Walk completed August 28, 2011

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 79 – Drumnadrochit to Wester Kirkhill, 17 miles

I couldn’t leave Loch Ness today without looking for Nessie. For the past few days, I’ve been searching the loch from high trails, hoping to get a glimpse of Nessie moving across the loch. All I saw were boats.

Loch Ness
One of my many talents is being a highly trained SCUBA diver. I know that sunlight disappears quickly at depth, so most aquatic life is in shallow water. Loch Ness is very deep, so it stands to reason that its aquatic life is near the shore. I went down to the shore, and with the stealth of a big game hunter, moved slowly but certainly through the grasses and reeds. searching for a sign of the monster.  It was early in the morning. The water was calm. Then I heard some splashing and grunting. I carefully peeked through the trees to find a camper who had gotten up early to… well, a camper who had gotten up early. I continued on.

Then I came upon it – the object of all the Loch Ness lore. I had expected to find a giant monster, but Nessie was no larger than a horse.  I can’t imagine what all the fuss was about. Disappointed, I returned to the trail to continue my quest for excitement, and I headed north away from the loch and its famous monster.

Once again, the trail passed through a pleasant forest. Most of the forests I’ve encountered are plantation forests – where trees were planted many years ago close together in a grid pattern. The plantation forests are now dark and overgrown, with little life beneath the trees. This forest was different.  It has been thinned – lower branches have been pruned, and sunlight reaches the ground. You can actually see through the forest. The trees are still growing in the characteristic grid, but bird and other animal life appear to be returning.

I finally left the GGW where it crosses a road.  Had I followed the GGW to Inverness, I would have thereafter found myself walking along a busy road all the way to John O’Groats.  By leaving the GGW and avoiding Inverness, I delayed the busy road walking for at least 4 days.

I’ll still be road walking, though. When I left the GGW, I also left the final footpath on which I’ll be traveling. There aren’t many footpaths in this remote part of Scotland, and in order to find accommodations at the end of every day, I need to follow the roads.

This is where I would normally end the daily report, but today requires further elaboration. Tonight’s accommodation is in Wester Kirkhill Farmhouse. I found its location on my map, and easily walked there. When I arrived where I thought I should be, there was a farmhouse, but no B&B sign or any other indication that this was the Wester Kirkhill Farmhouse where I had reserved a room. I walked into the grounds and rang the doorbell, but nobody answered. Hmmm, maybe I’m in the wrong place. My phone was in my backpack, and the phone number was in my computer, also buried deep in my backpack. I had assumed I wouldn’t need to call since I had the location pinpointed. I elected not to retrieve my electronic gear at this point because conditions were not conducive to doing so. (OK, as much as it hurts me to mention the weather, it was raining.) So I walked a mile back into Kirkhill to see if anybody could direct me to the proper place, or alternatively, to find a pub in which I could unpack my electronics without exposure to the elements.

Guess what? Kirkhill has no pub, no restaurant, no grocery store, no place to get out of the rain. I searched for a bus shelter without any luck. While I pondered my next move, Allan was parking his car at his business. I asked him if he knew where Wester Kirkhill Farmhouse was. He didn’t, but invited me into his office so we could search. While I pulled out my electronics, he searched his computer – we both concluded that I had been in the right spot. Then we called, and sure enough, it had been the right spot. Allan then drove me back to where I had been, and I checked in to the B&B. Thanks, Allan for your kind assistance. I never cease to be amazed how people in small towns so willingly come to the aid of a forlorn traveler -- even one carrying a backpack.

Barbara, the hostess, explained that her sign was being repainted. She cooked me a nice dinner, so I’m now comfortable and well-fed.

For those of you who are keeping track, I’ve logged over 1,000 miles already and should be topping 1,100 in a few more days.

© 2011 Ken Klug


  1. Finally found Nessie, I knew you would, certainly can't put anything pass you! That forest is so pretty, must have been a nice walk.
    1.000 miles....would probably take me a year to get it done!

  2. Ken, Yes, I was amazed at how helpful and nice people are in the rural areas. I got several rides and recommendations on where to stay.
    Susan Speck