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Travels in Scotland Post 9: The Scottish Highlands - Farms, Castles & Glencoe

Welcome to my series of blog posts Travels in Scotland. Whether you're planning a trip, reliving a memory, or relaxing into some armchair traveling...thank you for joining me! Here I will show you images & share stories of my one month travels through Scotland. I'll cover this beautiful country of mountains, rivers, glens, islands, history, and, of course, fiber and textiles.


The scottish highlands


glenorchy farm

It's hard to write the words to describe how I feel about the Highlands and the time we spent there. I am full of emotion for this beautiful place. My wish for you is that you may connect with this place through the photos in this blog and one day go there yourself.

 

Glenorchy is a 10 mile valley and in the middle, along the single track road, is the MacLennan's family farm, where we stayed in one of their self-catering cottages. Tristan and Fiona are amazing hosts successfully juggling farming, kids, hospitality and forestry management work - no wonder they were chosen for the BBC Scotland's 2024 grand final for Scotland's Greatest Escape.


a river runs through it - Glenorchy river

My partner Paul has now arrived in country for the remainder of my travels. Paul was able to spend an entire day fly-fishing on the Glenorchy River with the Ghillie (caretaker of the fishing and hunting on the river).  The Glenorchy River is an amazing spawning ground for Scottish salmon.  Although they didn't catch anything, Paul learned about the river and shared a wee dram with Ray at the end of the day. Paul had to adapt to Scottish fly fishing with a 16 foot pole (twice the length he uses in the Rocky Mountains!) I spent the day wandering around the farm, reading, writing, painting and resting because a month of travel requires some quieter days.


castles & whisky

The Highlands have plenty of castles and distillery tours to keep you busy. There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving in Scotland, but the tours and tastings have drivers covered with sample bottles. We even had a chocolate and whisky pairing - and I discovered that I do like whisky - just not the smokey/peaty ones. (In America we have whiskey. In Scotland they make whisky and it's not called Scotch.)


glencoe national nature reserve

Stretching through the Highlands and passing through Glencoe National Nature Reserve is a trail known as the West Highland Way. Hikers walk the 100 mile route camping, but most often stopping nightly at inns with multiple private companies helping to transport their luggage from point to point.  In the middle of Glencoe is such an inn with a bar where we stopped on a Friday night.  Unfortunately, the live music was the next night, but there was wonderful food and atmosphere.  The Boots Bar was full of hikers and locals and their dogs.  I was buying a pint at the bar and the friendly young server asked me where I was from and when I said, "Colorado," she exclaimed, "Why would you want to come here when you have mountains where you live?" Well, I guess if you like mountains, you like mountains! 


Blog tip: Click on any photo to enlarge and read caption

You take the High Road: two ways of traveling

When planning for a trip of independent travel to an area of a country that you have never been before, there are two approaches and of course, you can mix the two. One approach is to draw a circular route on a map including all the sites you want to see, and then find accommodations along the way and drive from point to point.  Another approach is to find an accommodation in the center of the area you wish to visit and then use this place as a hub to take day trips out in all directions. 

 

In some countries, self-catering "holiday lets" are more common, offering a fixed price for one or two weeks stay with full kitchens, washer/dryers and other amenities - a home away from home.  On this trip, we decided to ground ourselves in Argyll & Bute, staying two weeks on Glenorchy Farm and getting to know the surrounding area deeply.  Our reward was to come home every night to spectacular scenery, the river, and comfortable accommodations without having to pack and move our luggage.  We could enjoy our whisky finds next to a wood stove in comfortable chairs, after a dip in the Swedish hot tub.  We could sleep in on a rainy morning. For this trip, the hub approach was just right for the rest & relaxation mixed with sightseeing we were looking for.  Because we were situated within 15 miles of Glencoe, we were able to drive through the National Park over and over again, at all times of day.  There is nothing I regret about staying in one place, because Glencoe and Glenorchy completely stole my heart.  We drove through and walked Glencoe many, many times and saw the varied moods brought on by changes in the weather. We watched the Glenorchy River rise and fall with the summer rains, sometimes turning into a rocky torrent, sometimes a calm passage. I can't wait to be there again. The Highlands and Glencoe are, in this writer's opinion, an immeasurable treasure.

 

In closing, enjoy this beautiful version of The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond. And I'll be in Scotland afore ye


Pages from my watercolor travel journal
Pages from my watercolor travel journal

links


COMING UP IN TRAVELS IN SCOTLAND POST 10: YARN & Wool: Meeting an indie natural dyer


Thank you for reading my blog post. Travels in Scotland is a 12 part blog series filled with photos and stories of a fiber artist's journey through a beautiful land, encountering a land with a deep textile history, stunning landscapes, and of course sheep!

 

You can read all of the Travels in Scotland blog posts on my website.  I invite you to travel along with me, along the coast and through the mainland hills seeing, experiencing and learning about this place called Scotland. Turas math dhuibh! (Good journey to you!)  Amy


 

 

All of the photos in the Travels in Scotland blog and on the website were taken by me - either on my iPhone or with my DSLR Nikon D5100.

 

All photos (c) Amy Mundinger 2024.

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