Wow a whole day…. over 12 hours without a single drop of rain…. well up to 7.30pm when we had a few sprinkles! It seems rain is forecast for tonight instead.
We left Gairlochy at just after 9am this morning…. everything was flat calm and very peaceful. Then with no introduction…… coming from behind us, a Caley Cruiser…. hired motor boat appeared and attempted to moor up in front of Poli Poli. The guy on the helm lost control and very nearly backed into our bow. Blowing his own trumpet… T rushed out and helped to retrieve the situation…. taking the bow line from the frightened wife at the pulpit… who said “Nobody has shown us how to do this…” whilst T asked the husband on the helm to throw the stern line onto the pontoon. Two very silent young children watched on from inside the saloon. Goodness knows how they were going to cope… they were about to go into the 8am Gairlochy lock. .
Look closely at the bow of the motor boat in front of Poli Poli …blowing his own trumpet!!
From our mooring immediately outside the “facilities” bothy like tiny house…. we headed north east into our first big loch…. amusingly named Loch Lochy. This loch is, like many of the Scottish locks….finger thin in shape, long and narrow…. about ten miles from the south west to Laggan in the north east.
This could be the toilets and showers building!
On the north side we passed the big, wide bay of Bunarkaig on Loch Lochy…the wartime training ground for British Commandos in 1942-45 where live ammunition and explosives were used in the final training exercise known as an “opposed landing.” The HQ for the commandos during 1942-45 was Achnacarry Castle which is to be found higher up in the great woods overlooking the bay on Loch Lochy.
Passing small hamlets along the way, noticing the spread of the Scottish log cabins for holiday lets, the serene landscape and quiet somewhat spoilt by the roar of traffic on the A82 main road as it paralled the loch from Fort William to Inverness. On the eastern side of the the loch we studied a mammoth fish farm…. huge circular metal cages potruding out into the loch…. no doubt full of hand reared salmon to be sold in Tescos and Sainsbury’s supermarkets.
You have to explain in the photo above why Vasco is thoroughly enjoying himself on the helm and some bloke …er is that the skipper behind him doing crew type work adjusting the fenders??
We passed through our first lock of the day at Laggan…. then into the much smaller Lock Oich… we spotted on the western side a monument titled… “Wells of the Seven Heads”…. maybe something to do with the seven deadly sins mixed up with the waters from seven heads of streams or rivers? Who knows?
Vasco our new crew guy signalling to the skipper that he has everything under control at the bow…his first experience of Scottish locks!
At Aberchalder we not only held up all the traffic on the Fort William to Inverness main A82 road by requesting the opening of the swing bridge as we passed from Loch Oich into the final section of the Caledonian Canal up to Fort Augustus …. but we also noted the famous Bridge of Oich. This used to be the road bridge carrying the A82 across the River Oich… and is famous for its special design… a taper principles suspension bridge 1854 to 1932. Of course everybody knows this!
We passed through three sets of locks today plus two swing bridges. The locks were at Laggan, Cullochy and Kytra. The first at Laggan raised us up…. and the other two lowered us down in levels…. so we had crossed over the highest point of the Caledonian Canal… before then starting our descent to the north east.
Our final berth in Fort Augustus.
We have now completed 30.50 n.miles of the Caledonian Canal from Benavie to Fort Augustus. The second half of this famous canal is largely made up of passage through Loch Ness…. so more or less the half way point.
We arrived in Fort Augustus just before 2pm this afternoon. We firstly moored at the big transit jetty on the north side of the small town…. but after a lot of deliberation and calculation, moved over to a better berth on a pontoon with shore power and within 50 or so yards of the facilities “bothy” building. So our exact position is at the top of the “staircase” of five locks which leads down to Loch Ness.
We are now 1,504.5 n.miles 77 days from Eastbourne which is roughly the halfway point of the Circumnavigation.
The “break out” photo..the small motor boats race out of the fifth and final top lock of the Fort Augusta’s Staircase …after moving from lock to lock for over two hours!!