How would you spend a million pounds? Sports car? Luxury property? Several miles of new footpath above the tree line in the Great Glen?
You might not have chosen the latter, but that’s precisely what the Forestry Commission have done. Showing a great example of listening to feedback – the Great Glen Way gained two new alternative ‘High Route’ sections which contour cleverly above Loch Ness.
I walked the two new sections in February, so here’s a brief rundown …
The first of the two high routes is actually the exact same distance as the low route. The only difference is the extra height climbed – 479 metres (about 4 x as much as the low route). It was however, most definitely worth the effort!
From Fort Augustus the path zig-zagged up through pine forest before emerging onto open hillside where the views are extensive. I was fortunate to have a clear day – with Loch Ness stretching into the distance below me and Ben Nevis just visible in the south. All the ascent is done at the start of the day – from there I had easy walking on a nice new path with hills on my left and Loch Ness on my right.
In Invermoriston I stayed at the lovely Craik Na Dav B&B where I had breakfast whilst watching red squirrels and all manner of birdlife flock to the garden. Craik Na Dav is sometimes visited by the rare and elusive Pine Martin though I wasn’t lucky enough to see one on my visit.
From Invermoriston I ignored the old low route again and took the high route uphill. This stage takes you past a curious circular sculpture which is designed to frame mountains in the distance, and provides many a photo opportunity. Scots Pine and Highland Coos featured to make today a thoroughly Scottish walk. Soon I came to a small stone shelter which marked the highest point of the Great Glen Way (422 metres) and provided a great opportunity to sit and look back at the route over the past couple of days.
Today’s high route is actually a mile shorter than the low route, at the cost of only 250 metres more ascent – a reasonable trade if you ask me!
So are the new high routes worth the extra effort? Without a doubt.
For those walking the Great Glen Way they are a great opportunity to get above the pine forests which line the banks of Loch Ness. This gives much better views, not only of the Loch but also of the mountains surrounding the Great Glen. And by getting further away from civilisation below it gives the walk a much more remote feel.