Scotland: Highlands – Westcoast, Ben Nevis, Lost Valley, Speyside

West Coast Roadtrip

The remaining half of our joined 10 days in Scotland me and my brother Jan spent on a road trip, with hiked daytrips to some campsites. Heading out of Durness we passed the small fishing town Lochinver where we HAD to stop at the famous PIE SHOP to get ourselves a treat. My favorite: the Chestnut-Mushrom-Redwine Pie.

The Pie Shop, Lochinver. Legendary sweet and hearty pies.

On goes the trip to Ullapool, always great for spending an evening at the various Pubs (The Arch Inn), enjoy lots of live music and have a snack or dinner, options are plenty. I had veggie haggis last year!

Next day off past Fort William to the Glen Nevis – Water of Nevis where we made camp in the peaceful valley near the Steall Falls (56°46’21”N, 4°58’36”W) in preparation of our next days climb:

Ben Nevis (1345m)

The highest mountain not only of Scotland but in all the British Isles. There’s a well built but quite steep path (or rather hiker highway) going straight up to the summit which allows anyone of decent health to get up there. It took us around 3 hours there and ANOTHER 3 back again. The view is spectacular and more than worth all the effort.

Old Ruins on the peak of Ben Nevis

Although we saw some maniacs actually running up and down this epic landmark, we were exhausted when we came down and found a wonderful place to rest our beaten bones:

Red Squirrel Campsite(56°40’42”N 5°05’03”W). Sweet place run by a funny guy with a passion for selfmade signs. You can camp at one of the many fireplaces scattered in a birch forest and have a bath in the river pool. Cold!

The Lost Valley

From here it’s just a short drive to the Lost Valley, a really interesting and – despite the beauty – erie place. You climb up along a creek until this valley opens up when you least expect it, bedded in steep hills from all sides. In 1692 Macdonald clan survivors of the massacre of Glencoe fled here to hide from the Campbell soldiers.

Loch Ness

On our way to the Speyside area we stopped at Loch Ness for a neat british picnic. Spoiler Alert: we constantly watched the calm lake surface for AT LEAST 15 minutes and didn’t spot Nessie. Therefore we proofed it doesn’t exist. Or does it?

Loch Ness, suspiciously calm.

Speyside

Famous for its whiskey, it became obvious why there are so many distilleries: we drove through fields and fields of barley.

First we went to see a castle ruin, Duffus Castle, which has a 45° tilted tower that was build on much to soft ground. Next day we visited Cawdor Castle, they definitely picked a better spot and built a picture book scottish castle with carefully curated gardens around it. Still inhabited!

The Benmorach Distillery was a bit of a highlight. We didn’t handpick it from all the distilleries we could have visited, but the choice, as their whiskey, was golden. It’s a quite small one where every single step of the process is still manually handled buy just a couple of men and women.

Sun setting behind main gate of Duffus Castle
Cawdor Castle and gardens
Benmorach Distillery

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