Invergarry Hotel was only halfway to that’s day destination–Fort Augustus and a bed. The whole day was close to 20 miles, a lot of it on road, which I am beginning to realize is much less pleasant than walking on almost anything else. On the feet, that is.
I got to the Bridge of Oich, which has an unusual suspension design that allows it to remain standing even if some of the cables break. It was designed by a brewer turned engineer in the mid-19th Century.
On the river there was a fisherman.
Here, the route turned northeast along the Caledonian Canal that goes up to Loch Ness at Fort Augustus. It was raining lightly and I was very tired when I arrived in the village. I remembered that the B&B where I was booked was a half mile out of town. The phone was busy for about a half hour so I walked.
Reladen with a food package delivered to the B&B, I headed off as heavy as ever the next morning. The route when a short distance on the paved road, then onto a dirt road along fields and farms before coming out onto another paved road. There are beautiful stone walls here, architected with round and flat rocks in courses, not just piled like the ones in New England.
I took a turn at a path in a break in the wall that turned out to be a few hundred yards short of the one I should have taken. It led through the woods onto a dirt road that eventually opened into a clearing with a new house, a statue of a buck and some farm machinery. A road went up under an old stone bridge to the right; the map suggested I could regain the route there.
As I was approaching the bridge a pickup truck drove up and the man asked if he could help me. I told him I was on the TGO Challenge, just passing through. He told me I was on private property and shouldn’t be there. I told him I was under the impression that one could walk across private property in Scotland. He said that was wrong. You can walk on private land in the hills but not near houses. He said his boss was an American, and that as an American I should know not to be trespassing.
I apologized, he directed me to the road I wanted and I headed on. Very soon after, the route I’d charted had me opening a gate and going within view of an even bigger house, a pink castle surrounded by scaffolding.
I decided against doing that and continued up the gravel road I was on. It climbed up some bare hills, then across the tops. I took a path down to a stream and scrambled up a muddy cow path on a very steep slope to what I was trying to reach, something called on the map “General Wade’s Military Road.” It was built in response to the Jacobite Rising in the early 1700s. I know nothing more about it than that. And I hope personally not to see it again anytime soon.
The views were beautiful and after four days in a timeless landscape, strangely modern. A power line went over the hills the whole route, and a second one was being built. Work crews were using heavy machinery building the pads for the towers. The construction sounds carried a long distance.
The road was rocky. There was the occasional stone bridge and ruin. The road climbed relentlessly. Every corner where I thought it would finally level out revealed another climb. I obviously hadn’t spent much time looking at the contour lines on the map. It turns out I was going over something called Corrieyairack Pass.
I finally got to the top and headed down, which was less tiring but no less painful on the feet. When the crews knocked off at 5 they came down the road in two green ATVs. The second one stopped and offered me a ride. I was tempted, thanked them, but told them I couldn’t. Not allowed in the Challenge.
The shadows were very long, it was getting cool and it was after 8 when I arrived at Garva Bridge for the night. It was about 18 miles. I was completely exhausted, or as they say over here, “proper knackered.”