It’s hard not to get lost in The Lost Valley

I’ve driven along the A82 through Glencoe many times. The road is an outdoor addicts dream as you pass mountain after river after ridge after yet more stunning views. Despite the many drive-throughs, I had no idea the Lost Valley (or Coire Gabbail) existed until about 4 years ago when I walked the Bidean Nan Bian circuit and my return was through the Lost Valley. The promise was made to return and properly enjoy the atmosphere of this magnificent amphitheatre, something I wasn’t properly able to do that day 4 years ago after 8 hours walking in the summer heat.

Along with Paul, James and Gav, I found myself in the big car park opposite the Three Sisters, a phenomenal viewpoint even if going no further than the low wall that surrounds the car park. But we were ready to go further. Four big kids full of excitement at where we were heading with our tents and our whisky.

The good path headed east and then quickly turned south into the gorge at the bottom of the corrie and then steeply up into the corrie itself.

As we climbed higher and the breathing became deeper the flat valley floor, famous from a thousand images, came into view.

As a venue for a camp, the valley is beautiful. High mountain cliffs on three sides and a flat floor with a mix of stones and grass. The Allt Coire Gabhail flows clear and fast at either end, although curiously disappears in the valley itself. Camp was set up and we ate lunch.

Despite being only a few short miles from the main road, you get the real feeling of being far removed from civilisation in the Lost Valley, something all four of us were craving.

With no real plan other than to explore, we headed up the path that leads to the Bealach Dearg, the pass between the two Munro’s, Bidean and Stob Coire Sgreamhach.

At a ford and crossroads, we headed up the side of the Gearr Aonach ridge but went in different directions, each seeking our own mini adventure and solitude.

For me that included a foot dip and some snowman building.

We came together again later at the bottom of the path where the valley flattens.

A meal was cooked and a fire was created. As we admired our surroundings it was clear how small we really were compared to the huge mountain theatre we found ourselves in.

A breeze kept the worst of the midgies at bay and we had a really fab evening.

The next day was very wet with an extra large dose of midgies. We quickly ate some breakfast (our first), decamped and headed back the now much slippier stone path towards the bottom of the corrie and the car park.

When we reached the car park, it was agreed that a second breakfast was necessary so we headed for Tyndrum and the rolls and hot drinks were a fitting end to an amazing trip.

Take a look at the film below.

Lock Skeen Sun

As I left my house this morning, I was dreaming of a Texas sun. Or at least that was the song I was listening to, by Khruangbin, as I drove south to pick up Dave and then on to the car park at the Grey Mare’s Tail, near Moffat.

Our packs laden with food and wood, our mood and spirits were high as we climbed the initially steep path past the numerous waterfalls and up towards Loch Skeen, our final destination for the night.

After a sedate couple of hours and a gradually reducing gradient we reached the loch that would be our bed buddy for the night. We set up our tents and settled for a cuppa and to check out the surroundings.

The Loch Skeen sun was replaced for a while by the Loch Skeen snow, although nothing could take away the beauty of our resting spot. I went on an explore and headed uphill from the waters edge.

As the fire was lit, so the sun gave us a wave.

The combined warmth of my wander and the fire meant time to cool off in the Loch. The water was chilly but I was in pretty quickly and swam across to the island.

Another cuppa was waiting as I pulled my shivering shorts out of the loch and dried myself off in front of the flames.

With our steps and strokes for the day completed, we settled into our chairs and chatted, mostly about when and what we would eat. Steak and tatties were on the menu. The weather continued to change regularly although with no real extremity. After tea we went to the loch outlet and some of the little bays further around this gorgeous loch.

The evening started to close in. Drops of snow coming and going and a growing breeze made us consider retreating to our tents. The water on the loch took on the look of the sea with the waters lapping the stony edge with increasing noise and power.

And then, the clouds slowly took flight, the water calmed to almost a mirror and the wind eventually vanished. Calm was restored and we celebrated with a whisky and some gentle political discussion and debate.

There are no trees around the loch. Just two small trees on a couple of little islands. And with the temperature forecast to be freezing, we’d come up with a whole trees worth of wood. We were glad of the warmth the fire gave us as the night went on.

Even the local ghost came close for a heat.

The next day started bright and warmed quickly. The light on the hills opposite quickly filled the giant bowl that the loch sits in.

Bacon for breakfast and The King flexed his cookery muscles once more.

Eventually we packed up, sad to leave our camp but refreshed by our time in the outdoors. After numerous “hi”s and “hello”s from the dozens of others coming up as we headed down, we reached the valley floor, resplendent in the Loch Skeen sun, and the van.

The snow arrived again just as we were about to drive off. We definitely weren’t in Texas, but then again, why would we want to be anywhere else?

Loch Laidon Living

As the number of vaccines administered hits the millions, the end might just be in sight. I say that with one eye on a future that is still very much unknown. As one sage-like fellow said:

“Anything can happen, and often we are wrong. The best we can do with the future is prepare and savour the possibilities of what can be done in the present.”

With that in mind, I savoured the possibility of what I could do with a 36hr window.

I headed to Loch Laidon. For some camping, some eating, and some floating.

And watch the film here:

Camping on our Doorstep

A second three weeks of lockdown has just been announced. So back to the van for the next job, making a midge net for the window. I essentially copied this idea: https://www.motorhomeplanet.co.uk/archives/4795

It seems to have worked really well, but we’ll see how it performs next time I can get further than the front door.

In the meantime we spent a night in the van as the weather was sunny and warm. We made homemade burgers and drank in the sunshine. The new awning worked a treat and This microadventure was an absolute treat.

Ambling the Annandale Way

Two days walking and camping the fantastic Annandale Way from Moffat to Hoddom Castle with Adventure Man and Gav.

The weather was glorious and the scenery was even better. People forget the south of Scotland, assuming the North is where the WOW moments occur. But the south has the x factor if you know where to look.

Rock (Without the Ness) and Glas Maol – June 2014

Since Rock Ness was cancelled this year, we decided to hold our own in beautiful Glen Isla. And while we were down there, we climbed Monamenach and Glas Maol.

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