Something a little bit different today. For our 8 year anniversary, my partner Ross and I planned a road trip around the Scottish Highlands. It was such a spectacular journey and we had so much fun, so I wanted to share some of our adventures with you!
1: Stirling and Loch Lomond
We started with a brief stop in Stirling and a wander around the beautiful architecture of the Old Town, where we were caught in a heavy rain shower (hopefully not a sign of things to come!). Then, as we drove down the narrow, winding, and – frankly – terrifying roads to Loch Lomond (our first stop for the night), the rain became torrential. Thankfully we made a wrong turning and in the time it took us to right our mistake the sun came out and we were able to set up our tent without mishap. I soon realised that people were not exaggerating when they forewarned of the west coast midges. I am being eaten alive. What do they eat, when they can’t get hobbit?
We climbed Ben Lomond in the afternoon, ascending via the Ptarmigan Path and descending on the tourist route. It was breathtaking. I can’t put into words what it’s like to be in the midst of those views. The way up was challenging, and each time we thought we were nearing the summit, we would come upon a larger peak hiding out of sight. I’ll admit, I was beginning to grow concerned that we’d underestimated this climb (we’d set out late in the day and I dreaded being stuck up a hillside after dark). It took us two hours – and a last minute scramble over some rocks – to reach the top. I’m glad we persevered!
No time to linger here, though. The weather started to turn. As the mist rolled in, and visibility was reduced, we half expected a spooky lone piper to appear in the distance (it would have been inkeeping with the overall atmosphere at this point). We battled heavy rain and strong winds to reach the bottom, where we were relieved to dive into the car and head for home (which for the night was a tent on the shores of Loch Lomond). It took us four hours and fifteen minutes to bag our first munro, and it was a well-deserved supper that evening!
2: Loch Lomond and Glen Coe
I had thought that a campsite in the Highlands would be more peaceful than my experiences of festival camping. Alas, we had unknowingly pitched up next to “lads on tour” (or so they sounded). After a telling off from the warden in the early hours they quietened a little, but I was still exhausted come morning. We spent a nice hour wandering the shores of Loch Lomond before packing up and hitting the road. Balmaha was our first stop, where we enjoyed a picnic overlooking the harbour. Next, Balloch and a walk through the picturesque park there. Then, Glen Coe… Cue the Lord of the Rings soundtrack. This drive was spectacular. We stopped at every available opportunity to take photographs. Buachaille Etive Mor; the Three Sisters; Aonach Eagach… hills for days and around every corner the skyline only became more beautiful.
Our campsite was nestled in the midst of the mountains and offered glorious views in every direction. An evening stroll revealed Glen Coe village to be a quiet place, and we passed the next few hours with a couple of beers and a few games of Exploding Kittens. Fort William tomorrow!
3: Fort William and The Jacobite Steam Train
We packed up and set off for Fort William early, hoping for something good for breakfast. The town wasn’t much like how I remembered it from my childhood visit, and I don’t think either of us were particularly enamoured with the place. I was excited for the Jacobite Stream Train and looking forward to a warm bed for the night, though. After enjoying lunch at a pub on the high street, we made our way to the station. The journey from Form William to Malaig and back was a magical as I had hoped. The Glenfinnan viaduct was a particular highlight. Total Harry Potter nerd moment.
4: Glenfinnan and Glen Nevis:
The weather is not being kind to us! We awoke to heavy rainfall, which carried on for the entire day. Undeterred, we drove to nearby Glenfinnan to see the viaduct from ground level. We also enjoyed the woodland walk there, and had some awesome views of the Glenfinnan monument and the surrounding mountains.
Our next stop was Glen Nevis. Keen to enjoy our holiday despite the weather, we decided to attempt the walk to Steall waterfall there. The way to the starting point was a thrilling drive up a single track road in the battering rain, (I think we were only half joking when we wondered whether we were heading into some sort of horror film scenario). We donned our waterproofs and started along the path, only to find water crashing down the mountainside and across our route. Promising to return the next day, we turned back, enjoying ourselves regardless. Less fun was attempting to put the tent up in the rain. By the time we were finished we were wet, thoroughly miserable, and had somehow managed to rip a whole in one of the tent corners. There was only one way to fix our moods… the nearby pub. A steak and ale pie and a couple of drinks later, the world was put to rights. The prospect of a wet and windy night in a tent suddenly didn’t seem too terrible.
I’ll be back with part 2 of our adventures tomorrow (Friday 30th July). You can look forward to an account of Inverness and the Isle of Skye, plus some very happy news and a brand new, road trip-inspired, yarn (with giveaway!). See you soon…