Britain 2011 - Day 16


We were now in Scotland, and on cue the rain arrived. Not heavy, but low dark clouds and persistent drizzle. We drove north, around Glasgow, over the Erskine Bridge and on towards Loch Lomond. We had driven past the Loch twice before, alway in cloudy conditions, but today it was even worse. A rare break in the weather allowed us to walk to the Falloch Falls, which were, of course in fine form. Then on to Glencoe. For some reason I had decided to take the side road down to Loch Etive. It is reputed to be a magnificent view (on a very fine day) but we struck two problems. The first was obvious - the low cloud and poor visability, which we thought might lift for a while just for us. The second we could not foresee, for this weekend was the annual Glasgow Kayaking Club outing to Loch Etive. The road was littered with cars, kayaks and paddlers. It was in short a nightmare to drive down, and just as bad to drive back. And of course the cloud did not budge, so there was not much view at the end. On to Fort William we went and a close look at Neptune's Staircase in the rain.

Loch Lomond and Falloch Falls

We stopped for a brief view of Loch Lomond, but once again it was shrouded in mist. So we went on, stopping at Falloch Falls for a walk.

Loch Lomond, in the mist........
Falloch Falls

Glencoe and Loch Etive

Eventually we reached Glencoe, with the magnificent mountains ("bens") hidden in the mist. So we took the side road down to Loch Etive. I am sure it is a wonderful view - on a fine day.

The Glencoe valley
This sign should have told us something about the road
But despite the mist we ventured forth....
and met these. Lots of them!.
They were headed for these rapids.
You can see a kayak or two in here
But there was water everywhere
Eventually we reached Loch Etive
the strand line indicated a higher tide
Water everywhere.
Looking back towards Glencoe and the high bens
This lake would have been rather nice on a fine day
But we had to drive back up the river,
past the kayakers again
and out to Glencoe, where the mist......
was even worse.

Neptune's Staircase on the Caledonian Canal

During the time of canal building in Britain, some canny Scots thought that a canal linking the west coast to the east, through Fort William and the central lakes would save a lot of time (and hence money) when transporting freight around the top of Scotland. So they engaged the best canal builder of the time - Thomas Telford - to design and build it. Most of the canal follows the lakes along the Great Glen fault, but at Fort William he had a problem. There was a rise of 20 metres required, and this could not be done with one lock. In the end Telford built eight locks and they became known as Neptune's Staircase.

View from the lowest lock.
View from the top lock
The canal above the locks.
Detail of a lock..
The canal below the lock heading into Loch Linhe
The modern hydraulic lock gate system.

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Last updated: 19/06/2017