An early start from Fife. I had three trains to catch today. I got on my Specialised 29er loaded up with my new seat post rack and bag and headed for the station and the the 5:53 to Edinburgh. I always enjoy this journey and over the last few months it has been made more special with the construction of the new crossing across the Forth. This early in the morning the cables seem to glisten in the sunshine. Alighting at Haymarket I made my way to platform 4 and climbed on the Glasgow train so far so good everything on time and although busy with bikes no need to book on “local” services.
A different story though on the third and final train of the day. The west coast line from Glasgow to Mallaig is one of those journeys about which TV programmes are made and magazine articles are written. Little wonder as it passes through great countryside. Standing at the station I was spotted by a Scotrail customer services member who came straight across and asked what service I was waiting on and if I had a cycle booking. Happy with my answers he turned to another cyclist and when the Londoner said he didn’t have a booking a frown came across his face and the cyclist was told “you need to book this service sir especially during the summer. I shall check but I think we are full”. Luckily there was one space left on the train. The Londoner breathed a sigh of relief. The journey from Glasgow to Fort William takes just under four hours and is an amazing rail trip
Arriving in Fort William just in time for lunch I decided instead to grab some sandwiches and find a nice spot on the GGW to stop and eat.
The GGW begins in the old fort right by the waterside.
The route out of the town is well marked with the distinctive thistle design signs and you soon “zone in” on the markers. The path stays by the River Lochy and then follows the Caol foreshore. Word of warning Soldiers Bridge is. Out of order and you need to carry bikes up a rickety set of steps rather than take the ramp (Aug 2016). You will eventually reach Corpach and the first set of locks however if you take a left turn you will see the Corpach sea lock with it’s distinctive pepper pot lighthouse.
I gazed behind me before I started on the GG proper hoping for a view of Ben Nevis but the top was shrouded in low cloud. I picked up the path again and was soon crossing the railway and the main road by Neptune’s Staircase a series of 8 locks.
It is now that you leave the housing and other signs of habitation behind and head into the countryside. The canal path is easy to ride and well signed with information boards at the many points of interest along the way.
The way now runs alongside Loch Lochy till Laggan Locks. Just before Invergarry Castle I headed west and for my first overnight stop of the trip at Invergarry Hostel. Now known as Saddle mountain. Hostel.