Who can blame HF Holidays’ Penrith Ops staff for loving the best part of their jobs, which sees them escape their desks to check things out on the ground?
HFH’s UK Walks Operations Manager John MacLeod shares his thoughts after his most recent foray to Glen Coe.
“If I had a pound for every time I’m asked which is my favourite HF Holidays’ Country House, I’d be able to buy one of them.
Thing is, it’s a good question because I still hesitate before answering. I’ve settled on “the one I’m in right now”, because they all get me going!
My favourite for now has to be Alltshellach, Glen Coe.
I’m just back from showing our fabulous, Discovery Walks to one of our American friends. They’re bringing a group over next year and we made some wee improvements while we hiked and toured from Oban, Gateway to the Isles, all the way up to the sublime beaches around Arisaig.
The early summer light was just fantastic. Glencoe Lochan, landscaped by Lord Strathcona to please his homesick Canadian wife (said to be a native Indian) looked like…well, Canada!
Easy walking, full of interest. Here I learned the Douglas Fir was named after David Douglas the Glaswegian botanist, and that he died in a bull pit in Hawaii!
Lismore Isle has one of the most popular walks we do from Glen Coe, but I’d only ever been when it was truly dreich.
This time I got it! Blue skies, a stunning display of primroses, orchids and the most old man’s beard I’ve ever seen (Lismore from the Gaelic Lios Mhor = big garden). Plus views out west to the isles, to Ben Nevis and into Glen Coe and Castle Stalker en route.
On the last holiday we ran, guests saw a white-tailed sea eagle walking back to the ferry – the group, not the eagle. Eagles have no need for public transport with a 10’ wing-span.
The best holidays are all about variety, and the history surrounding the Clan Cameron estate at Achnacarry, near Spean Bridge, was palpable. Here, between 1942 and 1945, 25,000 servicemen undertook basic Commando training for the right to wear the coveted Green Beret.
The day starts with a moving look at the commando memorial high up above Loch Lochy, a few miles away, where there is also a modern day memorial garden to current servicemen and women.
The story goes that because the training stretched the men to their physical limits they couldn’t bear to look at “the Castle” so the statue has the commandos with their backs to it.
The Road to the Isles led us though glorious Glenfinnan, as famous now for its Harry Potter viaduct as for the raising of the Jacobite standard.
Mile after mile of breathtaking mountain scenery led to one of the best beach walks in Scotland, at Camusdarach. The early evening light made a silhouette of the island of Rum and none of us wanted to move.
Each of the places above features on a different day of the holiday, so what’s stopping you exploring this area yourself?
Great tale John, thank you for sharing! We’re sure the next Discovery Walks holiday will be yet another success.