Author Topic: Thoughts on the Great Glen Way  (Read 200 times)

jimbob

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Thoughts on the Great Glen Way
« on: 21:53:28, 10/07/19 »
Not long out of intensive care I was given the chance to be totally stupid and try to walk the Great Glen Way. I got the chance of a lift to Fort William and thought why the jolly heck not. Packed my bag in a hurry and set off.

The journey up was sweltering, stayed in Perth overnight and travelled on to Fort William the next day, in the seriously deluge like rain. Popped into Morrisons for a hot cuppa and a quick change into my walking gear. Then started the walk.

I got to the canal office in Corpach quite quickly and paid my £10.00 for the key to canal/ Trailblazer toilets/ showers and off to Gairlochy in the pouring rain. It was after 5pm. When I reached Neptune's Staircase, which I expected to be a hive of activity, but there was only me stupid enough to be out in that weather.

Arrived in Gairlochy and used the facilities to dry off my poncho and chat to some others who were hiding in the clothes washing facilities room which was so warm. It was by now only spitting on to rain. And was half nine. I decided to walk on a bit further and wild camp rather than using the smooth campsite available to such as me. So after having a warm drink and something to eat I set off again.Midgies,  now being from North Northumberland  I understand midgies. What I didn't understand were midgies that were vampire like in their hatred of humanity.  Too late on with the midge net., probably trapping whole murderous tribes of the evil beasties next to my baldy pate. Gloves on, also too late. Rain started pouring again. No real relief in amongst the trees, the same amount of water but in bigger drops flinging themselves off the fir trees in that gravitational urge to saturate me. Found  a decent site amongst trees to set up my tent, which of course is inner first. I now know why they call it a bathtub floor. Into tent, sort my self out and into my sleeping bag.  Woke up after a great sleep  to drips of water on my face. First time I had truly experienced condensation, anything suffered on previous trips was a miniscule drop of dampness. It was as wet as the rain still pouring down outside. Dammit I had only slept for an hour. By five I was so cheesed off I got up got my clothes on and on my way out of the tent my leg slipped back on the damp grass. PAIN. It can only be described as a dagger in the groin. I hobbled about and got the tent stuffed away. Had a cuppa using my flameless  flask,  at least it didn't let me down. Had a couple of paracetomol, (cannot use vitamin I) and set off at about 5:30 . Rain continued to hammer down with odd patches of midge laden not quite so rainyness. I struggled past Laggan (Why????) Though I did make use of the facilities there. Walking too close to an embankment to let a dog walker and two slavering brutes of dachshunds pass, my sore leg slipped down an embankment causing another knife to twist in my upper thigh and groin.
I struggled on to Fort Augustus where I had a great hot meal and sitting there, looked up the weather forecast.  Since I am a fair weather walker and do not believe you can walk through pain on this occasion  I decided I had enough. Caught the bus to Inverness and got a room for the night ( thanks booking.com),  train back home next day.
So over a week later, still in pain. Looking like a refugee from  a chicken pox clinic due to the midge bites. Still don't  understand some of the places they managed to get to.
What did I like. Not much apart from my flameless flask. Works great in terrible weather, one sachet heated a packet of mugshot noodles and gave me water for a sweet tea/coffee.
I carried way too much food. There are enough places to stock up certainly up to Fort Augustus.

The route is  as easy as I expected.  I didn't  want a hard trek so soon out of hospital. I would have bailed out sooner on a more difficult track that is for certain. But I felt as if there was plenty of opportunity to get to a road and call a taxi if I needed to. Will I go back and finish it, only if there is decent weather, don't mind a bit of rain but that many hours of heavy downpour was silly.
Actually booked in for physio on my leg which they think is a strained adductor muscle. Nice one , strange way to learn the names of muscle groups.
Too little, too late, too bad......

vizzavona

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Re: Thoughts on the Great Glen Way
« Reply #1 on: 07:38:13, 11/07/19 »
That was a very rough experience.  However good to hear that you will go back and continue the walk in different season.?
It is a perennial problem to get favourable conditions for multi day journeys in Scotland...something that living in the North has been the bane of such holidays during most of a lifetime up here.  Having had unpleasant days in the glens and hills, during holiday periods that had to be taken in July you tend to develop tactics, although carrying a tent, look for a route that coincides with the positions of the remote buildings in the large Bothy network in the North....not, as far as I know, any of these on the Great Glen Way?
My own unconventional experience on the GGW was after setting off very early one summer morning from home I cycled to Gairlochy then reached Fort William along the side of the Canal..then returned to Gairlochy to continue along the route through pleasant terrain to stay overnight on the floor of a friend in Fort Augustus.  Pleasant movement on the following day...lunch in Drumnadrochit...out to Inverness then the scary cycle on the A9 south to Daviot, no cycle way down alongside the road in 1999, where I got a lift home from a relative...wheels off the bike and into the rear of the hatchback motor.
Never had a tent where inner is pitched prior to the flysheet.  Mine and, I guess many others, is to get the flysheet up on a wet pitch get sorted then carefully put the stove on for a brew.
 



bricam2096

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Re: Thoughts on the Great Glen Way
« Reply #2 on: 08:23:24, 11/07/19 »
Itís a shame you had such a terrible time on the GGW and I hope you return to do it again or finish off where you started. Another option would be to complete the GGW then return to Fort Augustus on the South Loch Ness trail that goes from Inverness to Fort Augustus on the other side of the Loch.

Iíve done the GGW 6 times and really enjoy it but have always been lucky with the weather, I particularly enjoy it after January for the scenery plus the weather seems more settled, never done it in the middle of summer.

The paths are very good to walk on and sadly you missed the best part of the GGW for me, the high route alternative paths from Fort Augustus to Drumnadrochit, I hope you return
LDWs done - 31 in total including 15 National Trails and 3 C2C

Wainwrights 176
www.brians-walks.co.uk

vizzavona

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Re: Thoughts on the Great Glen Way
« Reply #3 on: 09:29:18, 11/07/19 »
Fortunately I have my daughter staying here at the moment to keep me right.
In my notes for the GGW a date of travel for 1999 is shown however as Melanie points out, she should know since after University she did a ranger job on the route, that the route GGW did not open until around three years later.
As quoted in my own scribbled notes of the journey a touring cyclist said in his book Cycle Touring in Western Scotland.....'The Forestry Commission....at minimum cost....has produced a curate's egg of a cycle route. Cyclists deserve better than these mountain climbing rough roads, eventually dissolving into an apology at the Inverness end'.
He was of course writing as a touring road biker and undoubtably perplexed at the lack of a decent trail for road bikers on the notoriously dangerous A82 road that joins Inverness to Fort William.
From what I can see of the current route there is one difference where part of the route from Drumnadrochit to Inverness the two ways of doing the journey are now separate?

Owen

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Re: Thoughts on the Great Glen Way
« Reply #4 on: 11:01:24, 11/07/19 »
Some friends were trying to kayak the calidonian canal which runs parallel to the GGW awhile back and were also thump by wet weather. It seems to get funnelled through the gap in the hills.