The character of the trail changes on this leg; previously it had been along either roads or canal towpaths, whilst this leg follows forestry tracks along the northern bank of Loch Lochy. It is a surprisingly long walk, and sadly the loch remains out of view for much of the time. It is an easy stroll, with no particularly troublesome ascents or descents.
3 hours 19 minutes
Map of the leg
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format.
This leg starts off at the junction of the B8005 and a forestry track NN200886; here turn right to join a forestry road.
Follow the forestry road as it becomes a track and starts to head through the forest, soon passing Clunes Forest School on the right, which is situated in two wooden barns. It climbs slightly to reach a little car park situated on a bluff above the loch; pass the car park and follow a track as it curves to the left, heading through a field gate. Immediately after the gate the track forks; take the right-hand, lower, branch.
The trail is very easy to follow as it heads north-eastwards parallel to the northern shore of Loch Lochy. It slowly rises and falls as it crosses a series of bridges over streams. After 6.6 miles it makes one last ascent, passing a large quarry on the left before meeting another track coming in from the left. Turn right and follow this track as it descends, crossing a cattle grid and passing some lodges on the right to meet a surfaced road at the bridge over the Kilfinnan Burn at NN277957.
Follow the road as it immediately crosses the Kilfinnan Burn; continue straight on along the road for nearly half a mile until it reaches a fork in the road at NN282963. Do not take the branch that heads straight on up the hillside, but instead take a track that leads off across a cattle grate to the right. This soon curves to the right and passes holiday chalets on the left before crossing a flat area of ground to reach the two Laggan Locks at NN285963.
Places of interest
Laggan Locks takes the Caledonian Canal out of Loch Lochy and into the cut that leads for a mile and a half into the southwestern end of Loch Oich. In 1544 the Battle of the Shirts occurred between Clan Cameron and a combined force from Clan Fraser and Clan Grant. The Wikipedia entry has more information about the battle, but I for one am overjoyed by the descriptive names of so many Scottish battles - they are both intriguing and extraordinary.
location UID #311
The Caledonian Canal
The Caledonian Canal should have been one of Scotland's great engineering triumphs. Before its opening, any ship wanting to go between Scotland's two great cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh has to undertake a long journey via the south coast of Britain or a shorter but more perilous voyage around the north coast of Scotland. Many ships were being lost on this voyage, and the line of three large lochs that marks the Great Glen seems like an obvious route for a canal.
Unfortunately the lochs are freshwater and are situated at some height above sea level. This means that the work was much more expensive than would otherwise have been the case, and that the engineers tasked to survey the route did not have an easy task. For one thing it was not going to be a normal canal as it would be able to take seagoing ships. James Watt performed the first survey, and this was followed up by Telford and Josias Jessops.
As is often the case with civil engineering, both time and fiscal estimates were wildly optimistic. The canal took nineteen years to build, finally opening in 1822, and at double the cost. Unfortunately it was outdated almost as soon as it had opened; new sailing and (later) steam ships were too big to fit into the locks. Thus the investors in the canal made a massive loss.
However, their loss is our gain, and the canal still offers boats and small ships a short-cut across Scotland.
location UID #304
The Great Glen
The Great Glen is a feature unmistakable on any map of Britain. It follows the Great Glen Fault that incises a harsh diagonal line across the Highlands, from Fort William in the southwest to Inverness in the northeast. Various glaciations periods have eroded the fault and formed three large freshwater lochs - Loch Loch, Loch Oich and the famous Loch Ness.
Much of the Great Glen is surrounded by high ground, meaning that the glen forms one of the best low-level routes in the region; it is used by the busy A82 road between the west and east coasts and also the Caledonian Canal. Part of it was also used by the Invergarry and Fort Augustus railway line, which closed to goods just after the Second World War.
location UID #306
Transport on this leg is difficult.
Laggan Locks is only a short walk away from the A82(T), from where there are several services back towards Fort William. Service 919 runs five or six times a day, and service 19 operates in the early evenings.
Shiel buses run an irregular service 512A between Gairlochy and Fort William, calling at Bunkaraig House (twenty minutes walk from Clunes); this is far from frequent. Most people wanting to start at Cluneswill be faced with a walk back to Gairlochy, and then a 2.5-mile walk along the quiet B8004 to reach the A82(T) near Spean Bridge, from where coach and bus services run back into Fort William.
For this reason most people will connect this leg with the previous links to Gairlochy, or even to Fort William.
As usual, Traveline Scotland is an excellent resource for planning public transport journeys.