07 January 2011
23.2 km/493 m/06:00 hrs
As there is still too much snow on the hills for my liking, I thought I’d go for a long(ish) walk to get some exercise and enjoy the nice weather that had been forecast for the Great Glen area. The day before I had tried to buy a bus ticket from Inverness to about half way down Loch Ness, but the Citylink website doesn’t list any bus stops between Lochend and Drumnadrochit, so I booked a ticket to Lochend on the 919 Citylink bus to Fort William.
Thankfully, the bus driver offered to stop for me just opposite the Loch Ness Clansman Hotel, although this is not an official bus stop (strangely enough!). I was dropped off there at about 9:30 am, almost half an hour later than planned, because there had been a technical problem with the bus door and the departure had been delayed.
I followed the signposted “Forest Walk” traversing the hillside in a northerly direction from the hotel.
Sheltered in the forest, the morning sun (and the steep ascent) warmed me up very quickly. Between the trees, I caught some glimpses of Loch Ness.
As soon as I left the woods and got to the first houses of Abriachan, I was hit by an ice cold wind coming from a south-westerly direction. After this junction, the road turns north-east in a wide circle, and from then on I had the wind coming from behind which made it feel a little bit less cold.
Shortly after, the road becomes part of the Great Glen Way. From the clearings between the trees, there are good views across to the Glen Strathfarrar Hills.
Soon the route leads across open moorland, here the wind was much stronger again. These guys came running to the fence when they saw me, but their enthusiasm diminished quickly when they realised I had nothing to eat for them!
At Blackfold, I left the main road and followed the route of the Great Glen Way on a newly constructed path. Some interesting cloud formations had developed above the wide plateau.
Strange tracks in the snow, apparently from a bird’s wings.
Views to the South.
One last look across the plateau before the path leads into the woods again.
The first few hundred metres reminded me of Rothiemurchus Forest.
What followed, was a seemingly endless walk along forest tracks, no views, just trees… (I really don’t like walking through forests, I find them extremely boring and to me, they are nothing special, in opposite to the hills and the sea.) But eventually the path left the forest and I caught the first glimpse of Inverness and the Moray Firth.
Contouring a small reservoir on the left which was completely frozen, the path descends towards the residential area of Westercraigs and the SNH headquarters.
After passing between some houses at Kinmylies, the last part of the Great Glen Way continues around Torvean Golf Course, then along the Caledonian Canal and finally crosses the Clachnaharry Swing Bridge. From there it is only a short walk down to the River Ness and across the Ness Islands, to reach the Castle, the official end point of the Great Glen Way.
Although it didn’t contain any hills, this was a nice walk in sunny (but very cold) weather, and with a distance of just over 23 km a good training for forthcoming longer walking days.