Scotland! (Part 6)

Day 6: Blackfold to Drumnadrochit, 15km (9½ miles)

[Continued from day five.]

The stretch between Drumnadrochit and Inverness doesn’t have convenient lodging available, so our itinerary has us hitching a ride with our luggage porter to the halfway mark and walking back to the same place we stayed last night. George is friendly and knowledgable (and apparently on the parliament for a whisky distillery), and drops us off high up on a plateau.


After maybe a quarter-mile of hiking, we spy the entrance to this campsite. It’s a bit early, otherwise we’d TOTALLY pop in for tea.


The trail meets up with a rather nice park with a sweet playground and public bathrooms (yay!), and then follows logging roads for a while.


Today we reach the highest elevation of the entire trail! Turns out that huge climb yesterday wasn’t even to the top! Fortunately we climbed most of the way here in a car, and it’s mostly downhill today and tomorrow.


There’s the northern end of Loch Ness in the distance. Today will be our last day to spot Nessie, so we keep our eyes peeled.


We descend into the woods again, and there’s a place where we can fill out a survey about the trail! We leave a suitably glowing review.


This seems like a perfectly serendipitous spot for elevensies. We crack into our generous lunches, and more awesomely weird crisps.


The woods are strangely silent today. We can’t even hear any birds.


A few miles later, we’re 500 feet lower, and out of the deep woods, and we spy the ruins of Urquhart Castle (“urk-it caw-sull”) across the bay!


Back into a wood, but this one is much less dense and spooky.


After trekking alongside some houses and farmland, we emerge onto the major road that will take us all the way back to Drumnadrochit.


…which is good, because right on the way is the Loch Ness Monster Exhibition! Not only is there a VERY 90s multimedia exhibit, but they have a whole room full of stuffed Nessies!


Today we also found out what the dogs have been up to. No good, that’s what.


[Continued: Part Seven.]

Scotland! (Part 5)

Day 5: Invermoriston to Drumnadrochit, 23km (14¼ miles)

[Continued from day four.]

We sleep until 7:40 (I failed to set my alarm), and rush to breakfast at 8, where we find out that the US government shutdown has just ended.

Today, our itinerary called for us to catch a ride from our hosts to a point about 2 miles from here, but our map doesn’t show a gap in the trail. We ask our host; he tells us there’s no problem with the trail, this way is just easier.

Humpf. We ain’t yella. We decide that skipping parts of the trail would be regrettable, and we pack with the intent of doing it all. We leave the inn at 9:45, and we’re probably the last guests they’ll see until next spring.


The trail goes uphill for a mile, probably ascending 500′.


Then it descends 400 of those feet, to the place where we would have been dropped off. From here, we start ascending again. Now it’s clear why the itinerary was written that way. The path turns gently uphill.


We pass through a 3-foot gate in a 5-foot-long stone fence.


There’s a small stone hut here, with room enough for six adults to wait out a storm.


The path turns uphill again, switching back through about 1200′ of elevation over 2 miles. We stop about halfway up for elevensies and a badly-needed rest.


The top at last. We stop for a breather and a last look at Loch Ness. The trail turns inland from here, and we won’t see her again until tomorrow.


Where we’re going…


…and whence we’ve come.


The trail reenters the woods, and the bracingly cold wind stops. We strip off some layers. The rain that was forecast has failed to materialize.


Okay, maybe we get one more look at Loch Ness.


Luncheon is on stumps, at the end of a driveway. The path follows roads for a while here, across moors, descending into Lewiston and Drumnadrochit.


None of that weak cheese and onion you find elsewhere. These crisps are strong, like a rugby player.


We saw an amazing assortment of mushrooms along the side of the trail.


Swampy, grassy plateau. We gather this is what most of the Highlands looks like.


We enter a wood, turn off the road onto a footpath, and after a mile of dodging horse droppings, we catch sight of our destination.


Lewiston and Drumnadrochit are tourist destinations, so there’s a lot of infrastructure here.


It’s the largest settlement we’ve seen since Fort Augustus. We trek through the tarmac jungle and find our adorable little B&B. Most of our hosts along the way seem to be tired, and ready for the season to end, but this one is chipper and friendly, in the way your favorite aunt is.

She settles us in, and directs us to Fiddler’s, which seems perfectly engineered for us. We eat three courses (including smoked haddock chowder, and silky chicken on haggis with carrots and neeps), and drink things that would probably be good even if they weren’t aged in whisky casks.


The place is full of tour-bus friends, and the eavesdropping is excellent. We head back to our room, do a bit of laundry, and get some rest.

[Continued: Part 6]