Day 5 – Invermoriston to Dumnadrochit
Hello people and pooches. It’s Joe the Cocker here again reporting on day 5 of our Great Glen Way hike. After the zero day on day 4 of our trip it was time to make some headway into our trip. We had slept like proverbial logs during the night and woke refreshed and keen to start hiking again. My dad had packed most of our gear into his rucksack the previous night so all we had to do was load the car with the rest of our stuff and set off for the day. He ate breakfast and fed me before he checked around the accommodation. Before we set off for the day, my dad had a conversation with Tom, the owner. He told him of our plans to walk to Drumnadrochit and how we were going to wild camp in that area in the evening. Tom told him that we could use the Bridge Suite again that night if we wanted to as it was still available. He replied that he would love to but that would mean us having to return somehow from Drumnadrochit. Unfortunately, the bus service is operated by City Link and they do not carry dogs. Also, there didn’t seem to be any dog friendly local taxi firms. Tom, astonishingly, offered to pick us up from Drum later in the day as they would be passing on their way back from Inverness. He also offered to drop us off the following morning back in Drum so that we could continue our hike from where we had left off. This offer was too good to refuse. It also meant that my dad would only have to carry a daysack on the section between Invermoriston and Drumnadrochit. This would take the strain off his back while we hiked the high route. Things had certainly taken a turn for the better. My dad gratefully accepted Tom’s offers and we went back into the accommodation to repack our gear.
‘Cold Day in the Sun’ by the Foo Fighters was todays little ditty. I love to hear my dad singing. NOT!
We set off from Invermoriston by walking over the Telford Bridge and passing St. Columba’s Well before turning left onto the Skye Road for a short distance. We then turned right by the ‘Last Clog Shop for 52 Miles’. We climbed a disused tarmac lane relentlessly uphill with great views behind us over Glen Moriston. After some puffing and panting by my dad we left the road to join a forest track. We had the choice to join the low route or to hike on the high route at this point. My dad said that we would attempt the high route and decide as we hiked whether to stay on it or return and hike along the low route. We were soon hiking through the snow. It was warm in the sun although the temperature was still below freezing. The snow was crunchy underfoot making it easy to hike on. I had a fantastic time running around and playing in the white stuff. The day was perfect with only the odd wispy cloud in the bright blue sky.
The path undulated with some steep sections both up and down until we met the iconic Viewcatcher. This sculpture is on a hillside and made of local stone with Caledonian pine branches intertwined to make a circular framework. The views were stunning across the snowcapped mountains albeit the distant ones, including Ben Nevis, were cloud covered. My dad set up his £2.99 tripod with his mobile phone on it to take our photograph while we were peeping through it. OK, I was a bit fidgety but, I think that he got a half decent picture of us.
On we plodded in the sunlight as we crossed the Allt Saigh burn with its wild camping spots and over a couple of footbridges until we came to the Troll Bridge. The gnarly walled bridge crosses a small waterfall in a tiny glen. My dad made me cross it before him just in case any trolls were lurking under the bridge. Coward! The notice boards claim that trolls are 6ft 3in tall. Well, so is the big feller. Thus, he must be a troll. So why was he scared to cross first?
Onwards and upwards, and downwards, we continued on our way soon coming to a stone windbreak with extensive views over Loch Ness. We had a short break for some chicken (for me) and Snickers for fat boy. After our refreshments we soon came to the highest point of the Great Glen Way at Creag Dhearg with more great views over the loch. He took more photographs as the views were amazing and the weather was equally as amazing. I was enjoying the freedom of being off my lead and I was staying reasonably close to my dad. As soon as I dipped out of sight, for even a second, I could hear him shouting ‘Joe, Joe. Wait’. Which I did because I knew that if I didn’t behave that I would have to be put back on my lead. I think that my dad was in his element in the snow, sunshine, solitude and scenery. The four ‘S’s’ as he called it. Numpty!
We stopped again a short distance along the path at another stone shelter for more photographs. He seemed to like the odd lonely tree that lined this remote pathway. He kept stopping every few yards to take photographs. I got the impression that my dad was enjoying himself. Eventually, he managed to drag himself away from this part of the trail and we continued with our journey. As we set off again we soon we came to a forest track and a junction with the low route.
From this point the trail gently descended until we reached a small meadow that led us to a narrow road at Grotaig. The trail follows the road via a gravel track as we arrived at an elaborate honesty box with the name Seada Luis, meaning Rowan Tree Shed, carved into it. It wasn’t being stocked when we passed but when it is you can charge a mobile device from it and buy treats and drinks. We had a rest on the cut log at the side of it. Well, the big feller did. As we moved on we met two horned sheep that were hogging the path. I was well behaved and didn’t bark at them even though they should have been in the field and not on our track. The cheek of them!
We followed a forest track for a short while and we could see Drumnadrochit in the glen below us. After passing through a small forest and Clunebeg Lodge we walked along a wide track. We hadn’t seen any people all day and a lady came towards us riding a horse. She warned my dad that highland cattle were walking free in this area and to make sure that I was on a short lead. Sure enough, as we walked a few hundred yards, four highland cattle appeared in the middle of the track, walking in our direction. Dad was at the front, mum slightly behind and big and little lads just behind the parents. My dad walked me slowly into the bushes at the side of the track. There was a barbed wire fence to our left that my dad was going to pick me up and throw over if it looks like I was in danger. I stood calmly at his side as they came nearer. When they were about 25 yards from us a car appeared on the track heading towards us. As it neared the cattle they slowly veered left into the bushes in front of us. That was the sign for us to move on so, we slowly and calmly moved on along the track. We might have worried for nothing but, those horns look deadly.
At the junction with the A82, by a picnic area, we turned over the road bridge that spans the River Coiltie. Civilisation was in front of us as we entered Lewiston and visited the Co-op. My dad bought himself a Big Al’s Cheeseburger and a Costa Americano. He bought come cooked chicken for me and a bag of dog treats. I noticed that he bought himself a small Cadbury Buttons Easter Egg. He is a big kid. We continued our hike along the pavement into Drumnadrochit while he ate his burger, managing to get more sauce in his beard than in his mouth. Yuk! The sun still had its hat on as we arrived at the green in the centre of the village so we sat on a picnic bench. My dad was worried that he was not wearing his Factor 50, ha! When he had fed me my chicken and he had eaten his chocolate Tom and Pat from our accommodation arrived to take us back to Invermoriston. We seemed to be back at the cottage in no time at all.
My dad said that the day had been one of his best in the hills for a long time. The weather had been kind to us. The scenery was stunning. It was peaceful and deserted. We were back in the comfort of a warm house. All that was left to do was to put our six feet up and chill out. We only had 19 miles left to walk to Inverness but my dad wanted us to hike this over two days with a wild camp on the next night so this was our chance to recharge our batteries. More of our trip to come in the next blog.