Sunday, December 31, 2006

How to have fun on a wet windy storm tossed day in the Highlands

What a perfect day! 99 couples in 100 would have said that a full day’s downpour in Scotland is a disaster.

So Gillian and I are odd. Rain? Just go with the flow. As I write, storms are forecast, and Glasgow has cancelled its New Years Eve celebrations.

“You can’t put that on,” she said, eyeing the oversize yellow souwester I’d picked out from under the stairs, to counter the wet and the wind. “You look like a road mender.”

“Glen Etive?” said the road mender from inside the souwester.
“Let’s” she said.

The rain hit the windscreen with the velocity of AK 47 bullets as we drove down the narrow single track road beside the River Etive. She was in full spate. What a sight! Huge white waterfalls were cascading down, under our road, racing to join the main river.

The snow was on the upper cliffs of the Blackmount to the east of us. The colours started off with black and white on the tops, then down to a dark maroon of tree branches up the riverside, the hillside of greens, browns and even some orange. It is the day before January, yet the Autumn colours have still not gone completely from the Highlands.

The river winds in and out down close beside the road for miles. The water whacks into rocks, over the tops, round the sides and races on down. It is the finest riverside road you can imagine. The road itself goes nowhere. That is its joy. At the end you turn round and come back the same way.

“Look,” she said. Across the water were the deer. We counted twelve of them from the lay-by. Static, looking like the carved models you get in gift shops.

Above them, the perfect sentinel, stood the stag. Motionless. Looking at us. His harem looked content enough in the pouring rain.

Then we spotted the kayaks. Wow! They hardly needed paddles, just a touch here and there, canoes gliding over the boiling waters, sometimes straight, sometimes at right angles.

“The Etive falls are a mile further down, they’ll never get over those”

They were canoeing at 10 knots, 12 miles an hour, so we had to get a crack on ourselves to see what would happen.

We’ve seen people get into difficulty at these falls when the river is flowing at half the rate, but they knew what they were doing, these three lads. They stopped before the falls, hoisted up their canoes and walked. If only everyone were as professional as this.

The leader told me that the River Etive was becoming better known because of its two long stretches of white water.
We stop at the Don't do this, Don't do that hotel
Back home we stopped at the KingsHouse hotel for tea. This is a strange place. It was built as an inn on the remote Rannoch Moor before the Glencoe Massacre. Not much has changed inside.

It holds a special place in history for climbers and walkers. All you need for tragedy in the mountains is a twisted ankle and night coming down in Winter. If you got stuck on the Rannoch Moor, or on the Crowberry ridge of the Buchaille Etive Mhor and you needed help, then you headed for the Kings House, night or day, for the rescue attempt. Now you have mobile phones.
The Kings House marketing strategy is 50 years old and is based upon a technique known as customer prevention. Look at these signs, just inside the porch on the way through the front door! The toilets for campers are ten miles away in Glencoe!

They have the rare distinction of being awarded only 1 star by Visit Scotland the tourist agency. Not many hotels can say that. Even fewer will wear it proudly on the door.

But the staff are lovely and warm and welcoming. Once inside you are surrounded by friendliness. Gillian and I are terrified of one day meeting the owner.

But there is a more terrifying prospect.

One day, the owner might sell out this wonderful place to one of the modern hotel groups, who specialise in three star filing-cabinets-for tourists.

Now, that is the nightmare scenario.

You can still book a winter break in January or February.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

John, we just can't get through to Glencoe

Look, we've never said it doesn't rain sometimes in the Scottish Highlands. Only sometimes, mind. This is a December travellers tale. You can try a short break in January at the cottage.
It probably won't rain then, er, possibly.
The phone went. "John, the road is flooded, we can't get through and we are not sure where we are."
"Can you give us a clue, Mon?" She and her brother were taking a short December break in the Highlands and had driven in to some terrible storms in Perthshire.
"We are coming from Edinburgh, we've passed Stirling and we are just coming up to some place called Cullender, or something like that"
I thought of telling her a few tales of Callendar's history, such as it being the original location for the Dr Finlay Casebook television series, or the Roman Villa remains they found there, and the Antonine way, but something made me think of more practical things. "Wait Mon, I'll call you back within 20 minutes"
Quick web search with the AA found the road blocked up at Lochearnhead - same place as last year's landslide. No chance of going back, then round Loch Lomond to Glencoe. Its cold, its wet, its windy, its late, they're tired.
What they don't know and were about to find out is that they can rely totally on Highland Hospitality in Callendar. A snug B+B half a mile up the road and they were in for the night, all fixed within the 20 minute time span - says he polishing his fingernails with pride much to Gillian's disgust. "Self praise is no recommendation" she says, and she is right.
Here is the letter Mon sent us afterwards, reprinted with permission of course, as are all these traveller's tales. Aren't our clients really, really nice?
Dear John and Gillian,

We just got back from Scotland last night.
We ended up staying in Aviemore for rest of the holiday as weather was slightly better there.

We were still thinking to go to your place next day. But roads were still closed & it was raining. Finally we gave up.

Thanks for helping me anyway John!. We really appreciated. Thanks for returning the cheque to me as well. Hopefully we can come back to your place next year in summer time.

We wish you a Lovely X'mas and a Very Happy New Year!
With best wishes, Mon

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ouch! I've done my other shoulder this time.

Antony McKay's wonderful shot of the PollDubh Falls. This is at the top of Glen Nevis, where the road passes over the falls.
Glencoe may seem a peaceful place to-day, tranquil and calm despite its dreadful history.

For some it is still dangerous – those who climb the more difficult routes are often afraid – they never ever say so but they are, trust me. Kayaking down a swollen River Coe may seem like fun most of the time, and it is, but even the most experienced can come a cropper, and then it is not fun. Anthony knows what he is doing in Scottish rivers. Rocks are an objective hazard, it is a risky sport and not knowing what may happen next is part of the thrill. Antony stayed with us for a short break in November.
Had a good week but activities were limited due to spending most of Sat in Belford Hospital. I dislocated my shoulder kayaking and damaged my foot. Spent the rest of the week with a limp and my arm in a sling. Still feel quite lucky as it could have been worse. Unfortunately a kayaker drowned a day earlier.

After all, we still had a great week. Tuesday onwards the weather was perfect and I was well enough to walk at Loch Arkaig which was stunning in the autumn colours, walked near Blackwater Resevoir and in and around Glencoe. We also treated ourselves to a meal at Ballachulish Country House which was one of the best meals we have had in a long, long time. Well worth the money.

We walked from Kinlochleven up a steep hill by a waterfall called Grey Mares Tail, up, up and up to join an estate road eventually with great views back down to the loch and the Pap of Glencoe. The estate road then continues to a reservoir / loch that feeds the Blackwater reservoir and you take a path that actually follows the pipeline practically all the way, sometimes walking on top of it. The views are good (the back of Anoch Eagach ridge I think) and then you return along the bottom of the River Leven valley. I guess the reservoir itself isn't the best bit, its getting there.......I was also interested in the engineering I suppose even if some of it does blot the landscape.

The hospital staff were really good. I have had this injury before, albeit on the other arm, so I knew what to expect. The river was the Coe before it enters the gorge. There is a largish fall you can see as you drive towards the Clachaig. Although the water was high I now know how many rocks it contains having hit one at high speed!

The cottage was great and was perfect for what we wanted. No issues at all.
We are offering short breaks until the end of January, either a long weekend from Friday to Monday or a short week from Monday to Friday. The prices are the lowest of the year, of course. After February we revert to weekly rates, from Saturday to Saturday.

Friday, December 01, 2006

We wore sunglasses in Fort William in November

I did send you a card yesterday but just to let you know we had a really lovely time. I loved your cozy cottage if ever you want to sell!!

We firstly went to Stirling to stay in Broomhall Castle (where we were the only residents) had an absolutely amazing meal and fab room with brilliant view. We saw the William Wallace memorial and then onto Bannockburn to see the visitor centre there and Robert the Bruce memorial. Over from there on the way up to Glencoe we went via Callendar and saw Roy Roy's grave and then over into Glencoe which just took my breath away. Snow on the mountains looked gorgeous!

We went around and about over to Mallaig, saw where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed, through Fort William and just enjoyed the scenery. Even had to wear my sunglasses (must have been the only place in the UK) with sun according to the weather forecast - looked like the UK was swathed in rain! Went to Ben Nevis & Glen Nevis.

We tried to fit so much in during the day at night we were exhausted and each planned meal out turned into soup and bread in your kitchen as we struggled to stay away beyond 9 pm. I did watch Braveheart - and cried, and had to stand outside the room right at the end as I couldn't stand it any more.

I thought the visitor centre was great in Glencoe, everyone was so pleasant and helpful, and we went to the coffee shop in the village and had a very reasonable good lunch there. Up and around the hospital then for a swift walk around the loch (can't remember the name)! and then to the massacre memorial. I was truly moved.

The only disappointing thing was the mean at the Ballachulish hotel (I managed to get Sean dressed up and out for the evening) the hotel looked so lovely we even thought of going back there for Valentines weekend, but Seans meal was very poor (mine was fine - neeps and tatties, and chicken), Sean has had a restaurant and he just quietly said that the steak was inedible - and they went to pieces, completely forgot about us, (or maybe ignored us I don't know) and we had to ask for desert, drinks etc. I noticed a couple on the next table couldn't eat their steaks either, but they obviously didn't say anything.

We had a great time John, Sean put £15 in the honesty box - I really hope it was enough - if not please let me know. We would love to go back next year. We came back really refreshed. Took loads of piccies for you and will download them (still haven't unpacked properly)... and will write some stuff on your blog site.

This e-mail is from Jan, and shows how much can be done in a long weekend break. They were there a couple of weeks ago. The lovely pic is from Alison, whose partner Kevin took it in the summer. I'm a bit green with envy. We've passed by this way many times and I never spotted this composition.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Secret Highland Road which goes Nowhere

Sometimes you get an e-mail that simply bubbles with enthusiasm. Paula and her friends came in the Autumn for a short break, and made the most of it. The pic shows the road they describe, very lonely and beautiful, ending in Kinlochhourn.
We loved your e-mail Paula, thank you.

Hi John and Gillian

What a brill couple of days! We travelled up on Friday morning about 9ish and stopped in Callander for lunch. We went to the Waverley, which doesn't look the best in the street, but their beef burgers were the best I've tasted in a long time, and the service was superb.

We arrived at the Clachaig Inn in Glencoe around 3 and checked in there rather than going on into the village. Took a short walk which was good after the journey. Rooms were lovely and comfy at the Inn, but I thought the food was very average. Took the opportunity to book a table for the Holly Tree for Sat night. Breakfast was something else though! Huge! Really nice and cheery ladies - makes such a difference! We decided to go to Glen Nevis for a walk to the falls. That's something that Linda and Chris did years ago and wanted to do again. The path was a bit hairy because of the rain/mist, but it was sooo worth it. How lovely is that valley?

We went back to Fort William and had a warm up in the Ben Nevis which was quite nice. So refreshing to go into pubs and not be overcome with other folks smoke! Jeff and I are ex-smokers, but we can't stand the passive stuff so it was lovely to sit and not be aware that your clothes are going to stink when you leave. Bring it on, England!

Arrived at Bayview around 4.30 and made the classic mistake of rushing up to the garage to find the key and then reading " the outhouse, not the garage." Doh! What a lovely cottage! Cosy, warm, welcoming, homely. It looks like someone lives there (if you know what I mean). Linda and Chris bagsied the double bed and Jeff and I had the twins. I couldn't believe how comfortable they were. We had a bottle of bubbly and then went off to the Holly Tree. By the way, 300 yards in your email and 400 yards in the info in the cottage is actually a good half mile when you check it in the car! Nice evening for a walk though. There were very few tables occupied that evening, but again, the service was top notch. I had oysters, my first ever. Chris said they were Pacific oysters and that the natives are a bit smaller. That might have suited me a bit better and no-one had told me about the crunchy bits of shell. Ah well, you live and learn. Anyhoo, they were very good. Then I had langoustines. Much better! We had such a lovely evening there. Everyone enjoyed what they had and I wouldn't hesitate to go back. Might have to save up again first.

Sunday we took your suggested trip to the hamlet at the end of the single track road from Glengarry. What a lovely road. Hardly anyone else on it and I have never seen so many red deer all in their finery. Monarchs of the Glen indeed! When we finally arrived (bearing in mind that we were 4 adults in a 1 litre Yaris) we were a little bit sad that the hamlet didn't have a small, welcoming, local bar with a roaring log fire in the grate. Instead we got out of the car to walk around the headland at the end of the track but were almost blown off our feet. We decided that it would actually be too dangerous to venture along that path as it is so close to the edge of the 'cliff' and the tide was rising rather rapidly. So, we just did a short walk to that point and back again and drove on out. Ended up in Fort Augustus which was really quite nice as Linda and I had said that we would have liked the opportunity to explore it a little bit more at some point. Picked up a chinese take-away from Fort William on the way back and ate like Lords when we got back to the cottage.

We were so sad to be leaving on the Monday, especially as we had to leave quite early so that we could get back at a reasonable time because Linda and Chris then had to drive on down to Berkshire. We have taken some photos, but we haven't downloaded them yet, so it may take a couple of days yet (and a bit of nagging!).

I think Jeff and I would like to go back to Bayview at some point. I've been telling the guys at work all about it as a lot of them go climbing and hill walking in Scotland quite regularly so hopefully you may get some extra bookings out of it.

I really thought it was a lovely place and we were surprised to read some of the comments in the book which seemed to say that a lot of people were disappointed by the weather! For goodness sake, it's Scotland! It's supposed to be dour and driek (with occasional sunny spells!).

Anyway. We had an absolutely fabulous time in your cottage and I thank you. Please let us come again some time.


Monday, November 06, 2006

The Eagles are Flying High in November

The eagles were at Kingairloch, just the other side of Loch Linnhe. That is Appin in the distance.

The weather was not as bad for us as it looked on TV. Although there was horizontal rain, we think further north got the brunt of it, but the waterfalls made up for it. Anyway what does the weather matter when you see 3 golden eagles!!! The quad biking in Roy Bridge was fully booked for the Friday, so we decided to take the Corran Ferry over to Morven and took the B road following the coast line and that's where we saw them.

We had two nice walks on Wednesday at Inchree and Lochan trail at Glen Coe village. Roadhoggs the takeaway mentioned in the info, are now closed, nearest one is in Fort William, we left the details for this and the quad biking in the cottage.

Our 'youngsters' (20 and 16 ) were telling us what to do! Your information about the area was really good. We had a lovely holiday, thank you very much.
Tony, Heather, Kirsty and Graeme

Thursday, October 12, 2006

How to revive a town in the Highlands

"Would yer turn yer arse to the window, Mr King, so Ah can see ma tape?" said the local tailor from Fort William. The person to whom that somewhat blunt request was made was none other than King Edward VII.
The date was September 1909 and the place was Mamore Hunting Lodge, high above Kinlochleven where the Hotel is to-day. The King was on his first visit to the area and was there specifically for shooting. He shot 9 stags each with and average weight of 16st. 2lbs.

Kinlochleven lies at the head of Loch Leven, a sea loch which has a scenic drive around either of the roads leading to the village. Nestled below towering mountains, Kinlochleven is on the main West Highland Way route - a 97 miles walk from Glasgow to Fort William.

Thousands of labourers, navvies, and poor people walked that walk in all conditions 100 years ago looking for work. They built the huge Blackwater dam on Rannoch Moor. No tractors in those days, no diggers, no machines. They dug out every clod by hand. Awful conditions, living in shacks, earning such a pittance that most of them would never marry in their lives. They drank and gambled away such money as they did save. The life was terrible, really awful. They died young.

In the 19th century, Kinlochleven was a tiny hamlet with a scattering of cottages. In 1907 the aluminium smelter was built and a new town was born but the conditions in it were poor. Surrounded by mountains and with an abundance of fresh water, Kinlochleven might have been an ideal location for a hydro-powered factory from the owners point of view but they had little thought for their workers. Then, Aluminium production stopped in 2000. The town has had a run down feeling for some years now.

But to-day there is a great revival and it is led by climbers from all over the country who come to try out the Ice Factor wall. Newly built and opened, one of only two in the whole country with an ice wall, it is full winter and summer. Gillian and I go there for a couple of hours when it rains steadily, just to watch.

It is a marvellously different place to visit, The Ice Factor. The whole town has revived, houses painted, new buildings, and a sense of the future because of it. Amazing what you can do with a bit of entreprenurial spirit.

But it must have been a huge financial risk to put it up in the first place. Someone took a guess that you could take a run down place in the mountains and build a centre there which experts would visit from all over Europe. Not a business for a faint heart, that takes courage and a forgiving family if it goes wrong.

Have a look at their web site.

John Winkler

Monday, October 02, 2006

Highland Honeymoon

Sandra and Ian's photo from above Stalker Castle, 20 minutes from the cottage

We had a wonderful time! The first couple of days were lazy, chilling out,
days as we were tired from the build up to the wedding and the journey.
We arrived about 10pm on Sunday.
We had a short walk round the other side of the loch to break us in,
then a day or two later walked up to the Inchree Falls. We went diving
with Puffin Divers in Oban on the Friday, and dived the wreck "rondo"
which was quite a long journey in the boat, and a scenic dive nearer to
the harbour. The weather was beautiful for the first week. We had
planned to do a shore dive from the Holly Tree- did you know it's a recognised dive site? - but the weather turned so we didn’t get the chance. On Thursday we went up to Elgin, via Inverness which is where Ian's grandmother was born. On the way we stopped at Fort Augustus.
We used your handbook a great deal and visited the craft shop in Glencoe and the cafe looking over the castle - Ian got this beautiful photo of the sunset which we are going to have enlarged and framed.
We went on the Steam train to Fort William, but found it to be pricey for what it was, and
when you have scenery from your cottage, you don’t really get to see anything more spectacular! We went round the Oban distillery, highly recommended outing on a wet day!! And you can pick up something to warm you up at the same time!!
We also visited the hydro-power station which was interesting – again something for a wet day as it's a hollowed out mountain.
Not at all impressed with the sea life centre near Oban, I'm afraid. Maybe becausewe dive and see the fish and animals in their natural habitat we just didn’t like seeing them in tanks. Also the whole thing about rescuing seals seems a bit odd - they only get about 20 a year, isn’t it just
natural selection that some are lost each year?
Eating out, we didn’t try any of the really posh places, but had two good meals at the Holly Tree, the first time the service was iffy, but the second time a different team was on and it was much better.
Can't fault the Clachaig Inn though for good value wholesome food at reasonable prices, and a lovely atmosphere. Sat there on Wednesday night watching the rain coming down in stair rods!!! The cottage really felt like home, especially after we put all our wedding cards up, it's in such an idyllic spot, and we enjoyed just sitting in the garden when the weather was nice.
Overall we had a lovely holiday. We loved it so much we want to buy a place of our own up there ........ Thanks for all your info - I feel sure we'll visit again

Sandra (and Ian)

Monday, September 04, 2006

How not to tour Scotland

You are 12th in line behind the caravan at the front. A slow right hand bend comes up and you drift out to see if cars are coming, but you notice the car in front has edged up to make it difficult for you to overtake.
"Look at that castle over there, Dad,"
"In a minute, son,"
Then your concentration slips and disaster strikes. You took your eye off the car behind and now he has whipped in front of you. The speedo tells you you are doing no more than 45mph. They shouldn't allow caravans really, on these roads. You do this from Edinburgh to Inverness and back down to Glasgow.

Back at the office, "How did you like Scotland, would you go there again?"
"It was very nice, but we might do something different next year." Yes, well, next year you could always spend a week driving around the M25. Great fun.

To-day Gillian and I toured Scotland the correct way. We started out as usual with little idea of where we were heading.
"Stalker Castle for soup and a roll?"
"Why not?"

A ride along the edge of Loch Linnhe, with the mountains of Morven across the water. No traffic. Yesterday's cold front had passed over leaving a cool, clear and sunny day. The air was fresh and you could see for miles down the Sound towards Mull.

"How about taking our little North Shian road the wrong way round?"

Single track road, with hardly any passing places. If you meet a car coming the other way the chances are that one of you will have to reverse, but you'll exchange a wave. Didn't matter, didn't pass any other cars. No one goes there. Except us, of course.

Sun came through the trees from South Shian across the water. Low tide made it look soft and wonderful against the light. "Wonder where the old slipway is, we found it before remember?"

This is where the people, and cattle, used to cross in a big rowing boat ferry 200 years ago when they travelled the down the coast from North to South. Cuts off a days walk round the coast, and many famous people in history have used it. It is about a mile across and the Spring tide flows strongly. Took a bit of rowing in the old days with a crowd aboard. They used heavy, caulked, wooden boats then. No glass fibre.

So we stopped to ask Charlie Moore who was planting some larch trees in his garden. The answer lasted for an hour as we swapped stories of the roe deer in his garden, the old ferry, the new pier restaurant owners in the village, and the evening when he froze in his garden as an otter walked by his feet. The answer included his early days in the Orkney Isles. He might have to go back there because the authorities have stopped his licence because of his diabetes. His neighbours get some groceries for him, but he walks three miles to the nearest bus. Lovely man, didn't sound Scottish at all, but that's the Orcadians for you.

Back to the cottage half an hour later taking in little Port Appin and its small passenger ferry to Lismore on the way. Total distance travelled? About 25 miles.

That's the way you tour Scotland properly. You don't go past it in a car. You go into it with the people.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Ever had sudden turbulence in your life?

There you are proceeding calmly, your happy nature at peace with the world, perhaps you are revelling in the memory of some recent personal success, and suddenly you see 5 foot standing waves straight ahead, steep sided, wind gusting against the strong tide. The helm is difficult to steer, the boat is thrown about. The waters around you are dangerous, the currents are strong.

After all, the infamous Corryvreckan whirlpool noted by sailors around the world for its ability to suck small boats under is not too far away.

It is amazing at these times how quickly you snap out of the dreams and into action. You quickly power up the engine, the crew snap into position to help the boat through the 100 yards of this boiling mass of water. So far so good. Then, near disaster, the violent motion of the boat forces air instead of diesel fuel from the tank to the fuel feed. With no fuel the engine dies.

The boat is now helpless. The crew quickly get up the big foresail, as the boat yaws about, and they manage to sail the boat slowly through the cauldron of water. Sails are always, always more reliable than engines.

This was David Cooper's experience, with son Chris and friend Christine recently. They were on their way back from racing their Trapper 28 in a long pursuit race from Oban to Craobh Haven to the South. David runs the lovely Glencoe centre, Crafts and Things, but races boats on the side. He is usually successful at it.

They all ended up having a Pizza on the North Pier at Oban none the worse. But it was a nasty
scare at the time.

PS Oh, and they had already won the race, against a fleet of 100 top boats.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The best thing was the dramatic scenery

Hi, John and Gillian,
The best thing was the dramatic scenery. The worst, the fact that we didn’t see a pine marten, but perhaps next time.
An excellent base, very close to Fort William, Glencoe, Oban and some great walks.
Wild life (saw red squirrels and deer) and several spectacular waterfalls
Very nice cottage and had everything we needed as well as being very up together and very snug - I think we were very lucky with the weather, only a bit of misty rain on our last day, so we could see the tops of the hills for 7/8 days.
Good selection of books and games in the house. The kids really enjoyed the pool game.
We seemed to pack in quite a bit :- walking every day (about 3-4 miles), with Inchcree and Nevis Gorge the best walks.- seal boat trip from Fort William- Sea Life Centre/Fort William pool with water slide- the new Glencoe Visitors Centre (not too impressed) as we can remember the old one.
Nevis Range gondola- several visits to Crafts & Things (as you said in your guide a great place to stop for refreshments and a good range of gifts)
The photo was taken from the Holly Tree pier near the cottage. JW

Monday, August 14, 2006

Escape of Mad Cow in Glencoe

The slopes of the Buachaille Etive Mhor where the renegade cow was spotted. It seems she marched herself up to the top of the hill and marched herself down again. This story comes from the Visitor's Centre in Glencoe. As the National Trust for Scotland they look after the whole region.
A strange incident at Glencoe saw one of our highland cows jump the fence and make a break for freedom. Donnie, Glencoe’s handyman, tracked down the offending beast, who had run along the A82 and made her way from near the Visitor Centre to the Buachaille. Here she was lured back to the quad with some hay and a scratch behind her ear. Then, avoiding the temptation to lasoo the animal and be dragged off into the hills, Donnie retreated to scratch his head for a solution to get her home, only to find her back home the next day, none the worse for her adventures. It seems freedom didn’t live up to her expectations!

We have one date still unbooked in the cottage, week commencing Sept 23rd. Look at


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Things to do in the rain

When Gillian and I crossed Rannoch Moor last October we saw this rather nice rainbow. Rannoch Moor we think is one of the Wonders of Scotland. Every time we see it is looks different.

A nice e-mail from Emma, a recent guest

Hi Yes, first day back at work today so lots of emails to trawl through! We had a lovely time and the cottage was super, the weather was quite mixed and we found plenty to do. It was a great place for exploring and your notes really were useful for those wetter days!

Thanks again Emma

You can see some of the local places that can be investigated in bad weather from looking at our page on the web site called, Appin Land of the Stewart Kings. Quite good fun to take the family out to search for them. All within fifteen minutes of the cottage

We also have a special Autumn Deal we are promoting. A Weather guarantee!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cruise Ships At Fort William one day?

Photo is taken from Fort William where a new dock for cruise ships may be built. This picture was taken by one of our guests, Libby Higgins, a month ago and looks down Loch Linnhe from Fort William. Thanks Libby.

Cruise ships at Fort William?
The deep water dock isn't built yet, the marina is not there, nor is the top class hotel, but they will be one day. That is, if the plans from three development companies for the Fort William waterfront go through.
It will involve re-claiming more land from Loch Linnhe. Let's hope it is not a pipe dream once more.
Gillian and I have moaned for years about the wasted opportunity offered by the lochside by-pass. It could be the Cannes of the North. It needs a couple of access tunnels to the waterside, the back of all the buildings cleaned up and gentrified, the widening of the pavement, and some planted palms. Yes, making use of our local ability to grow Mediterranean plants would be a good idea. We get some help from the Gulf Stream.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Take a Road that Goes Nowhere in the Highlands

All the RTGN are built on ancient trackways used for centuries, usually by drovers moving cattle and sheep to the market in Falkirk. Small communities were built on them. The remnants of these communities are still there and these are the oldest roads in the Highlands. That’s why they are fun. You can feel the past.

They've recently just discovered the ancient village of Daingean near Invergarry. This hamlet was left deserted and overgrown after the infamous "clearances" when landowners got rid of the Highland people to make way for sheep. It was lost for over 100 years.

In olden days, people moved around the Highlands mostly by boat if they were within reach of the coast. But the drovers had to move cattle overland to markets in the South. Droving has a 1,000 year history, and was originated by the Columban monks. These trackways are normally on old drove roads.

Times are to the start of the road from our cottage at Kentallen.

15 mins Cuil bay South of Duror to the right. A short road, just serving farms. Walk on round the shore and you will find the ancient settlement the remains of which are still there. So the map says.

35 mins Gillian’s favourite, Glen Nevis, go right up to the top, and walk up beside the waterfalls. Braveheart was filmed there.

45 mins Ft. William, take Mallaig Road, and after 2 miles at Banavie turn right on the west bank of the Caledonian Canal. Go West side of Loch Lochy then turn on to the

RTGN west to Loch Arkaig. On the way back, watch out for the buzzard which will lead you back up the road.

All day trip This is the secret one. Make sure you’ve got petrol, cakes and a thermos. You are doing old Scotland to-day. Do you know anyone else who has ever seen Loch Hourn? Neither do we. Start at Invergarry, turn left, and keep left when the main road turns off to Skye. You will go through ancient forests, into the hills past Loch Quoich. There are five Munroes over 3,000 feet within three miles of your car. You’ll end up at Kinlochourn. Neat little hamlet, little walk alongside the sea-loch, a winding Norwegian-like fjord. Only the odd fishing boat, the occasional day boat, or tourist boat out of Mallaig go there. No wonder the Vikings ran this area for centuries. They felt at home here. Back the way you came.

John – happy touring

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Head for Crafts and Things, Glencoe

People travel from Australia, NewZealand, and America to see the Highlands. Where do they stop? Crafts and Things in Glencoe. Glasgow weekenders out for the day, English holidaymakers finding their holiday homes, local bed and breakfast guests - everyone, absolutely everyone it seems, stops at David Coopers little traditional croft house for teas. The team is tremendous, the service is very good indeed, however long the queue, it does not take long. You'll see everyone in there. The occasional film star, climbing giants of Himalayan fame, high and low, everyone is treated as normal.

It is our secret for prolonged bad weather - not that you get much of that, of course. Just nab your table in Crafts and Things and down latte after latte.

The range of gifts that David stocks is chosen with great care. If you are looking for something classy to take home, something interesting, something with design flair then his place is the best we have come across. A narrower range, of course, but as good as anything you can find on Princes Street in Edinburgh.

If you are heading for Glencoe, then head for Crafts and Things. That's our advice.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Welcome to our South African guests

When I was a lad, this track used to be part of the acknowledged "most beautiful railway line in Scotland" It ran from Ballachulish to Connel. It might be re-opened again as a cycle track. This is just 150 yards from our cottage at Kentallen and is referred to by Frances and Fred in their Travellers tale we have just been sent. They came in May and I don't think they had very good weather but they are far too nice to say so. Thank you both.

We arrived back in South Africa a couple of weeks ago after being on the move for nearly six weeks.

We had a most marvellous time at your cottage in Kentallen. It was very comfortable with everything that we needed for our visit there. It is an excellent base from which to explore the western side of Scotland and our son, Brad, had organised some great sight-seeing trips to Mull, Glencoe and the West Highland Railway. We also had excellent weather, which made our holiday really memorable.

Your extensive collection of local information is really first class and added greatly to our understanding of the immediate area. I enjoyed reading the story of the old Ballachulish railway and was able to pick out many of the old stations along the road as we drove around. One day it would be nice to walk the old track, as there seems to be a footpath there, according to your excellent selection of maps.

Thank you once again for the opportunity of staying at Bayview Cottage - it really was the highlight of our visit to Scotland.

Yours sincerely Fred and Frances

Weather Guarantee for the Autumn

How does the weather guarantee for Autumn work ?

Hi, Richardo. Glad you asked. It is all a cunning scheme. We do not charge any deposit for the week, so we just ask for your cheque before you arrive. If you decide that the weather is going to be too bad for you, then we do not bank your cheque and you owe nothing. Yipee!

You can check it out at

ps We've opened up this blog so that anyone can comment or add a link directly to the foot of the item. Richardo is a Team member, though, and can post items directly. It is all too complicated for me. I must go and have a lie down somewhere

Friday, June 23, 2006

This photo was taken at midnight at Kentallen Bay, Glencoe

This is the lovely photograph Tina mentions in her delightful e-mail to us. We absolutely adore renting out this cottage - all of our guests have been really nice, no kidding.

Hi John,We had a really wonderful time at your cottage. The weather got better as the week progressed and we ended up being able to do all the things we wanted to. Thanks for all the info in the cottage - it made our visit much more efficient! No wondering about what we could do! We used the green walks book a lot.
Within hours of arriving I saw, out of the bedroom window, a seal lazily swimming in the bay. * Not dark at nearly midnight ( see photo)* 2 hr Walk around the top of the cable car on Ben Nevis on a gloriously clear day.* Walk around Lochan in Glen Coe* Walk along a bit of the West Highland Way* Lots of other forest walks - no midges!* Day long 'Three Islands' coach trip to Mull, Staffa and Iona . Five ferries and two coaches helped us to see a lot in one day. * Meal out at Ballachulish House Hotel. Stunning food - bill for two about £115 - but worth it for a treat. Very friendly staff but watch out for the pre dinner drinks though, £6.00 for a gin and tonic! We nearly went home then before the food was even ordered. * I enclose some photos.(PS it was too busy to get near the world downhill bike races - we should have gone earlier but the weather was not good. Park and ride system was in operation.) Thanks again for a lovely holidayTina and family
The Ballachulish house hotel has one Michelin star and is ten minutes drive away.
PS we have one week left for renting the cottage in late September this summer, Most f October onwards is free.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Total sunshine 7 days out of 7 - Scottish highlands!

This is the tiny island of Bal-na-gowan off Cuil Bay near our cottage. There are signs of an old stone circle on it, and a Columban monk was supposed to live in a cave there for many years. Cold, wet and often fearsome we would think. We love this report from our guests last week.

Back to work already. We had the most amazing week!! The cottage was lovely and so well equipped. We particularly appreciated your laminated guide. I know the area well but it was nice to have a second opinion! Having a garage to store all the, bikes, buggies and surfboards was a real bonus!

The weather was unbelievable, too hot on some days, 7 out of 7 days were sunny. The kids loved Tralee bay and Cuil bay, we got the youngster her first wet suit in Oban and she spent most of her time in the water or buried in sand! The little one is now just about walking and is a dedicated paddler. I managed to get out on my windsurfer twice which is something of a record, not much wind but fun anyway.

We have an offroad buggy with us so managed to do the Strontian wood walks, Glen Nevis and a few other local low level walks. As you can tell the holiday was a great sucess, we're all brown and relaxed.

We are publishing our special Autumn Break deal. Click on the link to see our less than half price terms and our weather guarantee. Weather guarantee in Scotland? Yes, we mean it.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Higher than before - 707m

This must be one of the nicest reports ever. Thank you Lyn and Wendy

We had an amazing time, the weather was great the first day, then lots and lots of rain and snow!! Even the locals were very surprised. I loved the cottage as it reminded me of where i used to live and extremely well equipped. Sunday was spent walking in the Pass of Glencoe to get our legs used for walking in the area. We walked round the bottom of Buchaille, which has some of the most beautiful scenery we had every seen, Wendy had already taken a ton of photos already by this point. It was a wonderful day (the sun was shining) and we were already talking of not wanting to go back home. The best bit for Wendy was seeing lots and lots of deer and even a stag!
On Monday we headed for Ben Nevis but unfortunately should had done it yesterday as the top half was covered in snow. We are fairly new to high level walking and sat and talked about it before we started and decided that we would give it a go but as soon as we were unsure we would just come down - in our opinion every step was an achievement. We got to the half way point when we started passing people coming down saying that there was no visibility at the top and as we were new to this we thought this was not worth the risk and we were happy with getting as far as we did. Once we were down we decided to go up in the Gondolas on Aonach Mor which although not the same did show us just how bad Ben Nevis looked in the weather.
On Tuesday we popped into Fort William for a quick poke about before heading Glen Nevis to walk to An Steall waterfall. Wendy was unable to get over the first waterfall but I loved it and went on alone. Hands down in my opinion it was the best walk I did all week. It was hard and there was lots of climbing over rocks and if you don't like heights then its not the walk for you and please be careful when its been raining as it is very slippery. But oh my God! when you come round the last corner and walk into this huge valley with the waterfall at one end and Ben Nevis at the other you feel like you have stepped back in time. I kept expecting to see a dinosaur come walking round the corner. I never wanted to leave and to top it off the rain stopped and the sun came out, nothing could top that!
On Wednesday we drove to Skye and drove around the island for the day stopping off to walk through one of the many, many woods, again the rain stopped on the way home allowing us to see Skye at it best. Got fish and chips on the way home as we were home very late.
On Thursday we headed to The Pass of Glencoe to walk the Devils Staircase and then up to the summit of Stob Mhic Mhartthin, very, very muddy and boggy lots of rain and snow descended on us while we were up there, but we had a great time. We both felt sorry for all the people walking the West Highland Way as the weather had been erratic all week. We were both happy that we could head back to the cottage to get clean and dry.
On Friday (sob our last day!!) we finally got to Cuil bay we spent ages looking at the stones and even picked some to take home, we had to limit them as were are flying home. We then again headed to Glen Nevis and just walked along some of the paths there with no particular direction in mind. In the evening we wandered along to the beach on the other side of the loch and chilled.
As the weather was not at its best we had altered a lot of what we did and did not do a lot of the high level walking we had planned on doing, but if we had done that I would never had seen the An Steall waterfall and we would not have walked the Devils staircase. We had a wonderful week and the weather did not affect us badly at all. In fact we were both chuffed that we did any part of Ben Nevis and we still managed to walk slightly higher than we had before which in its self is an achievement (707m). We are totally planning on coming back and we will get our first Munro, but there is so much to do wherever you are a high level walker or not that it does not matter. We are two very happy campers thanks Lyn & Wendy

Monday, May 29, 2006

Lochaline-Fishnish ferry best

We have just arrived back from our week at Bayview.
We thought Scotland was wonderful and the area that the cottage is in was tremendous. We managed to do lots during the week - probably too much - and found your cottage information most useful. We took your advice in going to Mull, using the two shorter ferry crossings on the way there and the Oban ferry on the return, and had a great day.
Over the week we did plenty of walking and managed some biking on Lismore Island, which we thought was delightful.
From Tony and Jan.

People pile in to Oban to get the ferry to Mull. Wrong. The Oban ferry is very full, particularly the 10.00am and they are every two hours. From Glencoe to Mull by far the best way is to get the little Corran Ferry first, then over the lovely hills to Lochaline, wait there for the frequent ferry, no booking needed, and you arrive halfway towards Tobermory at Fishnish.
It is also by far the cheapest way to take the car to Mull.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Airds Hotel restaurant - class is recognised

There are three top restaurants around us. One looks after stars of stage and screen, with its ensuite helipad, another is proud of its Michelin star. But Gillian and I have one outstanding favourite whenever we've saved up some money.

This is the Airds Hotel in Port Appin. It has always been run by really nice people, we get a warm welcome, the food and the service is consistently tops. The views from the place are nothing but Wow!

This total combination is frankly difficult to find elsewhere. With all our family, three generations, 12 of us, we spent the Millenium celebrations there.

Now their chef for the past five years Paul Burns has won the Medaille d’Or for his restaurant and service. He has also won the Best Gourmet menu over £50 atr the Scottish Chefs Awards this year. Proprietors Shaun and Jenny McKivragan must be very proud.

Congrats - all of you. And thanks.

John and Gillian

Monday, May 15, 2006

Website tips from Camusngaul

I was swapping some links for our web site, and happened across this truly interesting man, Richard Fisher. He runs several sites, amongst them (I had, just, heard of this little hamlet but was at a loss to place it) Another site of his is and both of them have some beautiful photographs - that is what sells Scotland. I asked Richard to tell me his story and this is what he wrote. John

Camusnagaul is a small hamlet of a few houses, a small brewery (yes you can buy beer brewed in Camusnagaul), an independent hostel and Maggie's Tea Room and Craft Shop along with a couple of holiday cottages and b&b. This is a small community approximately 30 miles from Ullapool, infact is is better known as Dundonnell which is 2 miles away. The tea room was named after "Maggie" who ran a tea room from the original croft in the 50's and when a local lass Ishbel started up the venture again 3 years ago the local people suggested the name "Maggie's Tea Room" as a fond memory of a kind lady who was well respected by all. So what makes this small community special, well I suppose the nearby Munros such as Fisherfield and An Teallach could be one of the reasons, however for me it is just the peacefulness and beautiful scenery and only being a short drive from some of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland. A couple of years ago I remember being out at midnight watching the aurora borealis with the moonlight shining over Little Loch Broom, where else can you find such beauty?

So what is this about our website(s), yes I have more than one. Well it started as my way of saying thanks for all the great holidays I have had in the Scottish Highlands, it was also a challenge to see if I could learn to market Scotland, or at least a small area of it, on a budget of £0. We started by Ishbel buying the domain name and paying for a low cost hosting account and then for me making lots of mistakes.

I have learned a lot over the last 18 months or so, and as a "computer" person I did have a bit of a head start as I love computer technology nearly as much as I love Scotland. However believe me when I say I wondered if I would ever get the site into any of the search engines! Now I try and get into the top position for the words people use to search, at least it is fun trying.

The process of working at getting a high position for certain keywords in search engines is known as Search Engine Optimisation or SEO for short. There is a book called SEO for Dummies and if your website is getting nowhere, either buy the book or hire me! While there is as many theories about what is good and bad SEO (reciprocal links are in this week out the next) I firmly believe in reciprocal links. Just remember you are recommending another website to your visitors - so if you would not want to visit a site, then do not ever link to it, if a site has pop-ups then just forget it.

The main point with reciprocal linking is you should only link to site with content that is related to your own, that is a travel site should be linked to and from other travel sites. One last suggestion is to make your Links page prominent on your site, don't go hiding it away. Be proud of the links you make and you will not only get a higher position in search engines you will get real visitors to your site from other websites who have placed links to you.

Richard Fisher.
If you want help with your website SEO just e-mail him at

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Things they don't tell you about the Puffin trip

If you arrive on Mull by 1030 in the morning (From the Oban or Lochaline ferries) then you'll be at Ulva Ferry by 1115. The boat will leave the slipway at 1145. You'll be back in time to get the last ferry home.

In between, you'll see sights of wonder - nothing like them anywhere in the world. First you'll spend time at Fingals Cave on Staffa. Those upright rock formations are so strange.

Then you'll be off to a landing on Lunga island in the little group of Treshnish Isles. Your boat will pick up a pontoon, put it on the rocks and you'll clamber up a hill to a cliff where the sight that you see will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Puffins are amazing. Little self-contained things with colourful beaks and supreme self confidence. When Gillian and I went on the trip the Puffins had arrived from all over the Atlantic to settle on this one great cliff. Busy getting scraps of earth, lining nests. They don't mind how close you get.

In late April they start to muzzle one another with their beaks ready for a grand night of Whey-
Hey. We had to avert our eyes. They stay with their new familes until early August then they are off to goodness knows where in some ocean or other until next Spring.

But what they don't tell you about the Turus Mara is how much fun you get on the boat, and how nice is the skipper and the Morrison family. We had son Colin as Master and his sister Cooch freshly back from New Zealand. We felt totally confident the whole time. As Colin's dad - boss Iain - is supposed to remark when asked if he knows where all the underwater rocks are, "No, but it is better to know where they aren't"

Colin's commentary includes, "On this little island you find razorbills and guillemots doing
their housework at this time of the day, on this other island there are mermaids but you'll have
to come back in June for them, and if anyone can find our anything about this island we are
passing, or make it up, then I'd like to know and lie about it."

Coming back, Colin whistled and up came a school of dolphins to swim all around our boat. They'd already fed themselves and saw us as a big brother come to play.

It is a wonderful outstanding trip. Pick a nice day with a flat sea. You'll never forget it.
Leave our cottage just after 0800 and go the cheap way via Lochaline. No need to book the car
ferry. Phone Pat Morison first on 08000 858786. Cost of the trip is £42.50 each, Lochaline ferry
is about £10 one way, Corran ferry is £5.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Dervaig,a truly unspoilt Highland Village, Mull

Gillian and I truly enjoyed staying in the village. No yuppification here on the West coast of Mull. Just a High Street of cottages, a Post Office and shop, a stream running through the village. Its been like this for nearly 800 years. Lovely Church of Scotland with a rather beautiful tower.Before restoration the Church was regarded as colder and wetter indoors than out, but it has been completely restored.

Then there is the Bellachroy Hotel with its lively bar, and really good meals. You won't beat the food and the service here. Someone in the house has been doing it since 1608. This makes it the oldest Inn on Mull.

John and Gillian

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Little baby girl otter rescued - Ardnamurchan

Last week a little baby girl otter cried and whistled at two young holidaymakers in Ardnamurchan, and snuggled against their feet like a kitten. Abandoned by its mother, it would have died but for the hot water bottle and plastic box they kept it in. The cub happily fell asleep in front of the fire, after watching The Bill. At Strontian next day it was handed over to a wild life officer. "Sometimes the mothers get trapped or die and leave the babies to fend for themselves" said Andy who deals with 20 cubs like this every year. "We just feed them on little fillets of fish and return them to the wild."
In Scotland anything can happen. We've been trying to spot otters by the Kentallen Old Pier for years without luck. Others have, or so they say.
Picture by Ewan Urquhart

Dinner, jazz and sunsets high up Anoch Mhor

The picture of this lovely sunset around the Nevis Range Gondola was taken by Mickey Yule.

The Nevis Range have got a great new idea. They will be having Evening Entertainment nights which will include either live jazz, rock and ceilidhs in the Snowgoose Restuarant and Bar. These nights include food and music. The meals will be served from 6.30pm to 9pm, whilst the music will commence at 8pm and conclude at 11pm.

The dates allocated to the Evening Entertainment nights are:
23rd June 2006;14th July 2006;4th August 2006;18th August 2006; and1st September 2006.

Call Nevis Range for info. You will have to book, I reckon.01397 705 825or


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Pine Marten and babies seen in Adrnamurchan

Picture of Rannoch Moor in early April by Jim Spratt, whose travellers tale follows. Posted by Picasa

another good break, the bad weather actually worked in our favour. There was a lot of snow in the mountain on the way through Glen Coe and on the Sat PM we went to Fort William and into Nevis Sport where it said there was 2ft of snow. Angie is the only one who has skied before so we planned on the Sun to try some snowboarding. Turned up at the kiosk on Sunday, we were the only ones booking snowboard lessons!! so the 4 of us had the instructor to ourselves all day. There were quite a few skiing lessons going on with a dozen to a group. We couldn't believe our luck. Had a great day and were all very tired and decided to go back again on the Monday but this time just to hire the boards and boots and try our our newly learnt skills.

Tues did a couple of local walks Incree Falls and Signal Rock.

Weds was the worst day weather wise so decided to visit Oban sea life centre and then back to take the Corran Ferry and went as far as the Ardnamurchan Natural history centre where we saw our 1st pine marten plus 2 babies (they had set up a hide which a wild marten had decided to use to rear its young. Amazing we were only a foot or so away through a glass panel. Still failed to see any golden eagles but it didn't help that we forgot the binoculars - maybe next time.

Thurs, a friend of Lizzy's was walking the West Highland Way with her dad and we joined them for the day from Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse Hotel. Very bleak accross Rannoch Moor. The investment in some decent waterproof trousers paid dividends with only our feet being completely soaked. But a meal at the hotel sorted us out, what a pleasant change to be in a pub all night without any smoke. Roll on Jul 2007.

Fri, went to Kinlochleven for more walking the waterfall was all the more powerful for the milder weather bringing a thaw in the mountains.

All very sad to leave on Saturday

Did notice a small leak on the toilet waste pipe that you will want to fix before it causes any damage.

Many Thanks

Jim & Angie

PS. will be in touch soon about booking some time next year once we have checked our dates.

PS.2 I have attached a couple of photos

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Otters seen beside Ballachulish Bridge

Picture by Libby's family shows The Buchaille Etive Mhor, at the entrance to Glencoe. The Kingshouse Hotel is in the foreground. Picture taken late March 06.

"We had a great time in Scotland. The weather was not so good but that didnt really stop us. It never does. We managed to get up Ben Nevis on a beautiful day and the views were fantastic. We also went over on the ferry from Corran and sat in a hide at the side of Loch Sunart watching seals and looking for otters. No otters there but we finally saw one beside the A82 under the bridge at Ballachuilish!. We loved it over the ferry. We also took a walk round the Lochan in between the showers and we went along the road by the river in Glencoe. We walked round the peninsular at Port Appin and alomg the road on the other side of the bay at Kentallen. We wanted to explore more but the weather was too cold. We don't mind the wet but cold and wet, no thanks. I came back feeling as if I had a good holiday. I have been doing washing all day so need another holiday.We wish we had been before.I hope you like the photos. "

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wild life success for the white-tailed sea eagles

A record number of 9 young eagles have been seen this year. Get a splendid day tour of Mull looking for wildlife from Richard Atkinson at 01680 300441. They get regular sightings of white tailed sea eagles, golden eagles, divers, Merlin, Peregrine, hen harriers, otters, golden plover, twite, raven, many others.
Going from our cottage, if you take the 9.40 ferry from Lochaline as passengers, Richard will pick you up at Fishnish, Mull. you'll have a wonderful day and he'll get you back for the 5.10 ferry return. Cost is just over £30, no little ones under 8 because there is a little walking to be done.
A day to remember, this one.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


The Scotsman newspaper and the Scottish National Trust made a long list of all the top sites in Scotland in their search for the Seven Wonders. Glencoe came towards the top of all sites voted by over 50,000 readers. Knowledgeable, these Scots.

Here are seven reasons why. The pics are all free if you want them. If you want to copy them you may do so without any copyright fee. We hold the rights to each of them.

From the top, Kentallen Bay, with our cottage on the right, then Loch Leven, then loch Linnhe,
then you see Ardsheal, the Ballachulish Quarries which once Queen Victoria visited,
and Glencoe village a shot taken in January this year. At the foot is the sentinel of Glencoe the lower slopes of the great Buchaille Etive Mhor.

And we could have shown you another 50 shots all different.

John - we have just two dates open this summer until the end of September, weeks commencing June 3 and July 8. If you are interested in a holiday cottage for four facing the lochside in one of the Seven Wonders of Scotland.....

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The old Appin railway to be revived!

Up the hill, behind our cottage is an old railway cutting. It was famous in its day for being one of the most beautiful railway lines ever built and it ran between Ballachulish and Oban. All down the side of Loch Linnhe, around Castle Stalker and through Barcaldine, can you imagine the beauty of this route? Our neighbour, Jessie's boy used to catch it to school and back, and the driver would slow down to let him sling his bags into the garden as he passed.It was far more renowned in its day that the present Fort William - Mallaig run.

Built in 1903, there was an outcry in 1966 when it was closed as part of Dr Beeching's railway cost savings. Gradually, the line was grown over, the Kentallen Station was turned into the Holly Tree Hotel and other stations used as houses. Now the old station at Creagan Bridge has been restored, and they plan to use much of the track bed as part of the proposed West Coast Cycle Route.

Hurrah, we say! John Winkler

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Rescued by men in a White Van!

Late March 06.
John, We had a wonderful week – the weather was generally dry, clear and sunny – snow on the peaks; just what we had hoped for. We had one day of snow when the whole place turned to a winter wonderland – though quickly melted when it turned to rain!

I had a great walk up the ‘Pap’ and another family walk up Glen Nevis. Also other smaller walks – one less successful out at Arisaig along a non existent path! I was wondering why ordnance survey rarely show paths in Scotland – perhaps that is why! This one was clearly marked on the map but was a swamp! We ended up being rescued by two men in a white van who took us all back to Arisaig!

We really liked your cottage – very cosy and full of character. Thanks for the baby chair – this was really helpful though you ought to know that it doesn’t actually fit your chairs, at least not very securely. But it didn’t matter – we just used it on the floor.

The info you provided was really helpful – we followed your advice on where to eat and drives and walks etc. all were good! Crafts and Things and Stalker View (which became our second home!) were very child friendly and had lovely coffee and cakes.

All in all Scotland has much to commend it in March – things are open and happening but there aren’t the crowds. I was the only person up the Pap on what was an ideal day. Plenty of space in all pubs and cafes etc too.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

New Ballachulish Visitors Centre Website
Hasn't this got to be one of the loveliest settings for an Information Centre, you'v e ever seen?

It is run brilliantly by Simon and Mags. They are always welcoming, with warm smiles, teas and coffees, and a wide range of gifts to take home for friends.

The website is a first for them. There are pages about the area, and a good page on fishing. You don't have to take your own fishing tackle with you, to Glencoe and Ballachulish, you can hire it from Simon's hardware shop just across from the Tourist office. You can make free telephone calls to local accomodation.

Did you know that Queen Victoria stopped in Ballachulish and thought it a "pretty and tidy place" She admired the huge slate mines which were being worked in those days - just on the hill behind the Office - and you can take a trip around them to-day.
Lochside cottage near Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland
  • Short Breaks Glencoe
  • Stories about Appin villages blog