Monday was our 2nd anniversary and we decided to take a little Scottish trip. It’s hard to divvy up seeing the world and equally seeing Scotland. But we thought we could pull this trip to the West coast off before weather and the lack of sunlight got too bad. And actually, the weather was fantastic every single day. Couldn’t have asked for better…
Glencoe is about 4 1/2 hours away. Not a bad drive at all (time wise) and once you’re past Perth the views are really fantastic. We drove the southern route around the Cairngorms there and up north around them on the way back. In the end I prefer the drive up North. On the way out, we stopped in Crieff along the way, no purchases, but had a latte (and some carrot cake) overlooking the countryside.
Also we’ve learned to be ready to stop and pull over whenever we see something beautiful or cool. Like this super creepy statue of a man coming up over the water. Although, I have to admit, I wanted to stop on the way back to take a picture of this insanely creepy house and I didn’t say anything…only to regret it for the next 30 minutes. Next time…
So we arrived Friday evening. We originally wanted to stay at the Clachaig Inn but even 2 months out it was booked fully, so we ended up at the Holly Tree Hotel. It was right on the water and we had amazing waterfront and mountain views from our room. And of course they were dog friendly. It wasn’t a five-star resort or anything, but everyone was very kind and thoughtful. I would definitely recommend it again. We had dinner at the hotel and I got to try Skene soup for the first time. It’s a cream based soup with smoked haddock and potatoes and leeks and all kinds of yummyness. I actually have never made a fish soup and now I’m pretty inspired to try my own version of it. After the soup we split this obscene seafood platter. I’ve never seen fatter mussels.
On Saturday we set off to hike the Pap of Glencoe. It’s about 4.25 miles just up and back. It was rated 3 out of 5 boots on Walk Highlands…and goddamn, it was pretty rough. It seemed much harder than the Glatthorn mountain in Austria even though Glatthorn is more than double the elevation. But I guess the Pap was much steeper. Stella of course loved every second of it…other than when she tried to climb up a slab of straight rock and slid back down…she’s a mountain goat I swear. Even coming down, when we ran into another dog was tearing it up doing doughnuts running around like a fool. As hard as it was going up, going down was worse. My knees ached…and continued to ache for the rest of the night and the following day. But it was incredibly beautiful, and once you reach the top you feel as though you’ve really accomplished something. And I really like that feeling.
That night we did make it to the Clachaig Inn for dinner and drinks after. Dinner was good although they were sold out of both items E and I originally wanted. I finally tried HAGGIS! It was a haggis ‘taster’ and didn’t have the haggis in the casing, and it was smothered in some sort of gravy. Not a fan. Not a fan of any white gravy. Or gravy on anything other than mash potatoes and turkey/roast. The restaurant was very chaotic, they don’t take reservations, and you order from a window. We snagged a seat without waiting long- I’ll call it luck of the Irish. From what I gather they had live entertainment every night in the bar. On Saturday they had the Tonkerers, who were pretty great. They had an electric violin, some sort of flute, and some sort of banjo-y thing. And they cover Reel Big Fish! Fantastic! It was maybe the happiest bar on earth. A bunch of granola-y backpackers singing along and dancing on tables and creating makeshift jenga by stacking pint glasses. I wanted to stay forever…but we were exhausted and Stella was back at the hotel. She was passed out from being so exhausted thankfully, but in the past we’ve had complaints at hotels that she barks incessantly.
We obviously aren’t hiking machines. And luckily we hadn’t planned on hiking on Sunday anyway. On Sunday we took a little pony ride along a rocky beach in Appin to get a better look at Stalker Castle. Ideally the tide would be out and we could ride right up to it, but instead we just walked along the beach. I was on a horse, so I was happy either way.
Afterward we took a walk to see the waterfalls of Inchree Falls. It was a pretty easy loop, which is about all my knees could handle. Came home, napped. Went to dinner at Ballachulish Hotel. Definitely wouldn’t recommend. And the fact they made us wait an hour when more than half the tables were open was a bit rage-inducing. And then regardless of what you ordered, it came out in 5 minutes. Was it just sitting there and they microwave it? Being said, my duck leg was alright. E’s rib eye was not. It actually was not rib eye…it was more like tough skirt steak and covered in mysterious white gravy. I would have sent that back.
We stayed Sunday night and headed back Monday afternoon. We got back in time for me to make some skinny homemade mac and cheese for dinner and then head off to golf. Happy 2nd Anniversary to us! I definitely want to go back in the next year or two to bag Ben Nevis…the highest mountain in the British isles. A proper munro! A munro is a mountain in Scotland with a height over 3,000 ft and the you want to ‘bag’ em. Hopefully when we head back we’re in better shape and don’t suffer so much on the big boy.