Tuesday, 30 June 2009

When visiting Loch Awe...

Here's a quick advert for the Ardanaiseig Hotel on Loch Awe. Chances are that you won't simply drive past this place and think 'oh, there's that hotel that was mentioned on the blog I was reading'. No, as was pointed out to me last week, you don't simply discover the Ardanaiseig by driving past. And therein perhaps lies much of its charm.

I found it through the more unlikely of routes. In the midst of searching for a bit of software that will drag our front desk into the 21st Century, we came across a fairly interesting Property Management System by the name of Hotel Executive.

Now, our research has shown us that there's hundreds of these things out there and that they are all the best. So, the only way to narrow down the field was to find out someone who's actually using the systems and get a report from the coal face, so to speak.

The Ardanaiseig was the closest hotel using Hotel Executive so I just gave them a ring and was immediately invited down to get the warts and all story on it. It was extremely refreshing to receive such a welcome and to be able to pinch an hour of a busy hotel managers time at short notice for no real gain. And its this same attitude that tells me that if you do manage to find yourself in need of some real hosptiality on Loch Awe, just 30 mins from Oban, you'd probably not do any better than giving the Ardanaiseig a ring.

In fact, book online instead, and tell us what you think of the system!

(And we won't mention the fact that the building started out life as a baronial manner for Colonel Archibald Campbell of Clan Campbell. I didn't tell them of our policy towards Campbells!)

Friday, 26 June 2009

End to End

Here's a quick mention for a couple of likely lads we met in the bar last night.

After ten days of long-distance cycling, where better to pop in for a well deserved pint than The Clachaig?

Cyclists Sean Lannon and Steve Hawkins have undertaken the formidable but inspiring task of cycling from Land's End in England to John O' Groats in Scotland, hoping to raise £1500 for Cancer Research UK. A staggering total distance of over 800 miles, they have at times reached speeds of 48mph, and have been cycling on some challenging roads.

Despite having come through some less than perfect weather, and having a few scrapes, strains and falls along the way, both the guys were in great spirits and were very enthusiastic about what they were doing. No doubt that was helped along by one of The Clachaig's legendary meals and a few of our local ales!

Their route has taken them through some very scenic areas of Britain; along the Cornish coast, up the Welsh border, between the Yorkshire Dales and The Lake District and up through the Scottish lowlands. However when asked, both Sean and Steve had no doubt that their route up from Loch Lomond to Glencoe had been the highlight, and said that entering the Glen had been what they'd been looking forward to.

With three days to go after leaving Glencoe, let's hope the weather holds for them on their trip up to John O' Groats.

If you'd like to view their website and donate some money to Cancer Research UK, here's the link.

Good luck lads!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Duck or grouse

I'm not saying that the military aircraft fly low through Glencoe, but a big chinook helicopter has just flown over the office and the vibrations were such that half a dozen car alarms went off in the car park and my coffee nearly spilled on the desk!

What really annoys me is that those pilots are actually getting paid to have that much fun!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Glencoe Network Site Launched

Blogs are all well and good but they can be a bit one sided, don't you think? The writer gets to waffle on and choose the photos and the reader gets to well, er..., read. Okay, so you can add a comment but given that there's been 5000 readers of this blog over the last 6 months and barely half a dozen comments, this hardly merits the title 'interactive'.

We're always eager to please, and thought it was about time we did something about this. Enter The Glencoe Scotland Social Network, the site for everyone with an interest in Scotland's most famous glen.

Take a peek and if you like what you see sign up. Its easy, free and there's privacy settings to suit your preferences. You can then share your photos, videos and tales of your experiences in Glencoe. There's also a forum where you can ask questions, find out more and plan your next trip. Chances are that there's someone out there who has the answers to help you on your way.

The URL is http://glencoescotland.ning.com

Monday, 15 June 2009

Sustrans Bike Route

World Cup Mountain Biking a bit too extreme for you? Fancy some ideas for something a little easier? Something with a pie and a pint included perhaps? We've got that too!

Since opening last year, the Sustrans bike track between Glenachulish and the Holly Tree Hotel has been very popular. No matter when you go, you'll always meet someone making use of this great new facility. We like it because its one of the few places you can go with children that has a good surface, isn't full of steep gradients and is safe from traffic. Oh, that and the Holly Tree Hotel at the end of it, where you can sit out on the deck and feel like you're on holiday, even though you are in fact just a few miles from home.

At present, the route is quite short and for those without young children, it might not be worth the effort of driving to Glenachulish. However, the route from Fort William to Oban is under development and other sections are nearing completion. Try from Creran Bridge to the Sea Life Centre for example (but don't hold out much hope of a tea and a bun there unless you pay the full entry price - which is a bit odd)

We understand that the route which terminates at the old Ballachulish Ferry railway station at present (look on the left as you approach Ballachulish Bridge and you see the tarmac track) is soon to be extended to Glencoe village. Here's hoping, as a safe cycle track by the incredibly busy A82 will be a real benefit to the entire area.

Want to try this but haven't brought your bike? Hire a bike locally at Crankitup Gear in Glencoe village.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Glencoe Primary School Balance Trail

What happens to the money we raise through the touting of raffle tickets on a Saturday night?

Last year, Clachaig customers raised £1152 to help Glencoe Primary School install a balance trail. We were very pleased to be invited to the grand opening at the school last Friday.

Mr Robert Flemming, who also contributed generously (think Glen Etive estate and merchant banks), cut the ribbon in front of some excited kids and a photographer from The Oban Times.

After the trail was officially opened the children wasted no time and were to hanging, jumping and swinging from the various objects. It turned out that they sneaked in some practice as the trail had been (unofficially) in use for a little over a week.

It was good to see the Balance Trail finally erected and so popular with the youngsters. The Clachaig was presented with a ‘Thank you’ plate made by Jade Lear, one of the obviously very artistic pupils there, and this will find a good place on the wall at Reception.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup

Readers of the Grog Blog will already have seen most of these, but thought these were worthy of posting here too.
Last weekend the circus came to town in the form of loads of Mercedes Sprinter vans covered with logos and the odd bus/truck/incredibly huge American 4WD. Yes, mountain bike teams from across the globe made their camp in the car park at Nevis Range for weekend of World Cup competition.

Action from the 'side show' - the British Trial competition. All the things you never knew could be done on two wheels. Or one, for that matter.

You'll here us go on about events like this quite bit throughout the course of the year. There's two reasons for this. One is that we (I) love biking, and biking doesn't get much better than this.

The other is that its quite simply a great event to go and see. Its well presented, plenty to keep you entertained and, as the final runs of the downhill competition approach, the atmosphere and the tension builds, in anticipation of who'll shave seconds off the fastest descent from the gondola top station.

A great day out!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

FebruaryFest 2010

Don't be fooled by the photo. The sun is still shining (unlike much of the rest of UK, tee hee...) and its not been snowing today. Instead, just an early heads up that we have now confirmed dates for the annual FebruaryFest Beer Festival here at Clachaig Inn, Glencoe.

For the best part of 20 years, FebruaryFest has been a mainstay of the winter calendar in Glencoe. Over 3 weeks, commencing Friday 5th February 2010, we aim to bring you a huge range of cask conditioned ales from breweries across Scotland, with an emphasis on the Highlands & Islands.

The programme is still in the early stages. Chances are the usual Beer and Whisky tasting evenings will be back, led by some of the leading experts in the field, and we'll also have quizzes, lectures and lots of live music.

However, our accommodation packages are now available and we are (yes, we have!) taking bookings for 2010.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Swallows and Amazons

A bit cooler this weekend. In fact decidedly chilly if you get caught in the northerly breeze blowing off the loch. However, its still dry and great for getting out and exploring. Fortunately, we used the hot weather last weekend for our little Swallows and Amazons river trip.

Despite the lack of water in the river Coe, there are some surprisingly deep pools. And it wasn't that cold either. The plan was to head up river, carrying over a few of the shallow rapid sections.

However, having made some good progress and given the children the opportunity of some proper paddling, we found a great pool with a nicely graded bank, and jumped in!

Top bomby!

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Devil's Staircase

The cracking weather continues. And when its hot, clear and sunny, you've just got to get out and play!

Keith and Buachaille Etive Mor

Wednesday night is bike night. However, the West Highland Wheelers must be all recovering from 10 Under the Ben as it seemed no one wanted to come out to play last night. No worries. We kept it local, and Keith, your host at Glencoe Independent Hostel, and myself headed for the classic Devil's Staircase up at the top of Glencoe.

In your best Cartman voice, say "Sweeeet!"

Conditions were ideal and it was quite simply a pleasure to be out. Soon enough, the slog to the top is over and its some fantastic mountain biking all the way down into Kinlochleven. And the best bit about going in the late evening is that there's no one with map cases swinging and walking poles clinking to scowl at you as you pass them, clearly having much more fun than they are.
One of the smoother sections

The Blackwater Reservoir and a whole lot of nothingness.

What better way to finish than with a pint of ice cold lager at the Tailrace, as you sit in the evening sun and reflect on some of the best biking anywhere, all successfully achieved without so much as a trip to casualty or a puncture!

Oh yeah...!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Glencoe Art Exhibtion

Throughout June, the National Trust for Scotland Visitor Centre in Glencoe is hosting an exhibition by Glencoe based artist, Caroline Cooke.

Shimmering Light by Caroline Cooke

Entitled "Sundown", the exhibition features a range of new original work by the popular artist and predominantly focusses on the dramatic skies to be seen on the Scottish west coast;. In addition to her original works in pastel and acrylic, there are also a number of giclee prints. All the work is available for sale.

Glow by Caroline Cooke

The exhibition runs until the 29th June. Free entry. Its a great spot to visit and take in the the rest that the NTS Centre has to offer, along with the obligatory coffee and a cake.