The final installment of…. THE GLENCOE CYCLE!
We set our alarms to wake up to see the sunrise on Glencoe – it was worth it! I honestly feel like it’s one of the most special places on earth. I know there is a lot I haven’t seen – but so far, this place and it’s silence is magnificent and calm at the same time. What a cheesy rant I know. We stepped outside with our porridge pots (sponsorship again Stoats?) to wonder at Buachaille Etive Mòr. So peaceful. The sun made the grasses leading up to the snowy peaks look on fire – and the clouds made the shadows ripple through the glen. MAGIC.
Sleepy faces with our porridge pots
Sadly Jenny was heading back to Glasgow today around lunch – so we seized the morning and cycle down Glen Etive. Hopped onto our bikes and we were greeted by a large group of deer and a stag! Later to be known as the infamous SAM THE STAG. Around Glencoe and Glen Etive the deer have become so tame due to people feeding them carrots etc …. important to remember that they are wild animals and it’s not normal behavior.
Without our panniers on – our bikes were light. Cycling down the less busy road of Glen Etive was fun! We spotted some groups of people kayaking along some of the white waters. Sadly my horse friends from my last visit to Glen Etive, who I was keen for Jenny to meet – appeared to have been taken in for the winter. Gutted. In summer time they can be seen – just down from the footbridge. Very friendly fellas!
We ended up making some musical masterpiece along this cycle too called ‘Hay hay haaaaay’ …. which comprised of those three words alone. Single dropping early 2020.
I felt truly sad cycling back to the hotel – knowing that Jenny was off! But we had a fab time to remember anyway. Emotional hugs goodbye – it was just me now!
The views from the hotel are unlike anything. You can see Buachaille Etive Mòr right in front of you. Again – the colours up there are just insane!
Importantly …it was time for lunch. I tucked into a huge portion (this was advertised as small) of mussels!
Mussels in the belly (with extra bread..) and a lovely chirpy chat with Tom ( an Aussie – so you can only imagine my restraint with the accent..) and I prepped my bike for the next chunk. I was headed towards the Clachaig Inn – and a bit beyond to my next hoste for that night.
When I set off I had just missed a torrential flash of rain – now the sun was out – but it was damn cold. Gloves on and buff to cover my chin I hopped on my bike and was off! Cycling past the deer and Sam the Stag I set my sights on the road ahead through the beautiful Glencoe. I took the right at the end of the Kingshouse Road – straight into the wind. It was a wee bit annoying, but once I got into a rhythm it was fine – the sun was also out. The roads were busier today – but the cars were nice! No beeps to be heard.
Past the monumental Buachaille Etive Mòr on my left – what a view. I loved cycling this – instead of whooshing past in a car, I had the time to take it all in (the wind against me gave me even more time …). Onward along a long straight before the winding downhill began. It was bright and sunny .. until a freakish 2 minutes of hail hit me straight in the face. I did have my buff on to cover me so this helped! Through the end of the hail came a beautiful rainbow – this was a cue for me to have a short snack break and catch a few photos of the rays of light now covering the glen
Next were the glorious sweeping bends headed further down hill – which I had to pedal down .. haha! It was bloody windy but the sun was back out so a bit of wind didn’t bother me! More time to see this beautiful place.
Down past the waterfalls on the left I went – I was keen for a cuppa so I didn’t stop there. I stopped a bit past the waterfalls to take in the views of the towering mountains – insane! This was my first time seeing Glencoe with snow dusted on it’s peaks – so beautiful and well worth a trip!
Pedal pedal pedal I went until taking a swift right turn minutes after the white house on the left in the glen. What a view the people who live there have! Then it was a short cycle past the Clachaig Inn – which I was to return to later – and to my accomodation for the night – the Glencoe Independent Hostel. It was so cosy! I checked in and had a natter with some of the other lovely people staying at the hostel – a few who had done some hiking in the area. I attempted to have a nap next to the wood burner – this was around 3pm I think … unsuccessful! I was completely wired by the cycling and fresh air. So I chatted with the hikers for a few hours – I also learned that one of the men sharing my dorm was a big snorer – the free earplugs from the Stirling hostel – a big sleep saver!
Then hunger set in …. I was off to the Clachaig Inn for some dinner. I flew up and down the small hills – no panniers on the bike now. What a luxury! I turned up to the inn, parked up the bike and had a look. The front restaurant area seemed pretty quiet …. so I went round the side to the Boots bar – which was quite the opposite. It was rammed with lots of cheery people and live music. I tried to find a table .. but found myself a bit out of luck .. UNTIL … I looked over to a couple of friendly faces and a big yell of ‘hey mate’ (aussie)- Tom and Dave from the hotel the previous night. So I sat with them – and what a fun night we had! We had a laugh about Sam the Stag at the hotel – they have had guests asking if the deer were even real!? haha!
A whole chunky melted camembert and thai green curry to myself – absolutely yum! What an appetite. Then a few beers with the boys! The live music was great and you can imagine me singing along .. to the ones I knew! haha. I spent most of the night speaking in a Aussie accent – surprise surprise. I can’t recommend the Clachaig Inn enough – the Boots Bar part anyway! What a laugh and everyone was lovely – filled with the fresh air of the Glen haha!
I was conscious of the cycle I was to tackle the next morning so I didn’t go overboard on the beer front .. I said farewell to the lovely 2 – Dave and Tom – the night cycle back the hostel was fun! Flying down in the dark with only my front light to guide me was a wake up from the cosy Boots Bar.
Back into the hostel and I quietly ( I think) made it into my dorm … to a lot of snoring. EARPLUGS – they did the trick.
So instead of heading to Fort William to get the train – I decided to head back toward Bridge of Orchy and hop on there. I had a great sleep and woke up to sunshine sunshine sunshine. A hot shower and some porridge later and I geared up my bike – panniers back on. My front tyre was a bit flat … a very very slow puncture I think – so I pumped it up and it held up just fine. And I was off! Up the big ol Glen. BUT the wind was behind me woohoo. This was a really enjoyable cycle – particularly going through Rannoch Moor – as it was in darkness on the Friday. Plenty of rainbows on the way back too to my left and right – it was pretty special.
It does feel really different cycling on your own though .. well for me anyway! Not the same – you can’t talk nonsense with your mate etc .. it’s just you and the road .. how dramatic I know. But I still love it! Helps you find some kind of inner peace 🙂
Downhill I went – what a dream. And down the biggest hill that Jenny and I had tackled in the pitch black. I sadly actually had to use my brakes to stop going into the back of a car going down this hill! The views here were amazing – looking back on Glencoe and the gradual cycle down through Rannoch Moor was stunning. The vast plains and snow capped mountains – what a place to be. I stopped briefly after crossing the small bridge at the bottom of that huge hill – only 15 mins to Bridge of Orchy! Wohoooooo. I pedalled on – filled with the thought of FOOD!
Passing the journey in the day light it was great to see what Jenny and I had covered. Some adventure we had taken on!
I could see the signs at the start of Bridge of Orchy – huge smiles and a vocal yaaaaaay.
I had bloody made it!!! I quickly hopped off my bike and went into the Bridge of Orchy hotel to wolf down 2 breakfast rolls and a very nice hot chocolate. I had made it quicker than expected so I had time to relax in the sunshine at the station. It was weird to sit down – truly felt like my body was still moving forward haha – it still wanted to move!
The rickety old train turned up marking the end of the cycling venture – I hopped on, strapped my bike in and sat down to take in the views of the remaining journey to Glasgow and then on to Edinburgh. The train covering the distance so quickly made me really appreciate it! (Side note – you have to call ahead the lovely Scotrail chaps to book your bike on the train – at least a specific 9 hours in advance).
Pulling up into Edinburgh I organised a cheeky order of Chinese food to arrive for just when I got home … through Justeat! ( Sponsorship?) haha! That was inhaled and I had the best sleep i’d had in a while that night.
What a trip – I could not have done that absolute chunk in a day without Jenny. No bloody way. We both motivated each other beyond belief and all our nonsensical songs and accents got us through from Stirling all the way to Glencoe in a day. A pair of positive ladies with an appetite for a challenge .. and plenty food!
Til next time!
Another brilliant post, Ana. Fabulous photos! Just stunning. Well done on your big adventure! I really don’t know where you get the energy.
Agree with Marie, that positive energy is impressive!
Well done! Jo forwarded me the link to this blog. I’ve done a fair bit of cycling touring in Scotland and it’s ace. Consider the North West part of the NorthCoast 500 (if you’ve not already), the scenery is so amazing. It’s like another world up there.