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East Highland Way Part 1
by icemandan » Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:23 pm
Route description: East Highland Way
Date walked: 02/06/2012
Time taken: 3 days
Distance: 60 km5 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Inspired by finishing the West Highland Way last September and Walkaboot's soup odessey, we decided to carry on by following this one. Fiona doesn't do very long days so the logical thing was to walk as far as Moy, cutting the long Loch Laggan day in half. We did it by taking a push bike and using the send Dan back for the car technique. So I've seen quite a lot of the A86.
The walk starts at the West Highland Way end point. It was our anniversary on the Friday night and we had dinner in the Crannog, doing the very short stretch from the start to the Distillery Guest House on the way back!.
Day one goes from the Fort to Spean Bridge and the sight and sound of the A82 are never very far away. A dull trudge out of town along the main road was alleviated by Inverlochy Castle.
Despite hundreds of visits to the Fort, I'd never been here before. The remains are quite substantial and the interpretation materials good. As a kid, I always used to picture medieval people strolling amid the lush daisy strewn lawns that ruins are always set in. I suspect that the reality of 1000 people being besieged in there was a little different. I don't even want to imagine the toilet arrangements - almost as bad as Glastonbury.
You also get a look at the Jacobite steam train next to the Castle. Incidentally I'd advise anyone else doing this walk to take the cycle route out of Fort William which goes through the Inverlochy estate, through fields behind the train depot to the Castle and coming out onto the Mallaig roundabout. This cuts out a dull section of road walking.
The gorse was in bloom as we set off along the cycle track to Torlundy. The traffic was still not far away and a large squadron of motorbikers, mysteriously wearing pink tutus, zoomed past. Views of Ben Nevis compensated for the noise.
We stopped for lunch at the farm shop and forest track widened to a logging track before emerging into pastoral fields with highland cows and narrowing back down to the old military road. The detour up the hill on the way into Spean Bridge is well worth it. You escape the road noise and there are some attractive narrow tracks through the forest.
The best bit of the walk was the bit from Spean Bridge to Achluachrach which has varied scenery, ancient woodland, secluded farms and wide views. Laden down with a full Scottish breakfast we set off back into the woods, then along a winding road which became a farm track through the woods.
It wound gradually up the hill and a side trip up to the old Loch Trieg tramway gave fine views of Glen Spean
and the woods around the Monessie Gorge.
We dropped down to the gorge (a highlight) and crossed over
for tea on the lawn at the Spean Lodge hotel - beats soggy sandwiches behind a windswept rock!.
The church behind Achluachrach is well worth a look and in a fantastic spot. I have to admit that we went back in the car to look at it in the evening but I thought the pic was worth putting in.
Back on the other side of the river things went downhill a bit. The way led into a conifer plantation, initially along a semi-abandoned track which gave a protracted section of fallen tree steeplechase. This then became a huge scar of a logging road which came out into a huge clear-felled area. The top of the hill gave us a view of hills to the east.
And the Laggan Dam - possibly Scotland's least beautiful Listed Building.
A long section of road walking took us to the Tulloch station bunkhouse and a very filling, but slightly surreal supper of salmon and beetroot.
The road to Fersit seemed a lot more inviting today as it wound down over the Inverlair Gorge
Through woods and fields
and past the former SOE base at Inverlair House which still has a slightly sinister atmosphere.
and past a jewel of a perfect mirror-calm Lochan.
The rest of Day three was a bit of a let down after that with another six miles of forestry track alternating dense plantations with clear felled areas. Hope the rest of the Laggan section is better.
by walk aboot » Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:55 am
I hope you had the walk/cycle pretty much to yourselves as much as I did.
I haven't been to the Crannog restaurant yet but it's on my list of things to do (hope they do cullen skink - soup, soup, and more soup! ).
by icemandan » Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:07 pm
It was a beautiful walk although I'm expecting better things from the next bit of the Loch Laggan section.
It was pretty quiet although we met some people with big sacks at the Castle who turned out to be a party of New Zealanders also walking the EHW. We met them at various points along the way including at the Tulloch bunkhouse beetroot eating festival.
I found the guidebook a bit odd. It described the route in minute detail and you hardly needed a map but observations such as 'You may notice that you are following an electricity transmission line' and 'unusually this forest track has three grooves rather than two' do not really stir the soul or do justice to the scenery!
I can thoroughly recommend the cullen skink, and everything else, at the Crannog although it's a special occasion sort of place. At least my budget won't stretch to going there very often!
by walk aboot » Wed Jun 13, 2012 10:29 pm
I must admit I hadnt heard of this walk until walkaboot did her report but it seems to be more well known these days. Something special about walking through Glen Spean and passing the Ben, might look into doing this one of these days, cheers
by icemandan » Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:36 pm
funnily enough I had beetroot (in cheese sauce?!
Perhaps they could change their name to the Wee Purple Bunkhouse....
by cerebus » Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:41 am
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by icemandan » Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:07 pm
I'm glad to know that Loch Laggan is good and thanks for the tip about Pattack Falls - It will be nice to get out of the forest. We'll probably do Part 2 next year.
by Buggiba » Sat Aug 04, 2012 8:14 pm
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by icemandan » Tue Aug 07, 2012 8:40 pm