Saturday, 12 October 2013

Bikes, Boats and Brambles

A few days ago I cycled to Dochgarroch which is about 5 miles (8 km) South West of Inverness.
This blog follows the tow-path on the South side of the Caledonian Canal back to Inveness.

Dochgarroch is a small, scattered settlement
whose main livelihood comes from tourist trade
from users of the Caledonian Canal.

This house doubles as a souvenir shop.
On display are potted plants, home baking and
these decorated Loch Ness Stones for £1 each.
Payment is by an honesty box - very relaxed.

Some people live in Dochgarroch but commute to work
in Inverness. Some also commute the other way.

Dochgarroch exists mainly because of its two lock gates on the Caledonian Canal.
A short distance further SW is the point where the Canal opens into Loch Dochfour which in turn opens into Loch Ness.
The overflow over the weir from Loch Dochfour is the main source of the River Ness.

The two lock gates are normally closed and only opened, one at a time, to allow boats through.

So there is always access for walkers or cyclists by at least one route.

(These views are both of the lock gate on the Inverness side.)

It's not unusual to find somebody rummaging in the bushes.

But it's nothing strange or sinister ...
... it's simply the bramble season.

Warning - The branches are extremely jabby!

Caledonian Canal

Bikes and boats
Bikes on boats

Dochgarroch has more boats than houses.

Many chooses to commute by bike along the canal tow-path.
Also popular with walkers with or without dogs.

(No bikes) just birds

The damp, woody environment at this time of year suits a variety of mushrooms ... and brambles.

Mushroom and bike
Mushroom clump
Mushroom 'ghost'

The middle stretch of the trip has a strong natural wilderness feel about it.

The quiet is occasionally disturbed by a convoy of boats making their way along the canal.

Exchanging friendly waves is quite common.

The path is a bit rough but well-maintained and suitable for tour cycling.

Hi-viz seems a bit out of place here although bike bells are appreciated, particularly by people walking their dogs.

Houses are rare but can be quite grand.

The bank widens to give a clear view of both the Caledonian Canal and the River Ness.

By this point the River is at a much lower level than the Canal. - No brambles here.

A little further to Tomnahurich Swing Bridge
(or Millerton as it is also known and easier to say)
and we've arrived at the A82 into Inverness.

So I'd made a round trip of 10 miles on a lovely day,
met some interesting people
and returned with a large bowl of fresh brambles
that I'll be having with my breakfast over the next few days.

I would be nice if everybody who cycles to work
could enjoy a similarly pleasant daily commute.

But I understand other experiences are available!

Your comments are welcome.

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