Day 12: Fort Augustus to Laggan – 11.4 miles
Not sure whether I misheard my sister (who had been looking up distances Vs accommodation for me the day before whilst I walked with no wifi) or whether it was wishful thinking. But I started today with the assumption that I had a “day off” with just 6 miles to walk until my next stop. And although I’d been lucky the last two nights, finding cancelled backpacker beds at the last minute, I knew my luck would eventually run out. So for only the second time this trip, I pre-booked somewhere to stay for tonight. The Great Glen Hostel in Laggan. Easy… like Sunday morning 😊
I therefore really did have time to kill this morning, so caught up on my admin and enjoyed another large breakfast buffet at the hostel, setting off about 11am. As the hostel was on the outskirts of town, I hadn’t seen any of it walking in last night so was pleasantly surprised when I came across the pretty Fort Augustus village. Where Loch Ness finishes there is a series of locks running right across the centre of town ending in the Caledonian Canal which heads off south. This picture postcard setting was then complete with tourists, boats, cafes and a large Loch-Ness monster metal sculpture.
It was also here that I discovered the signpost, marking the the Great Glen Way. A single track that links Inverness with Fort William, which in fact I could have picked up from Drumnadrochit the day before and not had to walk the main road beside Loch Ness. Oops never mind, at least I’ve finally caught up. And what a revelation it was to finally be able to be free of the traffic, just to follow this peaceful track south alongside the beautiful canal, and then into a wooded area as the canal finally opened up into Loch Lochie (great name!) and Loch Oich.
With the spring in my step slowing down at every turn, I started to realise that I’d been walking way longer than 6 miles… as that final stretch seemed to go on and on for ever. By now I just wanted to get to the hostel, check-in, then go in search of a roast dinner! Finally arriving at the hostel at 3pm, I was just about ready to flop however a sign on reception confirmed that no one would be back until 5pm so “make myself at home”. The Great Glen Hostel actually turned out to be one of the most lifeless, loneliest, smelliest hostels I have ever stayed in, so even on a good day this is the farthest from home you could possibly get! Not sure if it was my empty surroundings, the fact that I was by now cold, tired, a little lonely (and roast dinner-less!) or maybe knowing that everyone was finishing off their sunny weekend in the South East or the Mediterranean. But a gloom had suddenly descended as quickly as the now heavy rain clouds outside.
Anyway I tried to take my mind of my dreary mood and use the time wisely to book accommodation for my mum and sister for when they arrive in just 3 days time. Unfortunately it didn’t work… Breaking only to heat up my uninspiring microwave meal (the only hot option on offer at the hostel) I spent the next 5 hours searching every single website I’ve ever heard of, and others that I hadn’t, starting with a triple room for 4 nights… reducing that to simply one double room for one night – anywhere between Glasgow and Fort William. Sadly it would appear that the world and his family are holiday in the Scottish highlands this week and literally everything (under £300 a night!) was fully booked. I hate to be beaten but eventually had to give up, enduring a restless night, wondering whether the 3 of us would indeed have to sleep in the hire car?