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Day 4: Fort Augustus to Invermoriston

Day 4, Fort Augustus to Invermoriston
Approximately 8 miles.

This was our shortest hike, and also the first day when we really started to pick up some elevation. We also strayed more from the edge of the loch, enjoying wooded views without the glimpse of water in the distance for long stretches.

We also had a bit of a dilemma: we had only realized yesterday that the town we really wanted to spend some extra time in was Drumnadrochit, not Fort Augustus. Drumnadrochit is home to not one but TWO Nessie exhibits, as well as the highly interesting Urquhart Castle ruins, which we glimpsed from the loch yesterday. (Unfortunately, we weren’t able to land and visit the castle during yesterday’s boat trip. That tour is only offered in summer–yet another thing we didn’t realize before arriving in Fort Augustus.) In other words, we could easily spend a full day in Drumnadrochit seeing some cool stuff, but we don’t have a full day in our schedule.

Our destination for today is a very small town. Invermoriston, according to our map description, has “a shop, post office, public bar and public toilets.” And bus service to Fort William and Inverness. And maybe Drumnadrochit? Our Three Bridges host tells us that there is indeed bus service, but can’t tell us the timetables. And therein the dilemma: if we hurry over to Invermoriston, would we have time to take a bus over to Drumnadrochit for the afternoon? Or would we we stuck in the itty bitty town of Invermoriston, with its one bar and one shop?

In the end, we decided to head to Invermoriston early. After all, we’d already exhausted our interest in Fort Augustus.

So we started our hike early in the morning, quickly gaining some altitude and looking down over Loch Ness to Cherry Island, the one and only island on the loch. Cherry Island is also a crannog, which we learned about yesterday during our boat ride (though we didn’t get close enough to the island to see much of interest). A crannog is an island that is either partially or fully man-made. In Cherry Island’s case, a natural island was enlarged during the Iron Age and most likely used as a refuge in times of trouble. It’s extra-tiny, barely a blip on the water, and we could only just glimpse it from the trail.

Looking down on Loch Ness. You can almost tell that Cherry Island, the only island on the loch, is down there.

The other side of the loch is a protected wildlife refuge, but the side our trail followed today is not. We passed through a good bit of active logging areas. There were also some signs telling us not to pass (we passed anyway, since there wasn’t much else to do), and in one section we had to be ferried by truck for about three quarters of a mile over a section that was deemed too dangerous for walkers.

Logging! We passed many signs of logging today.

We passed anyway.

Oooh! Toys!

Wonderful views of the loch, thanks in part to the logging that removed the trees from our views.

So it was a quick trip to Invermoriston, but once we got there we found that the idea of a bus ride to Drumnadrochit was not going to be practical for us. It would give us only a couple of hours in Drumnadrochit, which wouldn’t be enough time to visit the castle and the Nessie exhibit with nearly enough time to meander. So instead we got tea at the one local hotel, and visited the one shop in town–a clog shop. (I desperately wanted to buy clogs, but didn’t really like any of them. Sadly.)

Yes, we did visit the last clog shop before Skye.

Also, we had one of our best dinners of the trip here, at the same place where we sat and had tea: the
Glenmoriston Arms Hotel. (Eugene and I both highly recommend their sticky toffee pudding for dessert.)