Monday, 19 November 2012

The Great Glen Way Pt 4

People are often confused about land rights in Scotland, England has a fairly healthy trespass law, Scotland on the other hand is different, this is why wheel clamping is illegal in Scotland and parking tickets issued by private companies can be ignored (yes, if you get a ticket and its not from a council warden, police warden of council representative, you can put it in the bin.) In Scotland, you can have reasonable access to land for camping and walking, so long as you’re not pitching your tent on someone’s patio of course, arguably for us, the fire we had at this campsite could be an aggravating factor, but by just being there, as long as you’re not causing anyone what could reasonably be called ‘alarm’, its fine for you to spend the night.

Several lorries, cars and other vehicles trundled past, refreshingly; no one came to shoe us away, we had a healthy warming fire and a slightly creepy night having as we did in the backs of our minds the fairy glen. With the weather taking a turn for the worse, this was to be the last night we’d spend out in the open, earlier that day we’d booked ourselves into these hobbit micro cabins on the banks of Loch Ness for the fourth night, because the weather was definitely getting worse.

That day was also going to be a short one, from the camp site to Invermoriston, a distance of eight miles, although you can cut a mile and a half off by not doing the annoying final dog leg into Invermoriston. While they walked we left cars in the car park and went on to Drumnadrochit to check a campsite at Borlum Bridge, it’s on the foot print map, in all the tourist brochures and signposted off the road. It is a little frustrating though when you have these so-called campsites advertising tent pitches when what they actually have is an open field (a sloping one at that,) no fire pits or indoor space to keep warm, I don’t know what people did in the countryside before the arrival of things like electricity and heat, after you’ve had your tea you can either stand around a freezing windswept field, stand in the toilets or just go to bed. Since the temperature was dropping and the general direction of Weatherly travel was toward rain, we decided not to camp out at Borlum but go into Drum and find out if there was another site in the area, ideally one in which we could set a fire or have some access to warmth.

If you like horses and have a motor home though, Borlum campsite is just the ticket.

We decided some might say selfishly, to conflate an enquiry about potential campsites with the consumption of a cooked breakfast, I can say where the Glen Café in Drumnadrochit fails in terms of info about local campsites; it makes up for with its fine all day breakfasts.

Eventually, with distended bellies we went back to Invermoriston, it was only midday. We were expecting to walk back towards the walking group but they’d already arrived in the village. It was still too early to check in to our Hobbit Microcabins, so we went back to Drum for some shopping.

The Hobbit Microcabins sit in their own ‘village’ in the Loch Ness Holiday Park, we were given keys by the elderly site steward, thoughtfully they’d given us three cabins furthest away from any other customers, obviously knowing in advance the Scout Movement’s weakness for indulging wild late night parties.

All the cabins were named after characters or places from the Hobbit books, I haven’t seen any of the films so I have no idea what it all meant, they’re just random words to me that may or may not have meaning in the real world, I think some might have been from the Harry Potter series of books, I didn’t care, the sun was out it was early afternoon, the tents were drying nicely and we had somewhere warm to sit, albeit inside a ten foot diameter keg but it was a warm keg.

I can’t recommend these cabins highly enough, we used them on the West Highland Way in Kinlochleven, they’re cheap (£16 per head) and comfortable, these cabins on Loch Ness had fridges but no flat screen TV’s or microwaves as sported by the Kinlochleven variety, I remember watching From Russia With Love in my cabin, on the TV obviously, not the microwave.

Which is essentially how I’ve come to be sitting in a Hobbit Microcabin typing this while overly warm air wafts toward me from the fan heater attached to the inside of what, as I said, looks like a cross between a sauna and a Wendy house.

We sat up that night chatting and drinking, (those of us of an appropriate age of course.) When you spend time with young people the topic of conversation is usually far ranging, we’d spoken about this before, but one of our group; a seventeen year old who we’ll call Paul because that is name; told us a story. His girlfriend is a student at St Andrew’s University, he was up visiting one weekend and decided to stay over, he sent a text to his Dad asking if this was ok, his Dad, not being entirely unplugged from reality knew the potential out come of this replied with the following sage advice: Aye, be careful, lol.

As you might imagine this became an oft visited topic and unfortunately we’re still talking about it now, a rash of pictures have appeared across face book featuring famous moments of peril (one including the Titanic setting sale from Cork) captioned: Be careful, lol. There are many others, not limited to a depiction of Adam and Eve picking an apple from the tree of temptation in the Garden of Eden, (I’m quite proud of that one…)

As you might imagine, walking is a fairly mundane activity, most of us do it most days. When you’re walking a lot miles in a day it can get a bit boring, the group get along well though and fill the time with all sorts of chat, sometimes they sing, the most prevalent song being the theme from the newly released Bond film ‘Skyfall’. That was quickly changed in honour of Michael (a fellow leader) falling in to the barge at Kytra to ‘Mikefall’ with new words to suit. Another thing we realised was that when Michael whistled, he looked like a gibbon, obviously you had to be there but he did, it was actually a bit uncanny, every time he whistles it is now accompanied (if we’re there) with gusts of laughter, I suppose its just one of those things.

We sat up till fairly late talking about this and that but eventually retired.

Go to Pt 5

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