Fort William to Gairlochy – 14 miles (Accommodation at Spean Lodge)
Following a lovely breakfast, bags were put out for the carrier, and it was a fond farewell to our host before going to buy more ‘meal deals’ at the local supermarket. Once purchased, we headed off to the start point
of the Great Glen Way,
near the old fort. As we arrived Steve cajoled a passerby to take group photos. Unfortunately for this person it wasn’t just one camera, there were two others. Then as we were moving out of the way Steve ask a lone walker if she wanted a photo, which she did; it turned out she was from Grenoble, France.
Now it was time for the off, officially, and we started to follow the Great Glen Way marker posts (they were a brilliant aid).
During the first stage we found we needed to sort little problems, like adjusting laces, tight boots, stones in boots and taking many photos.
We eventually arrived at the Caledonian Canal
and time to make more adjustments. Whilst here I was asked by a couple of locals if we were walking the Great Glen Way, as they had done it two years previously. After a brief chat, everyone was ready to continue. The path was easy, as it is a towpath of the canal.
As we walked towards Neptune’s staircase, as it’s known, we met another single walker; it turned out in conversation she was from Iceland. She had decided to do the walk as it was her annual holiday from work. We chatted a while then, at the staircase,
we split up as there were lots of tourists around, and the Icelandic girl was taking photos. We took some photos our selves before we carried on with our walk.
As we continued, the scenery improved with distant views of the hillside, and of different types of boats sailing along the canal.
Along the towpath we met up with the young lady from France who we had met earlier at the start. She said she was fine and enjoying the scenery. We meandered along the path
when, ahead of us, were two more walkers who had stopped for a break. They were two women who just smiled as we walked by.
As we went along we were identifying place names from the map and seeing more and more boats ranging from small motor launches to large car carrying ships.
This was amazing when you think it’s a canal; your mind tends to think of canals as being narrow but this canal was leading from the west side of Scotland to the east side and the North Sea.
We decided to stop for a lunch break and make any necessary adjustments –
one was wearing new boots, one was wearing new socks and we all needed to check padding around the feet. Whilst we were eating the ladies we had seen earlier came by and as they said, “Hello again,” we could just make out they were probably German. This now became our challenge to find out their nationality before the end of the walk.
We were just finishing lunch when the French lady came by, giving us a smile and a wave before walking on.
Time to get going again and as we were setting off the young lady from Iceland appeared. She chatted a while as we walked then decided to stop for her lunch so we said we would probably meet up later along the way.
It was about two hours later when we arrived at Gairlochy Lock.
We were staying at Spean Bridge which, we had been informed, was only a short walk away. It was too early to book in at our B&B so we sat a while before I gave Spean Lodge a call. On speaking to our host, Suzanne, she said her husband would come and collect us; we were to stay and not walk on, as it was about three and half miles away.
After 15 minutes the car arrived to collect us. The driver introduced himself as Glen, he welcomed us and put our gear in the boot. En route he gave us a chat about the area, plus a potted history of himself and how he came to be living in Spean Bridge, when he was clearly a Yorkshire man.
As we neared the commando memorial,
Glen stopped and offered us a brief tour and history lesson of WW2 activities. We later found he was a bit of a historian and wild life enthusiast. At our accommodation he very kindly showed us to our rooms, gave us details for breakfast and where to go for a drink that evening and left us to it.
We met up later and gave our breakfast order before heading to the railway station which we had seen the other day as we were travelling to Fort William. This turned out to also be a pub and it had history too, as it was used as a briefing room for the commandos during their training periods. We had a drink then went to find where we were eating as I’d booked it the previous night from Fort William. After the meal we had a night cap and called it a day.