Today we christened our bikes by going for a 15-kilometre ride along part of The Great Glen Way (117 kilometres of cycle and walking path that goes from coast to coast across the Highlands between Fort William and Inverness) which runs alongside the Caledonian Canal. We started at Neptune’s Staircase where the locks are situated. On the way we saw boats going up and down Loch Lochy and a stand-up paddle boarder. It was a great towpath to take for our first outing as there are only cyclists and walkers to deal with. The scenery along here is stunning.
Next, we visited Glenfinnan Monument and Visitor Centre and Museum. Glenfinnan monument marks where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his Highland army. The monument is a tall column topped by a statue of a kilted highlander and was erected in 1815 on the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard (flag) and rallied the Jacobite clans in 1745 marking the start of his ill-fated campaign which ended 16 months later at Culloden. The north end of Loch Sheil where he sailed into is very picturesque.
The Visitor Centre Museum recounts the story of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745 when Bonnie Prince Charlie’s loyal clansmen marched and fought their way from Glenfinnan to Derby and back north to their final defeat at Culloden. It has excellent displays which detail the history of this event and a 7-minute audio explaining the events which took place.
This area is also a pilgrimage for steam train enthusiasts and Harry Potter fans. A short distance from the Visitor Centre is a path which leads to the famous viaduct, the same one we passed over on a steam train a few weeks ago. Today we were two of the people sitting on the hill waiting for the train to pass so we could capture the same moment that was portrayed in the Harry Potter movie. I think seeing the train pass along the viaduct had more of an effect on me than being in the train as it passed over.
We then drove to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula which lies due west of Fort William and camped on a layby along the road overlooking the Sound of Arisaig for the night. The view of the islands Eigg and Muck from here is magnificent and the noise of the waves crashing onto the rocks is very peaceful. This is the view from our campsite at 10 pm tonight as the sun sank below the island of Eigg.