It really doesn’t matter where I’ve been the menu has been pretty much the same. Deep fried fish, burgers, mac’n cheese, pizza and chips with every dish. How many chips can you really eat? I’ve decided I prefer cod to haddock in fact I love cod. Tonight though we are at the Lock Inn in Fort Augustus looking back towards Loch Ness and we are having homemade steak pie and veggies and of course the mandatory potatoes but mine are not chips Peter’s having those.
It has rained all day and there’s not really much to Fort Augustus though it is such a quaint village. It’s a location where there are five canal locks for the boats to pass through, it takes an hour and a half to pass through the five, and depending which way you approach the locks are uphill or downhill and one size definitely does not fit all.
The water is really high, it’s momentarily stopped raining and the water is like glass. After my experience yesterday I’m very guarded about the water levels so I’m happy to look from a distance.
We haven’t had a road report today as we’ve been ensconced out of the rain, yesterday however we heard multiple reports of lochs bursting banks, road closures, people being stranded in their cars and having to be rescued. Storm Callum struck Laggan Locks at 4.30am where we were sleeping on a yacht almost as old as Peter (but looking a bit more worn than him at 68), the wind was howling around us, the rain pelting down and the yacht’s mast and ropes created its own orchestra but the boat didn’t rock once.
We had struck up a conversation with a fellow on the Eagle Barge Inn, (yep it’s a barge boat converted into a pub), who owns the boat behind the Lady Andorina, our floating accommodation. Over the course of the evening he told us that two years ago or so soon after the new owner purchased the yacht, the Lady A broke its moorings in the middle of the night and in the midst of a storm it floated down the canal careening into several boats as it headed for Loch Lochy. Yikes, this was a fine time to be telling us that!
Since arriving in Scotland I’ve come to the conclusion that many a person likes to tell yarns and the bigger the story the more we should keep them talking so that eventually we hear the real story or at least sift out the truth. I’m not certain whether it’s boredom that makes them do it or that perhaps the volume of tourists that they have tired of, but people tell some doozies. Regardless of the tale tellers though there have been no threatening characters and some incredibly nice people.
The guest houses here are employing out-of-towners, well more like out-of-Country-er. So far we’ve had Romanian hosts, Taiwanese, Australian, and a fair number of Americans serving behind counters as well as Dutch and German if my hearing is en pointe. In some cases there have been people on working holidays like the couple working on the Eagle Barge, who work from Monday to Thursday and travel on weekends buying cheap flights to Denmark, Belgium etc or drive to different parts of Scotland. This weekend they are off to Orkney. On a ferry! In the storm?! ??
The Taiwanese lass, Phoebe in Fort William, had only been working there two weeks and interestingly the breakfast room was full of Asians. In Edinburgh where we had Romanians hosts, guests were mainly Eastern European with the odd Aussie Peter met from Kerang. Kerang?!! Where the dickens is Kerang?
I’ve come to the conclusion now that we have moved on to Drumnadrochit where we will spend the night, that locals are friendlier than the out-of-towners, they are more likely to engage in conversation, to earnestly lend assistance particularly if you are a hiker without a vehicle. Besides that, when I visit a country I want to be engaging with its people at the frontline. When I go to Hong Kong I don’t want an Aussie host I want a Chinese, local to Hong Kong and so on.
No matter how you choose to journey from Fort William to Inverness it is a high tourist zone and even those who look like locals are visitors. In Fort William I asked four people directions before finding one who was local, all were exceptionally kind but none had the answer to my query.
We’re staying in a b’n’b on a farm, I hope we don’t have to get up to milk the cows though two things are in my favour, I’m still awake in the early hours and I am not feeling the cold at the moment. Have I assimilated to the climate or is it I’ve not been here long enough for the cold to seep into my bones?
Two young 30 something year old sister Quita and Isla, run the family b’n’b Drumbuie Farm not to be confused with Drambuie the whisky based liqueur. Gorgeous girls friendly, warm and chatty. Their surname is Urquhart and we are only two miles from Urquhart Castle so there must be a link somewhere. Surprisingly I found as I did a quick Google search that the Urquhart’s this far into the highlands were not Jacobite supporters, and following the wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century, the castle was given over to Clan Grant who were supporters of William Wallace and subsequently the medieval castle became a royal castle.
We’re dining out tonight again, Loch Ness Inn has been highly recommended by the Urquhart girls, the Inn has a pick-up service which makes it a no-brainer since it hasn’t stopped raining today and the Inn is one kilometre away. An option was to dine at The Fiddler’s cafe/restaurant where everything on the menu contains whisky or is whisky smoked but you’d have to wring us out before we could sit down to eat.
For the second time in 4 1/2 weeks I’m dressing up which simply means not wearing hiking pants. I’ve taken the opportunity to wash them and I can’t believe what came out of them…..half a Loch, a tree stump, a barrow of decaying moss, a stag antler and I thought a pair of pliers but it was the wire from the deer fence.
Tonight we drink a toast to clean hiking gear.