Our drive today was along the scenic route from Inverness to Fort Augustus passing Beauly, Cannich and Drumnadrochit where we stopped at the visitor centre and picked up a map of walks in the Great Glen area. We decided to walk the Craigmonie Trail which is 2 ½ miles with the following description: rated strenuous has long steep slopes for up to 600m, uneven earth and grass paths with rough, narrow and muddy sections and exposed tree roots but after conquering Gros Morne (16km and rated extreme) last year, we thought we would give it a go. At the beginning of the trail are two towering redwoods planted over 200 years ago. It is a pleasant walk through pine woods to a dramatic lookout over Urquhart Bay.
Next, we visited Urquhart Castle perched on the banks of Loch Ness guarding the Great Glen that runs 73 miles from coast to coast. In the visitor centre we watched a short film charting the history of Urquhart from St Columba’s visit in the 6th century to the castle’s final abandonment in1692 before heading outside to explore the castle ruins. The castle was repeatedly sacked and rebuilt over the centuries and in 1692 was blown up to prevent the Jacobites from using it. The five-storey tower house is the most impressive remaining fragment and the views from this tower are magnificent. Historic Scotland organisation who administer this site have done a great job in restoring the area with walkways and detailed interpretive panels explaining each area of the remains. It is a fantastic site to visit and it was free with our Historic Scotland membership.
Continuing along the scenic route we stopped at Invermoriston to see another of Telford’s designs the Invermoriston Bridge built in 1813. He certainly was a genius of his time.
Next stop was Fort August where it is bisected by the Caledonian Canal where 5 consecutive locks are in place for boats. As we were there 4 boats were going to Loch Linne, Fort William and 2 were going in the opposite direction to Moray Firth, near Inverness. There were people everywhere watching the spectacle, including us.
Continuing we drove to Fort William for the night at the same place we stayed at the base of Ben Nevis.