Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Ready when you are!

You know the one about the early bird, well this lucky regular had his pick of 15 of the finest Scottish cask ales as our hard working bar staff prepare for the annual onslaught that is the Clachaig Hogmanay.

We've plenty more in the cellar too, including Williams brothers, Cairngorm, An Teallach & Isle of Skye to name but a few.

With both Nevis Range & Glencoe ski resorts open for business, our Hogmanay guests arriving by the coach load and the promise of great live music in our Boots bar it's shaping up to be another classic.......So come early, or all the worms will have gone!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Great day for hill running

Back to work at Clachaig today as we ease ourselves out of the all-too-short Christmas shut down. And its been busy too, with plenty of people arriving in the glen that was oh so quiet for just a few days.

Before the daily grin started all over again, there was just time to sneak in a quick hill run. After all, its fine hill running weather!

Heading up the forest road above the Glencoe NTS Visitor Centre

Just about everywhere is still covered in snow making the going fairly easy underfoot. However, some paths, especially where the snow cover is thin, are covered in thick and lethal water ice. The lower section of the path up the Pap of Glencoe is one such path. Careful route planning was required, and the ideal choice seemed to be the seldom visited top of Meall Mor.

Breaking off from the track near the bealach, in search of the edge of the forest and the open hill

The new forest road above the NTS Visitor Centre means that its now much easier to run up towards the bealach. By next year it looks like it'll be on the top, but for now the last section is still on the old track and then its a case of breaking through the forest before hitting the open hill.

Above the forest, Callart hills beyond, heading for the top in deep snow

In just a little over an hour from the car we were at the top, which wasn't bad going given the depth of some of the snow. A cracking wee run!

With the cold weather forecast to last for at least another week, chances are the glen is going to get quite busy in the next few days. Reports from Nevis Range are of good skiing and plenty of sledging. Glencoe Mountain is due to open for the first time tomorrow. Hope to see a fair few of you at the Clachaig Hogmanay Hoolie!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas (& Hogmanay)

Time for probably our last update before that plump chap in the red suit comes to visit us all again. The weather is very much dominating everyone's life at the moment, so here's a Glencoe view on things.

Late this afternoon the glen was looking quite simply STUNNING. Clear blue skies and a covering a white from top to bottom. -5 degrees in Glencoe village, which being by the sea on the west coast coast is unusual.

We asked Icon or Firewood - as it turns out, it was both!

I had to go to Glasgow yesterday, and I have to say that Rannoch Moor was also STUNNING. Ba Loch was frozen and white over with deep snow. On the way home in the mid evening the temperature had dropped to -6 degrees. No wonder I spotted a few deer on the verge, presumably thumbing (hoofing?!) a lift down to the pub for the evening. Apart from a few concerns over black ice, the roads are clear of snow.

Bike ride to Glencoe Village on Sunday

Work to get the car park finished in time for the Hogmanay onslaught has been made a little more tricky, though we're about 98% complete now. And progress on the replacement sign has also slowed down. A grand unveiling for FebruaryFest is now more likely than Hogmanay, though we might get the ironmongery back up tomorrow.

Clachaig closes down for 3 days over Christmas. Its a rare opportunity to ensure that everyone gets a good break, especially as the week that follows is generally the busiest trading week in the calendar year.

Quite what the Scottish weather will throw at us is anyone's guess at this stage. There is a suggestion that the cold spell will continue, and today's MWIS report suggests that it may last until New Year. What we do know is that listening to the doom-mongers on the TV & radio, you'd be as well hiding away for ever more. However, if you're thinking of heading this way there are sources of more reliable information.

For the lastest weather try the Mountain Weather Information Service.

For the latest snow & avalanche conditions see the Scottish Avalanche Info site.

For ski conditions check with Glencoe Mountain and Nevis Range (who were open for snow sports today!)

And for roads information check Traffic Scotland, and especially check the Altnafeadh (by Buachaille Etive Mor) web cams.

Or you could always ask us for some advice!

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Going for Gold!

Here at Clachaig we increasingly recognise the need to operate our business so as to minimise our impact on the environment and to operate in a sustainable manner wherever possible. Adopting such a policy has involved taking small steps towards our objectives.

We currently participate in the Green Tourism Business Scheme. The scheme, operated in conjunction with VisitScotland, is a recognition of environmental achievement and is a useful tool in operating a sustainable business.

To be honest, we don’t do it just for the plaque on the wall, we are actually committed to sustainable business practices. Take a look at our Environmental Policy to see how we have converted this core belief into action so far. So we are very proud to report, following the last audit, that Clachaig Inn has been awarded the Green Tourism Business Silver Award.

Whilst we are obviously delighted to receive this recognition, we are aware that we can still achieve more and we keep our policies under constant review & actively seek innovative ways to minimise our impact on the environment.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Can you tell what it is yet?

Does anyone know what this is? Here's a clue.

The rotten bits have been chopped out and new oak has been skilfully added back in. Just needs a lick of paint and a trip up to the signwriters. We're expecting delivery of a new post tomorrow and the digger is on standby to get the 4m chunk of wood back into the ground. Chances of it being back in pride of place by Hogmanay are looking slim at the moment but we're working on it.

Thailand or Berneray?

We've always said that the west coast beaches are among the best in the world (when the sun shines, that is!)

So where do you think this one is? Thailand or Berneray? Click here to find out.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


The irony is that the glen is really quiet just now. Ok, you need to choose your days. The weather changes fast, as do the conditions on the mountains. It could be wet and windy. It could be quite pleasant. But when you strike it lucky and get a day like this one so early in the season you know you are truly blessed!

I remember the good old days when you used to complain to the staff that their c.v.s all waxed lyrical about the fact that they wanted to come and work in Glencoe so that could climb all these wonderful mountains, only to find them unable to get out of bed before noon.

But like everything else in life, times they are a changing.

James got out of his bed last Friday and went for a bit of a wander. And I have to say that I am just a little bit envious. Bidean nam Bian is not only looking absolutely fantastic in this shot, there's not a foot print to be seen on the final ridge to the summit.

Winter has arrived in Glencoe!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Kelpie Seaweed Ale

We’re always keen to improve our product knowledge, so when the chance came up to combine this with a day at the beach rather than at work it seemed too good to be true. So, of course it was.

No lounging around topping up the tan, no beach barbeque, and worse still, not an ice cream van in sight. Instead the morning was spent gathering bladderwrack seaweed.

I dare say it may seem an odd thing to do to some, but for brewer Bruce Williams, it’s just “another day in the office”. Bruce and Scott Williams are behind Williams Brothers Brewing, the guys who for the best part of twenty years have supplied us here at Clachaig with numerous tasty beers. These have ranged from the more familiar ales like 80/-, to the more exotic (and historic) ones including Fraoch (Heather Ale), quite possibly our best selling beer over the years.

But tomorrow’s brew is Kelpie Seaweed Ale. So with that in mind, a short ten-minute drive brought us to the shoreline by Castle Stalker, just in time for low tide. Monty Python fans will of course know it by its alternative name, Castle Aaargh. Maybe we got the odd funny look or two from passers-by, but at least we weren’t subjected to taunts of French knights as the heroes of the film were.

Armed with a handfull of bags, and several pairs of scissors, we set about gathering one of the key ingredients for the brew. Cutting the seaweed rather than pulling it up leaves to roots intact, ensuring there’s plenty of seaweed for the next harvest.

Despite the weather, it has to be said it was a surprisingly pleasant way to spend a morning, and indeed is there a better to improve product knowledge than to occasionally get out and get involved with our local suppliers? Well, that’s my excuse for not working anyway!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

More Car Park Improvements

Ironically, we have just had some of the best autumn weather you could hope for and yet it was our quietest weekends of the year. Lots of snow on the hills, crisp clear days, a big yellow thing in the sky and barely anyone around to witness it. I blame Christmas myself; a couple of days in the year disrupts a good 2 months of trading.

The new enclosed area - the tarred access road will run from the road edge, past the dumper, to the road on the right.

Still, plenty of time to crack on with other jobs that we just don't get the time for during the rest of the year. Like phase 2 of the car park works here at Clachaig Inn. Visitors to Glencoe during 2009 can't help but have noticed that we now have a lovely big car park where once there was just a swamp.

A new sleeper wall parallel to the public road will partially enclose the lower car park

Wonderful improvement to both amenity and visual impact that it was, you still had to get through the original lower car park to get to it. Phase 2 will see more formal parking in the lower car park with an enclosed area, a tarred access road through to the aforementioned new car park, and a more informal area set aside for further parking which can also be used by larger vehicles.

More photos in due course.