The Great Glen is a huge geological fault, not nearly as many faults as me as my wife likes to point out, that cuts diagonally across the highlands 62 miles long with shadow of Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak dominating nearby Fort William in the south. Today though we are heading a little further north and extreme dog walking/monster hunting towards the largest body of water in the Great Glen fault, its most famous place and resident, Loch Ness and home of the legendary mythical monster Nessie.
Following the A82, we pass the Well of Seven Heads, another gruesome episode in clan warfare which is the story of the murder of two sons of the 12th Chief of Keppoch by seven of their kinsmen in 1663, and of revenge killings two years later. Allegedly, the heads of the murderers were washed in the spring on the site and then presented to the Chief of the Glengarry MacDonnells. It’s a lovely spot, if a little busy on this main road, with views over Loch Oich on the way to Loch Ness.
Loch Ness is no doubt the most monstrous tourist PR stunt in history. It is the ultimate tourist trap with 23 miles of deep water from Fort Augustus at the southern tip, Castle Urquhart in-between and Lochend at the northern end towards Inverness with plenty of space to pull in the punters. It looks cold, grey, murky and a hell of a lot of water. Deep enough at 755ft to hide all sorts, dead bodies, probably mine at this rate, and allegedly Nessie the Loch Ness Monster. We sloshed about a bit on the shore with Nelson tentatively dipping a paw in before sniffing and giving up on his monster hunt. Trust me, that dog has the ability to find anything unusual.
The only monsters we saw were the tourists and what dreadful beasts they were too but not nearly as beastly as the tatty tourist attractions, clearly designed to rob all the charm out of the place, Castle Urquhart doing its best rob all your money out of you. While Castle Urquhart saw much conflict passing between the English and the Scots during the Wars of Independence, today, the conflict is all in the car park with legions queuing up to try and spot the beast from the scenic setting over Loch Ness. In all honesty, it’s a little underwhelming, there isn’t that much to see on the west side of Loch Ness.
Figuring that Nessie is non-existent or long dead, we head off to another site of the long dead at the Corrimony Cairn. This is a chambered tomb known as a ‘passage grave’ and if I take my wife to any more of these locations, I’m pretty sure I’ll end up being a resident of one, this isn’t the nerdy neolithic monster megalithic monument tour of last year. Built around 4000 years ago, this domed chamber looks pretty impressive work with careful construction leading to fantastic preservation today. The chamber is aligned south-west for a midwinter sunset common with other ‘Clava’ passage graves. The mound is built from small stones gathered around a central chamber with a still intact passage chamber that you can climb through on hand and knees. There is a large capstone with cup-marks that would have formed part of the roof. Eleven standing stones circle Corrimony Cairn. Excavations in 1952 revealed the evidence of a single burial, probably of a woman but the remains had deteriorated in the acidic soil leaving only a dark stain.
On the way back we stop by Invermoriston Falls, a small and pretty village that forms part of the walking route of the Great Glen Way. The River Moriston, River of Waterfalls, winds its way to Loch Ness through a woodland of mature scots pines and carpet moss on every tree with McDog (Lord Nelson) wanting to pee on every one of them . There are some great views and steep drops along the way with waterfalls and rushing water making for a tranquil walk. It’s certainly more tranquil than what our Scotland Road Trip has in store for us tomorrow.