TGO Challenge 2015 Day 5 Drumnadrochit to Inverness

Day 5
These next two days are the tough ones, not because they are long, which they are, but because they are not going east. In order to get us up to the north coast of Scotland we now need to turn north from Drumnadrochkit and spend almost two days walking north, in essence wasting time from getting to the east coast. In a normal Challenge we would continue to head east and this would allow us a day off in the last week where we could just sit all day and rest up, but with this transition we have no days off for the entire fourteen days and have to keep moving to get to the east coast on time. In addition when you head west to east the scenery changes daily, going north we will have sort of the same scenery for two days. Today as you can see from the elevation profile below there is a big climb coming out of Drumnadrochit and then another climb which is slow and steady to the highest point on the Great Glen Way trail we will be on all day today. 

Breakfast was great with a change of pace from the traditional Scottish breakfast we have had everyday, we had french toast today. The view was better as well. If you compare this view to the one yesterday with the rainbow you can see they are the same except now you can actually see Loch Ness as opposed it being complete obscured.

The advantage of being out of town at our B&B was that it is in the direction we are going, so we only had to walk a quarter of a mile to get back on the trail. Below you can see Urguhart Castle. We had last seen the castle some 23 years ago. 

Today is going to be spent entirely on the Great Glen Way. This is one of Scotland established scenic trails
The trail is 80 miles from Ft William to Inverness. The trail was dedicated in 2002. Today we are doing the last and considered the "hardest" section from Drum to Inverness (17 miles) 
The first section coming out of Drum is through a beautiful pine forest. "We are off to see the wizard"

Panorama shot of Loch Ness from an overlook on the GGW
After the short steep climb and then the gradual climb you reach the highest point on the GGW and the marker that signifies it.

This section of the GGW is forest walking, then some open water shed area with no trees and then some mixed use area. There is a forest called Abriachan and it is owned by a rather wild couple that have a home in the middle. As it was explained to us, after they bought the land they couldn't keep the trail from being placed on their property so they have opened a kind of campground/cafe. Not really more than a shack but they advertise it all up and down the forest track on their property and if you go up they will make you a hot drink and give you some biscuits (cookies) 
It's not cheap! but we had to go up and sit down and have some hot chocolate and get the whole story about the history of the property.

Vicky taking a break on the "veranda" of the cafe

While we were waiting for our hot drinks we got visited by the local chickens that roam free. There are also a few pigs on the property somewhere- thankfully we didn't run into them. However the chicken did manage to steal one of Vicky's shortbread biscuits right off the top of the table.
It had been cold and raining off and on all day. We started in better weather, but the wind kept it very chilly all day.

After our rest and hot drinks we carried on toward Inverness. Along the way we ran into Willem Fox and his hiking partner sitting along the side of the road and taking a break. Willem and I are facebook friends and he is from the Netherlands. He had been very supportive of Vicky and her knee injury last year and it is so amazing that you can just run across people you know out in the middle of nowhere on the challenge. We chatted and walked for awhile, they were going into Inverness as well but taking the lower route along the Caledonia canal while we were staying on the more official route of the GGW.
After we parted with Willem and his partner at Blackfold. We entered a very long section of forest. Part of this forest have been heavily logged but regardless of the circumstances there was a rock wall accompanying us for the entire length of the forest walk. I have marveled at the time and effort it must have taken to make a rock wall 4-5 miles in length and I am sure longer as we were only walking on one side of the forest track.

The sun again appeared as Inverness came into view from above. A pretty little pond greats you as you come out of the forest and walk along a ridge where you can see the city below.
Ridge path lined with Gorse

Coming into the city you drop down to walk along the Caledonia Canal and the River Ness
The water was high and of course it started to rain again.

The Great Glen Way ends (starts) at Inverness Castle in the middle of downtown Inverness, so we still had some 3.5 miles to walk after we saw Inverness on the hill for the first time. I know this is the part Vicky likes the least! We have arrived at the end of the day, but the day seems to go on forever....

But eventually we did make it to our lodging for the night. The Craigside Lodge. This was an expensive option for a night's stay (not as expensive as the Tomich Hotel) but we could have stayed just across the street at the hiker hostel. I think we did appreciate the private room and not having to share a bathroom... This B&B is also owned by a Scottish Olympic Curling champion
The view from our bedroom window of Inverness Castle. Not bad neighbors, but they keep all the lights on at night! 

I still needed to go out and shop for groceries for the next 2 days and while I was out running around town (we had found a grocery store very near the rail station and the B&B when we stopped in Iverness while going to Dornie a week ago, but that store closed at 6 pm and I arrived at the door at 6:05, so I had to find an alternative, fortunately there was a Co-Op in town) I stopped and picked up fish and chips as a take out on my way back.

17 miles today in less than perfect weather and we arrived by 5:30 pm. (8.5 hours/2 mph overall including our long break at the eco forest cafe) The scenery today was good in spots but mostly bleak due to the weather and some road walking between forests. Inverness is a really lovely town and it looks like it would be more fun to explore further some day.


  1. Another successful day with great shots of all the trail! The people seem to be most friendly at all the places you stop. When you say that the hotel is rather expensive, what do you mean? How are the prices in Scotland compared to say, a hotel in this country of the same style? Keep the narratives coming---we're still loving to follow you along.

    1. US dollars are only worth about 2/3rd's that of the British (Scottish) pound. So a $100 dollar room would be 65 pounds. Most of the B&B's where 85 pounds ($142) per night and the Tomich Hotel was 100 pounds ($167) per night. The Link Hotel which we will stay in the last two nights was 145 pounds ($242) per night. This also does includes breakfast each day.

  2. Yes. The GGW is a bit of a trudge...
    Well trudged!

  3. How disappointing to find the grocery store was closed! I would have cried. Way to come up with plan B!


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