WALKING THE GREAT GLEN WAY
By Paddy Dillon
Published by Cicerone
Softback in plastic wallet
192pp plus separate map booklet
One of a series of guides to celebrate Britain’s long-distance National Trails, written by the indefatigable walker and author, Paddy Dillon, this guide to walking the Great Glen merits review on a cycling website despite the fact that the noble two-wheeler gets nary a mention. Yes, it does, because the section between Fort William and Fort Augustus mimics NCR78 and, though not maintained as a cycle route, the Inverness to Fort Augustus section is often cycled by those seeking an off-road route.
Between Fort Augustus and Inverness, NCR78 climbs away form the shore of Loch Ness. eventually dropping down to Foyers to follow the southern edge of the great lake most of the way to Inverness. Until the 1930’s this was the main road. In my experience it is much to be preferred to the A82.
The guide provides thorough coverage of all aspects of a multi-day walk - a fit cyclist could do the lot in a day, but tourers are likely to explore off route and take a couple of days, at least. The usual Cicerone quality and style is maintained; introduction to the route, equipment, advice on when to travel, accommodation etc. The route is then described in both directions, starting with south-west to north-east. Finally, there are appendices giving contact details, an historical overview and a brief gaelic glossary. Very usefully for brief explorations off-route there is a separate 1:25000 map booklet (though this does not - and wouldn’t be expected to - extend t the south shore of Loch Ness.
In some ways it is a shame that NCR78 does not merit a couple of pages, at least, as an appendix. This is a triumph of editorial and series cohesion, one suspects, and is not unreasonable. However, for a cyclist looking for a quiet route along the Great Glen, especially with less experienced riders in the party, this guide will prove invaluable.
A note on cycling along the Great Glen
Having cycled the A82, my brief love affair with it has ended due to fast-moving pods of vehicles paying little attention to anything coming the other way or demonstrating any awareness that there might be slower road-users. Add a couple of near head-on collisions with car drivers losing control of their vehicles and you get the context of my reasoning. Hope you ha a happier time.
Reviewed by Steve Dyster
In some places the A82 cannot be avoided. On a recent visit there were a good number of cyclists on it, as they have every right to be. For pleasure, rather than utility, the canal towpath from Banavie, mixed with quiet roads, forest tracks and section of disused railway track alongside Loch Oich provides a slower by much more relaxed experience (NCR78). The Great Glen Way between Fort Augustus and Inverness was once a cycle route. but is no longer maintained as such. I’d prefer the old road along the south shore, however, this misses out Invermoriston, Urquhart Castle and Drumnadrochit, and associated road junctions heading north.
North of Fort Augustus the cyclist on the Great Glen Way will probably find an off-road bike helpful; tracks narrower, less consistently surfaced and with longer, tougher gradients. There will also be more dismounts and short diversion, especially in the environs of inverness.
PUBLISHED APRIL 2016