As we hit the Easter weekend another season begins here at Saddle Mountain Hostel. We are now open again for seven days a week. For us this is a bit of a change from the five days a week routine we run over the winter months after our annual November shutdown.
The winter just past wasn’t one of our busiest ones. Unfortunately the weather and temperature didn’t lend themselves to the winter hill walking conditions which most of our guests are looking for at that time of year. That doesn’t mean that we were idle, though. There is always hostel maintenance and admin to be done and we took the chance to get out and about in the great outdoors.
Because of the weather we went up fewer peaks than we might have liked. Instead we decided to test out sections of various long distance trails. This was partly out of interest and partly in the name of research – we want to make sure that we can offer informed advice to guests about walks they are about to do.
So what did we do? First of all, we hiked all of the South Loch Ness Trail from Fort Augustus to Torbreck (just outside Inverness). Together with the Great Glen Way from Fort Augustus to Inverness this makes up the Loch Ness 360 route. Next we walked parts of the Great Glen Way again so that we could see where the canal had been drained to allow for lock gate replacement at Kytra and Fort Augustus. This is unlikely to happen again in our lifetimes.
We also walked over the Corrieyairack Pass from Melgarve to Fort Augustus. Scottish National Trail walkers reach the hostel on this route. Going west, we next walked a couple of stages of the Cape Wrath Trail from the hostel front door to Poulary. We now have first hand knowledge of any river crossing issues and where the best camping spots are.
Finally, we began a trip on the West Highland Way. We took in the two stages from the Glencoe ski station to Fort William. Although this isn’t entirely on our doorstep we have found that more guests than you would think combine the West Highland Way with the Great Glen Way. And it’s part of the International Appalachian Trail! We hope to carry on further south next year.
Maybe next winter will be one for Munro and Corbett ascents but if not we will keep putting in the miles and doing our trail research. We hope to see you this summer and give you the benefit of our hard earned local knowledge. Don’t forget you can book online until 6pm on the day.