climate.
Despite its visual impact you had to be there and I know there is only so much fun I can generate for you through tales of broom-endowed minor roads.
Bye and bye I entered woodlands and, oh, the aroma of wet foliage and damp soil. Many birds were chirruping but with the massed chorus of chaffinches exultant.
This verdant environment was short lived and confined to the loch side and other low lying areas. In due course I headed towards higher terrain and the occasional glance of the loch was soon followed by the split of routes.
Upwards I trod on the ‘high route’, enjoying the breeze and freshness afforded by the more open ground and revelling in the views to my left and ahead. Despite the threatening skies the worst that happened were a few sprinklings of Scottish rain. Hardly rain at all but sufficient to reinvigorate the aromas of soil and vegetation.
Then my excitement level increased further. There, right down at the end of this loch, beyond even the second loch yet unseen and then on some, was Ben Nevis. It was hard to see, nestled as it was behind Carn Mor Dearg and it’s glorious arête (surely the best way to reach the summit of The Ben short of scaling one of several North Face routes with ropes and metalwork) and with its head in the clouds (sigh).
Then the primroses started to appear. First in ones and twos then in families. It was becoming primrose central. If anyone knows why, in this place alone (so far as I know) the primroses have found kinship with thistles please tell me.
Then, joy of joys, a glorious winged beauty landed nearby. The Pearl-bordered Fritillary is orange with black spots on the upperside of its wing and has a wingspan of 38–46 mm (1.5 to 1.8 inches). It is a gem in the wilderness and it just sat there and let me photograph it.
Between areas of high ground a little treasure was stumbled upon; the Troll Bridge. This quirky but very practical bridge was opened in 2014 and features a notice board showcasing Tröll-related poetry, including some by local schoolchildren.
Moving on I headed into more open ground, much of it extensively logged. Out of the blue I came across the The Viewcatcher. A plaque says it was made from Caledonian Pine and local stone and was designed to highlight a stunning view. And it did so!
The view was that of the Cluanie Mountains to the west. But without in anyway decrying the value and necessity of sustainable logging, the reverse view was less easy on the eye. Not on mine anyway. I hadn’t troubled you with this before, but there is extensivelogging.
And that’s about it for Day 2, except for one quite remarkable encounter while enjoying a much anticipated pint of Scottish real ale in the Invermoriston Arms late in the afternoon. I was fortunate to find the Orkney Brewery’s Red MacGregor, a 4% ABV ruby ale which was the Champion Beer of Britain last year in the bitter category. But that wasn’t the remarkable encounter.
When I went into the bar there was a couple in a window seat. Dressed in cycle gear they had their backs to me while I was at the bar ordering the Red MacGregor, then they left. I hadn’t recognised them even though our paths had crossed a few times during Day 1. I then occupied their table and shortly after the man returned to see if he had left a pair of cycle gloves at the table. He hadn’t and that was the end of the encounter. Early the following morning I had a private Twitter message from him.
He had seen yesterday’s blog and he knew me, and me him. Stay tuned. I’ve been in goosebumps all day about this…