Life of Karen

Day 12 & 13: Invergarry and Invermoriston

Day 12: Invergarry

The day dawned grey and dreary – actually pouring with rain. As most of the group headed out in the pouring rain, I decided to hang out with the “car pool”. We hung out at Spean Bridge for a little while browsing in one of the shops, then drove back into Fort William where we stopped for coffee and tea. (As I don’t drink either, I had a lemonade – which is like our Sprite back home – and a Bramley Apple Pear Crumble with Custard.) We had headed into Fort William to tour the whiskey distillery (an indoor activity), but unfortunately it was closed. We did pass by and stop at Inverlochy Castle as the car riders did not see it yesterday. Amazingly, about the only time that it did not rain this day was while we were walking around the castle grounds.

From Fort William, we drove back up to Gairlochy to drop off the cyclists. As we headed to Laggan Locks where we would hopefully catch up with the walkers and cyclists, Adrian, Ralph and I stopped by the Clan Cameron Museum near Achnacarry House.

As we are traveling northward toward Inverness, we have been in the area of Scotland that I recognize from Diana Gabaldon’s books. Many of the clans and places are mentioned in the story that takes place during the Jacobite uprising in the Scottish Highlands. Today was a perfect example of this as we visited the area of Clan Cameron.

The original Achnacarry castle, built in 1655, was destroyed after the Rising of 1745, and the estate was forfeited to the Crown. The Camerons did not regain it until 1784. Around 1802, the 22nd chief decided to build a new house and chose James Gillespie Graham as his architect. His wife disliked the Highlands and after their separation, he abandoned the project, and Achnacarry would not be completed until their son eventually became chief. During World War II, Cameron of Lochiel vacated Achnacarry, handing it over to the British military, and the house was to become one of the most significant training centres of the war, when the Commando Basic Training Centre (CBTC) was based there. The house was also known as Achnacarry Castle, or Castle Commando. Although remaining closed to the public, the house has returned to its former status as the seat of the Clan Cameron, but it is still regarded worldwide as the historical and spiritual home of the Commandos.

When the three of us arrived at Laggan Locks, we stopped in at the Eagle Pub which is on a boat moored by the locks. The cyclists showed up about half an hour later and said that they had not passed the walkers! We asked the people who ran the bar if a group of Americans and Canadians had come through and she said they had come and gone a couple of hours before! That had to have walked the 15 miles in a bit under4.5 hours…. I guess the rain makes you walk faster!

We drove up from Laggan Locks to Invergarry where the B&B was and finally caught up to the rest of the group. Everyone was already showered and changed and Dad was out in the hot tub!

We had a lovely dinner served at the B&B with the best Sticky Toffee Pudding that I have had so far this trip.

Day 13: Invermoriston

As my legs are still not up to any long distance walking and it was also raining this morning (yes, I whimped out), I decided to take the bus to Invermoriston. Gloria joined me this time (the car riders were staying at a different B&B). We headed down to the bus stop for the time that I had found on the internet, not realizing that I was looking at the winter schedule. We ended up waiting 1.5 hours for the bus! Once we were on it, we had a quick ride through Fort Augustus (where I saw another flight of locks) and into Invermoriston. We checked at the hotel but our rooms were not ready this early, so we dropped our backpacks and headed into town to sight-see.

imageThe Glenmoristion Arms Hotel was first built in 1740 (the same time period as the books I read) and was originally a Drover’s Inn – a “stop off place” for farmers driving their livestock to and from market. In the last year, it has been renovated and updated to be used as a hotel. As I was walking down the hall, there was a small square “window” that showed the original stonework wall that was still standing.image

We stopped by St Columba’s well. It is believed that a well or spring has been on this site since early Pictish times. Until the 6th century AD the water here was considered to be poisonous, causing boils and ulcers to appear if splashed on the skin. Then in AD 565, St Columba, on his way to visit Drude (a great King of the Picts) drove out the evil spirits around the well and blessed for all time the water coming from it. The water was then clean and pure and was said to have great curative powers. This spring may also be the formation of Loch Ness.

imageThe we headed a little further down the road and followed a footpath that took us into a wooded area along-side the Falls or Moriston. We found a small buiding called “Summer House” that gave us brilliant views of the Falls, as well as Telford Bridge. The small summer house was built by a late laird of Glenmoriston. It overlooks the largest of the Invermoriston falls and was built to shelter the laird’s guests whilst they watched the salmon leaping the falls.

imageFrom there, Gloria and I headed back up the road for a geocache, then to the Clog and Craft Shop and the Local Corner Store and Post Office. We checked back at the hotel and found our rooms ready but our luggage still wasn’t here. We checked in and while Gloria decided to take a nap, I headed back out to get some more pictures of Telford Bridge.

As it was beginning to rain again, I went back to the hotel and ran into Adrian and Ralph (Ralph joined the car poolers in Fort Augustus). Allison and Sandra were not far behind them on their bikes. Not long after, the baggage arrived and we distributed it all to the appropriate rooms. About and hour or so later the walkers arrived!

After drinks in the pub and showers and clothing changes, Mom, Sandra and I walked back down to the Summer House and Telford bridge. Soon, we will be having dinner and heading off to bed – looking forward to another great day!

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