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Friday 4 March 2022

The Return Of The Mask

With skiing abroad still not being particularly attractive especially with the situation at airports right now we resurrect the winter break in Scotland. We head north with ‘Dead Lions’, Mick Herron’s Slow Horses Book 2 on the audio.

Surprisingly almost everywhere takes dogs but at varying degrees of cost. So we do another mini tour staying at three different places.

We drive up through a snowstorm just south of Glasgow, then after better weather through Glasgow and around Loch Lomond we follow a snowplough past a very snowy Glencoe Ski Centre. 


It is disappointingly not snowy in Fort William where we stay for the first night on the banks of the Caledonian Canal at the Moorings Hotel.

We are immediately caught out to find that unlike England, Scotland has not declared an end to Covid, scrapped all Covid rules, testing, track and trace and mask wearing. All those things are still very much a thing up here. In fact mask wearing still applies at all indoor venues including bars and restaurants, the likes of which we haven’t had in England since late 2020.

Then next day I make use of the Caledonian Canal and do a 10 Mile run down it accompanied by my Stephen King audiobook. Two days later I repeat the run accompanied by the Lad. Which he loves.


We have a couple of meals at the hotel and I’m quite taken by the Glen Spean beer they have in bottles, so we go to stock up from the brewery which is at Spean Bridge. The best place for breakfast, which we haven’t booked at the hotel, turns out to be at the Highland Soap Company which is something that has sprung up since last time we were up here.

Saturday brings the inevitable Parkrun which is at the Nevis Range Ski Centre although the Ski Centre itself is closed due to high winds. There are only 30 people in the run but despite having to start dead last due to someone’s excessive over excitement we come in 5th.

We have breakfast afterwards in their café where they have the oddest anti-plastic policy that sees them use cardboard instead rather than just using normal plates and cutlery.

In the evening we eat at Spice Tandoori which seems to have done for our old favourite the Everest. Somewhere else we visited many years ago is the Grog and Gruel but it’s beer range is disappointing when we revisit this year.

On Sunday we move to Onich and the Onich Hotel which is just along from the Ballachulish Bridge. It has a few interesting beers but on keg and the food is pretty good although one evening we eat at the Isles of Glencoe.

Breakfast is a bit shambolic because you have to wear plastic gloves at the breakfast buffet. That’s not a restriction we’ve had anywhere before.

Whilst in the area we visit another old stomping ground of Glencoe Village, visit both the cafes there and revisit the old Lochan Lake walk. We also walk the section of the West Highland Way that goes through Kinlochleven which is a bit too uphill in places for MD. L then runs back to the hotel from Ballachulish and across the bridge. The next day I do a similar run in the opposite direction meeting her at the car park for Signal Rock.

On Wednesday I get a bit of skiing in on my snowblades at Glencoe Mountain where there is quite a lot of snow but also quite a lot of fog, so it’s not really feasible to go up to the top. It gets quite windy and snowy later with the visibility getting worse although L, who is looking after the cake in the café below, assures me it’s raining at the bottom which persuades me to call it a day and get the chairlift down. 

Sadly they had a fire in their main lodge the other year and are rebuilding it. It is just about complete and should be open in a few weeks’ time. 

Then we move to our final destination, about an hour down the road towards home, where we stay at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. It is somewhere we have passed every time we’ve headed up this way and wondered what it would be like to stay there. We stay in their ‘annex’ because of our furry accompaniments but it’s still quite posh.

While there we do another small chunk of the West Highland Way and eat both nights at the hotel because there really is nowhere else around here but it’s good in any case.

Then before long we’re heading back for home.

(Friday 4thMarch)

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