We’ve stayed at an eclectic mix of accommodation this year, ranging from luxury hotel suite to camping pod, shepherd’s hut, self-catering cottage, hot tub lodge, motorhome, B&B, converted fishing trawler and hostel. People usually assume we must prefer the luxury stays to the budget ones. We don’t – we genuinely, hand on heart love experiencing all that Scotland has to offer, regardless of cost or star rating. Two of our favourite trips of 2019 have been dog-friendly Hostelling Scotland breaks.
Day 1 – Woof Hostelling at Glencoe Youth Hostel
The drive from Edinburgh to our dog-friendly Hostelling Scotland accommodation in Glencoe is one we know well. It’s a scenic route which never fails to wow us.
The atmospheric Glen of Weeping aka Glen Coe attracts lots of photographers with a passion for wee white cottages. Sadly, many don’t leave the roadside or contribute to the local economy. And while the cottages are undeniably pretty, Glen Coe has much more to offer than drive by photo opportunities.
A stone’s throw from the cottage below, is Glencoe Mountain Resort. It’s a good place for a coffee stop once you’ve snapped some bonnie photos.
Coffee and mountain scenery – who could resist?
Glencoe & North Lorn Folk Museum
Glencoe is as famous for history, as it is for mountains. So, once we’d snapped some shots of the glen, we paid the local folk museum a visit.
Glencoe & North Lorn Folk Museum is a dog-friendly visitor attraction located in Glencoe Village. The museum is housed within two 18th century thatched cottages. It opens daily (except Sunday) from April to October. Entry costs £3 for adults. Under 16s and four-legged history geeks are free.
It’s a brilliant museum, packed with interesting artefacts, including swords found on Culloden battlefield, a white cockade (a Jacobite emblem) dating to 1745 and a chair that belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie.
There’s an excellent exhibit about the Massacre of Glencoe. The massacre took place on 13th February 1692, when government forces led by Captain Robert Campbell committed an act of ‘murder under trust’. They’d been ordered to put to the sword every MacDonald under the age of seventy. Under Scots law the slaughter was deemed to be especially barbaric, as Clan MacDonald had welcomed the soldiers into their homes, providing them with food and shelter for twelve days before they were attacked by their guests. Some managed to flee into the night, only to freeze to death in the wintry glen. It was one of the darkest episodes of Scottish history.
Hike – An Torr & Signal Rock
After our history fix it was time for a walk.
An Torr is a small, coniferous plantation owned by the National Trust for Scotland. It’s a good place for a short ramble, or a longer walk if you lose your bearings and wander round aimlessly like we did.
Our walk started well. We followed a trail uphill to the rocky summit of An Torr. A short while later we reached Signal Rock which tops Tom a’ Ghrianain (Hill of the Sun).
Signal Rock is where the MacDonalds of Glencoe rallied in times of trouble. Legend says the order to commence the massacre came from Signal Rock, but there’s no proof this was true.
Our ramble to An Torr & Signal Rock was quick and easy, but we made a pig’s ear of finding our way back to the starting point again.
We started bickering when I refused to climb a shoogly fence to escape from the woods. Adding to our frustration was the fact that we’d done the walk before without issue. Round in circles we went like grumpy toddlers, until we met a couple of Shetland Ponies who put a stop to our whingeing. One of the ponies took a shine to the boy and we watched with delight as they booped noses.
After saying goodbye to the little guys our sense of direction returned and we escaped from the clutches of An Torr – yay.
Glencoe Youth Hostel
It was time to check out our digs.
Glencoe Youth Hostel is a three star hostel nestled in the heart of Glencoe. It’s close to the main road, but far enough away to give a feeling of remoteness – no mean feat in Scotland’s most popular glen. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – Hostelling Scotland have hostels (eleven of which are dog-friendly for a small fee of £5 per night) in some of Scotland’s most stunning locations.
We were welcomed at reception and given a run down of the hostel facilities. There was a dog-friendly quiet lounge, a drying room (not that it ever rains in Scotland) plus a dining area and fully-equipped kitchen.
Our room was a private triple on the ground floor, conveniently located beside toilet and shower facilities. It had a sink, mirror and plenty of sockets for charging phones and camera batteries. It was comfortable and cosy and suited our needs perfectly.
The boy loves staying with Hostelling Scotland as he always finds treats waiting in the room for him. Once his treats have been scoffed his attention turns to finding a coorie corner where he can snuggle for the night.
We love staying with Hostelling Scotland too as we always arrive to find our beds made up and fresh towels waiting. This time there was shortbread and bottled water too.
We were three happy hostellers.
I could have rustled us up dinner to eat in, but with one of Scotland’s most iconic inns a short walk away that was never going to happen.
Dinner – Clachaig Inn
Talk about a scenic walk to the pub – wowzer.
Clachaig Inn has a boot bar and a bistro style bar. It also has a sign hanging in reception that reads ‘no hawkers or Campbells’. They have long memories in the glen.
The Boots Bar is where the atmosphere’s at. We arrived at 6:30 p.m. to find the place hooching.
We ordered dinner and a round of drinks to toast the arrival of the weekend.
Our beer and wine slipped down nicely, as did our Thai chicken curry (me) and smoked haddock and mashed potatoes (Mr G). We finished with Clachaig gin & tonic cheesecake, which was made using the Clachaig’s award winning gin. It was tart and tasty.
Glencoe used to be a favourite haunt of ours, but we haven’t visited much in recent years. It was good to be back.
Day 2 – Woof Hostelling at Glencoe Youth Hostel
After a good night’s sleep, we were refreshed and raring to go. We’d paid an extra £5.95 each per day for a Continental buffet breakfast. It’s a good way to start the day and avoid the foof of making your own breakfast.
After breakfast, we headed out to spend another day exploring locally. The forecast was awful – rain, rain and more rain. We’re hardy Scots though, so it wasn’t going to spoil our day.
Archery at Glencoe Activities
We were booked to do laser clay pigeon shooting at Glencoe Activities in Ballachulish, but the weather had other ideas. Rain and electricity don’t mix, so to avoid us having a hair raising experience, we switched to archery instead.
Dressed head to toe in waterproofs, we met Callum who was going to show us the ropes. Poor Callum didn’t know what he was letting himself in for. Not only did he have two left handers to teach, but he’d be subjected to an hour of us needling each other like bitter rivals.
On paper, archery in the rain probably doesn’t sound like much fun, it was though. There was the usual competitive banter between Mr and I and lots of laughter too. We hardly noticed the rain once we were firing arrows and trying desperately to outdo each other.
Callum was calm and patient – qualities he probably drew on heavily during our lesson. I liked his coaching style and the way he drip fed us tips throughout the lesson to improve our accuracy. I went from firing arrows into the undergrowth (which Callum had to trample around in wet grass to find), to coming tantalisingly close to the bullseye.
It was the closest either of us got to firing a perfect arrow that day. With our lesson drawing to an end I was a whisker away from swaggering off the range a ‘champion’ archer. Then Callum had to spoil things, robbing me of my chance to gloat. He suggested we finish with one last round, this time a competitive one. Under pressure I forgot everything I’d been taught and Mr G won. Cheers Callum.
Lesson over, it felt like a good time to stop for coffee and cake. Luckily, there’s a lovely cafe at Glencoe Activities that sells delicious home baking and good coffee.
Hike – Glenachulish
With a heavy drizzle falling, we left Glencoe Activities to do a local walk with some tree cover.
Beinn a’Bheithir (the mountain of the thunderbolt) is a horseshoe ridge with two Munro summits – Sgorr Dhearg (the red peak) and Sgorr Dhonuill (Donald’s peak). We wouldn’t be bagging them on this dreich day. Instead, we planned to follow the path leading to them, through woodland and into Glenachulish (Gleann a’Chaolais).
Setting off from the Forestry and Land Scotland car park at Gleann a’Chaolais we headed uphill. The incline was steady rather than relentless and the trees sheltered us from much of the rain.
After a while the path split. One branch led to Sgorr Dhearg and the other Sgorr Dhonuill. The Sgorr Dhearg path was closed for tree felling so Donald’s peak it was.
The trail was scenery free until we left the shelter of the trees and got a view of the glen. It was beautiful – atmospheric, still and deserted. These are the moments I live for on our travels – me and my boys surrounded by the rugged beauty of Scotland.
The boy loves getting outdoors and will hike in all weather, but sometimes he forgets to tell his face that he’s having fun.
Lunch – Onich Stores & Tearoom
It was lunchtime and a warming bowl of soup was calling. We found it at Onich Stores & Tearoom a short hop from Glenachulish.
We had tomato soup, followed by toasted paninis (cheese and haggis for Mr G and brie and cranberry for me). The soup had a nice spicy kick and the sandwiches were tasty.
We’ve passed the tearoom loads on our travels but never popped in. We’ll definitely be stopping for lunch again.
Hike – Inchree Waterfalls, near Onich
The rain had stopped when we left the tearoom, so we decided to go for another walk.
Inchree Waterfalls are located in Glen Righ (glen of the king) a two minute drive from Onich. Two trails leave from Inchree Waterfalls car park, one follows an old military road and the other, which we took follows the Inchree Waterfalls Trail.
It’s only 1 1/2 miles long, but it’s a good walk for spotting wildlife, enjoying beautiful views (on a clear day) and watching thundering waterfalls.
Before setting off you can look for red squirrels at a viewing wall beside the car park. We peeped through various holes, but there was no sign of any tiny red beasties.
Despite not spotting red squirrels, we enjoyed our walk. It’s one we’ll return to on a sunny day so we can really appreciate the view.
Visiting on a rainy day wasn’t all bad, as rain makes for dramatic waterfalls.
Glencoe Visitor Centre
There was one last stop we wanted to make before it was time to chill. The National Trust for Scotland’s Glencoe Visitor Centre reopened earlier this year after major renovations transformed it into a state of the art attraction.
Dogs are welcome in the visitor centre, but not in the cafe. Inside there’s a shop, cafe, theatre and lots of exhibition space where you can learn about the conservation work that goes on in the glen, the outdoorsy thrill seekers it attracts and the flora and fauna that flourishes there. There’s a focus on history and geology too, from the formation of the glen and how it was shaped by fire and ice, to the massacre of 1692.
The visitor centre also offers various bookable activities, like guided walks, Land Rover safaris and talks.
We really enjoyed our visit, including the boy who was as good as gold, even when he had to stand quietly through a short film about the glen.
Before leaving we grabbed take-away coffees (in compostable cups) to boost our flagging energy levels.
Relaxing at Glencoe Youth Hostel
We spent our second night at Glencoe Youth Hostel chilling in the quiet lounge with the boy. He was in his element snoozing and lapping up lots of attention from fellow guests.
We were in our element too, slumped on a sofa with beer and wine.
After a restful night’s sleep, followed by another Continental breakfast it was time to leave Glencoe Youth Hostel. It’d been another wonderful Hostelling Scotland break.
Our accommodation at Glencoe Youth Hostel was provided on a complimentary basis, however all opinions are my own.
Until next time …….