Hike Southbound through Britain with Daryl May
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DS11 DNM starting GGW
DS11 Snowy trail
Days S1 - S20                                                                Scottish Highlands
Day S11 - Lewiston to Invermoriston
Day S10            Great Glen Way and Loch Ness           Day S12
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Northbound Home
Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Time of departure: 9.15 am
Time of arrival: 4.15 pm
Place departed: Lewiston, Highland
Place arrived: Invermoriston, Highland

Miles: 13
Cum miles: 158.2
Percent complete: 16.3

Bed sign Glenmoriston Arms Hotel, Invermoriston ***
Cost for bed and breakfast: 45.50 ($91)
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DS11 Waterfall
Below: The Glenmoriston Arms Hotel in Invermoriston. All other pictures: the Great Glen Way
DS11 Glenmoriston Arms Hotel

The weather was kind. When I set out: blue skies, no wind, and a temperature rising from freezing. By mid-afternoon, the temperature reached a cool but comfortable-enough 45 degF (7 degC).

But my thirteen miles didn't come easily, and it had nothing to do with boots or blisters.

The Lewiston B&B was just steps away from the northern end of the Great Glen Way (GGW), which began as a narrow asphalt road snaking up a hill just inland from Loch Ness, which was occasionally visible later on. The initial climb was to about 700 ft, and it continued thereafter to about 1000 ft. I needed frequent rest stops for the very steep initial climb.

The GGW then plateau'd, and occasionally offered an off-road path next to the road itself. On this trail, I crunched through a sprinkling of snow. After about five miles like this, the GGW departed the road completely, and became an uneven, meandering track, frequently on slippery rock, wet dead leaves, and mud. The track lay through forest, so at this time of year the ground is never dry. This part of the GGW was such slow going that I started to wonder how late I'd be arrving in Invermoriston.

Map reading told me that the GGW arrived at Invermoriston by first circling the town (adding distance) and in this process climbing 250 ft before descending again. So I devised Plan B to avoid today's end of the GGW, by instead taking a forestry track and then a footpath down to the A82 main road by the side of Loch Ness, giving me a more direct and flatter last couple of miles by road. Unfortunately, things didn't work out as planned. The forestry track and footpath both deteriorated, and became strewn with dozens of dead trees to be climbed over or ducked beneath. Of course, the trees had frequently fallen when undermined by streams (run-off), so there was a tendency to have to negotiate the dead trees in the middle of streams or at least mud. The photo below does not really capture the severity of this.

Eventually, the footpath became impassable, but by then the main road was visible about 200 ft below me to the left, down an exceedingly steep wooded hillside. I decided on Plan C at this point, which was to abandon the footpath and descend directly to the road. In my youth, I would have done this semi-controllably, probably grabbing at trees, and falling a few times. At my current 64 years, I took it slowly. By the time I reached the road, I had expended even more time on Plans B and C than Plan A would have required, and exhausted myself in the process. I only reached Invermoriston at 4.15 pm, having taken a full seven hours to cover about thirteen miles.

It didn't help that my GPS didn't work, and at times the position of my track and footpath differed from those on the map. When the footpath became impassable due to fallen trees, mud and erosion, and there'd been no sign of a previous human presence, I wondered what would happen if I broke a leg. That occurrence might translate to one of those newspaper stories five years from now, which start with words like "Dental records are being analyzed in an effort to identify . . . "

With nonexistent mobile phone signal in Lewiston, but sporadic email capability, I emailed my friend John Gilbert who kindly called Invermoriston last night, and booked me into the Glenmoriston Arms Hotel using his own phone. It's a nice place, with my ensuite bathroom as big as a bedroom, and equipped with a bath and those individual-size soaps, shampoos, and the like. I soaked for at least an hour, sipping at a Scotch.

Back in Lewiston, there'd been a sign in my room to disregard the brownish water supply, since it didn't pose a health problem. Enquiring of the landlady, she said it was due to Pete. Now, in Invermoriston, the same question arose. Again, the landlord, Keith Forrest, also said not to worry, and also attributed the brown-ness (we're on Loch Ness, so I hope you like the term) to Pete. I started to wonder about Pete.
Fallen tree trunks and a steep descent
DS10 Trees down on trail
DS11 Steep hillside
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