The alarm went off at 6.15 am and I was up and ready for breakfast by 6.45 am. Unfortunately the hotel staff weren’t as efficient and I arrived at breakfast to find that no one would be available to cook it until 7 am. I decided to wait and my patience was eventually rewarded with some toast (so lightly toasted that one slice was just warm bread!) and some lumpy porridge. Good job I wasn’t too hungry.
Checking out of the hotel took a few minutes and I was eventually away at 7.45 am. As I headed down to the bridge, I could see that some of the campers were stirring too, with one pair cooking scrambled eggs on a small stove on the bridge wall. I really envied them at that moment!
The path from the bridge rises up hill for the first half a mile or so through a small wood of Caledonian pines (I think). I had the path to myself and it was so quiet and peaceful. In fact, so quiet that, within minutes of starting my walk, I looked up to see a red doe just ahead of me on the path. I stopped and fumbled for my camera but, almost immediately, it spotted me and darted off into the trees. But what an amazing start to my walk!
On emerging from the small wood, the views really opened up across the valley with mountains on all sides. I walked past a small two man tent pitched on the hillside just off the path (no one stirring so I went past as quietly as I could!), eventually arriving at a cairn where I stopped to take a picture.
After the cairn, the path descends gently and joins a small road which leads to the Inveroran Hotel. Several walkers were emerging from the hotel as I passed and I put on a spurt of speed to get ahead of them – it was much too early in the morning to listen to their noisy chatter!
The path continued along the road for a short while before arriving at another informal camping area by the river. Eventually it crossed Victoria Bridge, a beautiful stone built bridge, before arriving at Forest Lodge and the start of the Drove Road to Glen Coe.
A soggy barely legible sign on the gate warns walkers to turn back if they are not prepared for the 10 mile way through the wilderness which lies ahead……
Before arriving in Bridge of Orchy, I had worried about getting lost and not being able to find the path easily. I now realised that there was little chance of that as the path is so distinct especially in the sunshine.
The only downside to the distinct path is that it can be fairly hard on your feet and the constant pounding on stone would later cause me some problems. At the time, I was just glad that I wasn’t up to my knees in boggy mud!
I had mostly enjoyed the path to myself until now but a few mountain bikers started to pass me. It looked really hard going on the rocky surface.
The views on both sides of the path were incredible and I found myself stopping every 5 minutes to take yet more pictures. Despite this, I was making really good time and needed to slow down – if I wasn’t careful, I would arrive at Kings House, my destination for the night by 12.30 pm.
I caught up to some other walkers at Ba Bridge so hung around for a few minutes having a drink and snack to let them get ahead of me. Disappointingly I hadn’t seen any more deer – it is no doubt too busy for them! I did see lots of birds but, without any binoculars, couldn’t identify any of them. Definitely something I need to add to my Christmas list!
After Ba Bridge, the path rises gently up the hillside to the highest point on the moor where there is a summit cairn just off the main path. The climb up was short and steep and surprisingly muddy but it was well worth it. The cairn sits at around 445 metres and the views across the moor were fantastic.
From the summit cairn, the path starts its gentle descent towards Glencoe Mountain Resort, the A82 and Kings House. It wasn’t long before I could see my destination for the night in the distance, as well as the fairly constant traffic along the A82. It was strange after the peace and quiet of the morning and made me slightly sad that my trip across the moor was coming to an end.
I met the first of many people I would get talking to on the path down towards the mountain resort – a couple from Nova Scotia who were walking the whole of the way. It made me feel like a bit of a fraud for only doing a small section of it!
Despite my best efforts, the end of the day’s walk was in sight and it was only 12.30 pm. I sat on a convenient bridge and had a cup of coffee and piece of cake whilst watching other walkers descend the path.
After stopping again briefly to take a picture of Blackrock Cottage (along with a group off a tour bus, I kid you not), I completed the final part of the walk to Kings House Hotel, arriving at 1.30 pm. It was a little too early to check in so I explored the facilities, eventually settling in the bar with a plate of salmon and veggies – delicious 🙂
Kings House Hotel is a lovely place. Its not posh or luxurious but it is friendly, warm and welcoming. There are two bars and a lovely resident’s lounge with huge windows facing the mountains and a real fire.
I had booked a single room with shared facilities – Room 25 Above The Bar – the only room available when I had called to book weeks earlier. I suspect that they have had complaints in the past because, on every occasion, it was described by the staff at Kings House as being Room 25 Above The Bar!
That aside, it had everything I could need and I could sit on the blanket box in the window and quite happily look at the views whilst avoiding the midges outside. There is free camping on the grassed area behind the hotel and it was interesting to see the various backpackers arrive with their enormous rucksacks and tiny tents. I have nothing but admiration for anyone who can carry such weight over the hills and still smile at the end of the day.
After a while, I decided to brave the midges and sat outside with a cup of coffee to people watch.
Not long after, a waiter from the hotel came outside and dropped some food scraps on the grass. Only seconds later a doe and her baby arrived to feast. The baby was a little timid but the doe quite happily ate from people’s hands. It was magical and I took endless pictures although most didn’t come out very well due to the poor light.
Seeing the deer was the perfect end to a great day.