Sunday, 3 August 2014

Glencoe, Scotland: The Three Sisters & The Lost Valley

Our holiday to Scotland started with the long drive north, a short run along a forest track in Inverawe Woods near Taynuilt, then lunch in Oban. We'd originally thought we'd stay in Oban overnight and have a run around Kerrera Island to stretch our legs after travelling up. But the town was more touristy than anticipated and the distillery too small to keep us occupied. Seeking out the more peaceful mountains we continued our drive and ended up staying in an independent bunkhouse in Glencoe. A delightful cycle to the Clachaig Inn for dinner and a pint finished the day off nicely.

Bright and early on day two we drove to a parking spot in the Pass of Glencoe. Our target was (some of) the Three Sisters, the shoulders of the Bidean nam Bian massif. It was a baking hot start to the day so plenty of water and food was packed. The steep sides of the valley meant that after the short drop down to cross the river our pace was slowed to sweat inducing walk up the valley and to our first peak, Stob Coire nan Lochan (1115m, Munro Top). The route up was a mixture of a lovely path following the stream, steep grassy slopes and rocky sections. From the summit our route was clearly visible....down to a saddle then up steeply again to the summit of Bidean Nam Bian (1150m, Munro #1). 

We had a brief pause here to rest, eat and admire the views before continuing along the rocky scrambly ridge to Stob Coire Sgreamhach (1072m, Munro #2). Our way off was to retrace our steps down to the start of a steep scree and rocky section dropping into the Lost Valley of Glencoe - apparently where the MacDonalds hid either the cattle they rustled, or their cattle they didn't want rustling. Either way, it's a beautiful valley with a more or less runnable path down to a wide rock strewn river bed before a clamber through undergrowth and rocks to keep refinding the ever disappearing path. At each little stream we crossed we were splashing the cool water over ourselves in a bid to reduce body temperature. It helped, momentarily, though within a few short paces we were back to being boiled in the 30degree+ temperatures.

The final section of the route took us parallel to the main road and a popular viewing point for motorists - so popular there was a bag-pipe-playing-kilt-wearing man entertaining the hoards of onlookers. After a few coach-loads full of tourists had come and gone in the layby we'd parked in we had refreshed ourselves with plenty of food and water, changed and were ready for the next part of our holiday. Onwards, to Glen Sheil. 

Photos follow....I'll sort them into order and add captions soon!

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