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Day 3: South Laggan to Fort Augustus

Day 3, South Laggan to Fort Augustus
Approximately 12 miles. I think.

Today’s walk took us the length of Loch Oich, then along the Caledonian Canal towpath to the base of Loch Ness and Fort Augustus, a village where we plan to stay two nights.

The path at the start of the day is beautiful, in a very close way. The trail climbs higher up the side of the loch, and follows an old railway line. The trail is somewhat sunken, with mossy rocks fencing us in. For a while we followed a duck as it waddled ahead of us.

This sunken path was very romantic, in the old fashioned sense of the word. Once upon a time, trains followed this course.

One of the signs along the path described the history of the railway that once ran this route.

We passed more than a few remnants of the old railway….structures that were covered in moss and lichen, looking much older than they were.

I don’t see how this tunnel was ever big enough for a train to pass through, but the sign says its ‘tracks, bridges and tunnels were all built to a standard high enough for a mainland route.”

We passed this little cottage, which is like nothing I’ve ever seen in the US.

This incredibly quaint cottage was just one of many we passed.

Across the loch we could see the ruins of Invergarry Castle….and below the castle, the wreck of a boat that had apparently drifted a bit too close to shore.

My theory: the boat tried to get too close to the castle and wrecked. Perfect photo op, right?

At the north end of Loch Oich, we crossed the road to take a closer look at Oich Bridge before continuing along the Caledonian Canal. Eugene thought the bridge was extra-cool, since he’s an engineer. I thought it was cool, but really didn’t understand the engineering enough to see it as a marvel.

The Bridge of Oich, a unique double cantilever bridge. Theoretically, each side can fully support its own weight, meaning that the bridge won’t fall even if cut in the middle.

But THIS was cool. As we were passing Cullochy Lock, two boats were navigating the lock. As there were picnic tables handy, we stopped for a snack and to watch the lock in action. The boats had already entered the lock when we arrived, but the water wasn’t yet raised. It took about a half hour for the water in the lock to reach the level of the south side of the canal. Then the lock opened, and off the boats went, headed for Loch Oich.

The locks in action. These two boats were traveling south (back the way we’d come).

The lock controls. This panel does it all!

I didn’t take much pictures the rest of the day; the sights along the canal began to look much the same, and then it started to rain. Eugene dragged me along at a brisk pace that didn’t leave much room for chatting, or photography anyway. Our next stop was Fort Augustus, where we grabbed a late lunch and then went to find our lodgings for the night. Note to any who follow: the Three Bridges Bed and Breakfast was a really lovely place. I totally think the guy at the Clansman Centre who told us it was a swinger’s B&B was joking.

The Three Bridges B&B, one of the nicest places we stayed.

In preparation for a relaxing night and no walking the following day (and because we were out of the Ben Nevis scotch we bought in Fort William), we stopped at the local gas station for a night cap. Or two.

We’re not walking tomorrow? Let’s drink! We picked these little bottles up from the local gas station. There was quite a selection, and narrowing down to just these six took some deliberation.