After early morning deluges of heavy rain, and a short familiarisation rope training session with Vasco, Poli Poli finally slipped her lines from the Banavie mooring and headed up the Caledonian Canal North eastwards. 10.30am was a late start but there had been a lot of boat prep to do beforehand including showers and a porridge breakfast aboard.
Traffic for the first hour was virtually non-existent except for three canoeists who we spoke to in passing…they were canoeing the 60 miles to Inverness! The most colourful and exciting event was that we passed Puffer Vic 32 coming down back from Inverness. The black coal smoke from her prominent chimney stack was very “smelly” to say the least!
On our way to the big single lock at Gairlochy the scenery either side was magnificent…huge green hills forest clad and very occasionally bathed in sunshine …between the very occasional rain showers. The route the canal follows is called the Great Glen Way and is really the valley of the River Lochy which runs parallel to the canal.
Poli Poli carefully navigated through two swing bridges before reaching the top lock at Gairlochy. Here we reacquainted ourselves with the lovely Gillian …the excellent lock keeper lady we had met first at Neptune’s Staircase where the accident to Chris had taken place. Gillian certainly remembered Poli Poli.
We decided to finish our sailing at the start of Loch Lochy . Just outside the lock we found an excellent pontoon ..empty as well.. so we moored up by early afternoon. Right next to the toilet, showers and laundry and as it has turned out…a very secluded and peaceful spot. That was until a flock of floating Canada Geese came and had a look at Poli Poli!
Our mooring at Gairlochy…early afternoon…some blue sky !! To the left the lock and behind Poli Poli the Loch!
After a late lunch of filled rolls we tried to organise a taxi to take us to the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge…about three miles away. This did not work out as the single taxi driver in Spean Bridge ..well his motor was off the road and he was waiting for a new licence from the Council. Other taxis were available but would have to come out from Fort William at great expense.
T decided to do the walk…a round trip of nearly six miles..and got absolutely soaked to the skin after plodding through three torrential downpours.
The National Memorial to the Commando soldiers who first trained in this area of Scotland was both a moving and memorable experience.
Youngest brother Roger who sadly died earlier this year served in Northern Ireland with the Royal Marine Commandos and brother John, also a Royal Marine Commando serving in both Northern Ireland and the Falkland Islands. My visit a tribute to both brothers.
Gairlochy is a quiet, peaceful part of the Caledonian Canal disconnected from our usual expectations of bus routes, shops, pubs, etc etc… unusual and long may it remain so.
We are now 7 miles further up the Canal …progress yes…not a bad first day with new crew in training.