Day 1 & 2 The journey to the start
The original plan was for us to set off on the Friday morning, at 5am (we’re early risers!), breakfast in Glasgow and then travel up to Fort William for the night. Impetuously, which is a pattern of our whole lives, we decided on the Wednesday to leave after Chris returned from work on the Thursday night. We booked Green’s of Gretna for the night so that we would wake up Friday morning in Scotland and set off on our great adventure. We arrived in Gretna just after 9pm and after encountering the strangest hotel lift ever, involving no door and you deciding where to stop it, we had a good night’s sleep and woke ready to set off. Breakfast in the hotel was buffet style but of a very good quality – it had all our Scottish favourites on it from fried potato scones to haggis, and the staff we encountered were all lovely. Although this stay was a very late addition to the holiday it was something we both decided had been a great idea. We still had a long journey ahead but Greens of Gretna had given us a perfect start.
The first part of the journey on day 2 involved all the things which make driving around the country such a stressful thing – travelling through Glasgow on a busy motorway with cars pulling in front of you, encounters with arrogant drivers and it was raining. Not an auspicious start, but with the SatNav showing us the way the end of motorways for the holiday was fast approaching as we climbed up the country. We travelled up the side of Loch Lomond, which is a lovely road but still very busy and it was still raining. Our plan had been to stop at Glencoe and go for a walk but the weather stayed dismal. We stopped the car for lots of photo opps - Glencoe is a stunning valley and due to the weather we both got some stunning shots. Our planned picnic in Glencoe turned out to be on the car park of the visitor centre and the entertainment for lunchtime was when Chris decided that the weather wasn’t really suitable for shorts and attempted to get his warmer jeans on in the front seat of the car!
We arrived in Fort William late afternoon and decided to stretch our legs with a 3k walk. The weather was still dismal – drizzling, grey and generally miserable and sadly Fort William in the rain is not over inspiring. We decided to have a ‘hotel picnic’ rather than eat in the hotel restaurant as we were both tired so stocked up in the local supermarket with some goodies. The hotel had been chosen for its location as a ‘stopover’ and neither of us had really bothered to look closely at it. The price was good and the location was perfect and it was just for a night so we weren’t too concerned but as we pulled into the car park of Old Pines at Spean Bridge we were immediately in love. Old Pines is a one storey restaurant with rooms and similar to an American motel where you park your car outside your room. Our ‘log cabin’ room was just beautiful- all the things we love – wood, rustic fittings, textiles. It was perfect and we were thrilled. We settled down to our ‘hotel picnic’ of what had all the look and appearance of a tin of cat food but was actually very tasty. The rain stopped and we went out for a late night walk up to the Commando memorial for some more photography.
After a lovely sleep in an extremely comfy bed we went to the restaurant for breakfast and sat looking out of the window on beautiful sunshine and Ben Nevis! We hadn’t even realised the night before that that was the mountain in front of us. The breakfast was outstanding and we are in complete agreement that it was the best of the holiday - Venison and scrambled egg for Chris and my first home cooked porridge with cream and brown sugar of the holiday, home-made toasted absolutely delicious bread, home-made preserves and a buffet of all sorts of fruits and cereals. The sun was out, we had slept well had a beautiful breakfast and were ready to go.