Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Full moon over mysterious Loch Ness, but no monster...this time.

They say, show me the evidence.
I say, show me the non-evidence.
- Michael Karnow

Mirroring the sky,
Loch Ness, deep, dark, cold...and mysterious.
It was the day of the full moon...and two days before Halloween. This would be a good day to hike high above the stunningly beautiful loch - and, with luck, remain out of reach of any powerful "monster" that might emerge from the dark, cold waters.

We had wanted to hike at least part of the Great Glen Way, the 127 kilometre trail that follows Scotland's massive and dramatic geological fault line from Fort William to Inverness. The 24 km section from Drumnadrochit to Invermoriston promised some great views of Loch Ness and over 900 metres in elevation gain and loss - that's 3000 feet. - on frequent switchbacks. So much for the level walk we had imagined!

Single track along the Great Glen Way.
The hike took us through some very familiar trees including maples, oaks, fir, cedar, and massive ferns and "broom" - in combination with the very familiar grey and drizzle, we could easily have been on Vancouver Island! The ubiquitous and delightful heather, however, reminded us that we were still in Scotland.

Along the path, a marker pointed up the hill to "The Stone Seat". It was well worth the short detour.

The "Stone Seat"
The "seat", constructed of large flat rocks, was apparently built in Victorian times. Great location, the view over the loch from this vantage point is wonderful.

Further down the trail is another construction, a stone cave that someone has painstakingly built into the hill - a great place to have lunch if the rain is pouring down.

Exiting the "Stone Cave" - shelter in a storm.
Inside the "cave".
We have learned to check the "bog factor", before setting out into the hills. This is a guide that suggests how often (and how deep) you may find yourself in terrain over your boots in the frequent wet and muddy spots. This leg of the Great Glen Way was rated as a "1" - and as indicated, there were very few spots, despite the wet weather, that threatened a serious "soaker".

The only other folks we met over the day were six young men from Belgium who had left Inverness the day before and were walking the entire route to Fort William. The probable 40-year-difference in our ages accounted, in part, for their obvious enthusiasm for doing the entire 127 km! :)

The rain let up, the skies began to clear...
perhaps in preparation for the night's full moon.
Trying to digest the full experience of this most amazing hike, we had lingered almost too long in places. It had turned out to be more of a hill walk than a "stroll along the loch" and we were behind our anticipated timings. Arriving in Drumnadrochit, it was almost sunset - some of the woods along the route were already so dark that, even in the daylight, it seemed that night had fallen.

A dense carpet of needles covered the deep woods -
dark, even in the daylight.
Finally, in town, we found the bus stop by the post office and waited in the chilly air for a bus that would take us back to our car in Invermoriston. In the meantime, the sun set and the full moon rose over Loch Ness, its light reflecting off waters that are almost (an incredible!) 1000 feet deep.

Bus stop, wet day...night fall in Drumnadrochit.
I wondered out loud about what it would be like to be in our sea kayaks, on the loch, at that very moment. Perhaps "Nessie" would be looking wistfully up at the brilliant moon, and at us, from the darkness and loneliness of the depths...we shivered at the thought.

Maybe there's something there, maybe there isn't. 
We'll never know, but sometimes 
it's fun to creep yourself out thinking about it. 
- Leonard (from "Big Bang Theory")

Maybe next time, Nessie.


PS There is more water in Loch Ness than all the lakes in Scotland, England, and Wales combined.


  1. Looks like it was a great day and a good hike. You're right from the pics it looks just like home. Glad the "monster" didn't get you. LOL

  2. Indeed it was, L. Strange how "possible" it feels that Nessie could be there - the water is so deep and so dark. Hmm... Imagination set free! Gotta love it. :)

  3. Hi Duncan and Joan, I am glad you are having such a great holiday in the old country! If you are really desperate for a sea kayak fix, Stuart at Seakayakoban does kayak rental and you can launch in Oban Bay, 150m from the shop!


  4. Hi Douglas, just when we thought we had our urge to paddle under control, you make the idea very tempting indeed. :) We should have thought to pay the surcharge for one extra bag on the aircraft and brought, at the very least, our dry suits. If we don't get out on the water this time, we will the next. Many thanks for stopping by with that info. Warm wishes. Duncan.

  5. Hi Duncan and Joan,
    Wonderful pictures and great stirring of the imagination! Thanks so much for sharing!
    Jen, from High River

  6. Hi Jen,

    Glad you enjoyed the pics. Yes, it's a place that certainly stirs the imagination. The inner child would love to see "something" emerge from the waters! :) Best wishes to all. Duncan.