Day 4 – Fort Augustus to Invermoriston ?!
Hello again people and pooches. Joe the Cocker here again reporting on day 4 of our Great Glen Way hike. We were camping in Fort Augustus at the Loch Ness Highland Resort campsite. Unbelievably, we were the only visitors to the site. All the lodges were empty and there were no motorhomes, caravans or other campers. The site wasn’t officially open until the following week so we had the place to ourselves. My dad had loved the heated shower block and the heated laundry room. The lady working on the reception desk had kindly put his powerbank on charge overnight. When we went to sleep the temperature had dropped to near zero Celsius but, it was dry with only a slight breeze. We were snug in our tent with plenty of extra layers because the car was parked on site with our extra gear in it. So, we hoped for a comfortable night. It did rain slightly during the early night but, at 6:30 am the ‘rain’ seemed to be falling more softly. My dad poked his head out of the tent door and discovered that it had started to snow. The snow was sticking to the ground but, it was wet and slushy. We snuggled up closely and lay in our sleeping bags for a while not wanting to get up until the snow eased off or even stopped completely. About half an hour later we realised that the snow was heavier than earlier and was starting to weigh heavy on the tent. My dad knocked some of it off the roof of the tent as the roof was starting to dip. It wasn’t long before the roof of the tent was almost touching our faces. It was time to get up. To our surprise the weight of the snow had almost flattened our tent. A good three inches of snow had fallen in the last 45 minutes. We needed to pack our stuff up quickly. This wasn’t forecast!
My dad said that we had to rethink our plans for the hike. He decided that we should take a zero, that is a day off our hike. He packed up all our gear and threw it into the car. His sleeping bag was wet in places and obviously, the tent was soaked through. He called in at the reception to pick up his powerbank and was told that he could dry our tent and his sleeping bag in the laundry room. He also decided that we should try to find a camping pod to use for the next night and the lady at reception found him a place to check out on-line. We drove into Fort Augustus to find somewhere for us to eat a cooked breakfast. This turned out to be fruitless as the places we tried, including the Information Centre, were not dog friendly.
He said that we should try for somewhere in a different village. He found a dog friendly café, on-line, in Invermoriston. So, after phoning them to check that they were open we received an encouraging invitation to visit them. We drove the short distance to the Glen Rowan café and were warmly welcomed by the two young ladies that ran the place. I was fussed over and made to feel very much at home while my dad filled his face with a hearty Scottish breakfast and a couple of cups of delicious coffee. While we were there a family of Inuit Native Americans arrived, touring from Alaska. They were describing how their village of 350 inhabitants, which is north of the Atctic Circle, could only be reached by seaplane or boat. Deep snow and enduring incredibly low temperatures were a way of life for them. It made us realise that the weather that we were experiencing was nothing to them. The café owners asked my dad what our plans were for the day and he explained about the wet tent and sleeping bags and that we were looking for a camping pod for the night to dry everything and to have a comfortable sleep. They asked if we were interested in a self-catering apartment in a nearby cottage owned by a friend of theirs. My dad seemed to be keen on the idea and the price was in our budget range so, he said yes.
So, after he had finished eating his hearty breakfast we drove back to Fort Augustus to pick up our tent. When we returned to Invermoriston we had a walk around the village. It is a pretty place with a fascinating disused bridge spanning the River Moriston Falls. It was built by Thomas Telford in 1813 and replaced by a new bridge in 1930. St. Columba’s Well is a few yards away from the bridge. The spring was originally said to be poisonous until St. Columba, in 565AD, blessed the waters and purified them. After we had walked around the village we passed the Bridge Suite, that we had booked into and were greeted by Tom, the owner. He said that the rooms were ready for us so, we walked back to the carpark to grab the car. On our return we received a really warm welcome from Tom and Pat and were shown around the accommodation. We had a kitchen, a diner/lounge, a bedroom and a shower room. It was perfect. Clean, nicely decorated and best of all, toasty warm. We quickly settled in and grabbed a snack and a drink. He also said that we could leave our car parked at the front of the house until we returned from our hike.
Then it was decision time. We had received a call from home about health concerns and the weather forecast for the following week looked wet and windy. My dad said that we should change our plans and just complete the Great Glen Way over the next few days, weather dependant, and to not walk the South Loch Ness Trail. This was disappointing but, it was the Great Glen Way that my dad wanted us to walk originally and the Loch Ness 360 was an add on. So, as long as things went to plan, we were going to resume our hike the next day. We would walk from Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit and when we had completed the entire hike we would return to Invermoriston to walk the short section back towards Fort Augustus that we had missed out. We had a plan again!
We had a lovely relaxing time for the rest of the evening as my dad watched movies while I snored in comfort. The weather forecast for the next day looked promising. The sun, yes the sun, was due to make an appearance. It would be cold with plenty of fresh snow on the ground but, sunny! There are two routes to take from Invermoriston to Drum, as it’s known locally. The low route and the high route. My dad really wanted to hike the high route, that is renowned for the scenery but, the snow had made him rethink the situation. He said that we could decide in the morning when we were ready to start hiking. So that’s what we did. Meanwhile, we had an amazingly comfortable night. Him in his king size bed and me in my comfy bed on the floor next to him. We were so grateful to the girls in the Glen Rowan café for recommending this place to us. But, mostly we were grateful to Tom and ‘Tricia Dobbysocks’ for this little gem of a refuge. Tomorrow is another day and we were excited to get back on the trail.