It’s been a busy time lately, with a lot on. Having published two books in the last few months (cough, cough) and having had various other things going on that I’ll not mention here, there simply hasn’t been the opportunity to get out and about as much as I would like.
So a rare free weekend presented a chance, this past Saturday, to go for my first proper walk of the year. Being carless for the day, I decided to head up Craig Dunain.
Now while Inverness is perhaps the best (big – ish) place to be for access to the outdoors, it’s a city with a huge suburban sprawl that makes it hard to get into the middle of nowhere on foot with any speed. For sure there is great countryside in pretty much all directions, but unless you enjoy trudging through identikit suburbia for the best part of an hour then your car-free options for big long walks are limited.
Pretty much the best (only?) choice for a major hike out of town, then, is the Great Glen Way. This is the footpath that goes ultimately to Fort William, but starts out along the riverside, Ness Islands and a short stretch of the Caledonian Canal before heading up Craig Dunain.
I knew, with a free day, that I could get some significant distance along – perhaps further than I’d made it before. I even contemplated camping out overnight, perhaps somewhere like Abriachan, but shaking off the tail end of a cold I decided just to do a day’s walk.
It’s a pleasant walk once you get a bit of ascent under your belt, with views over the eerie-looking old mental hospital at Craig Dunain (above – now being turned into flats) and further beyond to south Loch Ness and the Moray Firth.
I didn’t get as far as I thought I might have, largely because I ended up making the most of the freedom, taking it easy and following my nose down various diversions. One tangent I took was to turn right along the path, hacking my way through little bits of gorse here and there, to get a view of the Beauly Firth to the north (below).
It’s easy to take the Great Glen Way and just focus on what’s ahead of you, but with a little variation from the path here and there, it’s nice to discover a few lesser-spotted views.
Here’s hoping circumstances allow for a few other big walks this summer. And one of these days, I’m going to do the whole of the Great Glen Way. That’s what I’m telling myself, anyway.
More photos from the day here.