Inverness to Dores
Setting off from Inverness this morning I was apprehensive for a couple of reasons, the first being the distance with it being anything between 18 and 23 miles depending on which guide I looked at (the guide from Gemini Walks suggested 23 miles, I hoped they were exaggerating as my longest run of late has been 10 miles! The weather was also concerning – raining as I looked out my window – with a forecast heavy rain for a couple of hours. Soaking wet feet did not hold any great appeal and temperatures were too high for a waterproof jacket, so I opted to stash a full change of clothes in a dry bag, alongside the jacket, just in case. I also carried my emergency blanket, the fear being that I’d get cold should I resort to walking at any point. That alongside some snacks and a litre of water fairly weighed me down.
The plan was to run, stopping regularly for photos and to admire the views. I only made it round the corner before stopping for the first time, at Run4It who sadly although very welcoming did not have any Sealskinz or waterproof socks in my size. I resigned myself to spending the day with wet feet.
My route took me along the riverside, over the bridge towards the town centre and Inverness Castle where I’ll eventually wind up, and then towards Bught Park.
This was easy running on pavement, the only challenge being the need to look out for cars before approaching any puddles near the kerb! There was quite a bit of surface water, the rain having been on for some time, although it was now more of a drizzle much to my relief.
I saw the first of the signposts for the South Loch Ness Trail: blue posts with a squirrel. These would become a familiar sight as I progressed along the route. I followed the road for a few miles before coming upon Tesco where I stopped for a comfort break. I was amused to see two cycle tourers cooking their breakfast under the shelter of the canopy – very enterprising!
Leaving Tesco behind, it wasn’t long before I left the civilisation of Inverness and happily found myself in more rural terrain. Seeing a board for the South Loch Ness Trail, I then went off-road and onto trails for the first time. These were good, well-drained trails, the only hazard being the wet tree roots breaking through the path.
Further on I passed a farm and headed onto a more boggy and less defined track. I was less than impressed here and did wonder if I’d taken a wrong turning as it became very grassy and wet, puddles slowing me down, not that I was moving very quickly in the first place! My feet were very squelchy by this point and I began dreaming of dry socks at Dores, still with a few miles to go.
The puddle jumping and boggy terrain continued until finally I was pointed towards the road. I did wonder if I’d known that the road was shorter would I have taken it?
There was a very short section of running on the road before picking up a pavement. I was delighted to see a sign for a shop as this surely meant I was close to Dores (and dry socks)!
RNLI & Scottish Fire and Rescue: Drowning Prevention Day
Arriving in Dores I was going to head for the Inn, but was distracted by a sign for coffee and ice cream. I wasn’t sure how my stomach would cope with either of these in the afternoon, so instead opted for tea, crisps and biscuits. The sun came out and I enjoyed a my light lunch, watching the entertainment provided by the Loch Ness RNLI and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service who were training together.
At one point the RNLI folks commented that they were doing very little, standing around and enjoying a coffee. I pointed out that the others were getting paid to work while they’re volunteers so there was no need to feel guilty! The local rangers were also out, sharing leaflets and raising awareness on Drowning Prevention Day.
The sun was lovely, I took my socks and shoes off and applied more suncream as it was really getting quite toasty! Shame it didn’t last!
Finally ready to move on, I stashed my wet socks, put on dry ones (you’ve no idea how good that feels!) and continued through Dores. I’d not gone much further than the length of myself when the rain came on, heavier than it had been all day.
Dores to Foyers
Initially running on road, the blue post then pointed me onto a track. This was a good fire road and I was happy running here; it was well drained, my feet were dry, all was well with the world, at least for a few miles. I was grateful to Bruce for buying me trail mix as my energy was starting to dip, and I scoffed some of this, washing it down with water.
Then came the diversion. There appeared to be some work going on, or at least there were vans parked up along the track, so I didn’t want to risk continuing.
Sadly the diversion was longer than the trail route. Although looking relatively okay to begin, it quickly deteriorated in condition becoming a virtually non-existent track with lots of ferns and undergrowth to wade through.
By this point the path had dropped down to be very close to the road and I uttered two words – expletive of choice, followed by ‘that’ – before making the short diversion of my choosing onto the road. I did try to rejoin the path further along but didn’t see much improvement so from this point onwards (around 17 miles in) I ran on the road to Foyers.
The benefit of this was being closer to the loch and seeing the views / hearing the water lapping at the shore. The downside was that the road was pretty narrow for much of the way with passing places that meant I had to stop and give way if I heard traffic. There were further expletives muttered from time to time on this section as it seemed to have quite a lot of ascent and my legs were starting to object. I did have an occasional wee walk break but on one particularly long section of ascent there were some cyclists coming behind me; they kept me running as I figured if they could get up it on a bike then I should be able to run!
Finally I passed something with Foyers in the name and figured I must be close. Who was I kidding?! It turns out there’s Lower Foyers and Upper Foyers, the latter being another mile up the road (in all senses) and this is where I was headed! I’m pretty sure I walked up most of that hill.
Finally reaching Foyers I bought a can of Coke, something I’d been craving for a few miles, then headed down to see the Falls of Foyers. My legs hated me for this and objected loudly on the descent. They coped going back up while my stomach gurgled loudly with every step!
Reaching the road again I tried to follow directions to my B & B and was on the verge of phoning as no internet signal was available to support Google maps when I found it! What a feeling! Just shy of 23 miles for the day. What made it even better was when my landlady said she’d give me a lift to the hotel for my dinner. Fed and watered, my legs still hate me but will hopefully be willing to negotiate tomorrow as we embark on the next stage of the journey.