Round Britain: Invergarry to Fort William

On our last night in Invergarry I watched the sun disappearing behind the mountains.

We set off in the morning across the bridge over the River Garry on the A82 towards Fort William.

A little further on is the road to Invergarry House Hotel. The ruined remains of Invergarry Castle should be visible from the grounds. Prince Charles spent a night there on August 26th 1745 after the battle of Culloden. It was laid to waste by the Duke of Cumberland a few days later. We continued down the side of Loch Oich. The Great Glen Way runs along the other side which was a reminder of when we walked it from Fort William to Inverness in May 2010. At Laggan Locks the Caledonian Canal links to Loch Oich to Loch Lochy.

The road runs along the edge before turning inland. Some of it runs on or parallel to part of General Wade’s Military Road. It was constructed in the mid 18th century by the British Government to try and bring control and order into parts of the country involved in the 1715 Jacobite uprising. At the junction with the B8004 to Gairlochy is Commando Memorial erected in memory of those who died in World War II. The Commando Basic Training Depot was established nearby at Achnarry Castle. It was unveiled by the Queen Mother in 1952.

Nearby is a tribute garden and a place to scatter ashes.

There is still some snow on the top of the surrounding mountains.

At Spean Bridge we stopped for a coffee at the Bridge Café and then drove on the A82 again in parallel with the railway. At one point we passed an almost derelict building which had a notice saying it was the Great Glen Cattle Ranch. Apparently, it was established in 1945 by Joseph W. Hobbs, an entrepreneur who made and lost several fortunes in Canada before returning to Britain after the great depression to prosper in the engineering and whisky trades. He bought Inverlochy Castle in the mid-1940s and began transforming tracts of barren moorland nearby into prairie style cattle grazing. The shelter was made of poured concrete and painted yellow originally. We then passed the Nevis Range Ski Centre access road and drove through Torlundy, a signpost to Happy Valley and the Ben Nevis Distillery before entering Fort William. It is very different from when I worked at the Belford Hospital for a couple of months in late 1984 and when we arrived on the Caledonian Sleeper to walk the Great Glen Way in 2010. We settled into the Glen Nevis Campsite and met up with some friends who now live in Corpach for a meal.

The next morning, we walked up Glen Nevis. Not far from the campsite, across the road from the youth hostel is a bridge with views downstream

and up the Nevis Water.

One of the paths up to the summit of Ben Nevis starts here. On the west side of the road is Nevis Forest, a large coniferous forest under the care of the Forestry Commission.  The West Highland Way passes through it (we walked it in 2009) before it joins the bottom of the glen road and enters town. Glen Nevis Estate which has 1000 acres owns the campsite and its restaurant & bar, self-catering accommodation and has been the location for a number of films including Braveheart. They have a herd of pedigree Highland Cattle which we saw at a distance. Nearer to the road were some sheep.

They have numerous signs saying no camping. We walked as far as the lower falls which is almost 3 miles from the campsite.

There is a lane that continues further on alongside Nevis Water with several paths up to the surrounding mountains. Nearby, on either side of the river is some native woodland; a project funded by Rio Tinto Alcan and Glen Nevis Estate. Native trees and wildflowers have been planted and a currently protected from deer grazing. We walked back down the road.

We will be returning home after visiting some friends in Inverness but will restart our journey in May.