Setting off from the B&B I had already decided to walk to the centre of the village having run all the way in yesterday. Despite this I ran as I figured it would be quicker, and also less embarrassing if the Americans from the B&B passed having shared with them that I was running and declined their kind offer of sharing their transport to the top of the hill.
Back on the Great Glen Way again, the first section runs alongside the busy A82 and makes for an easy couple of miles. That aside, it was a relief to turn off and head onto the trails again. There were gates – lots of them.
The shade from the trees was welcoming as the heat was building despite it only being around ten in the morning. Even the sheep were feeling it, all bar a couple lying down!
Last of Loch Ness
The views back along the loch were lovely, all the more so with the cloudless blue sky.
This is where the climb for the day began and continued for a few miles. I pretty much walked these, although I was walking fairly briskly, passing a few others on the way. I felt especially sorry for those carrying big packs and sweating profusely, not the best way to start the day.
Higher up the trail widened to a fire road and the gradient appeared to ease off a bit. I caught up with someone I’d met on previous days and walked a short way with him before running on.
The running didn’t last long as the road started to climb once more. I walked these uphill sections figuring with the combination of heat and distance for the day (around 20 miles) there was no point wearing myself out too soon.
The loch could be glimpsed through the trees and I heard the roar of a jet, spotting two flying above.
There were spots to stop and rest or take in the views. I resisted the urge to sit but did stop for photos regularly.
One final climb and I appeared to have reached the peak of the ascent, the tree line levelling off and then heading across the open moorland. From hereon it was gently undulating with lovely views, the vibrant purple of the heather beautiful.
Tea and Cake at Abriachan
Finally I reached Abriachan Forest, my initial goal for the day, and the legendary Eco Cafe. I followed the signs, rang the bell, and was greeted warmly. While the vegan light lunch offer or soup were tempting, it was cake that I was after, and what a cake it was! I loved that I was given a selection of fruit in addition to my tea and cake. A nice touch, as was being told to stay as long as I wished.
Hitting the Road
Away from the cafe I hit the road. This section was relatively short as I was running. I stopped to chat to a lady in her garden and met Rex the labrador, so keen to show off his London bus toy that he leapt over the dyke. A lovely dog, he enjoyed being petted before I headed on my way again.
By this point I’d heard from Bruce that he was pretty much on schedule for meeting me at 3 pm, my estimated finishing time. I enjoyed different views of the small hills rather than the loch.
The road section ended with a trail signposted that initially ran parallel. Any incline now was very gentle, but my legs were tiring and occasionally I’d allow myself to walk some steps, or count steps to ensure I kept running. I also made deals with myself, such as having to complete a mile before having a walk break.
I did really love the scenery at this point – the purple of the heather, green of the trees and grass, and the blue skies with fluffy clouds. I appreciated the last of the calm and quiet times before returning to the bustle of ‘normal’ life.
Inverness At Last! Done – in every sense!
All too soon I saw the first of Inverness in the distance. I met a couple of bikers at the top of the forest path. They were heading off for the weekend camping and happy to chat about my efforts this week.
The way into Inverness took forever (or felt like it) and it was strange running through houses and being chased by squawking seagulls! I was grateful of my cap as I figured they’d not damage my head if they properly dive-bombed! Safely off their patch I was able to relax a little.
The path took me alongside the canal and then through the park and alongside the river. Here I saw Nessie for the first time!
The riverside path was busy and it was strange running among so many people. I followed the signs and felt a little emotional as I ran up towards Inverness Castle, my final destination; 79 miles done and dusted.
Bruce was due to meet me but the castle was closed with scaffolding all around, and I couldn’t see him. However, on looking around he was there – at the Castle Tavern with a pint of cider all ready for me! That’s love!
We sat for a while enjoying the sunshine. The Americans from the B & B arrived, then the chap I’d been chatting to for a couple of days turned up and the circle was complete. Resisting the temptation to settle in for the evening we bid farewell.