Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The big drive up.

Across on the A66, up the M6 and on to the M74.  The M73 is next and then the M8. Over the Erskine Bridge to join the A82. A few miles of urban sprawl and I end up on the finest drive in Great Britain!

The drive along the side of beautiful Loch Lomond is magical as I pass Luss, Inverbeg, Tarbet, Inverglus, Ardlui and into Glen Falloch. The Loch can be narrow and winding in places but it now starts to open up. I have already passed Ben Ime, Ben Vane and Ben Vorlich which can't be seen from the narrow and enclosed A82 but as the road opens up, I see the true grandeur of the Highlands.

There are glimpses of An Caisteil, Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Chabhair and I now speedily make my way to Crianlarich. Onwards through Tyndrum and the Bridge of Orchy, I pass Ben More, Beinn Dorain, Beinn a Dothaidh and Loch Tula before I rise up to the bleak but immensely beautiful and impressive Rannoch Moor. 

I defy anyone to drive along the Moor and not stop to take in it's vastness and grandeur. I certainly can't pass without parking up and walking the soggy half mile down to the shore of Lochan na' h-Achlaise which is in a picture postcard setting with the hills of The Black Mount towering over it.

Then the route really starts to become grand as I approach Glen Coe (the Glen of the weeping). This is  where the McDonald clan was slaughtered by the Cambell clan in early in the morning of 13 February 1692 because they wouldn't sign the Oath of allegiance to King William. 

I drive past Sron na Creise and the Buachaille Etive 
Mor (The Grand Herdsman of Etive), before I drop down into the haunting Glen with The Three Sisters of Glen Coe on the left (Beinn Fhada, Gearr Aonach and Aonach Dubh). These are three rugged satellites of  Bidean nam Bian, the highest hill in Argyle at 3,658 feet.

The right side of the Glen is enclosed by the Aonach Eagach ridge, supposedly the hardest rocks scramble in mainland Scotland which can make the top of the Glen an intimidating and claustrophobic place to be.

I pass Ballachullish which lies at the foot of Glen Coe the follow the road above Loch Leven to Kinlochleven which at one was the home of the British Aluminum Company but it is now just an outdoor resort. The small town is towered over by the hills of the Mamore forest which is are sign for all West Highland Way walker's that the end of their trek will soon be in sight.

It's then back on to the A82 and a simple drive alongside Loch Linnhe to my destination for the next two nights.....Fort William.


It must have been over twenty years since I was last in Cartmel and as you'd expect from this sleepy corner of Cumbria, the place hadn&#...