Invergarry Castle and a loop hike at Loch Lochy

  Friday, September 30, 2016 / Mark S / Exploration  

Friday the 26th of August, and Saturday the 27th. Friday morning we had some rainy weather at Fort Augustus, but walked around town for a bit before getting scheduled to ascend the next flight of 5 locks that would take us to Loch Oich and the highest point on the canal. Even with the weather we had an audience of onlookers, partly because we were the only boat in the locks. After locking through the flight, we docked the boat and walked the short distance back to town to get some lunch at the butcher shop, as well as to stock up for the next couple of days. Despite the weather, we continued onward along the Caledonia Canal, through two more locks, while watching the channel to stay clear of the weir, where the lake flows into the river which would not be a good place for a sailboat to be. We docked for the night at a pontoon on Loch Oich with the Invergarry Castle in view. A short walk led us to the castle ruins, which are fenced off and, in any case, really don't look like a place where you would want to try to explore anyway. The Invergarry hotel Just about the best angle for the ruins Our dock at Invergarry for the night We followed another path to the nearby hotel, which thankfully had Wifi and a strong cellular signal, something we'd been missing for quite a while. Relaxing for a few minutes in the hotel got us all caught up on various emails and texts, while there was a light drizzle outside, and afterwards we walked back down to the boat for beer and dinner and games and Scotch. The next morning took us through Laggan and its locks; our first down lock of the canal, and into the fairly large Loch Lochy. We noticed a trail loop on the north side of the lake, towards the southwest end, that went past a waterfall, and thought it might make a good loop hike. Eventually we picked a good spot to anchor at Bunarkaig, fairly near the shore, and got the dinghy ready for its first use since I was on board. It normally includes a small outboard motor, but since our distance to shore was short and the water calm, we just rowed over to the shoreline, secured the dinghy to a tree, and started the walk. It was mostly along three roads, but all were very quiet and beautiful; we enjoyed the views of the greenery and trees and hills; I was spotting a few birds that I'd not seen before.  Another round of "bird pints," please! Eventually we came to the waterfall and all agreed it had been worth the trek. The loop continued and we returned to where we had left the dinghy. I had somewhat underestimated the length of the loop; it was 5.4 miles and I was expecting something a bit over 3 miles. After rowing back, we continued a short distance just in the nick of time for the last locking of the day through Gairlochy. We ended the day at Banavie, from whereon we would be in the canal until we exited.