Day 15: EAS A LOCH NESS
It was 7:30am when we awoke. We allowed ourselves to sleep in on this day given that we had to get up early for about three mornings in a row. Outside, we noticed that the skies were foggy and drizzly. I wondered if our run of sunny and warm days were over, or if it was just fog to be burned off later this morning.
We even allowed ourselves to have a morning breakfast by having toast and eggs in the apartment. After all, we had to use the kitchen facilities at some point in the four nights we were to sleep here, with this being the end of our third of four nights.
So it wasn’t until 9:30am when we finally left the apartment. By that time, the fog started to burn off and the sun started showing itself.
Initially, the traffic followed a caravan of slow drivers and tour buses, but as we got closer to Dumnadrochit, the traffic started thinning out, but then we turned off the A82 and then headed towards Plodda Falls on the A831. The traffic on this road was much lighter, but the road was a little curvier and narrower. And in one instance, a sheep went on the road and crossed it. Fortunately, it gave me enough of a heads up to stop the car without hitting it.
Eventually, we hit a curve in the A831, where we then had to leave it and drive on some single-track roads towards the village of Tomich for about the first two miles. After another couple of miles, we saw signs for Plodda Falls past the village, then the road became unsealed, full of potholes, and single track. Since this wasn’t my first time doing single-track roads like this (we’ve driven them in each of the last two days), I wasn’t as jittery about driving them, but it didn’t mean the likelihood of getting in some kind of an accident wasn’t high either.
Finally at 10:35am, we arrived at the Plodda Falls car park, which was well-signed. There were about three other cars that were here. So despite the trouble it took to get here, this place still felt like it was well-known and popular.
The trail to the falls was well-signed and pretty obvious. There were other trails that branched off in other directions as we could have very easily extended the excursion into a much longer one, but we were here for the waterfall so our hiking was pretty much kept to a minimum.
The path descended gently from the car park amongst tall pine trees. It didn’t take long before we would go down a couple of switchbacks besides some uppermost tiers of cascades before the path ultimately descended to a lookout platform that was directly on top of Plodda Falls.
The view from up here was spooky as it was a very long way down. In any case, the morning sun was threatening to make our photos washed out as the sun was making its way above the trees. Still, the rest of the scene in the gorge below was in shadow so I was able to attempt some long exposure photos using the lookout platform for stability.
As for the morning sun continuing to go up quickly, we hastily made our way further down the trail as it descended towards the lower viewing area. And when we got there, we could see the impressive Plodda Falls with the upper viewing platform right above it. The sky was bright so whenever we resolved the waterfall and gorge, the sky would pretty much be washed out. And if the sky was blue, then everything else inside the gorge would be too dark.
In any case, I took my long exposure photos using the fairly weak railing to steady the camera, and we also took some people shots while basking in the scene before us. So we pretty much had this place to ourselves until another family of three showed up waiting for us to finish. And that was our cue to go.
Julie and Tahia headed straight up to the car park, but I noticed some other trail that seemed to descend lower. It looked worn enough to be somewhat official (there was no signage around here though), but when I saw how eroded and somewhat steep the trail was, I knew it was really an unofficial trail of use. I’m sure the Forestry authorities wouldn’t have authorized this route.
Still, I explored it down to the very bottom, where I could see a lower tier of Plodda Falls fronting its main drop. But the tree blocked a large part of the view so the effort to make it down here wasn’t all that worth it.
By 11:30am, we made it back to the car. By this time, we noticed that the car park now had even more cars, and it was pretty much full. So indeed when we sensed this place was popular, our hunches were correct.
Next, we drove back towards the A82, then we continued west towards the headwaters of Loch Ness at Port Augustus. I noticed that the road actually passed over what looked to be a canal, and I wondered if the Loch Ness and the River Ness both were used as a shipping channel.
Once we were on our way out of Port Augustus, we took a side road leading to the B862. Not far outside of Port Augustus, the road became single-track. So we had to go through the usual drill of proceeding along slowly while diligently using the passing places to coordinate with the oncoming drivers to allow each other to pass.
After a little bit of a delay due to road construction going on, we’d eventually turn off onto the B852 for Foyers, and about three miles from the turnoff, we arrived at the Waterfall Cafe (at 1:05pm), which turned out to be quite close to the Falls of Foyers. I was worried about lack of parking up here, but it turned out that there was one free spot not too far from the cafe and store itself.
We began by descending past the gate across the cafe and right down the steps that took us to the Upper Viewpoint of the Falls of Foyers. Up here, we were looking down at the falls, which was just as well because the sun was pretty much right against us. The falls was mostly in shadow while all the foliage around us were blindingly bright by the sunlight. We also spotted some really colorful butterflies fluttering about around the area as well.
Julie and Tahia were content with this view as they headed back up to the cafe the moment we had our fill of this spot. However, I saw that the trail kept going down so I was keen to see what else this trail would reveal.
And barely a couple of minutes after leaving the Upper View of the waterfall, I found myself at the Lower View of the waterfall. And boy did Julie and Tahia miss out because the view from down here was way better than the view from up there. Moreover, the sun was blocked by the cliffs and foliage up above me so I was able to take the photographs without having to use my hand to shield the incoming sun’s rays.
A little after 1:35pm, I proceeded to head up then continue onto a different branch of the trail that promised to lead me to the Lower Falls of Foyers as well as Loch Ness. Since I was intrigued by what the lower falls might look like, I kept descending the trail knowing that I would have to get back all this elevation loss.
Well, whatever the case may be, I only saw a handful of rapids and a thin side waterfall spilling into the main stream. A few paces later, I would get to a vantage point where a couple of bridges spanned the stream from which Foyers was on, and it headed right towards Loch Ness, which had a bit of a sapphire color thanks to the clear skies.
So, this was my turnaround point, and by 2:30pm, I made it back to the cafe where Tahia and Julie were wrapping up their lunch. Tahia was still eating, and I ended up having and finishing the half-panini and tomato soup even faster than Tahia was able to finish whatever food she had left.
There were quite a few wasps stuck within the cafe, and Julie was worried about one of them stinging Tahia. So by 2:45pm, we left Foyers and continued on our way back to Inverness. Indeed, this excursion didn’t take nearly as much time as I had thought, and I started to entertain thoughts that perhaps I should fit in one more waterfall excursion before calling it a day.
The single-lane roads continuing east of Foyers and towards Inverness weren’t all that bad (at least compared to the scary road to Clashnessie). And by 3:25pm, we were back at the Bishop’s Park Apartments in Inverness. Julie wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon resting and watching over Tahia as she would get to watch her DVD provided by the owner of the apartment (one of many thoughtful things she did to make our stay very comfortable).
I left at 3:55pm to go solo to Rogie Falls. I decided to do this since it wasn’t far from Inverness and it was recommended by a pair of Scottish ladies who were on the boat tour by Kylesku a couple of days ago.
After getting a little bit stuck in the rush hour traffic of Inverness, I then was able to cruise a little more freely as I’d ultimately arrive at the well-signed car park for Rogie Falls at 4:30pm. There were still quite a few people here juding by the number of cars still parked here. In any case, I saw the maps and decided to follow the obvious trail to the left and head straight for Rogie Falls.
I’d eventually make it to the lookouts and suspension bridge, which all had nice views of Rogie Falls. The falls itself wasn’t huge, but it was rushing and was attractive. I did what I could composing photos of the falls while reaping the benefits of an afternoon sun backlighting the falls. However, upon closer inspection of the falls as well as the adjacent salmon ladder, it turned out that I didn’t see any salmon in the water.
After having my fill of the falls, I continued the short “Salmon Trail”, which looped back around towards the car park. It was said to only be 0.5-mile loop. Anyways, it wasn’t obvious where the trail continued from the suspension bridge, and I merely followed the fences upstream until I saw the trail knowing from the maps that there had to be something there.
This trail was way more quieter than the main one for the falls. And it even led me to an alternate and distant view (called Raven’s Crag) where I could see the suspension bridge was fronting the falls.
By 5:20pm, I was back at the car where a German Tour Bus just so happened to start leaving as I was about to leave. And when I was on the road, sure enough, I’d catch up to the bus. However, at least it was going a fair speed near the speed limit so I didn’t mind being behind this bus on the way back.
And after a little bit more of afternoon rush hour, I’d finally be back at the apartment by 6:10pm, but not before making a quick jaunt to one of the bridges over the River Ness while I was still parked at the BP.
I had noticed this bridge earlier on the way to Rogie Falls as I was leaving Inverness, and so I was determined to at least take some photos from this bridge before leaving Inverness for good first thing tomorrow morning.
At 6:20pm, I was back at the car at the BP station, and I proceeded to arrive at the apartment at 6:25pm after going through the rush hour traffic one again.
At around 7pm, we went for a dinner across the river at this place called Nico’s. Julie was inspired by the French-style cooking (she was getting tired of Scottish food), and we actually had ourselves one of the best dinners on this trip so far. Julie’s fish was tender and tasty with the pesto sauce. Meanwhile, my magret of duck was also tasty. Even Tahia managed to quickly eat her dinner without us helping her.
And by 8:30pm, we were back at the apartment. Having bypassed the dessert from the restaurant, we had ourselves the tub of ice cream bought from the Tesco yesterday afternoon. So that was pretty much our last day in Inverness. On the way back to the apartment, we saw that there were clouds coming in from the west. So I guess our run of three straight gorgeous sunny days in the Northern Highlands of Scotland was coming to an end…
That would be a shame since tomorrow we were targeting Ben Nevis, Steall Falls, and Glen Coe.