Summer has slipped away and autumn is sneaking up on us now. I love autumn though, don’t you? I can’t wait to go out walking with my camera and capture Scotland in its changing season of golden colours.
During the summer, we planned to squeeze in a day trip to the north of Scotland. It’s always an early start and long drive, but it can be done. I wish we could have planned a longer trip. Getting married on the Isle and Arran, then our walk around the island over seven days was our big adventure this year. Finances were running a bit thin!
My mum and sister had never seen Glencoe … yes, that’s what I said. Even though we live in Scotland, it doesn’t always mean that we’ve seen all the beautiful places here. My mum hasn’t travelled much in her life at all, so it was time to share the magic with her and my sister. Alan was happy to drive so we set off early one sunny morning in July.
The night before, my mum received sad news though. Her older sister in Canada passed away. I didn’t know Aunt Bridie as she lived in Canada for most of her life. My mum always kept in touch writing letters and by phone. She comes from a family of eight (four girls, four boys) and she was the only female left in that family line now.
I hoped this wee day out would help take her mind off things, including the usual stress and anxieties in life. Last year was the first time we’d got together for a day trip when we visited the historical Rosslyn Chapel. We don’t tend to do things together often, so this was another unique gathering.
Our first stop was Inveruglas Visitor Centre on the west side of Loch Lomond. After a quick toilet break we took a short stroll beside the bonnie banks. I wasn’t sure if my mum would be able to walk far, but she was surprisingly okay. She was even smiling so that was good to see.
She told us that Loch Lomond was Aunt Bridie’s favourite place when she lived in Scotland. This seemed like the perfect place to be on this day. It’s strange how things happen, as if it’s meant to be.
We walked along a path beside the loch until we met a tall pyramid-shaped wooden structure dominating the lochside. I’d seen photos of this unique viewing platform online, but this was the first time my own eyes gazed upon it. The colour of the wood had darkened as you would expect. I like the weather-beaten look, it blends in with its natural surroundings.
The viewing platform is called An Ceann Mòr, meaning ‘large headland’ in Gaelic. It was built as part of the Scottish Scenic Routes Project.
As I walked through the tunnel, the loch presented itself in the most beautiful way with views to the Arrochar Alps and Ben Lomond. If I could sing, I might have burst into song:
🎵 “O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland a’fore ye,
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.” 🎵
The platform is eight metres high with 31 steps to the top giving you elevated views across the loch. Just lovely!
I was thinking it would be very relaxing sitting on the steps for a few hours, enjoying reading a book, or even writing my blog. Of course, I’d need to look up now and then for my inspiration!
We left the viewpoint and followed the path a little further where we reached the edge of the loch. It’s a short walk, taking you to a beautiful view. Even my mum, who is in her 70s, managed to walk this.
Then we heard strange noises and looked across the loch to see what looked like ducks bobbing on the water. This is not the best photo though, tiny specks in the distance!
It wasn’t until I returned home and looked more closely at the photo that I noticed they were a gaggle of geese. Canadian geese I might add! Another coincidence and a link to my mum’s sister Bridie.
We stayed at Inveruglas for about an hour all in, then it was back on the road again. Next stop was the Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum. We didn’t stay here long though as we would come back this way for yummy fish and chips at The Real Food Cafe. The cafe is always a favourite stop for us.
Loch tulla viewpoint
Loch Tulla viewpoint was next. My mum stayed in the car while we wandered around for ten minutes or so taking photos. There was a wee food van parked here, so I enjoyed an egg roll and a warm coffee.
I always feel a deep sense of calm looking at a beautiful view, like taking medicine to make you feel better. It makes me appreciate this beautiful planet we live on.
This cairn was built in memory of many hundreds of mountaineers who lost their lives climbing Scottish mountains. Dedicated also to Hugh Munro who recorded the Munro tables (mountains in Scotland over 3000 feet).
I love this dedication, especially because each stone in the cairn was taken from peaks over 3000ft. It also says on the inscription “They died in a place they love”…
Driving through Glencoe
The next part of our journey was driving through the great Glencoe.
There are many words I could use to describe what it’s like here. Stunning, magical, towering mountains, dramatic, atmospheric, feeling insignificant.
You need experience it for yourself, looking with your own eyes and how it makes you feel. We all see and feel things differently.
I plan to climb some of these mountains next year, then I will really feel the landscape around me.
Glencoe in 360
We stopped along the way at the different parking areas to enjoy the views. Even though my photos look very quiet with no people around, it wasn’t like that at all. It was really busy and car parks were pretty full!
One of the walks I plan to explore here is the Lost Valley which lies between the two mountains on the right. I saw people far away in the distance walking up there.
Glencoe visitor centre
We arrived at the Visitor Centre. I’d been here once before with Alan and I remembered the beautiful low-level walks amongst the mountains.
I wanted to go into the exhibition first to find out a bit more about the history of the area. My mum didn’t want to go in, so she browsed the gift shop next door instead. If you’re a National Trust for Scotland member entry to the exhibition is free.
If you want to know more about the history of Glencoe and how the towering mountains were created then the exhibition is a must see. The story begins around 500 million years ago! I read in the National Trust for Scotland’s Glencoe guide book that volcanoes exploded here around 420 million years ago, although it would have looked quite different. Over the last two million years, glaciers and ice sheets sculpted the peaks and valleys we see now.
Glencoe is well-known in Scottish history for the shocking massacre of thirty-eight MacDonalds. In the early hours of 13 February 1692, men, women and children were murdered by troops following government orders.
After the exhibition, we walked a circular route to look for the ruins of Inverrigan, one of the sites of the Glencoe Massacre.
We walked for a bit then noticed ruins off the path up a slight hill. We thought these were Inverrigan, but later found out we were at the wrong place. Imagine stepping out your home every morning to views like this though!
My sister and I stayed here for a wee while taking photos, wondering what it would be like to live here. I also wondered if there might be hidden treasures in the walls. Nope, I didn’t find any Jacobite gold … only what looked like toilet paper stuffed into the wall … time to go.
Back on the path we walked a little further and found the ruins of Inverrigan House, built in the late 1800s. Before this, an earlier house was here where nine people died during the Glencoe Massacre.
Nine Scots pine trees have been planted around these ruins in memory of the nine people who died.
We walked back to the Visitor Centre as it was time to head home. We had a long drive back. It would be around two and half hours of driving.
We stopped at Tyndrum on the way home for our yummy fish and chips in The Real Food Cafe. I didn’t take any photos, but I definitely recommend eating here.
It all passed too quickly, but Alan and I will be back sometime next year and walk to the Lost Valley where the MacDonalds hid their stolen cattle.
Thanks for reading.