The Roaches

Great Glen Way - July 23rd-27th 2007

Neil Scott, Jane Salt, Gordon Darlington, Dave Swarbrook, Dave McNeaney, Nick Barber, Ken Hodgkinson, Ann Baxter, Alison Bond, Sean Bond, Mike Riley

DAY 1 - Fort William to Clunes

Following on from the Dales Way and one of the hottest summers on record came the Great Glen Way and the wettest summer on record.

Much frantic checking of the Met Office website during the weeks leading up to the walk had resulted in the team resigning themselves to getting wet - very wet.

The Great Glen Way had attracted eleven walkers, the biggest team by far, but with the walk being fairly gentle when compared to the efforts of previous years the general feeling was that this was to be the first walk to get a 100% completion record since the West Highland Way.

Only the weather could prevent us from reaching our ultimate goal, Inverness, 75 miles away. The team travelled up to Fort William on the Sunday and congregated in the bar of the Alexandra Hotel where the sadly predictable act of downing large amounts of food, beer and wine began.

We awoke to nice bright skies and set off on challenge number four - The Great Glen Way.

The first challenge was failed with flying colours. The simple task of finding the official start of the walk proved to be somewhat tricky despite the use of a detailed guide book, two GPS systems and numerous maps. After retracing our steps and actually following the route in the guide we eventually found the start of the walk. The second challenge of the day was to obtain the 'official' starting team photo.

At last - the 'official' starting team photo. Sean had already ran 3 miles.

We couldn't find any locals to assist with the photography so Neil and Sean reverted to photo camera automation technology, which Neil is an expert at, in order to get all eleven members in shot. The two cameras were placed on a bench which was approximately twenty yards from the team, who were now in their official team shot stances.

Many of you readers probably don't know that the team practice their stance for the official starting team photo many months in advance of the walk. This allows us to perfect the professional looking group stance which ensures that the live opportunity isn't wasted.

Anyway, back to the walk... Neil, being the expert, set his camera on a twenty second setting whilst Sean decided that two seconds would be sufficient. This resulted in the following 'action' shot...

Sean, unable to beat the two second camera setting fails miserably.

The tomfoolery didn't stop there. A second attempt with the two cameras was badly mistimed which resulted in another 'action' shot...

Sean fails to beat the clock for a second time.

The third attempt proved successful and we could now enjoy the rest of the day's walk. Interestingly, eight years later, a BBC World Service employee asked me if she could use some of the photos above for an article she was writing linked to the use of selfie sticks and the perils of self-timers. The article can be found below....

BBC article on selfie-sticks and self-timers

The route takes a slightly convoluted route out of Fort William in order to hit the tourist hotspot that is Neptune's Staircase. As we ventured further to the west the view up to Ben Nevis and the Mamores began to open up. Things were getting exciting.

Walking alongside Loch Linnhe with Ben Nevis and the Mamores rising majestically behind us. To the right of us was a shitty council estate that looked like something out of 'Trainspotting'.

Jane helps Alison out. They didn't yet know it but they were about to spend more time together than expected.

The initial walking pace was surprisingly good which meant that we covered the first three miles in just over one hour. The walk to Clunes was a pretty straightforward fourteen miles so the pace lowered in an attempt to make a day of it. We didn't want to hit the Spean Bridge Hotel's bar at mid-afternoon for obvious reasons.

Happy days at Neptune's Staircase - however, the smile wouldn't last for long.

We reached the highpoint of the first day's walk, Neptune's Staircase, and er, looked at the locks which to some people might be really interesting. We took the obligatory photos, watched a few boats dropping from lock to lock and then ventured onwards. Venturing onwards involved following the path at the side of the Caledonian Canal.

The first couple of miles were really enjoyable but we then noticed that the following three miles were almost identical. A canal with trees next to it is a canal with trees next to it - there really wasn't a lot to see.

The team stop for a map check. How much more of this bloody canal path is there left to go?

Not a great deal happened until we hit Gairlochy. This was initially intended to be the finishing point for day one but concerns about a twenty two mile second day forced us to add an extra five miles and head for Clunes. The owner of the Spean Bridge Hotel was called from Gairlochy and a pickup time agreed.

The walk from Gairlochy to Clunes was a great improvement. The path left the road and followed the wooded shoreline of Loch Lochy.

The views over the loch were superb, the weather was excellent and everybody was feeling groovy.

At last! scenic forest walking to soothe the stresses of canal overload.

A view along the length of Loch Lochy. The next day's walk would see us walking through the forest visible on the left-hand shore.Loch Lochy is world famous for its unbelievable slant to the west (Photo: Neil Scott Professional Photography) - what prevents the water from draining away?

A combination of warmer weather and a never-ending final couple of miles meant that we were all ready for the Spean Bridge Hotel and the liquid refreshments on offer. Unfortunately, as the manager of the hotel had to perform the sixteen mile round trip on three occasions the final party didn't get to the hotel until well past five o'clock.

Clunes and the end of day one. Alison, Jane, Ann and Gordon took the first lift. Sean, Macca, Neil and Ken took the second with Nick, Mike and Dave bravely taking the final lift - seven hours later!

A relatively quiet night followed with certain team members taking an early night in preparation for the following day's seventeen mile hike to Fort Augustus.

Mike had a Steak & Ale pie for his dinner which started something of a trend for the week. The amount of time wasted by the three trips to and from Clunes resulted in an alternative form of transport being offered for the morning - a minibus. Well, a minibus without seats or windows.

The offer was accepted which meant that we would all start the next day's walk at the same time and prevent the need to adopt a staggered approach. The weather had been far better than expected but the forecast for the following couple of days wasn't good. Would the rain hit as forecast?

DAY 2 - Clunes to Fort Augustus

We awoke to bright skies and the odd midge.

The morning's plan was to eat brekkie, limber up and then jump into the back of the minibus (the one without windows and seats) in order to attack the seventeen miler to Fort Augustus in a 'commando' style. Sean decided he'd sit in the front in order to provide directions, if any were needed, and to make sure that we weren't being taken to a local pulping factory - a common practice in many West Highland hotels.

Dave Swarbs kindly decided to take the other front seat in order to save as much space as possible for the illegal immigrants in the back. Jane then decided that the squalor and darkness in the back would result in projectile vomiting so Jane replaced Dave in the front. Dave finally wedged himself into the back after much groaning and moaning.

We were all packed in - off we went.

Commandos Barber and Darlington don their Top Gun shades in readiness for the attack on Fort Augustus. Nick is wearing his 007 watch which is packed with semtex whilst Gordon is carrying a particularly nasty set of Asparagus tips he picked shortly before the walk. This look was the result of watching an historical account of the Gulf War during the previous evening.

The minibus (the one without windows and seats) set off with only the odd murmur emanating from the back - that was the case until the driver took a bend rather sharply and then, a couple of miles later, had to brake hard in order to avoid hitting an oncoming Forestry Commission van. The Brownian Motionesque antics in the back resulted in Macca mounting Ann, Mike mounting Dave and Ken mounting Neil.

A major catastrophe was averted when the movements set off the countdown timer on Nick's semtex watch. As the team awaited a horrible death the actual point of detonation resulted in a failing 'boing' spring sound - at that moment Nick realised that a £6.99 'Action Man' watch bought from Longton Market wasn't the highly sophisticated piece of Swiss engineering he thought it was.

Unfortunately, one of Gordon's Asparagus tips pierced his left testicle which goes to prove that vegetables may still have a part to play in modern warfare.

69 Commando (otherwise known as the Queen's Bordering on the Ridiculous Regiment) about to pounce.

We arrived at Clunes, jumped out of the minibus, removed Aspargus tips, donned rucsacs and set off into Clunes Forest in lovely sunshine. The rain was nowhere to be seen.

The start of day two: A view over the southern end of Loch Lochy to Ben Nevis and the Aonachs.

Alison was walking rather gingerly. She had complained of a smallish blister during the previous night but hoped that a minor application of Compeed would save the day.

A gently undulating walked ensued through Clunes Forest. Quicker walkers pushed on and the waited for the slower groups at regular intervals - approximately every three minutes.

'Alison's last smile' - in Clunes Forest.

Alison's pace began to slow as the walk progressed. The blisters were beginning to take their toll and then, suddenly..... ...Jane also began to slow.

The two '100%' ladies were injured.

The conquerors' of the West Highland Way, the Cumbria Way and the Dales Way were struggling and there were still many miles until we reached the day's end at Fort Augustus.

Sean and Gordon walked at a snail's pace in order to pacify their loved ones. Luckily, this also meant we could walk alongside the two Daves who appeared to be pacifying each other.

Walking below Coire Glas. Sron a' Choire Ghairbh (935m) is hidden in the cloud.

We reached the end of the forest and enjoyed a short rest at Laggan Locks.

Macca performs a stress test on one of the Laggan Lock's lock gates.

It was decided that it was too early to eat lunch as there was still another ten miles of walking to negotiate.

On we marched.

The walk edged along the wooded edges of the Caledonian Canal until it reached North Laggan where we crossed over to the east side of Loch Oich. The walking was flat and scenic but for some it seemed endless.

The path then edged it's way along the side of Loch Oich for over four miles but we decided to stop at the ten mile point (two miles into the Loch Oich section) for lunch. A small clearing, with rough scree on one side and slightly damp grass on the other, was the only usable lunch spot we could find. Some of us found a rock to sit whilst others lay on the grass.

Lunch and contemplation at the side of Loch Oich.

The midges began to assemble so it was time to go. The last two miles of Loch Oich seemed to take an age as both Alison's and Jane's pace dropped alarmingly but a group photo stop at the end of the Loch lifted the spirits.

We were back to the sides of the canal for the final five mile stretch to Fort Augustus but the hotel was another mile out of town.

A group shot on a bridge over the Calder Burn. Smiles and blisters everywhere apart from Nick who is still visibly gutted about his watch.

Cullochy Loch was the next minor stopping point on the walk. This gave Neil an opportunity to delight in the fact that the royal family had visited the area in 1958 - the photo below shows just how excited he was....

'A True Brit'

Kytra Loch, a further two miles, was the next place of interest. A longer stop was enjoyed as many members of the team decided to make the most of the soft grass, scenic surroundings and the various lock paraphernalia that could be used to stretch aching limbs.

Dave having a good stretch at Kytra Loch.....

....Alison dreaming about Rome. Hard luck - you've already been!

We reached Fort Augustus in dribs and drabs.

Mike and Neil formed the first group with the rest arriving sometime later. Fort Augustus was in full holiday flow. Mike and Neil enjoyed a sneaky pint or two whilst Sean searched every shop in town for more Compeed for Alison - there was nothing to be had apart from a cooling ice cream.

The hotel was still a mile away so the day's walking wasn't over yet. As Ann, Ken, Sean and Alison walked up the driveway of the Inchnacardoch Lodge Hotel a taxi arrived carrying Nick and Jane. Jane had had enough and had called it a day.

Alison had already decided to do the same. We checked into the hotel, carried our bags to the rooms and watched the remainder of the team arrive from the windows of the hotel...

Dave marches up to the Inchnacardoch Lodge after an eighteen mile cracker!

The Inchnacardoch Lodge was excellent - great food and a lively bar meant that a good night was had by all with Mike, feeling adventurous, continuing to gorge on Steak & Ale pie for the second night in a row.

Even Alison and Jane managed to forget the trials of the day's walk and in Alison's case a set of blisters that Nick would have been proud of. The wine and lager flowed until a decision was made to plough into the whisky. The impromptu whisky tasting session continued well into the night which resulted in much mirth and merriment even though we had lost two of the team's stalwarts.

We retired to our rooms. Neil performed a somersault as he failed miserably in picking up his dropped keys whilst Sean and Gordon contemplated walking without their loved ones - the women who had been at their side on every day of every walk.

Alison's new boots had let her down whereas Jane, suffering from a calf problem, also developed blisters.

Now they were gone.

How would the men cope?

DAY 3 - Fort Augustus to Invermoriston

The morning arrived.

We awoke and prepared for an easy nine miler to Invermoriston along the shores of Loch Ness.

Gordon and Sean made a tearful farewell to Jane and Alison who had arranged to get a lift into Fort Augustus and catch the main bus to Fort William.

The plan was to pick up the car and drive back up to Invermoriston later that day. Nick had decided that his ankle wasn't feeling up to the walk so decided to join them. We were down to eight. The weather was glorious again despite the forecast of rain coming in from the west.

After waiting for an age for 'Whisky Mike', who for some strange reason didn't feel like any breakfast, we were ready to set off. The walk started steeply up a wooded hillside before levelling off and providing easy walking above Loch Ness. Dave and Macca set off fifteen minutes early but were soon caught up.

Looking north along Loch Ness. Is that rain in the distance?

Gordon and Sean were really enjoying walking without Jane and Alison - the group had a right laugh! No more treading carefully around controversial sexist comments meant that the conversation flowed but the men had to make sure that Ann wasn't in range.

The men were convinced that Jane and Alison had instructed Ann to keep an ear out for any rogue comments as part of a nightly reporting process so with this in mind, the group cleverly ensured Ann maintained a position in the middle of the group so she could be 'watched'.

Gordon explained that the planned marriage to Jane had been cancelled as he was unsure about getting hitched to a girl with feet like a Hobbit. The team begged him to reconsider but he was having none of it.

The route continued in a rather monotonous fashion through the woods above the Loch.

A deviously complex code consisting of false bird calls and flatulence helped the front and rear male parties maintain awareness regarding Ann's position and possible use of mobile phone - just in case!

Red alert, red alert! - Ken performs heroics in alerting the male members of the team, using the pre-arranged sign, of Ann's use of her mobile phone. It was a false alarm as she was simply texting her daughter, Mary. Look at the size of that trunk!

With only two or three miles to go we finally hit the rain.

The shower was of sufficient force to warrant the use of waterproofs and with no end to the rain being in sight Sean, Gordon and Mike decided to step on and get to our destination - Invermoriston. A sweaty fifteen minutes later saw the end of the rain and a still, warm, damp climate that meant that the midges were in full battle mode.

A few of the team 'midged' up whilst others decided that cracking on would be the best course of action. After all, there was only a mile to go. Or was there? The path continued to take us deeper into Glenmoriston than shown on the OS 1:50000 map.

At one point there was a detour caused by erosion but this appeared to be much further on than the 'official' route shown on the map. Had the 1:50000 OS map being updated before the Great Glen Way's route had been finalised?

What the map says.

Where the route goes - an extra two miles.

Thanks! Good job it's not muggy and midgey.

So, three miles later, we finally reached Invermoriston and the Glenmoriston Arms Hotel, our base for the night.

Sean, Mike and Gordon arrived first with the others following on later. Alison, Jane and Nick were still on their travels so it was up to the front runners to begin the tough task of checking out the bar.

It was only early afternoon so we had to maintain a high level of 'bar discipline' in order to avoid getting absolutely 'Captain Pugwashed'. Ann was moving at a slow pace due to a back problem - were we going to lose all of the team's ladeez?

Eventually, after the arrival of the Fort William Compeed team, we were back to the full complement of eleven.

Macca swooped to get this image of Dave taking a photo of a plaque.

The food in the Glenmoriston Arms Hotel was great as was the wine.

The antics of the previous night meant that the team followed a strict no-whisky rule and retired to the hotel lounge where a game of Trivial Pursuit began, hosted by everybody's favourite quizmaster - Neil Scott.

Mike refuses to believe that he has a Steak & Ale pie problem. That's three nights on the trot and three mornings with the trots.

Neil trying to convince the team of how his hip was to blame for the previous night's break dancing.Seriously, Neil's hip was giving him some grief so a touch of Yoga was administered.

We had been lucky during the day as we only experienced an hour of rain. As we looked out of the window of the hotel lounge we could see that the rain, as forecast, had become heavier and more prolonged.

The forecast for the following day's march to Drumnadrochit wasn't good and the owner of the hotel confirmed this, along with the fact that the following day's walk was the steepest and most arduous of the Great Glen Way, on at least eight occasions.

We retired to our rooms in readiness for a day of rain and gradients.

DAY 4 - Glenmoriston to Drumnadrochit

As we paid the hotel bill the owner of the Glenmoriston Arms Hotel reminded us yet again of the fact that today's walk was the toughest of the Great Glen Way.

He also reminded us that although the previous night's rain had blown over and left bright skies and warm sunshine that the forecast was for heavy rain.

Nick returned to the fold with new walking shoes and a pair of waterproof socks. Ann's back seemed OK so she too continued. Would they complete the day? Neil wasn't feeling overly confident about his hip so opted for an early start and set off on his own. Ann, Nick and Gordon were next to leave followed by Macca and Dave.

Sean, Ken and Mike formed the rear. The route climbed steeply for five hundred feet into the forest directly behind the hotel. As the weather was sunny and warm Ken decided to don his waterproof top and leggings whereas Sean and Mike decided to 'pump it' big style and soon caught up with Macca and Dave.

The initial morning sweat coupled with a 500ft climb caused Sean to steam.

As the mist, which had formed around Sean's head cleared, the path came into view again so off we went. Ken decided that there really was no need for his waterproofs and disrobed.

The combination of the early morning air, the sunlight and the forest made for an enjoyable start to the walk. The path, although fairly wide, seemed more rustic than the forest roads encountered during the previous day's walk which provided a more adventurous feel.

Early morning light in the Creag Nan Eun forest.

The first stop after the ascent. The sweat in Ken's waterproofs was attracting extraterrestrial visitors whilst Dave marvels at Sean's steam.

Is this the greatest ghost image ever captured? At the time Macca believed that only Mike and Dave were in the shot. The ghostly image of the steaming madman of the Creag Nan Eun forest only appeared after the photo was taken off the camera.

The early ascent peaked at a rough manmade stone seat which was located a short distance off the official path. As the main path was surrounded by firs the openness of the seat provided us with far reaching views over Loch Ness - a grand sight!

View from the Stone Seat

The view over Loch Ness from the stone seat.

Mike being silly at the stone seat.

The team, still fragmented, continued to plough on through the forest. Neil was still out on his own with Ann, Nick and Gordon following behind. Sean and Mike splintered away from Ken, Macca and Dave - a move which resulted in an hilarious comedy moment. Sean and Mike came across a cave-like shelter containing a bench seat at the side of the route.

The shelter had to be investigated so in they went. As the shelter was hidden from the path a decision was made to wait for Ken and then scream like Banshees as soon as he passed the cave. Sean and Mike waited, being careful not to scream at another walking group who we had met a couple of miles earlier. That would have been rather embarrassing.

Ken gave his identity away when nearing the cave by announcing the fact to Macca and Dave - 'Hey look, there's a cave here'. Sean and Mike screamed into action, hoping Ken would fall backwards into the forest and tumble into oblivion.

Ken looked startled for a second and then laughed. It was a bit of a let down. Sean and Mike had sat in the cave for at least five minutes and were now suffering from exposure. Ken has obviously been screamed at on many occasions.

Screaming Ken's crazy cave.

The various groups maintained regular contact along the route. The feeling was that Neil would slow as the day progressed due to his hip but he maintained a steady pace and forged ahead. The route descended to a point that was roughly a hundred and fifty feet above the Loch but then ascended gradually up to a height of over a thousand feet.

The route zigged and zagged along the side of the hill and finally levelled out. The views over the Loch opened up, the effort was more than worth it.

Nearing the day's highpoint. Dave battles on with the Great Glen to his right.

The path became narrower as it descended through Ruskich Wood but soon turned into a forest road. After a couple of miles the forest walking, and the monstrous ant hills, ended and the scenery changed to gently rolling farmland.

The rear group consisting of Sean, Mike, Ken, Macca and Dave ate lunch in a leafy glade which was conveniently midge-free - all was well with the world. The route climbed gently through the last remaining part of the forest and finally reached the road which would be followed for nearly all of the remaining six miles.

Mike, Macca and Ken at the end of the forest near Grotaig.

The way took gently ascending route along the road. Loch Ness was now out of view but the small hills of Creag Dhreag and Meall Fuar-mhonaidh looked well to our left.

Looking back along the road - Meall Fuar-mhonaidh (699m) is the main peak.

The route entered another, smaller, forest and then left the road to descent into Glen Urquhart. As is usually the case at the end of the day, the final couple of miles into Drumnadrochit seemed to take an age.

This wasn't helped by the fact that a gap in the forest provided us with a clear view of the hotel - it seemed tantalizingly close. Neil, Ann, Gordon and Nick had already reached Drumnadrochit by the time that the rear guard had arrived. Alison and Jane had returned from their Inverness shopping trip so a group of us met at the The Fiddlers for a pint of something pint-like.

The weather had been excellent but the skies were darkening as we sat outside drinking our pint-likes - so much for the weather forecast, again!

Hhhmmm - pints at the Fiddlers. Only one day to go! Hang on, there's that ghost again.

We booked into the Fiddlers for our evening nosh up where more good food and wine was devoured. Mike did not, I repeat, did not, order Steak & Ale pie. Ann and Nick had completed the day without any major complaints and reported ready for action for the final day's walk to Inverness. Food eaten, we returned to the bar in the Loch Ness Visitor Centre hotel for a couple of pints and watched the rain come down.

Friday had originally been forecast as the best day of the week weather-wise but there was a strong chance that it could be the worst.

DAY 5 - Drumnadrochit - Inverness

The rain from the previous night had cleared but there was a dampish feel to the day.

The skies were grey but the mood was good. Everyone, apart from Alison and Jane, were on for the final day and the twenty miles to Inverness. As the team walked along the A82 Alison sped past in her car and peeped her horn.

Dave's mood dropped as he realised that the car was travelling towards Inverness at sixty miles per hour as opposed to our two miles per hour pace. The first couple of miles of the route followed the A82 and helped eased the limbs by being as flat as a pancake.

Urquhart Castle could be seen to the right - off we went.

Urquhart Castle from the slopes of Cnoc Fhearchair.

The way turned away from the road and took a rising route across the hillside. A thousand feet of climbing was the order of the day, which came as a shock to some, but the excellent forest walking made up for it.

The forest was dark, dank and mysterious - the path zigged and zagged in a similar vein to the previous days walk but on this day all we could see was trees.

The deep, dark forest of dankness. Dave was really enjoying it by now.

Up and up we went with the odd stop for a breather. A drinks stop was enjoyed at a viewpoint but we had to crack on as there was still nearly fifteen miles of walking to be done.

A quick breather stop. Ann was plodding on as she 'felt better on the move'. Nothing to do with your spying instructions then?

We left the first forest stage and entered an area where tree felling had taken place. The rain started to come down and it looked like it may be set for the day but it soon stopped which meant that the waterproofs could go back into the rucsacs.

As Ann's back was still the cause of some grief and with Macca's knees beginning to ache the pace wasn't exactly electrifying. We eventually reached the high point of the Great Glen Way which was marked by an official marker - we guessed that we were approx twelve hundred feet up?

Time for a bit of Neil Scott timer photography!

The unofficial shot taken at the highest point of the Great Glen Way.

The official shot, the one that's been sent to the Queen.

The route stuck to the forest for another four miles until we reached Ladycairn where the forest ended and the road crossed open moor land. The weather had improved and the views to the west and east opened up.

Macca strides purposefully across the moor. Except that he wasn't - his knees were slowly turning into porridge by this point.

As we walked towards Blackfold and the ancient pine forest the weather to the east looked decidedly dodgy. It was just a matter of time before the rain hit us and so, half an hour later, it was waterproof time again.

The rain began to fall as we entered the forest and was beginning to look like we were in for a soaking but, as was the case on day three, it soon stopped and the waterproofs were retired to the rucsacs yet again.

Off with the waterproofs!

The pine forest continued for another three miles, three miles which consisted of trees to the left and more trees to the right with a dry stone wall to keep us company. For some it was time to get going and blast the miles away whereas for others it was a case of grin and bear it.

Eventually, the forest walking ended at a small pool. Inverness could now be seen in the distance.

Yes! - Inverness at last! We'll be there in ten minutes.

We could see the end. How far now? - two miles? maybe two and a half?

Er, no, it's four miles actually. We dropped off the hill, Macca really enjoyed that bit, walked through the old hospital, through an housing estate and alongside a golf course before reaching our old friend, the Caledonian Canal.

For some reason the Caledonian Canal has the effect of making people walk rather slowly.

Macca was suffering to an extent that was painful to watch whereas Ann called upon Mike to help her undress.

Ann calls for Mike's services on realising that she can no longer bend down. Macca can be seen hobbling around the corner.

Sean rang Alison to inform her of our impending arrival.

Alison and Jane were to celebrate our arrival at the castle with ticker tape, champagne and cakes. We couldn't wait.

Thanks to Macca and his bloody knees it took us an age to reach the castle. Alison and Jane had to drink the champagne and eat the cakes in order to prevent themselves from starving to death as they waited, and waited and waited. We reached the River Ness and followed it's banks through a rather scenic park.

At the point where the cathedral could seen over the water the route veered to the right and then, all of a sudden, we reached the castle - Twenty miles had been walked.

Macca, only hours from death, finally reaches the castle and the end of the Great Glen Way.Alison and Jane can be seen to the left. They had been waiting for nearly three hours.

We stood by the finishing point for the obligatory team photo (minus Alison and Jane)....

The end of the Great Glen Way.

Only Alison and Jane failed to finish with Nick missing a single day.

How will the two girls cope with next years walk? Where will next years walk take us? Will Macca's knees and Ann's back ever return to normal? Will Mike be able to wean himself off Steak & Ale pie? Will Neil finally break into the world of break dancing?

The shocking weather that had been forecast for the week failed to materialise as only a couple of hours of rain was encountered whilst on the walk - unbelievably lucky. Another bonus was that the Great Glen Way had turned out to be more scenic than expected, especially after the monotony of the first day.

After checking in to the hotel we met in the bar and moved onto the Indian restaurant booked by Alison and Jane earlier in the day. Sean, Neil and Macca were hit by the hottest curry imaginable - far worse than the effort experienced in Keswick a couple of years earlier.

After eating a third of the meal and alerting the waiter to the fact that the Madras was rather too warm he kindly returned and offered the entire table a free round. Mike ordered a Steak & Ale Bhoona.

Neil struggles to eat a bonfire of a madras.

Free drinks - thanks to the fire eaters!

It rained for most of the following day which emphasised just how lucky we had been. We all took the bus to Culloden, apart from Ann who was still suffering from back ache, where we wandered over the battlefield and took in the museum.

Dave Swarbs was game and dressed up as the Duke of Cumberland.Note how the walk had affected the size of Neil's legs.

Saturday, our final night, and a table in the local Tapas restaurant was booked. Yet again the wine and San Miguel flowed freely and a good time was had by all.

All smiles at the Tapas. Nick's still pissed about his watch.

We took in a pub by the river and then returned to the hotel where a nightcap was ordered before retiring to bed.

The pub by the river.

Another walk had come to an end but there is one more, rather sad, story to tell.... Alison and Jane's failure to complete the walk shocked the people of the Highlands so much that they placed a memorial plaque on the very spot where they both fell on day two....

Every day, children from the local school visit the plaque and quietly remember the sad, sad day when the Great Glen Way ended for those two brave girls. Anyway, less of that bollocks, here's this year's injury list...
Walker Blisters Back Downstairs Distemper Plantar fasciitis Hip Midge bites Knee
Alison X
Mike X
Nick X X
Ann X X
Jane X
Macca X
Neil X X

Maccas Paper Article

Macca's Leek Post and Times article - 'intensive 5 day walk'?, 'flood threats'?

Through the Lens of Dave

As the entire collection of Great Glen Way photo's was brought together it was noted that one of the walkers, Dave Swarbrook, possessed a talent that he probably wasn't aware of. Here is some of his very special camera work....

In this shot Dave managed to make his subjects, Ken and Nick, look at their best with a cheery face and wide smile.

In this shot of the Fairy Glen, Dave manages to use his macro function along with his bracketing and over exposure setting to make the glen appear like a pool of mud with some litter in it. It's not as easy as it looks!

The classic study of 'Neil stood next to a bin'.

Certain scenes unfold along the way which are begging to be captured for posterity. This wasn't one of them.

If you couldn't tell what Dave had focused on maybe his second effort will clear things up? No? - thought not.

In this shot Dave manages to achieve a picture quality which is usually only obtained by the use of a home made camera.

In this shot Dave finally manages to grasp the concept of focus but loses valuable marks on subject positioning.

Many beautiful scenes unfolded before our eyes as we walked along the Great Glen. This is probably one of the best.

Dave managed to capture this remarkable image by fixing his camera to the spokes of a moving mountain bike. Not a common approach but the result is something to behold.


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