A Highland Adventure

Deciding to staycation for another year….last year we chose the Peak District – a year later that post is still in progress! If you are reading this then I am writing, my last post was June…apologies to all.

Day 1. Driving from Dorset we had overnighted just outside Carlisle to break the twelve hour journey to our hotel in Ballachulish Glencoe our base for two days. Two hours later after an early start we were ready for some breakfast. We found the perfect place Duck Bay Hotel overlooking Loch Lomond. Recently tastefully refurbished we breakfasted in style. The full menu included a lighter option full English and we were not disappointed.

I had finally been allowed after fifteen months to get behind the wheel of Long-sufferings car. The closer we got to the highlands his alter ego ‘The Man behind the Lens’ began to snap away to his hearts content whilst instructing his muse – yours truly to ‘pull over, stop here, wow pull in etc!’

One such Viewpoint along the way….

After a grey start the first hint of sun was starting to break through the nearer we got to our first stop on Long-sufferings meticulously planned itinerary….

Glen Etive…. A twelve mile single track scenic drive one of the prettiest we have ever driven thus far! It’s other claim to fame being the track Daniel Craig as James Bond took with M Dame Judi Dench in Skyfall.

The scenery from the start was magnificent, majestic mountains, valleys, and moorland as we drove and stopped – on the many pull in areas along the banks of the River Etive. The clear waters gently flowing on our visit but during the rainy season it becomes an extreme whitewater kayaking spot.

Eventually we came to the end of the track where there is a small car park, a few steps and we were beside the mass expanse of water that is Loch Etive. The sun was fully out and the last wisps of cloud had gone. Mirrored water provided beautiful reflections.

Driving back the way we came the scenery in reverse ensued many more wow vistas!

Back out on the main road and two way traffic it was a short drive to The Holly Tree Hotel our base for the next two days.

Our room was beautiful with a balcony overlooking the sea and beyond the Scottish mountains of Morvern. However, the bed on closer inspection seemed a little firm for our tastes!

The Hotel really is beautifully situated and outside we sat on the terrace with refreshing cold beers taking in the glorious views across the water. There was just time for a quick watercolour sketch…..

Before we were back in the car driving out to Port Appin and stunning views of Castle Stalker. Unfortunately after finding the perfect spot to paint opening my travel pouch I realised my sketchbook was back in the room where I had left it drying after the above sketch! Luckily Man behind Lens was on hand to capture the moment for us both.

Back at the hotel we enjoyed a wonderful indulgent three course meal followed by a stroll along the shore and jetty, before retiring to what was to be an uncomfortable night on a rock hard bed. Thank goodness for the location!

Day 2. First in for breakfast, surprisingly a buffet in these COVID times! Once again breakfast with a view.

Glencoe visitor centre for some background history and information. Drive to…..

An Torr – Gaelic for ‘Rocky hill’ – Woodland Walks…. three trails of easy walks, we chose the blue trail leading up to Signal rock promising fine views over the Glen.

Our route took us first through dense conifer trees on one side, their thick canopy’s excluding the light, a little further, on the opposite side ancient woodlands afforded the forest floor more light and diversity of wildlife and flora.

In the quiet a sighting of even one red squirrel was not to be had and unfortunately on climbing the rock the tree and vegetation had all but excluded the ‘superb view’.

We had the place to ourselves the drone was launched to capture Glencoe while the creative muse tried quickly to capture a native Rowan with her watercolours.

Next up on recommendation from the Glencoe visitor centre, a short drive and tramp to a viewpoint affording stunning views down the glen.

After a mile, Man behind the Lens found the perfect spot…..

to capture the stunning view in all its glory…..

Next on the itinerary not involving a hike ‘The White House’…..

Then it was back on the beautiful Glen Etive track for lunch beside the river, only this time we had company….the midges we had been warned about were out in force. Any exposed skin was duly covered with recommended deterrent but although not bitten the swarms before and in our eyes were annoying at times.

Much flailing of arms later, lunch packed away, the sun was threatening an appearance much to our delight. Watercolours, camera and tripod were hastily grabbed as we each found our chosen spot to create.

Back at base a good sunset looked promising after an early bar meal from our hotel we drove out for a second visit to Castle Stalker to both set up. This time a different vantage behind ‘The Old Inn’ – closed for a week enabling us to enjoy its shoreside setting and parking.

Our Highland adventure was coming to an end, tomorrow we would head to The Isle of Skye.

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