January saw me taking a trip down to London. Although I enjoy these annual visits down south immensely, there was still something about that plane journey that made me feel a little out of sorts. Like I was travelling in the wrong direction. So February saw a girl's family road trip over to the Isle of Arran. Which felt a lot more like the regular trips I had come to adore. Lots of choppy waters. Lots of local Scottish produce for dinner. Lots of rugged wilderness.
So my next night away was a no-brainer. And my lovely pal Kirsty seemed like the ideal partner in crime to get out of the city with me for a couple of days. We booked Ballachulish, made plans to discover The Lost Valley & jumped in the car early last Sunday morning. Unfortunately the rubbish weather put paid to our original climbing plans (think knee deep river rapids style crossings whenever it rained), and so we decided to check out the slightly more sensible Fas na Cloiche at Glen Creran instead.
And I am so glad we did. Glen Creran is not exactly on the tourist trail, which can only be a good thing when you see how undisturbed and unspoilt the scenery is. Between you & I, we may have got ourselves a little lost at the beginning and possibly walked the same circle around about three times. But ssshh because we're trying to pretend we are now seasoned pros at this. Seasoned pros who only go walking with a hip flask, a lip balm and an iPhone with no 3G or phone signal...
However we eventually got our bearings and discovered the secret little Fairy Bridge we had been so desperate to see. That looked just like something out of a Brother's Grimm tale. The one you saw no mention of on the tourist information boards that were erected at the beginning of the walk. Almost like they wanted to keep it a secret. It felt like we were the only people in those woods for miles. I think we might well have been.
Next we discovered an old & abandoned bothy. As creepy and fascinating as it probably was dangerous (the roof was caving in and there was a polite notice scrawled across the front door warning people not to enter). Being the 'we always touch wet paint' type of gals that we are, we obviously stuck our heads round the door to grab a few photos. And the eeriness of the abandoned pots and pans still dotted around the small building, along with the solitude and silence of those woods, felt like you were being made privy to a secret that no one else knew about.
We looped our way back to the car park in order to check out a very unusual looking tree that was growing from right out the middle of a massive rock and to nosily snap photos of all the unusual looking houses that were dotted around the edge of the loch. We even managed to stop and get a cracking view of Castle Stalker en route back to the hotel.
Where we checked in & I delighted in the fact that the swimming pool and sauna were open as they had been closed for refurbishment on my last visit. After a quick dip and a relaxing sauna, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at a pub across the road (somewhere else that had been closed down on my last visit). The food here was exceptional however the service abysmal so the less said about that the better. A nightcap in the hotel bar was made all the lovelier when we got chatting to a gorgeous & happy couple from LA who had gotten engaged that very day.
On the way home we drove the A85 so we could stop a while, take some good photos and breathe in all the clean air before we returned to the city smog. I bleated on about my passionate and never-ending desire to get the hell out of the city the second Ava is old enough. Like I always do. Kirsty listened intently and shared in my excitement. Like she always does.
I explained how my life had become one big quest to discover where I will end up.
How all I ever want to do is go on road trips, sleep in crappy hotels and add another little red sticker to the massive map of Scotland proudly hanging in my flat. How all I ever want to do is take pictures of abandoned castles and shimmering lochs. How all I ever want to do is speed along the A82 singing along to the same crappy songs I have had saved in my iPhone for years. Sipping the dregs of the Starbucks coffee I picked up in Dumbarton, knowing it'll be the last Starbucks I am going to see for a while.
How all I ever want to do is just go.