Friday, 29 January 2010

For the Love of Glencoe

Last week Jo Tinsley, the Outdoors Editor of Countryfile Magazine and friends spent a few days staying at Glencoe Independent Hostel during a winter mountaineering holiday. They spent their time enjoying some of the things to do and see in the area in winter, unfortunately they missed the low level snow but there was enough on the hills to make up for that.

Wintry Conditions in Glencoe - Jo Tinsley

As a big fan of the area and the Clachaig itself, she has visited several times and has even mentioned the Clachaig in her route card for the Lost Valley in the magazine two years ago, also available online here.

Steall Falls - Martyn Cooper

This trip included taking part in a two day Winter Skills course through The Ice Factor, digging snow holes and learning how to stop yourself sliding by using an ice axe; self arresting for those in the know.

Steall Bridge - Martyn Cooper

As well as some more relaxed site seeing and walking, including a road trip to Mallaig via the Glenfinnan monument and the freezing but stunning Silver Sands of Morar. Followed the next day by a walk up Glen Nevis to the beautiful Steall falls (no longer frozen, for the ice climbers among you.) and the Wire Bridge, at which I was the only one of the group to lose my nerve in the high winds and fail to cross.

Silver Sands at Morar - Jo Tinsley

Of course, the visit wouldn't be have been complete without seeing our live band on the Saturday night, Black Eyed Biddy, and sampling the beers and whiskies we had to offer. Favourites were the Old Pulteney and Dalluaine whiskies and Cairngorm Brewery's Nessie's Monster Mash. Hopefully we'll see a little more of the area featured in the magazine in the coming months.

Martyn (Guest Blogger - and big jessie when it comes to wire bridges)

Extreme Weather?!

Came across news today suggesting that the annual ceremony to mark the anniversary of the Massacre of Glencoe will be cancelled this year due to "extreme weather conditions". See these articles posted in the Press & Journal and the Lochaber News.

Last I looked out of the window it was a beautiful if cold, winter's day. And given that the anniversary is still 2 weeks away, I think I know a few climbers and skiers who'd be interested in such forecasting abilities! We usually don't know what the weather will be doing tomorrow, let alone in a fortnight.

We're sure that there'll still be a ceremony held locally, even if not as well attended as usual.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Beauty and the Beast

With FebruaryFest, our annual Winter Beer Festival which we've run for the last 20 years, getting ever closer, so our search for the best line up of Ales continues. Yes, I've said it before. S**tty job, but someone's got to do it. Here's one to try in moderation.

Yes, that's the beer we're talking about; the strongest brewed by the Isle Of Skye Brewery. "Cuillin Beast" is 7.0% ABV, which means that you'd probably be better having a half pint , rather than the full one. Responsible retailing and all that. Clachaig customers were able to try this one over this last week and despite the strength the feedback was very positive.

And if you like the beer, and you're a bit of a cycling fan (like myself), then here's the ideal gift for you!

And while we're on with it, along with the Cuillin Beast tasting, this last weekend saw Bonnie & Jim in top form in the Boots Bar.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Glencoe Massacre

The anniversary of the Glencoe Massacre is nearly here again - 13th February.

A timely opportunity therefore for Melvyn Bragg to host a discussion about the events of 1692 on BBC Radio 4. Get the podcast on this link.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Choose your Beer Festival

A quiet time of year here in the glen. Even with some excellent winter conditions on the hills the reports coming back are that there's few folk taking advantage of them. Probably all busy slaving away in the office like the rest of us!

January is a busy time behind the scenes at Clachaig. Enquiries and bookings for the season ahead come flooding in at this time of year. And its a last chance to take a step back and ensure that we're all set for the season's trading ahead.

Not least of the jobs to hand is planning the entertainment and events programme for the year. And glad to say that we're just about there now. Our diary pages are just about complete for the remainder of 2010, and we've got not one, but three beer festivals to choose from.

Talk about being spoilt for choice!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Two Roddies

Never afraid of new ideas and always prepared to innovate, we think we might have finally solved one our age old issues; how to find good staff. Yes, we've cloned them.

The Boots Bar at Hogmanay

I know, I know, it's a bit of a touchy issue and the ethics are perhaps something still to be fully explored. But hey, if it means we can get everyone served on a busy Hogmanay night, then who's complaining.

What? You don't believe us? Look very carefully at this photo sent in by one of our Hogmanay customers. Just another Boots Bar scene, with Jimmy the Bush smiling away. Look again. Look v e r y carefully...

Yes, there are indeed 2 Roddies. Not that Alex minds being cloned. He can still go climbing for the day (yes, that's him over in the right hand column of the page, the "Glencoe Mountaineer"), and also do a full shift at Clachaig.

Must go now, so it's goodnight from him, and goodnight from him.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Ballachulish Ferry

Stumbled across this as I was looking for something completely different, and thought I share it with you.

I note that this looks like a calm day with a slack tide. And that ferry doesn't look too big given the size of the car its carrying. Imagine the crossing on days when there's a spring tide rushing through the Ballachulish narrows and an absolute hoolie blowing across the loch from the west. Maybe the 17 mile detour round by Kinlochleven isn't such a bad thing after all, particularly if you have to share with a Ferguson's timber lorry!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Free accommodation this weekend & next!

Did you know that Clachaig Inn is offering free accommodation this coming weekend? No? Well that's probably because its an offer exclusive to our eNews subscribers.

Its a bit like that big bloke with no neck who mans the the door of your favourite nightclub. If your name's not on the list, you're not coming in.

Want to know what we're up to? You'd better get in touch ASAP. Want to ensure that you don't miss any more fantastic offers? Sign up to our eNews on our home page now!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Clachaig Glacier

So, how's the weather where you are then? A remarkable spell without doubt. Here at all-but-sea-level on the west coast we don't see much in the way of lying snow. Plenty on the hills, but not a lot in the glen. Unusual then, to see any snow that does fall lie for more than 24 hours. With a slow thaw now setting in, we're saying farewell to snow that fell on 19th December, nearly 4 weeks ago. I've been (mostly) here since 1984 and that's a first!

So, what of the thaw? Has global warming reached Glencoe? Well, it is true that the Clachaig Glacier is receding. This little ice flow has been gathering in the sometimes ridiculously low temperatures over the Festive Break in the lower car park. It has now reached the magnitude of the Mer de Glace, high above the Chamonix Valley. The British Antarctic Survey have set up a camp. It is said that when it melts the sea level in Loch Leven will rise by a full 2 feet. And its a real bugger when it comes to staying upright when you get out of your car.

The odd thing is that the ice has actually been formed by rising water, rather than flowing water. As the stream descends Clachaig Gully it gradually disappears underground and unless there's a real downpour on you won't see any water once it leaves the bottom of the gully. The car park is where at least a little of it makes a bid for the fresh air once again.

Higher up the wintry weather still has a firm grip. Southerly winds this weekend look like they'll take the freezing level to near the summits. How long this milder spell will last remains uncertain just now. However, chances are it will be a while yet before we see the last of ice at Clachaig.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Happy New Year

As the big freeze continues here in Glencoe where you're more likely to see the Abominable snowman than a council gritter lorry our staff are still busy tidying up after our Hogmanay bash. ''Where are all the strong men when you need one?'' screamed Loes, our assistant manager, as she struggled with the empties.

Best wishes to all our guests & customers who helped make it a cracker - not forgetting our hard working staff here at Clachaig who created a great party atmosphere from start to finish.

With temperatures remaining in the minuses and folk still on holiday we've hardly had time to draw breath as the winter season continues so if you are looking for something different to tempt you from the ski slopes or the warmth of your homes why not head up to Clachaig on the
30th January
where we will be paying tribute to Scotland's most famous bard in true Clachaig style.

Wishing you all the best for 2010 from Scotland's famous Glen.