Day 2: Invergarry to Invermoriston, 16 miles
The second day of my Great Glen Way run, I woke up before 5 am. I didn’t need to get up till 8:30 at the earliest, so I tried to go back to sleep. I think I dozed a little, but I mostly day-dreamed and game planned for a life I wanted to spend traveling, running, and writing. I had breakfast in a sunlit dining room while I chatted with my hosts at the Glen Albyn Lodge. I had requested a packed lunch the night before, and was presented with a sandwich, crisps (chips), and sweets for 6 pounds before I left.
I caught the Great Glen Way a kilometer or so down the road from the B & B. It started off as a nice winding playground of a trail, with small climbs and descents- more fun than work. Not even considering digestion cramps from breakfast, I ran alongside Loch Oich until the trail met the road again, at a town called Aberchalder. There, I stood still and stared at a boat as it went through the lock, heading to Loch Oich from the north. I understood the concept of locks, but hadn’t witnessed it in person before. It started to rain a bit through the process and I took off.
The path then followed the Caledonian Canal once again. The main excitement of that stretch came from the frequent costume changes I went through. The weather would change suddenly and drastically, from cold rain to sunny, partly cloudy skies. I was constantly putting on or removing my jacket and gloves, and putting away my camera or grabbing it from my pack to snap the incredibly blue sky when the rain would let up over the canal. After 5 miles, I was in Fort Augustus.
Fort Augustus was downright bustling after the lonely stretches I had just completed solo. There were more boats going through the locks there, and many people were out as well, despite the temperamental weather. It was the largest village I had passed through since leaving Fort William. There was a visitor’s center, eateries with enticing menus, local craft shops and whiskey tasting spots. My drop bag was left for me at the Lovat Arms Hotel, which I located without a problem. I settled in with my packed lunch and the goodies in my drop bag in the living room area of the hotel, in front of a lit fire. It had started to rain a little more steadily at that point, and I relaxed on a comfortable couch, perusing my photos so far and the map of the route ahead. Once finished, I went to the visitors’ center and purchased a magnet featuring the Caledonian Canal. Magnets are my go-to as souvenirs, because they are small, plus I’m always in my fridge and thus get constant reminders of my travels.
As I went over the map while I was nestled into the Lovat Arms, I was trying to make a decision- high route or low route? From Fort Augustus, I could climb or not climb, and still arrive at the same point. I knew about the two “high routes” on the Great Glen Way, and one started after leaving Fort Augustus. I had told myself I wouldn’t do the high route- the mileage I was doing was enough. I was tired, and my muscles and tendons were too unpredictable. However, when I got to the fork in the road, I chose the high route. It’s a cool feeling when “what you would do” kicks the ass of “what you did do”.
Once I was through the main ascent, the terrain alone was surreal. The forest I had been climbing through gave way to barren, rolling hills that had once held trees that had since been farmed. I made sure to keep looking south every now and then even though I was running north, because the southern views were more interesting. I came across a couple trekking together, and offered to take their picture, as I saw they were taking turns snapping each other. They were heading north, but going for the southern views as well.
The written guide claimed I’d be running 20 miles that day, but since I was picked up in Laggan at the Eagle Inn (see previous post) and driven to Invergarry, I actually wound up running more like 16. I finished in Invermoriston. It was another great place to end a day of running- I arrived before check in, so I went to a coffee shop for a snack and free wi-fi. I also visited this awesome craft shop, where I purchased leather wristbands that would have probably been at least $30 in the states, but were going for 3 to 4 pounds each.
My B & B that night was the Bracarina House, but I had dinner at the Glenmoriston Arms, the hotel next door. I had booked my meal there before even leaving for my trip, as I was advised that it was the only place to get dinner in town and it could fill up quickly. I had a steak. It was delicious, and I devoured it like a hungry raccoon. I met two older gentlemen who were also walking the way. I would find them a few more times. Martyn & Dic were from Wales, a few decades later in life than myself, and did hikes and walks most weekends. They trekked mostly local to Wales, but with trips like the Great Glen Way sprinkled in. They claimed weekend averages of 14 miles. What a life! The last time I met up with them, I was sitting on a train on the way back to Edinburgh, and they happened to be across the aisle- at that point, it was the fourth time we crossed paths. I had taken this running trip to see what I could do, and these dudes showed me.