Great Glen Way Day 4
INVERMORISTON TO DRUMNADROCHIT
Hiked on August 9, 2022
In the morning at breakfast we made the discovery that everybody at the B&B was hiking the Great Glen Way. The night before at the hotel bar we found out that many of of the people staying there were hiking it too. Camaraderie is great. We compared notes on the trip so far and found that each person was tackling it in a different way. At the hotel a couple of twenty-somethings from the Netherlands were going in the opposite direction. At breakfast we talked to two women who had started at Fort Augustus instead of Fort William and were planning to arrange a cab through "the boring parts". Another person was doing a variation of what our friend Beth from Day 2 did. He was going to hike a full day and then come back to the B&B to hike a much shorter hike the next day to limit the big Day 5 mileage--if you broke it into 5 parts--that loomed for all of us. Our own journey--like that of our compatriots going the other way--was straightforward; the whole thing in 5 days. We had a flight to catch, after all, and couldn't budget more time. Still, these other plans sounded pretty good too.
The big attraction of Day 4 was yet another high road. After leaving the Bed and Breakfast a bit ahead of everyone else we marched past the hotel where we had been the night before, turned right, and started climbing on a small road. It was super-steep for so early in the morning and a bit much for our legs. After a while the high road and the low road split. We continued our climb now at a less strenuous grade. After a while we rose up from the trees.
The high road features the way's special iconic thing--the "viewcatcher"--which is a ring of found wood that frames the 35th best view of the day. Why not the best? We talked about that and decided it was to emphasize the "first" good view to remind us to keep our heads up. It is fairly early on the trail and there is much to come.
Here--coming the other way--we encountered a fellow hiker whose approach was perhaps the most unique. He had a massive backpack and was carrying a bag in his hands containing a standard-sized (like for car-camping) two person tent. He set the bag down and we took pics of each other around the viewcatcher. It turns out he is taking his time, starting and stopping whenever he felt like it, averaging around 10 miles a day. This sounded strenuous in some ways. It was so much more weight than a backpacker would normally carry. However, if you have all the time in the world, there is an appeal to sitting frequently along the trail and enjoying a comfortable camp each night.
In each version of the hike we heard about there was a goal to be mindful. Some did this by lightening their load. Others shortened their daily mileage. Some shortened total mileage. This was another approach; to carry a load so large that you have to move slowly and practice awareness not just of the landscape but your body and your mind.
We left the heavy hiker there at the viewcatcher. He needed the break! Then we continued to climb.
I am not kidding about the views. This whole trip felt like an embarrassment of outdoor riches. Everything was perfect and pretty. The weather--unusual for the highlands--was cool, clear, and relatively rain-free. That viewcatcher may or may not have actually been a reminder for us to look up from our feet, but we used it that way. We remembered to take the occasional break and to make sure we appreciated the constant unfolding of the scenery.
Dipping back into the trees after the high road just presented us with another landscape to enjoy. This one had raspberries. Our pace slowed once again. There were so many! It appeared that some of the hikers didn't like them because they weren't fully ripe. This left plenty for everyone else, however. I am not sure they counted as a true supplement to our food supplies. Still, as a way to connect with where we are, eating is always a great idea.
To that end we took a short detour to the Loch Ness Clay Works which was a pottery studio and tea shop. The shop was inside with seating in the garden around the corner. This was a fabulous diversion. We sat and had tea surrounded by the working shop. The few other people were evenly divided into locals and hikers, which was fun. Al bought a necklace as I admired their vegetable patch, then ultimately we headed back out more rested and refreshed from the encounter.
Soon we were out on another small road. It wasn't that bad, actually, except for the fact that our feet hurt. There were more farms and summer camps to look at along with the view down toward the loch. After a while we entered some "managed forests" with their cutting and reforestation zones. It was nice but so very long. after miles of this we were very relieved to turn back into the woods, with its shade and somewhat softer footing. We still had miles to go and our spirits were flagging a bit. This section was probably our lowest morale moment. We were tired. We still had another day--the longest--before us. We could sense, too, that Drumnadrochit was approaching even though we could not see it. We were flagging, but we kept on going.
One of the things we could always expect at the end of each day was a road walk. This was never really our favorite part. The day before we had encountered those cool old bridges. However, for the most part there is little to distract from the pavement except for the cars passing dangerously close to our heads.
I found it helpful to keep in mind the awesome views along the way. Some of them were on roads, too! In any case, we made it to our destination; the Kilmore Farmhouse B&B. Maybe it was because of the hard day of hiking but it seemed pretty darn good to us. We received a friendly and efficient welcome as they were no strangers to hikers. The breakfast was pretty good too. This place was just what we needed. It was Al's favorite!
Our day wasn't quite over as we needed to find a place to eat. As you may have gathered in the narrative, this has been a problem each night and we solved it in different ways. This day we were really hungry and tired and--after fits and starts did find a place to eat. Drumnadrochit is a small place with a number of attractions for visitors. There are a few resources for people visiting Urquhart Castle or interested in one of the two Loch Ness museums in town. One museum focusses on the history and the ecology of the loch. The other is "NessieLand". We were too tired for any of these these and saved the castle for a boat ride after we finished the whole trail. We never did get see the museums. Maybe we will have to return some day.
We did find a place to eat, though, by heading right out to beat the reservations crowd. However, it was another mile or so each way, so when we got back to our bed...we slept.
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I am a full-time pastor in a small, progressive church in Massachusetts. This blog is about the non-church things I do to find spiritual sustenance.