HARP’s HEART Walk Day 4

Post date: May 16, 2019 2:07:48 PM

Thankful for a night under a solid roof we left the military road and continued Great Glen Way out of Fort Augustus! We also had the opportunity to post some now unneeded items home, and lighten our packs slightly, and make a bit mor space for water, which was needed today as the temperatures hit the mid 20s!On our way out of Fort Augustus we had a choice of either “the high route” or “the low route” to Invermoristo. The high route was slightly longer, and would have provided views of boundary walls, head dykes and faint ghostlike outlines of old and abandoned settlements, something that we are well accustomed to from four seasons of field survey in the Perthshire hills. These post-medieval features tell an all too familiar story across this part of the world, the departure and clearance of people from their ancestral land, the land they lived on and worked for generations. The settlement of Wester Portclair was subject to an archaeological survey in 2013 and the team identified and recorded “46 previously unrecorded archaeological sites, including post-medieval settlement, boundary walls and clearance cairns.” Given that we were now entering the last few days where the walks were longer, and harder going, we opted for the slightly easier low route! But this still provided stunning views over Loch Ness.

The 8 or so miles from Fort Augustus to Invermoriston were long in the heat, and feet have now started to blister quite badly, but we arrived into Invermoriston before 2pm to stop for a late picnic.

As we approached Invermoriston we passed a couple bridges over the River Moriston. The oldest of the two ‘Invermoriston Old Bridge’ dates to 1803-21 when Telford was overseeing massive improvements in roads across the Highlands. Often his improvements would follow the pre-existing military routes, however, the north bank of Loch Ness was not served by a military road. Indeed Roy does not show a major route-way passing through Invermoriston. In 1933 a new bridge was constructed just to the south of Telford’s bridge, and this carries the A82 over the river and on through Invermoriston.

Invermoriston itself is a picturesque wee place with lovely views over Loch Ness and a very intriguing connection to St Columba! (of Iona fame). St Columba is credited with spreading Christiany through Scotland and in Invermoriston there is a churchyard and a well which are associated with him. The story regarding the well goes like this: During Pictish times the well was poisonous and the water would cause boils and ulcers if splashed onto the skin. Sometime in the 6th century AD St Columba was passing through the area and visited the well and drove out the evil spirits and blessed the water. After this the water was clean and pure and said to have healing powers!. The church is just across the road fromthe well and is said to have been founded by St Columba! Unfortunately the well doesn’t look like it could cure people today...

Our route continued as we tried to get 5 miles beyond Invermoriston, and the initial climb, whilst providing breathtaking views, was pretty relentless! But, we persevered and continued on our way past an old stone cave until we found a small spot to pitch up, with stunning views down to Loch Ness.

Not too far from our campsite for the night was, according to canmore, a battle site! Lon na Fola was, according to folklore and other historical accounts, the site of a 1602 battle between the Mackenzie’s and the Macdonald’s of Glengarry. It is said that the MacDonald’s had been raiding Mackenzie lands and had burned the Church of Kilchrist. They were then pursued and defeated in this area. No artefacts have been found relating to the battle. However, the story remains.

We clocked in a bit more than 14 miles today, and were grateful for our boil in the bag bef goulash, a soft place to rest our heads, and some catch up tv to wind down!