This morning, Rachel and I started riding an hour after the rest of the group because our breakfast didn’t start until 8:30AM, and we didn’t want to pass up a free meal.
Not an unusual occurrence, Rachel’s eyes were about 3x bigger than her stomach for this meal, so I helped with some of the full Scottish breakfast she ordered.
As we worked on breakfast, we eavesdropped while the innkeeper, Carol, shared stories with another table of guests. One of those stories was about the movie Braveheart. Filming began near the village of Glen Nevis, which stands at the foot of Ben Nevis, only a few miles from Fort William. Mel Gibson was so fed up with the midgies, though, that they stopped filming and moved the shoot to Ireland! We also heard that the weather forecast is not to be trusted in Scotland; instead, the preferred method is to look to the hilltops. If they are visible in the morning, then it should be a nice, clear day. It would turn out, though, that even the hills were incorrect today.
It began raining by the time we left the Caledonia House, but the fun trails (although difficult) made up for the soggy weather. We pointed our wheels up the steep slopes north of Loch Ness immediately outside of town, but, fortunately, there were plenty of switch backs to slightly lessen the slope.
All six of us agreed to ride the first of two sections of the optional High Route, which accounted for most of the mileage between Fort Augustus and Invermoriston. As you might expect, the High Route was described as a more demanding and picturesque option than the Low Route, but it was also more technical – with steep inclines, stairs, and large rocks at times. Despite the sustained drizzle and fog (fortunately for them, the others got there before the weather took a turn for the worse, so they had a short period of great views), our choice was still worth it. With the significant climbing behind us, we enjoyed a long stretch of rolling and winding path along the exposed ridge at the top of the mountain looming over Loch Ness. This was the most exciting part of the GGW for us so far!
We caught up with MICK (Madeline, Ian, Corey, Kate) during the descent, to find out that Corey’s chain broke towards the end of the ridge section. Fortunately, they have UK service on one of their cell phones, so he was able to call MACS Adventure, and Nevis Cycles offered to deliver a new bike to Invermoriston, where we planned to stop for lunch/rest anyhow. We were thankful that the chain held on long enough to get Corey up the hill and mostly across the ridge, because from there to Invermoriston, it was mostly downhill.
Kate even let Corey hitch a ride on the way into town!
While waiting at an intersection of trails on our way down, we experienced the wrath of the midgies and understood why Mel Gibson was so annoyed with them (although I’m sure the character he portrayed, William Wallace, would have put up with them without any sign of bother).
Lunch consisted mostly of assorted hot beverages and desserts for the group, and the new bike for Corey was delivered right on cue, as we were paying the bill. Kudos to the cafe in Invermoriston for the fantastic lemon and raspberry cheesecake!
Also, kudos to MACS Adventure and Nevis Cycles for the exceptional service. They also provided a chain tool and spare master link with the new bike, so we could perform our own on-trail repairs in case of another incident.
The GGW took us quickly back uphill after Invermoriston.
Rachel and I had a tough decision to make: take the second section of the High Route again for more fun, technical riding and a chance (albeit slim) of great views or stick with the rest of our group on the Low Route. It wasn’t easy, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ride more of the High Route, so we hustled in hopes that we would reach the intersection of the High and Low Routes on the other side before MICK.
We stumbled upon a troll bridge and managed to make it across without waking up the troll.
Once again, the High Route was foggy and wet, but the terrain was a lot of fun, and the atmosphere was still great sans views.
We reconvened with the rest of the group on the other side, having succeeded in reaching the intersection first by a few minutes.
The rest of the ride was spent descending to Drumnadrochit on a mixture of gravel roads and single track. Some horses sneaked through one gate while I held it open.
In town, both parties quickly checked into our respective B&B’s, showered, started cleaning the mud off of our gear, and arranged wet gear near heaters to dry. Afterwards, we walked to the Loch Ness Museum then back to the Fiddler’s Restaurant for drinks and dinner, followed by an early night’s sleep.
Sadly, tomorrow is our last day riding the Great Glen Way, but we still have a lot to look forward to in Inverness and Edinburgh before returning home!