The Drive to Glencoe
Once we were out of the city, we were welcomed by rolling hills, grazing cattle and sheep and picturesque cottages everywhere! There was even an epic rainbow over the Loch!
No beauty could overcome the terror of the skinny winding roads on the highway though – speed limit was 50 miles per hour with transport trucks and RVs coming towards us at full speed… yet on what looked like a single lane back home! Add rain and we were in one unpleasant predicament.
The weather was changeable. It flipped back and forth between sunshine and rain, resulting in multiple fleeting rainbows on our drive. There were lots of places to pull over to take pictures, but driving was so stressful we didn’t want to prolong the amount of time spent on the road.
Real Food Cafe
We stopped in a diner on our side of the road called the Real Food Cafe. It was crazy busy! The fish and chips looked really good, so we got a snack size for £3.50. We sat by the window that looked out on 8 bird feeders with a Scottish Birds guidebook tethered to the table.
Our room was available ahead of the 4pm checking time when we arrived at the Clachaig Inn at 3:00. They gave us Room 6 in the old section of the hotel, just like I asked. I had emailed them back when I made the booking requesting we be put up in the original 1600’s roadside inn.
When I first began researching our trip in April, I kept coming across the name “Clachaig Inn“. It was a pub and inn within the village of Glencoe in the Glen Coe mountains, first built in the 16th century! Having grown up on stories of roadside travellers sleeping at pubs in the British novels I read and in popular culture, I was eager to experience the novelty of sleeping in a pub! I read mixed reviews online, some saying it had gone downhill in past years, serving poor food and looking shabby – but with its picturesque location, I was prepared to give it a go.
The room was up a flight of stairs, was simple with a large bathroom with a bath tub and shower. There was no wifi in the room, but the view over the car park was gorgeous! Mountains and greenery an arms reach away.
The Clachaig Inn is home to three bars. The one most popular in the guidebooks and online was the Boots Bar. There is also the Snug which used to be the beer cellar and the contemporary Bidean Lounge for the more “sophisticated traveler”.
We went around the back of the Inn to the Boots Bar. It was all timber and stone, full of retirees in hiking gear. Matt ordered a pint of the New World Pilsner and I got a dram of Aberlour single malt whiskey as they were out of the Malt of the Month, Glen Cyle. The scotch was quite nice – smooth and light.
There was no cell phone service and the wifi was non-functional. I wandered round the Inn trying to find a better cellphone or wifi signal, but we were cut off from the world! The bartender reset the router, but it didn’t do us any good. Even when we drove into town I couldn’t connect to WordPress or Facebook!
We drove out to The Three Sisters (Bidean nam Bian) with the ambition to do a hike. However, it was freezing cold (they aren’t kidding when they say to pack gloves even in summer) and very wet. My hiking shoes aren’t waterproof and I got cold, wet feet quickly. The mountains were beautiful however!
We drove out to Castle Stalker, a small castle on an island on a Loch. We couldn’t get up close, but took a few pictures from the embankment. We headed back to the Inn, munching on the crackers Matt’s Mum had packed us for road snacks. Matt was feeling a lot more comfortable behind the wheel now – but I was still freaking out about the narrow, winding roads.
Clachaig Inn Lounge
There were no free tables when we arrived at the Boots Bar at 8pm, so we went into the lounge. I was amused by all the dogs in both the bar and the lounge – Mum would be smitten by all the border collies snuggled up to their owners under the tables!
Matt got an oatmeal stout and I had the house whiskey (very smooth and only £2.45!). We got two of the Claichaig Classics to share: haggis, with neeps (turnip), and tatties (potatoes) and a highland game pie with the best steamed potatoes I’ve ever had with root vegetables. The pie filling had rabbit, venison, pheasant, mallard, partridge, pigeon, blackberries, tarragon, juniper berries and gin in it! The haggis was very good – but the pie was the best! Superb comfort food!
After cheersing to spending a night in an Inn that’s been standing here longer than Matt’s family has been in Canada, we headed to bed.
Breakfast at Clachaig Inn
Breakfast was served from 8:30 to 9:30am. I had a bowl of porridge with berries and Matt had a bowl of muesli with yogurt. We packed up and checked out of the Inn. We went for a short hike up the mountain our bedroom window had looked out on. Much to our delight, we found cellphone reception partway up! Victory!
We stood in the rain, huddled under an umbrella. Once we’d made loved ones aware we were still alive, we headed back down the mountain to our car.
Next stop, Isle of Skye!