Scotland continued…… North of the bridge of Orchy is where the Highlands really get scenic. The valley bottoms and hillsides are cris-crossed by a network of old drovers tracks and military roads (the military roads were built by the English to enable them to get up there quickly. And kick the shite out of any uppity jacobites in seventeen hundred and summat) if you feel like immersing yourself in the countryside there is a drovers track from bridge of Orchy to Glencoe. 12 miles of track across the bleak “Rannock moor” with not so much as a tree to hide behind for shelter, I’ve done it in summer accompanied only by my very own cloud of midges they drove me mental (the locals will often refer to them as “mucking fidges).
As you cross the flat expanse of Rannock either by car or by foot you will soon end up with a fine view of buachaille-etive-mor This big scary triangular mountain is on more or less ever bit of “please come to Scotland” tourist literature you will ever see. The name buachaille-etive-mor means “the big shepherd of etive”
This lump is the start of Glencoe, but before you go hurtling into the “glen of weeping” turn right off the main road and head for a really old pub called the “Kingshouse” this old inn is sitting by the river and next to it is a small humpy back bridge with some flat land where you can camp for free, if you sit quietly under the bridge you can watch the trout swimming around. Oh yeah, if you go in for a drink don’t go in the front bit (its too posh) go around the back into the tatty “hikers bar”. I’ve spent many an evening gently steaming there after a day in the rain.
Ok carrying on down the main road brings you to the jaws of Glencoe, very impressinve it is too. With a 4000ft range of mountains on the left and right of the road. It leaves you feeling very small. Dramatic scenery. If you fancy a walk but don’t want to hall yer bum to the tops. Walk to the “hidden valley” this is accessed by a path through a steep gorge but then opens out into lush flat bottemd valley which is totally invisible from the road. It was where the clan Macgregor used to hide all the cattle they stole from other clans (och no I hav’ne seen any stray woolly bullies”)
2 places to stay in Glencoe, first is the famous “Clachaig Inn” haunt of hardened climbers but it also has some nice chalet type things at the back. Second is the “red squirrel bunkhouse” this old barn sleep 30 but on one giant bunkbed, it is three tiers high and sleep 10 per bunk on a massive straw filled mattress, its cheap and a bit bonkers. If you want the full story of the Glencoe massacre (yes it was the English again) read “GLENCOE” by John Prebble.
Tomorrow onto Fort William..