Balmaha to Fort William (via Glencoe)
The rain held off on our drive from Balmaha through to Glencoe. What an extraordinary bit of country; true highlands, with soaring, unforgiving landscapes. We stopped at a spot where most just got out of their cars for the photo op, but we donned daypacks and set out to the Hidden Valley. Problem was the weather started to close in, and there were some dangerous sections of jagged and slippery wet rock areas that could’ve turned quite nasty. So we stopped and went back (got to nearly half way though – if the weather had been more promising, we would’ve had more of a crack at it).
We arrived in Fort William around lunch time and headed to The Grog and Gruel and snagged some tasty quesadillas – one vegetable, the other veggie haggis. Both were suitably spicy, and delicious. Topped up on the limes, wine, chocolate and crisps at Tescos and booked into our accommodation for the night – Myrtle Bank Guest House. This B&B is a lovely row of old homes facing the loch with very large bedrooms and comfy chairs for sitting and reading.
Braved the now set in rain and popped down to the local Thai restaurant, Sugar and Spice, that apparently served “authentic Thai cuisine”. We didn’t get a look at the chef, but the lads manning the shop seemed a little out of their depth and were quite disorganised! They were very disappointed that we only wanted one dish to take away. Oh well, that’s all we needed after snacking on wine and crisps in the afternoon!
The forceful, sideways battering rain meant there was no hope of leaving the warmth of our room once we had returned, so we stayed indoors watching the light fade from an already darkened sky, as the choppy waves tossed the anchored runabouts in the loch.
Eilean Donan Castle
Early start to the day for a leisurely holiday morning, but when there are world famous Scottish landmarks to see, one does not laze about in bed! Off and away by 8:30am, Eilean Donan Castle was our goal.
The rain of the evening before was threatening again, but we thought we’d have some luck at the castle. And we did, we had a couple of spurts where we got to wander and take in both the atmosphere and a few excellent photos. No pics were allowed inside the castle, probably because it is used for weddings and film locations, so you have to pay for that privilege.
It was a surprisingly intimate castle, with more the vibe of a country hunting lodge than a rambling, historically significant building whose life began in the 6th or 7th century (with the first castle built here in the 12th or 13th century). In fact, if you are looking at it for a wedding venue, the banqueting hall only holds 90 people – not particularly large on the castle scale side of things.
As the rain began in earnest, we just managed to get some outside shots before heading back to the car and into the warmth. The Isle of Skye was our destination for two relaxing days, hopefully indulging in gastronomic delights and the local whisky on cold, rainy nights.
Accommodation: Myrtle Bank Guest House, Fort William