Walking the West Highland Way: Rest in Glencoe

We had always planned to stay in Glencoe for two days to ensure that our holiday was not just adventurous but also included an element of rest and relaxation. This proved a very good decision given that I would not have been able to walk in my walking boots because of my blisters. I ended up wearing my trainers like slippers to give my heels as little contact with shoes as possible. This worked well and we spent the days exloring this part of the Lochaber region, the so called “outdoor capital of the UK“.

We walked to the nearby village of Ballachulish which used to have a large slate quarry (German: Schieferbergwerk) that employed over 600 people at some point. Today the former quarry is open for visitors and the little lake in the middle is used by local watersports companies for basic training sessions. Most houses in the area have slate roofs and slate has widely been used for pavements and walls. There is also a visitor centre with friendly staff and a cosy little cafe in the village.

One idea we had initially was to hire a kayak for a few hours and explore Loch Leven from the water. As the weather up there is very unpredictable, we didn’t want to book anything in advance. We have both been in a kayak before and were told over the phone that we should just show up at the watersports centre on the day. When we did this on the second morning, we were told that there was nobody available at the centre until the afternoon and that due to wind and tides it was uncertain whether we would be able to get a boat then. I was a bit disappointed but when it started raining heavily soon after I was quite happy sitting in the cafe, reading the papers and writing some postcards.

Instead we walked around Glencoe Lochan, a small artificial lake in the shape of Canada built by Lord Strathcona in the nineteenth century in an attempt to recreate the Pacific North West for his homesick native-American wife. He went through the trouble of importing native Canadian plants but it didn’t impress his wife enough and apparently she left him anyway. Some of the trees already started to change into their autumn colours which made the place even more beautiful.

We also visited the Clachaig Inn, an award-winning pubs which has a wide range of beer from breweries across the Scottish Highlands and stocks more than 200 different varieties of whisky!


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