Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The Great Glen - We paddled on........

After a great nights kip and a hearty breakfast we said farewell to our hosts and were on the water heading south by 8.30am.

Winds were very light and the Loch was calm.

As we headed down Loch Ness we passed the mouth of the River Morriston and, noting that it being Tuesday it would be running, a discussion ensued about a possible diversion. It was concluded that the boats were probably too long to make it around the first fall below the dam and in any case it was a hell of a long way up the road to the put in. We paddled on . . . .

After about 3 hours we reached Fort Augustus and having portaged the locks had a well earned breather in the sun.

From there we pushed on down the canal proper passing the locks at Kytra and Cullochy before entering Loch Oich. This proved to be a very beautiful loch when seen from the water, particularly on a sunny and calm day, and we made the most of our passage down it.

We passed the mouth of the River Garry but it didn't appear to be releasing so we paddled on . . .

At the far end we reached the lock at Laggan and stopped again for an early evening meal before embarking on the next stage down Loch Lochy.

We dined on that rare Scottish delicacy tinned haggis and rice. Aware that we still had a long way to go we decided that big portions were required although with hind sight portion sizes 5 times the recommended adult serving might have been overdoing it. That said one member of the team still managed to finish his off and secure the Porker of the Week award. We'll leave you to guess who.

The wind was very light still and as we departed a group of youngsters from Loch Eil on an open boating trip were busy setting up camp and preparing to sacrifice themselves to the Laggan midge swarm.

As we entered Loch Lochy there wasn't a breath of wind and the water was like a mirror reflecting the hills either side of us as our bows each ploughed their own furrow through the glassy surface. However as we entered the shadow of Meall Odhar a squall forced its way down the hillside and pushed a W F3-4 across the previously still loch kicking up little white caps and making us work against the wind. As soon as we cleared the shadow of the hill the wind died again.

A little further down we passed the mouth of the Gloy. A lovely little run but needs water, while across the bay we noticed the Arkaig but concluded that it was too far away for such a short run. We paddled on . . .

At about 6pm the silence was shattered for the third time that day by yet another pair of RAF Tornados as they practiced their low level flying down the glen. Fortunately this was to be the last bombing run of the shift.

As we reached Gairlochy the wind suddenly picked up to a bitterly cold NE F4 which helped to hasten our getting the tent up and some fresh clothes on before sorting out supper.

Distance travelled today: 52km
Total distance travelled: 662km
Midgee ferrocity: 1/5 am. Nil pm but close shave at Laggan.


After a crow free nights kip we woke just before 6am and were pleased to discover that the tent was still in one piece. The night before we had returned from a trip into Rosemarkie to discover that another pole had broken and we now had a ridge tent. After a bit of fiddling with the tensioning straps we managed to improve the shape a bit but it was less than ideal.

We were on the water by 7.45am and headed into Inverness in glorious sunshine while all around the and was shrouded in rain. As we passed under the Kessock Bridge the flooding tide picked up pace and whisked us rapidly to the Muirtown basin and the start of the Caledonian Canal.

There we were met by our resupply team armed with a box of food that we had left with them some weeks before plus two Karitek portage trolleys and some now much needed replacement tent poles that Vango had been able to supply at short notice.

The trolleys worked really well and we were soon at the top of the flight of locks and busy packing fresh supplies into the boats.

It was also a good opportunity to catch up with a number of friends from Inverness who had come along to the basin to see us.

The trip along the canal to the head of Loch Ness was fantastic in the warm sunshine with a light NE breeze and it was great to be on fresh water and surrounded by greenery.

At Dochgarroch we hauled out to pass the lock there and stopped for a breather.

From there it was a short haul to the head of Loch Ness.

The views down the Loch were superb as we emerged from the canal. Seeing it from the water is definitely the way to go.

As we pushed on down the Loch towards Foyers an afternoon breeze sprang up helping to push is along.

We landed at Foyers early in the evening and contacted Tony's cousin Alan who had very kindly invited us round for a bite to eat.
Not only that but Alan and his wife Winifred invited us to stay the night in comfort rather than returning to the beach. And just to top it all Alan was able to provide us with a junior hacksaw to cut the pole sections provided by Vango to size so the we now had a comlete tent again. Brilliant!

All in all a great day and one where we owe a debt of thanks to a number of people. Our friends in Inverness for taking the time to come and see is and to wish us well; Val and George from Carrbridge for their help with the resupply; Geoff and Ann from Karitek for the loan of the two portage trolleys which have proved in valuable; Vango for sorting out replacement poles without which we would be pretty stuffed right now and Gavins wife Margarete for going and getting them; and last but not least Winifred and Alan from Foyers for their wonderful hospitality.

Distance travelled today: 45km
Total distance travelled: 610km
Midgee ferrocity: nil