May 25, 2012
Today we only had a 14-mile walk scheduled. A couple of weeks ago we would have considered that to be on the long side, but here in the Great Glen it’s only a medium-length walk. Still, we got up early and packed up, had our breakfast at the scheduled 8 am, and then headed out.
On the way down to the village we stopped to take some pictures of the Highland cattle which were in the field across the road. The oldest one in the field was 18 years old and had been “rescued” after the hoof-and-mouth outbreak which happened several years ago. But he is still not allowed to ever leave that field, so he will live there for the rest of his life.
Leaving the village, our route took us very steeply up a narrow road. The climb lasted about 20 minutes, and once we had attained the height we walked along an undulating forestry track. Today was the first day for a while that there were clouds. We were high enough that we were almost in the clouds, and looking down to Loch Ness we couldn’t see a thing. Today’s forest track was an old one which didn’t see traffic any more, so it was easier to walk on. It undulated on for most of the morning, but we both thought the going good and enjoyed it.
We met nobody else on the trail until almost noon. Stopping to have lunch at a grassy spot where the road narrowed into a trail, we were passed by a few people, going the same direction as us. After lunch we continued on that trail and then on another old track, staying at a fairly constant elevation. By now the clouds had lifted so we had views down to the loch, although the mountains in the distance were still hazy. As our path descended we passed a few people – something which we had almost never done on the West Highland Way.
Before long we climbed a short hill and finished the last 4 miles walking a gorse-lined rural road. By now it was quite warm and our feet were sore and we wanted the distance to go by quicker. Finally we left the road and the path did a long contour around a hill before descending to the Borlum Bridge in Lewiston. We were booked into the Loch Ness Backpackers hostel which luckily for us was close to the bridge.
Checking in and paying for our room, we dumped our packs, shed our boots, then went to the kitchen to make tea. After having showers we went out for a walk to find the grocery store. It wasn’t very far to walk to, about half a mile down the road. We bought a few things for tomorrow and then walked the long way around Lewiston back to the hostel. After discussing what to do about dinner, we decided to go back to the store and buy a couple of microwave dinners. The local pub didn’t look good, and we didn’t feel like making our own dinner.
So while Rosemary cooked up the sausages we had bought, Paul went back to the store to buy them. Rosemary had mince and tatties and Paul had chicken tikka masala and rice. Both meals were very good and (the best part) quick and easy to make. For dessert we had packaged fruit salad, also from the grocery store.
After dinner we walked the mile or so up the road to Urquhart Castle. By now it was closed, which we knew. But the hostel receptionist had said that you could just walk into the castle after closing time. This was true, as long as you didn’t mind climbing over the gate which said “Unauthorized Persons Not Permitted”. However it was still possible to get good views of the castle from the road. Back at the hostel we caught up on journal-writing before heading to bed.