Back on the road, this was our last day, walking the final seven miles from Blackfold Cottage to the finish point at
. There would be no cooked breakfasts for us, after dropping the group off, we returned to Inverness and parked our cars by the Inverness Castle Islands in the River Ness (about a mile short of the finishing point) and started to walk back towards the rest of the group. This was the way I’d started the previous year, walking from the Castle up out of Inverness via the sports complex, over the Tomnahurich Bridge and past the old . It’s a gentle climb through housing estates then into forest after the hospital, you need to keep an eye on the sign posts in the sports complex, I didn’t get lost exactly, I temporarily became unknowledgeable about my exact location relative to where I wanted to be, that is my story and I am sticking to it. There is also a camp site in the area, I say ‘is’ when I mean ‘was’ because it seems to be closed, no doubt a hulking great big Asda or Tesco will appear on the site and another nail will be driven into the town centre’s coffin. Craig Dunain Mental Hospital
Even since last year the area around the old Hospital has been developed further, the hospital building itself seems to still be in a state of change (flats I presume, they’ll probably be haunted) and houses have also been built.
Next door to the old hospital is Great Glen House, inside you can find the HQ of Scottish National Heritage and the attractively named Paths For All partnership, because as you know, everyone should have a path of there own. I like to think people regularly go forth from Great Glen House and sneak up on unsuspecting members of the public and award them a path, it is after all, called Paths For All.
I probably sound a bit daft, which is handy because Craig Dunain hospital when it was open was a Mental Health Unit (which is what we call them nowadays) back then, it was a plain old mental hospital, not a lot of stories remain about what went on there except to say, it was a harsh place to be, with Electro-convulsive therapy used with what can only be described as whimsical enthusiasm. Disturbingly, stories of mothers giving birth out of wedlock being sent to Craig Dunain exist, even people convicted of drink driving spent time there.
It closed in 1999, a fire was set by some young folk some time later, although the story goes they had no idea a ghost hunting film crew had left cameras filming over night, all their antics were recorded.
Just as we were about to turn off the road and head into the forest above the hospital, we spied a group of youths emerging from the hospital, our youths as it turns out. It was just as well, how far would we have got before realising we’d missed them?
It was a tearful reunion; emotions were high due to the end being so close. Actually that isn’t really true, it wasn’t tears of elation on our faces it was rain. We about turned and headed down the final couple of damp miles into
Inverness. This happened last year on the West Highland Way, we pretty much got away with decent weather, we had some rain earlier in the week during the night but on this our last day it was a steady down pour, not torrential, just steady but no less soaking for it.
From Craig Dunain and the Paths For All World HQ the Great Glen Way snakes down between farm lands, sports fields and some housing then along the edge of a golf course until eventually you are reunited with the canal. A short walk up the canal (walking the opposite way from the rest of the week) brings you to the
and the main A82 road. From there, it’s into the sports centre car park and onwards to the Tomnahurich Swing Bridge Island in the River Ness. Across the swollen river and into town approaching the castle grounds, watched by hundreds of Inverness townspeople, I can’t lie, there was no bunting or flags being waved nor was any one cheering us on but we could all see it in the faces of the people of Inverness as we passed, they knew, oh they knew alright.
With the castle in sight and tears (or was it rain) welling in our eyes, on we walked and then we were there, no fanfare no celebration. We were just there.
Obviously for us drivers it was a bit of an anticlimax, we hadn’t walked much of it, but for those who had, it must have meant something, even if only they wouldn’t have to walk any more for a wee while… Except that wasn’t strictly true.
You see, we hadn’t told them we passed the cars a mile and half back, when we did, they weren’t very happy.
The end is marked by an obelisk with information about the route; it’s just inside the grounds of
which now houses the Sherriff Courts, which might have been handy given how unhappy the group were about having to walk away back to the cars. Inverness Castle
Before we left for our trip I’d contacted the local news paper to ask if they’d like to do a short story, they said they would. When I got home, I put a short email together with the details and attached a couple of photos. I also thought it would be a good idea to include a couple of quotes from the young folk, I suppose I could’ve have asked them to provide one but if I’m being honest, it was much more fun to just make them up myself.
See if you can spot it.
Thanks for reading.
Go back to part 1
For reference, although in the report above I am described as a 'Scout Leader', this is lazyness on the part of the newspaper reporter, I am involved (have been for years) but don't own a uniform, mostly because they are deeply unfashionable and the idea of an adult (or anyone over the age of say, 10) wearing one; is a bit strange.
That really is all now.