As I mentioned earlier, we made the decision to have a holiday in Scotland fairly late in the season and there were two factors we took into consideration, places we wanted to visit and availability of hotels. (Oh and my need to get to Manchester!) We didn’t really think that much about how far places were apart and how Scotland is a bit larger than you think. You’d think I’d know that having cycled up it – but there you are.
Once again, despite what the weather forecasters had predicted it was a glorious day. The hardest bit was getting through Dundee which was my SatNav’s suggested route (not the same as Google Maps route). At one point I managed to ignore the bossy lady on the SatNav – but it didn’t change the overall distance much so we carried on.
The St Andrews/Dundee area is more rolling hills than rugged mountains and there is a lot of agriculture from potatoes to soft fruits and livestock. As in most parts of the UK you pass the remnants of past railway lines. How we let it all trickle away I don’t know.
After a bit of wibbling along country roads and through country towns we joined the A9, the Spine of Scotland, linking Edinburgh with John O’ Groats. It sped our journey up through the outskirts of the Cairngorms National Park and then it was time to turn west across towards the Great Glen. Where a rather good walk can be had if you are that way inclined – 79 miles between Fort William and Inverness.
Around the same time as we turned off our, well my stomach was thinking about not having had breakfast so we decided to stop off at some suitable place along the route. We had stopped a little earlier at a well-signed Loo on General Wade’s Military Road, only to find that it was closed for repairs. Fortunately a little further down the road we found this place – The Pottery Bunkhouse. It was the sign that had me sold – who can resist yummy things eh.
The Pottery Bunkhouse – Purveyor of Yummy Things
The view was also pretty spectacular along with the weather. Look how lush the fields look – although you can see snow on that distant mountain. We didn’t know it, but the River Spey was nearby and the mountains were the Cairngorms.
The Cairngorms - Snowy Mountains
We carried, on replete, through some glorious countryside – and we reckoned the drivers were more courteous than you find around Cambridge.
Snowy Mountains overlooking Loch Laggan
At one end of Loch Laggan is the Laggan Dam which through pipes and Loch Treig, funnels water to a power house in Fort William
Loch Laggan and Dam
One of the good things about driving in the Scottish Highlands is that there aren’t that many roads about the place clogging up the countryside and it makes it easy following a route. The road numbers can be a little idiosyncratic though.
We turned off the road we were on (A82) at Spean Bridge and then after a short distance stopped at the Commando Memorial. The views are stunning – this is the Ben Nevis range of mountains – with the tallest being Ben Nevis at 1344m.
As you can see there is still a lot of snow up there.
Ben Nevis Range of Mountains
We passed this area where there were heaps of small stones. The last time we saw something like this was in Peru at around 5,000m where we were warned not to exert ourselves too much when we got out to look. This time around there were no oxygen problems.
The Loch is Loch Garry although we passed Loch Lochy (so good they named it twice) and Loch Oich on the way through. I have had a look on the web and can’t find an explanation for this – although there are quite a few pictures of the rock piles. It is just here if you want to find it. An image search using “cairns rocks roadside loch garry” will throw up a few pictures – but no explanations.
Loch Garry – Cairns of Rocks
We made our way across the Skye Bridge to, well Skye and then to our hotel – Duisdale House Hotel. Chosen because it was available and looked interesting. In fact we were running out of options. This was the view from the front of the hotel. For some reason that bit between Skye and the mainland is not called a loch – but the River Kylerhea – or at least that is what I though when looking at the map. The mountains opposite are (I think) Beinn Mhilairigh (548m) and Meall Buidhe (486m).
The View from the Duisdale House Hotel across to the mainland
We (I) were (was) too tired to go out so we decided to eat in the hotel – although we (well I) was not wanting to dress up, I just wanted to slob along in my t-shirt and shorts and sandals. It was offering a seven course meal (some you chose and some you got no choice) and did look as if it might be a little pretentious. We booked a table with assurances from the staff that their style was one where the guests should feel totally relaxed. The food was surprisingly delicious especially the scallops and it was a very relaxed atmosphere with friendly waiting staff. It was just right – good food, but very relaxing.
After dinner we went for a stroll down to the water. It was very still. The inlet across the way is Loch Hourn.
Sound of Sleat – with Loch Hourn opposite