Panoramic Hikes Around Loch Ness

Panoramic Hikes Around Loch Ness

Trekking Through the Highlands with a Camera

As I stepped out onto the trail, my eyes were immediately drawn to the towering peaks that surrounded me. The Scottish Highlands, with their rugged terrain and breathtaking vistas, had always been a dream destination, and now I was finally here, ready to embark on a grand adventure.

My trusty Fuji TX1 panoramic camera was slung across my chest, and a bag full of ILFORD Delta 400 and 3200 film was tucked safely in my pack. I knew that the journey ahead would test the limits of both my physical and photographic capabilities, but the challenge only added to the excitement.

Conic Hill and the Fault Line

On the first day, we hiked a grueling 18 miles, finally setting up camp on the flank of Conic Hill. Despite the oppressive winds that kept us awake most of the night, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe as I gazed out at the landscape. The fault line that separated the lowlands from the highlands was a mesmerizing feature, and I spent the evening studying the contours of the hills, already planning my next shot.

Carrying a camera on a backpacking trip is no easy feat. The gear is heavy, expensive, and often fragile, but I’ve never been one to let my cameras collect dust on a shelf. As I mentioned in my previous write-up, I slept with the camera in my sleeping bag on those cold nights, determined to keep the electronics from freezing.

Towering Munros and the Elusive Ben Nevis

As the days wore on, the munros, or mountains, grew taller and mightier. I couldn’t help but long to hike up Ben Lomond, but I had to resist the temptation, knowing that I needed to cover much more ground that day. The anticipation of reaching Ben Nevis, however, was almost palpable.

I had been planning for the CMD route up the iconic peak, constantly monitoring the weather and wondering if the conditions would be favorable. As I mentioned in my previous journal entry, there wasn’t a minute of that walk where I didn’t think about the summit and what the weather might hold.

Rannoch Moor: A Desolate Stretch of Wild Beauty

The last two days of the journey proved to be the most dynamic, with the elements seemingly conspiring against us. As we traversed the wild and desolate Rannoch Moor, the rain turned to sleet, and the winds picked up, testing our resolve. But my hiking partner, Kat, and I refused to be deterred.

As I recounted in my previous photo essay, we stopped by an old bridge, fired up our camp stoves, and brewed a warm cup of coffee, taking in the pristine nature that surrounded us. The further north we walked, the taller the mountains became, and the colder and windier the conditions grew. But we embraced it all, pushing onward until we finally reached Fort William.

The Trials and Triumphs of the Trail

If you’ve ever embarked on a long-distance hike, you know that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are moments of difficulty, frustration, and downright grumpiness. As I mentioned in my previous account, we faced blisters, fatigue, and the monotony of eating the same meals day after day.

But for me, the transformative experiences far outweighed the challenges. It was the simple joys that kept me going – the sound of the creek as I drifted off to sleep, the crisp morning air hitting my nose, the endorphin-fueled rush of sunlight and exercise. And as Rebecca Solnit so eloquently described, it was the strange and elusive mental space that I entered, where ideas and resolutions seemed to bubble up from the depths of my mind.

Conquering Ben Nevis and the Great Glen Way

After 96 miles on the West Highland Way, the final leg of my journey awaited – the ascent of Ben Nevis via the CMD route. It was a demanding day, with me carefully navigating over rocks and scree, my camera tucked safely in my pack. But the moment I reached the summit, it was as if I had stepped onto a different planet. The sky was crystal clear, and I could see all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

The final two days on the Great Glen Way were a gentler, more meandering affair, as I savored the solitude and the stunning glacial lochs and towering hills that surrounded me. And then, finally, I crested a hill and laid eyes on the mighty Loch Ness, a sight that filled me with a deep sense of gratitude and accomplishment.

As I reflect on this incredible journey, I’m already looking ahead to my next adventure – a 2,200-mile thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2024, where once again, my trusty Fuji TX1 and a bag of ILFORD film will be my constant companions. But for now, I’m content to bask in the memories of my panoramic hikes around Loch Ness, a true testament to the power of the human spirit and the beauty of the natural world.

Oh, and did I mention that you can find all the details about planning your own Loch Ness adventure on our website? Just sayin’!

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