Tour of the Lochs - 25 April 2015
Story and photos - Jim Paterson
Gathering at Old North InnHighland
Car Club's tour of the Lochs invited us to drive a route that would
take in some of the many lochs hiding in the highland glens around the
Great Glen. Most of us are familiar with Loch Ness, but we soon found
out that there are more than a few others hidden away, just waiting for
a group of classic car enthusiasts to seek them out.
I took the
opportunity to take my son's 1970 Austin Healey Sprite for its first
outing of the year. As it will be heading for Spain on the Montagnes e
France later in the year it seemed a good shakedown event, as well as
good fun. In the navigator seat was my wife Rona. In true soft top
style we tried to keep the top down all the time. However heading to
Inverness on the Friday the clouds darkened around Blair Atholl and we
succumbed as the rain began to fall heavily.
morning greeted us with sunshine and blue skies, so with top down and
stowed away, we headed for the start at the Old North Inn at
Inchmore, a change from HCC usual start at Fairways. Mark Forbes had
put together a 175 mile tour around the Great Glen, for the 24
starters, and once signed on we were soon flagged off by Mark and entry
secretary Fiona Munro.
me it was retrace our tyre tracks back to Inverness, where we started!
Soon got on to the new A82 route heading towards Fort William, along
the north side of Loch Ness. Not for long though as we headed up the
hills toward Blackfold on the Great Glen Way.. Felt like back in the
Alps as the climb got steeper and steeper, providing great views back
to the Loch Ness. CCHMSC and HCC member Dave Spence was behind us
in his wife Maureen's 1958 Morris Minor. I thought this is going to be
a challenge for the little car, and it was. Ask Dave if he had to go
down to first gear!
We met Mags and Don Campbell in their 1955
Sunbeam Talbot 90 as we all headed down to Glen Convinth, and
Kiltarlity. Onward to the River Beauly, passing Loch Bruicheach,
before reaching Strathglass hugging the River Glass. Narrow
tight section where eyes peeled for oncoming traffic over the hidden
dips was order of the day. Simon and Shirley Jackson in their
1997 Mazda MX5 in trying to keep well into the left hooked the
nearside gutter which pulled them into the ditch, leaving the little
car beached, going nowhere! A queue of competitors soon built up, but
many hands make light work, especially if you have tow rope in the
boot. Soon dragged out, back on four wheels and everyone on their way.
Oh of the joys of Classic motoring.
We were all glad to join the
A831 heading back to Drumnadrochit. This fast section allowed the more
competitive crews in the quicker cars to get by and blow the cobwebs
away. Rejoining the A82 toward Fort William again meant a
leisurely drive with the visiting tourists, enjoying the views across
At Invermoriston it was time to take to the hills
again, through Glen Moriston, alongside the River Moriston. We
caught a glimpse of Loch Cluanie, then Loch Loyne, before going over
the hill to reach Loch Garry, on our way down to Invergarry, back on
the north shore of Loch Ness. A free run up to Fort Augustus on the A82
got us to our lunch halt at Stravaigers Lodge, but not before the
Sprite crew, and quite a few others, missed the turn and headed
straight out of Fort Augustus. Why are all these rally cars coming at
us I wondered? The penny dropped and soon we turned round and were
welcomed with hot soup and sandwiches, plus a lot of banter from the
Mark at the Stravaigers RestartFully
refuelled we lined up as Mark flagged us off again at 1 minute
intervals on the second section. Good idea to prevent us all dashing
off together, creating a giant procession.
We were now on the
south side of Loch Ness, and climbing up into the hills passed Loch
Tarff, Loch nan Eun, Loch Knockie, and Loch Mhor as we headed
east. Loch Kemp, at Whitebridge was really out of sight, so not sure if
that counts! I was running out of paper to keep track of the lochs
which started to come thick and fast. Loch Ruthven was next up on our
left then we circled round Loch Duntelchaig. now does that count twice,
as Loch Ashie was in between the two sightings?
downhill descent to the A9 at Daviot took us along Strathnairn, before
a quick crossover the A9 to head for Cawdor Castle. A loop round to
head back west to Inverness we passed Culloden and the battlefield.
Over the Kessock Bridge to the Black Isle and along the north side of
the Beauly Firth took us to Muir of Ord. Nearly finished, with a quick
drive to Beauly and back to the Old North Inn, for a buffet meal at the
Well I make it 12 lochs on route, and more if you
count second sightings. Amazing views, great scenery, fabulous
roads, great company, good stopovers (if you can navigate to them
done to Mark and the HCC team for a fantastic event. Just as well it
was Saturday, as my drive down to Edinburgh on the Sunday was greeted
with snow over the Slochd summit. Definitely had the top up then. The
Drive It Day event out of Inverness got its fair share too. Read all about it - Drive It Day
wait for the Crofterra in September when once again we will get to
drive some more terrific highland roads. .
Updated 2 May 2015