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Rucksack Readers => Great Glen Way, Fort William to Inverness, Scotland => Topic started by: Buggiba on June 19, 2011, 08:36:05 am

Title: Great Glen Way 2012
Post by: Buggiba on June 19, 2011, 08:36:05 am
Having completed the West Highland Way in May 2011 (for the second time) I am now contemplating my first attempt at the Great Glen Way in April 2012. By the time this comes around I will be approaching my 60th birthday. As yet I am planning this as a solo event and will be travelling from the West Midlands to Fort William to commence the walk. Is there anyone out there in 'Walking Land' who would care to join me? Dates are flexible at the moment and I intend to take 5 full days to complete it, staying at youth hostels and the Loch Ness Backpackers. Any info on bag-carrying services would be welcome. Any takers??

Title: Re: Great Glen Way 2012
Post by: Jacquetta on October 15, 2011, 03:58:48 pm
Buggiba: sorry, I missed this post. If you are looking for baggage transfer, please follows this link ( Walking solo could lead to more encounters and new friendships, and five days is a sensible itinerary to have time to look around.  Good luck and enjoy! :D

Title: Re: Great Glen Way 2012
Post by: Buggiba on October 17, 2011, 03:10:43 pm
Thanks Jacquetta, I have e-mailed one of your links and await a response. Plans are well advanced for this walk and, to date, I am anticipating at  least 3 walking companions. ;D

Title: Re: Great Glen Way 2012
Post by: Mason on January 30, 2012, 03:37:02 pm
I am going from Inverness South during Easter 2012. I'll be 45 on Easter eve and celebrate in a a tent in solitude. Stop by for a coffee! :) If I have enough stamina, I'll do the WHW from FW and be off from work 14 days.

Title: Re: Great Glen Way 2012
Post by: Buggiba on February 01, 2012, 07:21:34 pm
Our dates and accommodation are now booked. Three of us leave from the West Midlands on Easter Monday, April 9 and travel to Fort William. We have 2 nights reservations in the Ben Nevis Inn. We intend, weather permitting, to ascend Ben Nevis on the Tuesday before returning to the bunkhouse at the Ben Nevis Inn. Wednesday morning we plan to set off about 6am and walk the 24 miles to the Youth Hostel at South Laggan. The next day sees us attempting another 24-mile walk to the hostel at Alltsigh. Friday is a short 10-miler to Drumnadrochit, overnight at the Loch Ness Backpackers. The Saturday should be a 'swift' 20 miles into Inverness before catching the bus back to Fort William. After overnighting in the Fort William Backpackers it's the long car journey south once more. Looking forward to it. Here's hoping for a pleasant April week in the Highlands. ;D

Title: Re: Great Glen Way 2012
Post by: Mason on February 06, 2012, 01:26:13 pm
Hooray! My vacation is cleared! Leaving the last weekend of March having until April 14 to walk from Inverness to Milngaive.

This time i will not push myself so hard. I'll try to keep it under 30 km per day and make camp earlier in the evenings. I don't think midges will be a problem at this time of the year, but now I am bringing cooking gear, and because of that I wonder if you have any ideas on good food to bring? I am thinking about rice and mashed potato powder. I don't care too much about tasty food, as long as it contains a lot of energy. Any ideas welcome.

Title: Re: Great Glen Way 2012
Post by: Buggiba on April 08, 2012, 01:54:37 pm
At last the time is here. Set off tomorrow to drive the 430 miles from Birmingham to Fort William. Having a look at Ben Nevis on Tuesday but don't expect to get too far, judging by the weather in this part of the world last week. If all else fails we will take a look at Cow Hill.

Setting off on the GGW on Wednesday morning and hoping to finish at Inverness on Saturday. The three of us are looking at doing it in 4 days, not expecting great weather. I will post again upon our return.

Title: Re: Great Glen Way 2012
Post by: Jacquetta on April 11, 2012, 01:24:08 pm
Greetings Buggiba: I can't wait to hear how the 4-day itinerary worked out.  We recommend 5 or 6 days in our guidebook but I realise that for some that may seem too slow.

It would help if we knew for sure how long the route is: the official figure for years was 73 km/117 km but then last year they did a trundle-wheel exercise and said that for sure it was 78.9 miles/127 km which is 8.5% longer. ???  The LDWA say that trundle-wheel measurement is notoriously likely to exaggerate and still quote 73 miles/117 km. :-\ The Footprint people say it's 77 miles and they have mileage blobs that seem to support that. How long did it feel when squeezed into four days? :o

We posted on this topic a while back (,1134.0.html) but there has been no official update.

Title: Re: Great Glen Way 2012
Post by: Buggiba on April 15, 2012, 09:59:13 pm
Greetings Jacquetta, home today from our 4 day assault on the GGW. Before going into detail I must make special mention of George Simpson and his Great Glen Baggage Shuttle Service ( you recommended. Exemplary service and, at £55 for the 4 days, worth every penny. He appears to be incredibly well-connected wherever we went on the route and our thanks go out to him :).

Now to the trek. Three of us left in the morning of Easter Monday (09/04/12) to drive to Fort William. Got on the road about 0745 hours and arrived, after a couple of stops, about 1500 hours. As I was in charge of the arrangements I had booked us 2 nights in the bunkhouse underneath the Ben Nevis Inn at Achintee. We planned to attempt to climb Ben Nevis the next day (Tuesday).
Woke early on the Tuesday to find that it was raining (no surprise there!) Went back to bed for a couple of hours to find the rain had cleared. On closer investigation it transpired that the rain we had had was hard, slippery and white up on the mountains! Anyway, back to the GGW.

Day 1 - Drove into Fort William, parked up and set off to find the start of the walk. Actually started walking at 0655 hours intending to overnight at the Youth Hostel at South Laggan. The day started dry and fine and we made good time. Neptune's Staircase came up in quick time and then it was along the Caledonian Canal. Just approaching Moy Swing Bridge we encountered a family on a motor launch, moored up. Being of a cheeky nature we asked if they had any bacon sandwiches prepared!! Rather than reacting with annoyance, the 'captain' John left the boat to present each of us with a glass of malt whisky! Carrying on past Gairlochy the Way got tougher with several inclines and downhills which were unexpected. The weather also took a turn for the worse and rain set in. This turned to hail while we had a 30-minute delay at the logging site, waiting for the transporter to be loaded. The 'detour' had been abandoned as too dangerous!! We arrived, still in heavy rain, at the Eagle Barge Inn, at Laggan Locks, only to be met again by John, the boat captain from earlier. A pleasant hour was passed while we waited for the rain to abate. We then made our way the last mile to the youth hostel at South Laggan, arriving at 1850 hours. The Footprint map has it at 23 miles and it felt like it.

Day 2 - Up at 0500 hours and walking at 0620. Dry but misty. We followed the old railway in a pleasant, but ghostly walk, along Loch Oich. An easy section up to Oich Bridge. On rejoining the canal we got in to conversation with another John who is the lock-keeper at Cullochy Lock. We enjoyed a pleasant 20-minute walk with him as the weather brightened and the sun came out. Lunch was enjoyed at Fort Augustus, sitting by the canal. We then pressed on to Invermoriston, a quite hilly and at times arduous walk. After a quick cuppa at the Glenmoriston Arms we took on the very steep climb behind the hotel en route for the last 4 miles to the youth hostel at Alltsigh. These last 4 miles felt more like 7 and, to make matters worse, there is no sign on the Way for the youth hostel: we walked nearly a mile past before retracing our steps :o. A long day of about 25 miles was completed at 1635 hours.

Day 3 - A short day of about 10 miles. Up at 0700 and a leisurely breakfast before leaving at 0910 for Drumnadrochit. A gruelling walk nevertheless and we were all glad to arrive at the Loch Ness Backpackers, at West Lewiston, at 1330 hours. Felt more like 12 miles than 10. At least it had been mostly dry!

Day 4 - This was it: the last day. We had seats booked on the 1645 hours bus from Inverness back to Fort William. With this in mind we were out of bed at 0430 hours and walking at 0540, with some 20 miles to cover. Some serious climbs on this stretch just after leaving Drumnadrochit, made even more unpleasant by a steep diversion. A long haul up to the cairn by Corryfoyness Cottage, feet really beginning to hurt by now and blisters really complaining. Arrived at the 'eco' cafe at Abriachan. What an experience: no chairs, no tables and not much roof. 2 pigs, 4 dogs and more hens than I could count. The fare, however, was excellent. Bacon baps, hot chocolate and tea. Smashing.

All pretty level walking now, albeit in snow and hail, with a long slog until Inverness came in to view. Then the crippler! A sign at the top of the hill - Inverness Castle 4 miles!! We were in Inverness and the end was still 4 miles away - gutted :(. This last stretch was soul-destroying :'(. It began to snow heavily and the steep downhill was extremely painful on the feet. Some of the waymarkers had been removed but, thanks to the Rucksack Reader, navigation was swiftly sorted.

We eventually walked up to the castle at 3.15pm. Hooray. This had felt like another 25-mile day, but was probably about 21.
The trip was made successful by the cameraderie of my walking companions and humour was never far away in spite of the long days and, on occasions, too little sleep. We caught the bus as scheduled and arrived back at Fort William within 2 hours. All of the travel arrangements had been spot on. The accommodation was superb throughout and the luggage collection and delivery faultless.

Would I try to do it in 4 days again? Probably not ;D

Title: Re: Great Glen Way 2012
Post by: sandrahal on May 02, 2012, 11:29:28 am
I'd like to add my two bob's worth to the discussion, having done the GGW a few years ago in four days - as the guidebook ( author.

From memory, my daily sections were the same as yours and the impression is, at this distance, of reasonably good weather, but then since I was doing it from home (Drumnadrochit) I didn't have to go out if the weather was awful.  However, I know for sure that dawn starts were not on the agenda, nor were twilight finishes.  On the other hand, I was walking solo and better able to make good time.

However, I'm torn between admiring your determination to keep going despite the weather and blisters, and feeling disappointed that you raced through and didn't have time to linger anywhere, not even in Inverness to savour the experience at the end.
I do hope that when you're next planning a long distance walk, you make sure you have at least as much time as that recommended by RR, plus a day or two, and so don't feel compelled to press on regardless.
Good walking

Title: Re: Great Glen Way 2012
Post by: Buggiba on May 04, 2012, 10:00:24 pm
I suppose that I have been spoiled, but the first time I saw Inverness was in August 1970. My lasting memory was of a place brought to a standstill on a Sunday teatime as an all-female pipe band marched through the main shopping area, kilts swirling – magnificent and eerie.

I have visited Inverness many times since but, regrettably, my 2 travelling companions had never been. They admit to being less than impressed with the city with the brief glimpse that they had en route to the bus station, but this is probably unfair. Hopefully we will have further opportunities to experience the delights of this lovely place in the not-too-distant future.

Title: Re: Great Glen Way 2012
Post by: Jacquetta on May 05, 2012, 06:36:40 am
It's good to hear that you have feelings for Inverness, Buggiba. Given your footsore arrival at its castle and "a brief glimpse ... en route to the bus station", it's hardly surprising that your companions had no chance to develop any liking for the place. As you say, it was hardly a fair sample. :(

Personally I hate walking to a deadline and although I wouldn't have minded your early starts, I wouldn't recommend your schedule to anybody. I suspect there was an atmosphere of challenge about the whole expedition – you describe it as a "4-day assault" – and maybe you had extreme pressures that forced you to restrict it to four days or maybe you were all enjoying the challenge. For most walkers I still think five days is a sensible minimum.

To avoid repetition, anybody interested in various options for splitting the route over 4 to 7 days should read this post (,274.msg6276.html#msg6276) and note its point about overall length.

Title: Re: Great Glen Way 2012
Post by: Buggiba on May 05, 2012, 09:31:20 pm
The need for speed was that the first bus back to Fort William from Inverness on a Sunday was at 1245pm, not arriving until close on 3pm and followed by a 6 hour drive home. As 2 of us had to be back at work on the Monday, this was considered too much. A bus at about 8 or 9am would have meant us staying overnight in Inverness, a much more preferable option. As you say this was a challenge but the places chosen for accommodation were excellent and tremendous value for money. Only the last day was time constrained but the early starts were a bonus. On our second day we encountered 4 ladies who were just breaking camp at about 7.30am. They were amazed that we were out that early but they were taking 6 days over the route. Each to their own, I suppose, but the feeling of achievement was no less satisfying :P