Fort Augustus, Corpach, and Glenfinnan

Jul 25, 2018 - Lord of the Glens

Morning found us halfway through our journey up the Fort Augustus locks, having been delayed at that point overnight by an errant tire and a wayward log jammed in a lock gate. Hooks and creative fishing brought the debris to the surface and, with the lock repaired, we journeyed southwest along the Caledonian Canal. Thomas Telford engineered this 60-mile-long canal, built between 1803 and 1822, of which the majority is natural lochs linked by 22 miles of man-made canal.

During our morning sail, we heard a presentation on the flora and fauna of Scotland, including a bit of poetry and information on the endangered wild haggis. Shortly after the talk, we passed through Loch Oich, the highest point of the canal at 106 feet above sea level. Dropping seaward, we then sailed through Laggan Avenue—one of the most scenic portions of the canal.

After lunch, we disembarked under beautiful, sunny skies with various options for the afternoon. An adventurous group set off kayaking, paddling until evening through the sea loch of Loch Linnhe. Another group traveled up to Glenfinnan to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous in the Harry Potter movies. This gloriously green glen is where Prince Charles landed in 1745 and raised his standard to begin the campaign to restore the Stuart Dynasty. (The campaign ended in the disastrous defeat at Culloden on the battlefield we explored yesterday.)

After dinner, Glenfinnan Estate Manager Alistair Gibson gave a lively talk describing the complex management of a modern-day highland estate. Deer stalking (deer hunting), timber production, and tourism are all part of the everyday tasks on the estate.

For the night, our berth in Corpach was in the shadow of Ben Nevis, where the unusually clear, dry weather gave us a spectacular view of the tallest mountain in the U.K. There was no better way to end our highland day than with a sunset illuminating the towering peak.

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About the Author

Robin Patten


The natural world has always been central to Robin’s life. At an early age, she was out exploring the Montana backcountry, learning natural history through experience. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in landscape ecology from Colorado State University, followed by an M.S. in Environmental Writing from the University of Montana and a Post-Graduate Diploma from Scotland’s Centre for Mountain Studies. Her studies included environmental history and cultural geography, and her work often focuses on the interactions between cultures and landscapes. Robin still lives in Montana, writing and working from a small cabin near Yellowstone National Park.

About the Photographer

Eric Kruszewski

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

An editorial photographer and videographer based in Washington, D.C., Eric Kruszewski's multimedia work focuses on reportage and travel. His work is represented by National Geographic Creative, and he is a regular contributor to National Geographic's Image Collection.

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