Tyndrum Holiday - August 2015
There were six of us who left England to cross the Scottish border, Peter, Chris B, Debbie, Mary, Brian and I; later in the week our group was increased by the Scottish contingent, which was very pleasant. Shona, Andy and Jackie seemed to know the best time to arrive for the better weather and thus avoided the rainy days.
We were based mainly in Tyndrum, a small village with two railway stations and the Green Welly Stop, which became part of our holiday. Our accommodation encompassed the Ben Doran Hotel, the Royal Hotel (both owned by Highland Heritage Coach Holidays), a guest house and hostel. The Ben Doran was our main base where we congregated in the quiet lounge for games or in the huge lounge/bar where musicians or comedians provided entertainment every evening; these rooms were on the third floor with spectacular views of the hills.
The weather was mixed, with the rainy days being early in the week; this was no problem as we were able to go on some of the Highland Heritage coach excursions to see Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe, Fort William, Fort Augustus and Loch Ness. We also saw walkers trudging along in the heavy rain on the West Highland Way. The landscape was dramatic, dark with clouds on the peaks and hills rising on each side of the valley.
Wednesday was a Footprints car day, driving to Inveraray, most of us looked around the castle while Chris went to the jail. We then went on a small bus into the hollow mountain, Cruachan, which had been converted to an underground power station. The reservoir is at the top of the mountain and when there is a surge in demand, the water flows down through turbines to the lower reservoir at Loch Awe, generating electricity. The heaviest demand was on William and Kate’s wedding day. We then had our tea in the café with a wonderful view of the Loch.
Thursday was a dry day but we still did the coach excursion as it was to the island of Iona. We went across the water to Mull where our coach drove us across the island to the tiny port of Fionnphort, where we got the small ferry to Iona. It was a lovely tranquil place, some of us did the tour around the Abbey, we had lunch then it was time to join the queue for the ferry by the clear green sea in the sunshine. Back at Tyndrum, Shona joined the group for 2 days walking.
On Friday, we walked! At Tyndrum Lower Station, we got the train to Crianlarich and joined the West Highland Way. We met a German lady doing the Way on her own. Lunch was at Wigwam Farm where bacon and sausages were freshly cooked for our rolls. We sat on the veranda and watched the birds eating crumbs. Later we passed the pool where Robert the Bruce had thrown his sword, skirted Tyndrum forest walk and said goodbye to Debbie who was going onto Glasgow. The rest of us went for tea at the Green Welly Stop. In the evening our number increased again as Andy and Jackie joined us, they had spent the day climbing a Munro and had similar plans for the following day.
Saturday saw a split in the group. Brian joined Andy and Jackie for hill climbing, Chris went to Dunoon and Inveraray, while Peter, Mary, Shona and I boarded the train at Tyndrum (the Upper Station this time) which was packed with folk going to Mallaig. We alighted at Bridge of Orchy station and went to see the famous bridge and where Shona often camped. On the West Highland Way we saw our German friend again; she was cutting her walk short as no accommodation was available due to the heavy rain a few days ago which forced campers to seek alternative accommodation. Back in Tyndrum we had tea at the Green Welly Stop. Brian returned to the hotel later, while Andy and Jackie had made tracks for home. At the end of the evening we said farewell to Shona who was going home the following day.
Now that the Scottish contingent had gone, Sunday was a rainy day of course, so all aboard the coach to Oban to have a look around the coastal town and climb up to a view point. In the afternoon there was a Highland concert put on by Highland Heritage for all their customers that week. We were treated to some beautiful Scottish music, singing and dancing. Back at the Ben Doran hotel our last meal was a 5 course Highland Dinner including haggis and nips. A good Scottish end to the holiday.
Many thanks to Peter for organising this varied holiday.