Monday 25 July 2011

Day one Bridge of Orchy to Kingshouse

Following this mornings early start on the bus, we arrived at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel to drop our bags for luggage service Travel-lite to collect and carry to Kingshouse. The hotel was lovely so we decided to stop for coffee and ordered packed lunch, great value at £6.50.

To start with we got lost within the first 200 metres of leaving the hotel, but realised we'd missed the path behind a parked car before getting too far. The start was a gentle-ish climb through forest, but got the heart pumping, before finally cresting a hill with a breathtaking view of Loch Tulla below. There's a small detour not much further on to a small cairn on a hill, definitely worth the slight climb for the fabulous view down onto Inveroran.

Following the road past the hotel (which clearly states their facilities are for hotel residents only, no chance for a last loo stop then!) the road finally leads to a gate and the start of Rannoch Moor.

The moor was one of the parts I was most worried about after reading stories of fierce winds and thick fog making navigation difficult. Under blue skies and sunshine, it was a pleasant stroll along a well kept path, starting in woodland and being watched by deer in the long grass.

Another thing we had prepared for was midges, the famous Scottish ones, but today with sunlight and strong wind it seemed to be horseflies that were the main irritant, and not particularly adverse to Deet Jungle Formula! Thankfully even though we had our lunch break over looking a pond surrounded by peat bog, they kept away and let us enjoy the stunning mountain scenery around us.

After lunch I struggled to get back into the swing of walking and started struggling with sore toes. Our map didn't seem to match with where we thought we were and the middle stretch of today seemed to last forever. I just kept looking around though and taking in the view to forget my aches and pains.

Finally Glencoe ski lifts came into view, and unsure how much further we had until the hotel, we decided an ice cold coke and bathroom stop was needed. A trip back in winter is now on the cards, even if it's just to sit in the cafe with huge picture windows over looking the valley and wood burning stove, not needed today though in the 20 degree sun!

Kingshouse turned out only to be a half hour walk from the ski centre and stood outside the front of the hotel, happily grazing was a small deer. Later we saw several more, seemingly not bothered by the hotel guests and pretty interested in us as we sat outside by the river drinking local ale and ice cold cider.

We were a little nervous after reading many bad TripAdvisor reports on Kingshouse, but we've had a few drinks, tasty dinner of venison casserole (Sarah) and venison burger (Ben)and the hotel staff are friendly and helpful. Some of the hotel furnishing is a little out of date, but surrounded by mountains and with views down the valley, from our bedroom and the main lounge, the furnishing was the last thing I noticed!

So after a quick dram of a local whiskey (got to be done in Scotland) it's going to be an early night before a short but steep 9 miles into Kinlochleven tomorrow.

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