Day 3 Great Glen Way – Laggan to Invermorsten

Day 3 Great Glen Way – Laggan to Invermorsten

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First view of Loch Ness

A long day today, 18 5 miles from Laggan to Invermorsten. After a great stay at the Forest Lodge BnB I set out at 8AM and pushed the pace hoping to make my hotel by 5PM. I did far better reaching Invermorsten by 3:30 a very fast day for me.

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Loch Oich

It was a hard day, not so much because of the miles but because of two muscles I’ve tweaked. One in my left shoulder and one on my back.  The back muscle causes me to bend over and stretch it every 15 minutes or so on flat ground, less often when I’m climbing or descending.  The shoulder at times knots up and I need to stop and work it. The injuries are more annoyance that debilitating but they wear you down.

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Best weather of the trip today, started out sprinkling rain which transitioned to clouds and eventually full on Scottish sunshine.

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I made my way today along Oich Loch, the Caledonian Canal Way and finally along the slopes of Loch Ness which will be my companion the rest of the way.

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Tomorrow I head for Drumnodrochit, home of not one but two Loch Ness Monster museums.  If both my back is bothering and we get rain on the last day I may spend the day  walking the museums and taking the bus to Inverness.  Lot’s of miles left in Spain but we’ll see how it goes. – Rev Kane

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Day 2 Great Glen Way – Garlochy to Laggan

Day 2 Great Glen Way – Garlochy to Laggan

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Short 10 mile day from Garlochy to Laggan. A cloudy and nice day spent along the shores of Loch Lochy. My favorite named loch because in American it would translate to Lake Lakey.

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I had plenty of time to make my 3 PM checkin so today was very much about the smiles not the miles.  The rain held off the entire walk as I seemed to be strolling in the bright spot between rain bands of a really slow moving storm.  At times when I had views up the loch I could see rain. At times the same down the loch and a couple of times was walking on wet trail. So I was in a fortunate spot.

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The trail mostly wound through conifer forest next to the loch occasionally going through little patches of resort cabins. Lots and lots of little waterfalls today.

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At one point I realized I was ahead of schedule and a short while later I fortuitously encountered a bench.  So I pulled up and laid down for a little 15 minute nap. Absolutely lovely way to spend a bit of an afternoon napping in the sun with the sounds of the loch.

Colin Fletcher has a quote that often is on my mind while hiking. “First you examine your surroundings, then you examine your gear and then you examine yourself.  Could really feel this pattern play out throughout today’s hike.  All in all a very pleasant day of walking. Big day tomorrow, 18 miles to Invermorsten. – Rev Kane

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Day 1 Great Glen Way – Fort William to Garlochy

Day 1 Great Glen Way – Fort William to Garlochy

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The day after a rest day is sometimes tough, it’s a mental thing.  So when the day started out as cold, windy and rainy it was even tougher.  I dawdled after breakfast, a lot, delayed some more and finally headed out in the rain.

The trail is a bit confusing coming out of Fort William and the rain blowing directly in my face didn’t help my mood.  Hell I even had to dodge a boat on the trail.

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There was also a highland bull.

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Then, with my head down, i quickly took note of a waymark but missed the arrow, went off path and got lost. Stopped in a store to get directions and although it worked out, the woman thought I was an idiot and actually yelled at me. My mood was not good.

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I found my way back to Neptune’s Staircase, the loch ladder on the canal, and got underway again.  Not the most exciting hiking on the canal path but it was peaceful.  I got into a rhythm and the rain abated.

The final kick of the day was that the tour company screwed up and a transfer from the trail to where I’m staying cost me 50 pounds.  Waaay cheaper than a taxi and I just wasn’t up for walking another 4 miles at the end of the day.

But my friends, perspective is important, as I said yesterday, a bad day on the trail is still better than a good day in the office.  I got a Magnum White ice cream bar, a little dinner and worked out a ride to the trail in the morning. So it’s all worked and looking forward to a happy day tomorrow,  no adventure ever goes off without a hitch. – Rev Kane

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Zero (rest day) in Fort William, Scotland, UK

Zero (rest day) in Fort William, Scotland, UK

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So taking a zero day today between the West Highland and Great Glen Ways. I head out in the morning, a relatively flat 10 mile hike.

So today I relaxed, ate, relaxed, did some errands, ate, relaxed, ate and dodged rain showers.

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Fort William is sort of an outdoor jumping off point for the highlands. Had the best chicken vindaloo I’ve ever had, got my shopping done and gave my legs a break.

Ran into some of the hikers I spent time with on the trail.  I spent the most time with couples from Tennessee, Denmark and London. A couple of cool girls living in England, one from Lithuania and the other “Rocket” from Poland. That girl seriously flies up hill.

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Nice to have a rest day today I can’t deny, but back to smiles and miles in the morning. Because a bad day on a trail is still almost always better than a good day at work. Have a happy day my friends. – Rev Kane

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Day 7 (final day) West Highland Way – Kinlochleven to Fort Williams

Day 7 (final day) West Highland Way – Kinlochleven to Fort Williams

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This would be one of those weather days you just can’t bring yourself to trust.  Windy, chilly, some minor rain early that let up. All day it seemed on the edge of rain but it never came. I didn’t buy into it though til the last downhill four mile run.

Right out of the gate we had to climb out of the valley and it was a long climb. My legs were a bit dead so the climb was really slow.  It’s been a long week.

The profile was essentially a big climb, a relatively flat run then two climbs that dipped back down between, and then a final downhill run in the last four miles.

One cool thing that happened was that apparently it was mating day for a species of black, what I believe to be damselflies. There were hoards of them everywhere when I stopped for lunch. Little sex crazed monsters were so distracted they kept flying into my head.

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The weary hiker statue in Fort William

The last day of a long week made the day feel longer than it seemed. The last climb was flat out disheartening.  But on the flipside I met an environmental grad student and had a great chat that made the last few miles fly by.

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The walk through town to the final end monument took forever. But it allowed reflection on a really good week. Hiking here in Scotland is beautiful and i got lucky with both weather and the midges so far. Tomorrow I start the Great Glen Way, 5 more days in the highlands. Hope you’re having a happy day my friends. – Rev Kane

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Day 6 West Highland Way – Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

Day 6 West Highland Way – Kingshouse to Kinlochleven

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A “short” run on this day, only 8.5 miles but of course it involved both the highest climb and point on the trail, the Devil’s staircase.

The morning started with a lot of wind which made us all happy because it meant no midges.  It also was a pretty good indicator that we’d get rained on and before the climb started it was coming down pretty good.  It meant a long climb in the rain but although the climb was challenging it was a good climb.

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Overall because of the weather, the hike wasn’t all that exciting but the weather improved steadily and the midges never appeared.

One thing is that trail community has finally developed over the hike and we all have our little bubble of people we’re pacing with and then see again at dinner in town.  It’s my favorite part of long distance hiking.

The descent into Kinlochleven was very steep and long, but contrary to my kid I didn’t find it terribly ugly of a town. The place I stayed and ate, the Highland Getaway Inn was my favorite so far. The Glencoe chicken I had for dinner was fantastic.

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A yard in Kinlochleven

Tomorrow is the final the final push to Fort William. – Rev Kane

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Day 5 West Highland Way – Tyndrum to Kingshouse

Day 5 West Highland Way – Tyndrum to Kingshouse

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This was the day that had been on my mind. A combination of a 20 mile hike 10 of it mostly uphill and a need to make a 5:30 shuttle deadline to get to my hotel meant I was a bit uptight about the day.

My kind BnB host agreed to have breakfast ready at 6AM, so I ate as was out the door at 6:20.

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The first 7 miles of the hike were slightly downhill miles and so I pushed a bit on the trail. Honestly it was a generally boring hike. The whole way was in a grey foggy valley and the scenery really didn’t change. This however did help me get into a rhythm as the trail was the old military road to Kingshouse.

I arrived at the 7 mile mark in Bridge of Orchy at 8:40 which meant I’d been averaging 3 miles an hour. This was awesome for me as I normally walk about 2.6 miles an hour on a similar section.

I got my water topped off at the hotel in Orchy and hit the trail again. There’s a trail saying, it’s about the smiles not about the miles. However this day for me, was about the miles. The Kingshouse Road which was uphill for almost 10 miles and was also very cobbly for the first 4 miles.  My feet were not happy.

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Near the end of the hike the midges, little blood sucking gnat-like creatures, emerged with a vengeance. These little critters are the scourge of Scottish hiking and the reason I was carrying a bug head net and spray. For some insane reason on this day I’d left my net in my transfer bag. So the midges were driving me nuts which actually probably made me faster up the last couple of climbs.  Not the best hike, at least the last couple of miles were downhill.

I ended up reaching Kingshouse at 2:30, meaning my overall speed, including stops, was 2.5 miles per hour. Normally it’s 2.0.

I’ve set up a more ambitious schedule on my Scottish hikes than was probably prudent to maximize my enjoyment,  and I’m carrying more weight than necessary each day, but this is also training for the Camino Primitivo in Spain which is up next.

I did however get to have a lovely piece of chocolate cake at a cafe at the end of the hike. – Rev Kane

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Day 4 West Highland Way – Ardlui to Tyndrum

Day 4 West Highland Way – Ardlui to Tyndrum

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This day was a hard one to get my head around as I was very focused on my long hike the next day. That makes for hard work, hiking is at least as much mental as it is physical.

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It was a grey and misty morning, there’s a lot of that in Scotland. But the lake was calm and it was a quiet day.

There was some really pretty trail on my 14 miles and weather-wise it was a perfect walking day.  It was right around 60 degrees, a nice breeze, which keeps the midges away, and not a lot of sun.

There was also a lot of history on the trail today. Some really cool informative signs and then some cool Robert the Bruce connections. Including the pond where his famous lost sword supposedly rests, they checked, it doesn’t. Also some cool battlefield sites as well.  And you know, you’re standard thousand year-old cemetery.

I also got up close with some of the trail inhabitants happily it was the little fellow who was a bit aggressive.

Made it into Tyndrum late, had a terrible meal in town and my first haggis of the trip which was by leaps and bounds the best part of the meal. Twenty miles to Kingshouse in the morning. – Rev Kane

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Day 2 West Highland Way – Drymen to Rowardenan

Day 2 West Highland Way – Drymen to Rowardenan

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View from my room

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Long slow day today, uphill the first 3 hours culminating in our first real climb. Then the rain came, descending is not my strength, doubly so in the rain. The kicker was the mini-rollercoaster in the last mile, designated on the map as tiring undulating trail. Very accurate description, but dinner at the Clansman and an early bed tonight, no Netflix no keep me up.

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A rainbow i looked down on was the most beautiful thing i saw today.

I learned a good bit about how remote I really am today.

What made me happy was the beautiful landscapes i got to look at all day.

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Hard day but soooo beautiful,  enjoy the pics and have a happy day my friends. – Rev Kane

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Day 4 West Highland Way – Ardlui to Tyndrum

Day 4 West Highland Way – Ardlui to Tyndrum

Images when I can, sorry

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This day was a hard one to get my head around as I was very focused on my long hike the next day. That makes for hard work, hiking is at least as much mental as it is physical.

 

It was a grey and misty morning, there’s a lot of that in Scotland. But the lake was calm and it was a quiet day.

There was some really pretty trail on my 14 miles and weather-wise it was a perfect walking day.  It was right around 60 degrees, a nice breeze, which keeps the midges away, and not a lot of sun.

There was also a lot of history on the trail today. Some really cool informative signs and then some cool Robert the Bruce connections. Including the pond where his famous lost sword supposedly rests, they checked, it doesn’t. Also some cool battlefield sites as well.

Made it into Tyndrum late, had a terrible meal in town and my first haggis of the trip which was by leaps and bounds the best part of the meal. Twenty miles to Kingshouse in the morning.

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