During half term, last week of May we have had a fantastic family trip to Scotland. We love nature, mountains, hiking, climbing and generally walking. Scottish Highland has always been one of our favourite destination. This time the main target was to go to the top of the Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland and generally in Great Britain. This mountain has been on our bucket list for a while, so we have decided to find an accommodation somewhere close to it and somewhere we could easily access other interesting trails, we can say we were looking for a ‘base camp’.
Well… The one above is a proper one… Ours looked slightly different. A little more child friendly, with hot water, fridge, shower, central heating, and TV. More information here. Our ‘base camp’ was situated in village Glencoe, which has taken the name after the valley it lays in – Glen Coe. The River Coe passes the valley and drops into the Loch Leven but all that will come later… Now… back to the base camp…
It was interesting to learn glen is a Gaelic for valley and Loch simply means lake. So every single valley in this region is called Glen and lake Loch… I am sure everyone has heard about Loch Ness, which is a lake where river Ness turns to a lake. Similarly river Leven ends up as Loch Leven, or valley near Ben Nevis is called Glen Nevis. I like the simplicity of those names, it helps with navigation, even without the map you roughly know where you may be. Gaelic is generally an interesting language. Sadly we have not met anyone speaking it. If anything, it was us who other visitors thought, are Gaelic. We went to a local pub in the village of Glencoe, where lovely food and drinks are served. I have ordered haggis (Scottish traditional dish), shame I have had only three bites of it!
The Dutch couple sitting on the table next to us was clearly amused with our kids and us speaking two languages. At one point they have asked if we speak Gaelic. They were truly disappointed when I have explained that we are Polish family and apologised for not being as exotic as they have thought. Haggis and local Ale were really good though!
Glencoe is a charming village, very small but full of jaw dropping features. In general this region is extremely interesting from the geological point of view and described by locals as a ‘geological wonder’.
These mountains have witness a clash of two continents (500million years ago, Scotland and England lay on a separate tectonic plates). Many fossils found in the region indicates that once it was a sea bed. Then a 5 million year period of violent volcanic activity. Glencoe rocks witnessed many different environments, some show signs of sub-tropical desserts, and some clearly indicates heavy glacier processes. All these results in views I have only seen on movies before. I cannot remember when was the last time I have said so many “wows” during one walk.
Glencoe lays at the bottom of Aonach Eagach which is a very rocky ridge. The highest peak is Sgorr nam Finnaigh with 967 meters above the sea level. That was the first peak we have decided to conquer.
Leaving the base we anticipated it will take around 5 to 6 hours to go there and back. Initially we thought we will go to the peak of another mountain called Pap of Glencoe but half way up we just decided to turn right instead of left and ‘see what happens’. Normally you do not see such a young kids as ours on tracks like that. The track was actually quite challenging, especially for 8 and 5 years old. They walked slowly but steady so we did not mind. The track to Sgorr nam Finnaigh is quite rocky from a mid point so we had to be extra cautious scrambling through the rocks. But it was worth it! So worth it! As soon as I have reached the peak I reacted as a proper Polish tourist, “O kurwa!” I sighed.
I cannot describe in words how beautiful this place was! Just jaw-dropping! Mr Sting got a bit dis-encouraged on the way up to the peak. The Hurricane was moaning nearly all the way up. The Flower was slow and stubborn. So Mr Sting categorically refused to go to Ben Nevis the following day. On the peak, however he changed his mind. The beautiful views calm him down. After we came back to the base, we have checked the weather forecast for Ben Nevis and decided that we have to go. I was so excited! I did not know what kind of a journey I will have to face next morning! But that will come in the next post.