Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Evening on the Pap of Glencoe

So after 25 years in Glencoe (see entry below), doesn't it get a bit boring? The standard answer is that you've certainly got to want to be here, and it won't suit everyone. But here's a quick reason why it suits me.

Last night after a long day in the office I decided to go and have a wander round the garden. Spring being the time of year when you get into your garden again. Thing is, my back garden extends all the way up the Pap of Glencoe.

Despite having had a fairly lethargic start to the year, with far too many pies and far too few training sessions, I was quite pleased to be still able to get to the top in 51 minutes from the door. Mind you, there's still a whole lot of training to squeeze in before the Ben Nevis Race comes around again in September. From the summit, the sun and cloud over Loch Linnhe was working well, so it was worth taking 10 minutes to soak it all in before heading back down. 20 minutes later and back in the house once more.

Beats Eastenders any day!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Competition Time

Anyone for a bit of fun and a chance of winning a bag full of Clachaig Goodies?

See our web site for further details.

A quarter of a century in Glencoe

Doesn't time fly when you're having fun! Next week marks the 25th anniversary of the Daynes family moving to Glencoe and taking over the reins at Clachaig Inn.

Clachaig Inn circa 1984

Much has changed over the years. But there again, there's a lot more that hasn't. Back in May 1984, when Duran Duran were Top of the Pops with The Reflex and I had a really bad haircut, Clachaig was a much quieter place. Just 9 bedrooms, a couple of full time staff and a 10 week season.

Ed & Guy with the Best Pub in Scotland Award in 1994

Fast forward 25 years and we're still here, though its brothers Ed & Guy that now run things, while mum and dad, Peter & Eileen still have an active interest in the Carefree Self Catering Holidays brand. Clachaig now employs over 35 staff for most of the year, and is the administrative centre for over 50 when The Grog & Gruel in Fort William is taken into account.

So it looks like there's an opportunity to find some embarrassing photos of us 25 years ago. Keep an eye on the blog and we'll see what we can find. And if you've got some photos of the last 25 years at Clachaig then we'd love to see them.

Here's to the half century!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Some more pretty pics

Here we go. Back at the beach again on Saturday. While the rest of Lochaber was enduring passing 'showers', it was another glorious (if slightly chilly in the wind) day on the beaches between Arisaig and Morar.

And after another invigorating day on the beach what better than a fish supper at the Cornerstone Restaurant in Mallaig.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Mountain Bike Heaven

That's the tag line for the 7 Stanes, the forest centres spread across Southern Scotland scattered with man made mountain bike trails. Regulars to our blog will realise that we're keen on our outdoor activities, so while biking the 7 Stanes has little to do with Glencoe we thought we'd include this one anyway.

Airs Rock at Laggan Wolftrax.
Not one of the Stanes, but equally good and only an hour (ish) from Glencoe.

Our base for a couple of nights was the Mabie House Hotel, just south of Dumfries. Its a cracking spot right at the trailhead for the Mabie mountain bike trails. The hotel is a Georgian mansion and was fantastic - just how hotels should be. Friendly and accommodating staff, good food and comfy beds! Highly recommended. Being a bit soft, we opted for the huge bedrooms but if adventure is your middle name you could always try one of the camping 'pods' in the garden!

First up was the red route at Ae, just the other side of Dumfries. A good hard ride but I have to say probably my least favourite of the Stanes so far. The surface was very rocky for much of the way round, making it hard to settle in to any sort of rhythm. But with some good easier graded trails for the family, and a cafe and bike shop on site chances are we'll definitely be back soon to explore some more.

The red at Mabie was next, with a trip to the Dark Side in the evening (full body armour/no brain required). And before heading back up the road we had time for a blast round the red route at Dalbeattie. I forgotten just how good this ride is, particular out as far as the slab.

If you like your biking but you've never visited the Stanes then you really should. Each of the centres offer some fantastic riding of varying grades and character.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Load of rubbish!

If you've ever had a good browse through our web sites then you may well have come across the page titled Environmental Impact. Its more than just a page on the web site, and since we created it, it has slowly become part of the way we do things. Not just once in a while, but every day.

Part of our commitment is to carry out a litterpick along the old village road. Today, in the first bit of rain we've seen for ages (it had stopped by the time we'd finished!) we teamed up with Tomasz from the Glencoe Youth Hostel (SYHA) and Keith from the Glencoe Independent Hostel and did just that.

We covered the road verges from the junction with the A82 at the new bridge right the way down to the Green Pool at the Forestry car park, just this side of Glencoe village and included the popular picnic spots on the river banks too. Glencoe Community Council recently carried out a litterpick in the vicinity of the village, and we know that the Glencoe NTS staff are keen to try and do something similar along the A82 in the glen, though its reported as being thwarted by the old 'health & safety gone mad' problems. (Did anyone see Panorama on the BBC this week!?) Here's hoping that Glencoe is looking clean and litter free in time for the summer onslaught (and here's hoping that it stays that way!)

The Highland Council helped us out with some signage, gloves and bags, and a huge skip which we thankfully struggled to make even the smallest impact in. Thanks. We know you can't do it all yourselves but its nice to get your support when we take on something like this ourselves.

And in this final paragraph we'd hoped to amuse you with tales of the weird and wonderful bits of refuse that we collected along the way. But apart from some poo in a cup (good aim?), someone's clothes and a tow bar, it was mostly just the usual empty beer cans, large numbers of coke and Irn Bru bottles (no, we don't sell them) and the odd wheel trim off a car.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Life's a beach

Its a charmed life! all wrapped up for some skiing last weekend. And stripping off this weekend for some amazing beach weather.

Sunset over Rum from Invercaimbe campsite

Easter trading has been a bit hectic here in Glencoe. Maybe its the weather, maybe its a backlash against the state of the economy, but regardless, its been one of the busiest Easters we've seen in a while. Nice then to chuck the tent in the back of the car and escape to the silver sands up by Arisaig and Morar. (see our Beaches page on It doesn't matter what the weather is doing out there (unless you're sunbathing perhaps), a trip out to this spectacular corner of Lochaber always feels like a holiday. But it does help if the sun makes an appearance!


There's a few campsites to choose from. The one at Invercaimbe is right on the beach and is a great place for the kids to hang out. However, its quite a small site and often fully booked but there's Portnadoran right next door, which is also next to the beach, plus a handful of others dotted along the shoreline.

Morar Mermaid

The beaches here are quite simply amazing, as are the sunsets. There's even a real mermaid! Its also a paddler's mecca, and a great place to explore the rocky inlets by canoe/kayak.

Our trip included the obligatory trip into Mallaig for an ice cream, but not before a very cosmopolitan lunch in the sun at the Tea Garden (the web site doesn't do it justice). Interesting to see that the A830, the 'road to the isles', from Fort William to Mallaig has finally been fully upgraded. The last section between Loch Nan Uamh and Arisaig was opened just a few weeks ago. Shame that someone forgot to realise that its a stunning bit of countryside and the odd lay-by so that you can pull over and enjoy it would have been a good idea!

A couple of hours away from the office and you start getting all artistic...

On the way home we decided to take a detour and visit Smirisary. This old crofting community was abandonned after the 2nd World War, and its easy to imagine the hardships, particularly if visiting on a less-than-sunny day. Its interesting to note that several of the old ruins have now been rebuilt and look habitable once more, despite the lack of access. If you find yourself near Glenuig, follow the old road past the beach all the way to the end and enjoy the short walk with stunning views across to Rum & Eigg.

Smirisary, Eigg & Rum

For more information about walking at Smirisary, including an O.S. map of a suggested route, visit the WalkHighlands web site.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Top marks from Cask Marque

Clachaig's beers were recently 'inspected' by the Cask Marque assessor. In an unannounced visit, the Cask Marque assessor will call in and sample a number of available beers and check them for temperature, appearance, aroma and taste, and award points accordingly. Through such independent inspections, the Cask Marque scheme aims to encourage quality of cask ales in the licensed trade.
So how do you think we did? Well, the beers sampled were Peter's Well from Houston Brewery, An Teallach Ale from the Dundonnell based brewery of the same name, and An Teallach's Brewhouse Special.

In each of the 4 categories (temperature, appearance, aroma, taste) each of the beers scored the full marks giving us a 60/60 100% score. Well would you expect anything less from Clachaig!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

We want your vote!

We've now officially launched the t-shirt rather modestly declaring Clachaig to be (probably) the best pub in the world. We now need your vote to prove it!
The Sunday Mail are sponsoring the Pub of the Year category of the Scottish Licensed Trade Awards, and in their coverage this last weekend it reads that we got a bit of a head start.

Read the article in full here, or simply download the nomination form and get voting for Clachaig today!


P.S. T-shirts now on sale.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The sky's the limit!

After some gentle persuasion from Isi, our bar supervisor, 8 brave Clachaig staff were dragged kicking & screaming from their beds at 8am on Thursday morning to take advantage of an open invitation from the Ice factor to try out their facilities - free of charge.
With representatives from housekeeping, reception and bar - many of whom had never climbed before - this was a great chance for them to bond as a team. We even discovered that due to working opposite shifts some hadn’t met before!

Slightly bleary-eyed, they rocked up at the Ice factor, were kitted-up, signed-in and enjoyed a warm-up on the auto-belays. These mechanisms allow you to climb without having someone to hold your rope and are a great way to get beginners onto the wall straight away.

Following a brief lesson in how to tie in and belay, the real climbing began, supervised by some of our more experienced staff. Some of the group achieved things they didn’t think were possible and many giggles were had by all! A brief play in the bouldering wall and a coffee (tho' not at the same time!) finished off the morning nicely.

Needless to say they are all planning another trip, although unfortunately they’ll have to open their wallets this time!

Thanks to Tracy & all at The Ice Factor for making this possible.