There are many ways to celebrate Christmas and this year, I decided to head out on a solo adventure up to the glorious highlands of Scotland. I can’t deny that I was overcome with a desire to break away and get lost in the wild!
I set forth on the 22nd December, bracing a very long eighteen hour journey on a packed National Express coach. Luck was on my side when, despite the coach breaking down on the M6 motorway at 2am and being caught in a storm when passing through Rannoch Moor, I managed to arrive in Glencoe safely and still in one piece. My reasons for existing soon became apparent as I stepped off the final coach in Glencoe village, in awe of the way the clouds lingered at the foot of the Glencoe peaks and the way the wind brushed the waves of the Loch Leven. I could definitely see why Glencoe is the most famous and impressively dramatic of glens in Scotland!
One of the most important things to remember when travelling to the highlands in Winter is to be prepared, for the very best and worst of weather conditions. As prepared as I thought that I was at the time, it turns out that I didn’t have all the right gear or clothing to prepare me for the storm; continuous downpours of rain, being egged on strong 20mph high winds. But, I was not going to be defeated so I continued on, taking a mile hike to Glencoe Youth Hostel where I could drop off my backpack and relax in the quiet room, before heading back out for a walk, passing The Clachaig Inn. I was taken aback by the spectacular views of the Glencoe mountain range and of the forests that complimented the scenery further.
Day 2, and I took a walk up to Signal Rock and An Torr, where the signal was given to begin the massacre in the early hours of the morning on 13 February, 1692. This took up the majority of my day. Afterwards, I took the opportunity to head out and explore the village of Glencoe, where people in passing are friendly and approachable and also, not afraid to go out and brace the high winds! Back at the hostel later that evening, I met a wonderful family of four who invited me over to sit with them, and tackle four courses of delicious food in celebration of Christmas! This has to be the highlight of my trip, because sometimes, you can feel quite isolate when travelling alone, so for a group of strangers to offer you to sit with them really is quite a big deal!
Days 3 and 4 were mostly spent exploring and walking the Glencoe Lochan trail, not far from the village. Making my way through ornamental woodland, I was blessed with views of the picturesque Lochan, overlooking the wild mountains from across the way. On day 4 I took the opportunity to explore deep into the depths of The Lost Valley with two professional mountaineers who I had met back at the Hostel the night before. Scenery wise, this has to be the best I have seen or experienced yet! The path takes you away from the twisty, turny A82 road leaving you with views of the Glencoe Three Sisters and other mountains and valleys that surround it. I would definitely recommend it as one of the top best things to do in Glencoe.
If I had to sum up my experience in Scotland in one word it would be this – Incredible. Not only was I blessed with the company of others on my travels, but I also got to experience the highlands in Winter and embrace moments of complete solitude in the wild. The world is your oyster, and there is never a right or wrong time of year to travel somewhere, if your heart desires to go there then don’t hesitate on buying that ticket!