Waking up and crossing the Lewiston Bridge into Drumnadrochit was a bit surreal. The town is very pretty, and I was relieved to be able to stock up on Nurofen Plus and Compeed (My feet were in tatters by this point!). A quick cup of tea in Nessieland (yeah, it really is that bad, but I needed somewhere to sit and re-compeed my toes!) and then we were off. Inverness or bust.
p.s. …a word of warning about KEDS
Though many people do this 20 mile walk in one day, I suspect that it is because there is nowhere for B&B / Hostel hikers to stay between Drum and Inverness. There is, as the video says, a campsite half way, but we were sure we could make it. (And I soooo needed a shower!) The main problem with doing the day is the ascent! It is the largest ascent of the entire Great Glen Way, with 1669 feet of ascent, most of it between mile 3 and mile 6. It’s a killer on your last day.
Having said that, there are no multiple ascents, so once you’re up, you’re up, and then it’s a nice rolling descent to Inverness Castle. After the climb up through woodlands, it’s pretty much a straight shot through forest tracks, and over peaty moorland, with some nice views. You’ll see the last of Loch Ness at the top of the climb, as you turn inland.
At what is roughly the half way point, there is a ‘proper’ water source, which is a tap by a fence – on the left hand side. Also at this point you’ll start to see hand-painted signs saying things like:
“Beans on Toast” and “Bovril”
Seriously. These continue until you reach a cafe and campsite, which I can only imagine is run by elves, or at least hippies. We pushed on, eventually coming out on a road, which led us like a a ribbon over the landscape towards our last woodland.
I have to confess I felt a bit like Bilbo at Mirkwood. No way around. Just gotta go through it. THREE. MILES. The scenery didn’t change, just trees on one side, drystone wall on the other, and I’ve no doubt that if I’d been in less pain I’d have enjoyed this part more, as it was really beautiful. But the lack of change in the landscape (and the Keds) really dragged the morale down as we had no idea what progress (if any) we were making. It was like being on a really mossy treadmill.
But eventually we came out from under Mirkwood and there was a small pool to our left, and Inverness in the valley to our right. We thought ‘We are almost there!’ until we came across a very helpful sign letting us know that Inverness Castle was still four miles hence. Ho hum, the end was in sight, and we pushed on, digging deep and popping nurofen every 4 hours like clockwork. Over the fairy-lit islands and up towards the castle, glowing on the hill. Our penultimate half mile was accompanied by a friendly guy and his dog who came up and said “Hey have you guys just finished the Great Glen Way?”. We replied and his subsequent praise and admiration was a much-needed final boost to push us up the hill to the castle! Naturally, the photos were a bit rubbish at night, so we climbed back up again in the morning to take our End-Of-Walk-Selfie!