Wednesday, 18 May 2016
TGO Challenge 2016 - Day 5 - Lovat Bridge to Inverness (Silverstrands Guest House - NH 672 449 - 20 metres)
Route: more or less as planned
Distance: 26 km (Cum: 105)
Ascent: 600 metres (Cum: 3800)
Time taken: 8.25 hrs including breaks
Weather: sunny morning, drizzly afternoon
We woke to the sounds of garrulous crows.
Later, much later, we woke to discover Anthony Driscoll parked nearby in his Akto. He said he hadn't arrived late, but it must have been after we commenced one of our Challenge 'Big Sleeps'. I sleep best in a tent, and apart from the crow interlude, last night was a good example.
We got going at 8.45, along a cycle track next to a busy road. Then a short section with no pavement that our vetter had warned us about, but an adequate grass verge saw us without incident onto some quiet side roads.
Anthony passed us and continued on towards Moniack Castle whilst we turned up a hill to reach the forest walks in the Moniack valley. They are delightful. The tallest tree in Britain is here, as well as numerous other interesting specimens. Unfortunately we were there too early for the orchids.
A quiet road took us onwards, with improving views of Ben Wyvis that had earlier been blanketed in cloud. Just as well it was quiet as a Mitsubishi truck seemingly being driven by a two year old passed us!
Then it was on up to our high spot of the day, An Leacainn - 'Hill of the Flagstones' (414 metres) with wide ranging views despite deteriorating weather. On the way up I made the same navigation error as on a previous visit, missing a left turn. This time I soon realised and we retraced to a spot where the path ascends through a forest of gorse before levelling into a land of bog.
The lumpy path down from An Leacainn is hard to find, not that it really matters, as you can't miss the Great Glen Way when you reach it.
Turning left along this walking/cycling route, we soon found a bench on which to enjoy our customary lavish lunch of tinned mackerel and oatcakes above a house that was flying the Scottish flag at half mast. Soon afterwards we lost our views in the forest and it started to drizzle, slowly getting heavier as we continued towards Inverness.
We chatted for a while with a French Belgian cyclist who was completing the Great Glen Way on a wreck of a bike. He'd had to whittle a piece of wood to keep it intact.
Bracket fungi and wood sorrel were abundant as we proceeded steadily along the ancient drovers road that has been resuscitated to form this section of the Great Glen Way.
The sad sight of the wreck of an old hospital was soon followed by the eco friendly monstrosity of Great Glen House, home of Scottish National Heritage. Then a descent to cross the Caledonian Canal and the River Ness drew us ever closer to our destination, where Kenny was very apologetic about having opened our supply parcel.
"I thought it was Christmas" he said, "until I looked at the back and saw your name."
Later, the nearby Redcliffe Hotel saw to the needs of our stomachs with a really excellent meal.
Slideshow for the Day
Click on the first image, then click 'slideshow'.
Next Day - Day 6