Sluicing – Fort Augustus


Fort Augustus was rather well marked on the map, we thus thought there’d be more to see than what there in reality was (truth be told: after looking at google maps after returning home, it turns out there is more to Fort Augusts: a golf club! we never saw it, but I assume it must be grand and what earns Fort Augustus its big dot on the map). Well, the town consisted of a wee shop or two, a line of pubs, and sluices.


We were lucky enough to see the sluicing in action, which resulted in a few photos:

A very picturesque scene indeed, complete withe the busloads of japanese tourists with their cameras and the senior citizens at the mill shop. We were hungry and looking for a place to eat. There were plenty of places, but unfortunately we were there at the wrong time, in between the lunch and dinner times of the various pubs. The result was fish and chips to go and a geyser of coke in the car. 

Serenity

We had to get near Loch Ness. We couldn’t have been that close and yet never near it. We found a lay-by where we stopped. Something that looked like a path was visible in-between the trees. We tip-toed, slipped and slid down towards the lake. Luckily I’ve walked in similar terrain before and have developed a feeling for what can easily be stepped on and what should be avoided. I thus made it to the bottom with my jeans the same colour as they were when I left the car.

We laughed and talked on our way down, all finding our solution to the challenge of seeing Loch Ness up close quite amusing. While driving along the shore we had done our best at spotting Nessie, and although we did not see Nessie herself, many signs of life were found, although few that could ever have been taken seriously by others than ourselves.

But then, we reached the shore and tranquility set in. The water was completely still. Low clouds revealed only a stripe of land across the lake. Trees hung over and reflected in the water. The setting silenced the three of us. Tranquility ruled.

But not for long. Serenity was killed by talking, laughter, and joy. Not a loss that will be long mourned.

Loch Ness is, obviously, a freshwater lake. It’s big, deep, and Nessie probably functions as a water filter. The water thus had to be tasted. You’re very welcome, now you don’t have to, we’ve done it for you! Compared to the mountain streams in Norway, the tap water in Drumnadrochit (which was good!), and previous encounters with drinking water, set this water as drinkable. Though with a slightly muddy taste – which is probably only due to a different mixture of minerals than what we are used to back home 😉

 

Men are so easy to please

I was cooking something using half a lime for dinner here the other day. I was stuck with the other half, and didn’t know what to do with it. But then, while filling the water bottle to be placed in the fridge for extra cooling before eating, I had an idea. I sliced the lime added it to the water along with a few lemon balm leaves. So simple, easy, and so good (as long as you remember to stir the water a wee bit before serving)

The Descent

The bridge crossed the river and led me to a smoth, rounded, rocky surface. A few puddles could be seen here and there, and I immediately ran over the first of the larger ones. Close to the surface swam a few tadpoles. Their legs have started to show, but their tales are still long.

The wee tadpole

I left them in their bubble of a world and continued on.

The wee climb before going downhill for the rest of the walk

A small climb waited for me first. Along the path, and in the path, were endless amounts of blueberries and bilberries. The first definitely being the favourite.

After the small climb I turned right an continued down a well thread and wide path. While going steeply downhill I met people. Norwegians are said to be cold and maybe a little shy. Give someone a big smile without talking to them and you’re almost guaranteed not get one back, instead you’ll get a look which will make yourself doubt your own sanity. In the mountains, however, we ignore all social conventions, and greet everyone as a friend. I was thus met with big smiles and friendly and quite loud (according to Norwegian standards) ‘hello!’s. I only met another two people on my way down, and they too greeted me as if they had known me for years.

The water looks still, but it in fact did run pretty fast. I drank just outside the picture to the left, and the water was good!

A small stream crossed the path, and I found myself jumping from stone to stone in order to cross without getting my feet wet. I stopped on a rather large stone in the centre of the stream bent down, ladled water in my hand and drank a few mouthfuls. Any other time I would not have thought twice about drinking more. But this summer there are reported diseases coming from certain rodents infecting small mountain brooks. Not all brooks and streams are longer completely safe for quenching one’s thirst. I decided to wait until I found a suitable place in the big river. A few metres after crossing the wee stream, another brook had changed its course and now ran IN the path rather than next to it. Tip-toeing and jumping back and forth I still managed without getting my shoes soaked.

Following the combined brook and path... I believe I was quite a sight jumping from stone to stone

The path continued (also splitting every now and again) down to an old farm. Huge old oaks used to dominated just above the farm, but for some reason many had now been chopped down. It was a sad sight to see the open landscape filled with branches and cut-offs from the trees. I am sure they have been cut down for a reason, and new ones will be planted, but there and then the scenery looked like a scene from Saruman’s neighbourhood.

The land of Saruman

View from the old farm

Just below the farm I walked off the path and down to the river. The river had split into three, one was still large and wide, but the other two were small and often still, and thus more likely to pick up bacterias and the like. I took off my shoes and waded through the first two.

Shoes placed neatly on a rock in the river. Notice the slippery, scary, green stuff

The rocky surface where the water runs is often covered in green moss, and is very slippery. Where there is no water, the surface is dry, but with many larges stones. I jumped from stone to stone, stopped to wade, before jumping further.

The waterfall in the top right corner was where I deemed the water safe to drink

When I reached the main river I waded into the center and drank as much as I wanted. I scooped the water up with my hands and drank mouthfuls. I am very picky regarding water. When out traveling I have learned to read all labels, as long as the alphabet used is latin, on water bottles to find water I am able to drink. The water in the river is fresh, there’s no chloride, very little calcium, but probably with a mineral content you’d find in no bottled water. Very refreshing, tasting a bit of rocks and forest ground (no mud taste), and perfect temperature.

Perfect place to quench your thirst

I regretted not bringing my bathing suit. As the water was warm enough for a swim (that means just above 15 degrees Celsius, if at all that warm…). After quenching my thirst I returned to the path. Soon after my parents called, wondering where I’d gone. I thus had to run down to the waterworks where they picked me up with their car. While crossing the river on a small bridge I turned and took a picture of some kids bathing where I used to go when I still lived with my parents. Memories came flooding back as together with feelings of love and respect for the gorgeous nature.

Perfection