I never realized just how much I would miss driving in a car until we got over to Scotland and had to rely solely on public transportation. Don't get me wrong, I love not having to deal with traffic or other drivers, but sometimes the easiest way to travel is to hop in your (rental) car and drive. I had been begging Aaron for a trip north to Glen Coe for a while now, and we finally decided that this past weekend would be best before homework really hits. We rented a car from a local company and decided to drive as much as possible before we turned it in Monday morning. And really, it was so nice to hop into a car, turn up the music and watch the stunning countryside fly by.
Glen Coe is considered one of the most beautiful spots in all of Scotland. The scenery is overwhelmingly stunning. I felt that I couldn't properly capture the beauty with just my cameras because part of the beauty is in the rich color and massive peaks and low valleys.
Glen Coe has a dark history with more then a few legends thrown in for good measure. Some state that the name means "Glen of Weeping" in reference to the 1692 massacre of Clan McDonald by Clan Campbell. In less romanic reality, the glen was named for the River Coe, which runs through the valley. Fingal and Ossian, both famous Celtic mythical figures, supposedly came from Glen Coe and were known for defeating a Viking invasion.
Today, the Glen is known for the excellent hiking paths that weave over and around the giant mountains. We saw many hikers in good and bad weather hiking about the Glen.
At the end of the Glen is a small sign for Glen Etive. Best known for the epic scene in the James Bond movie, Skyfall, the drive through the Glen is a one lane wonder.
Small pull-offs dot the 30 mile road. If you happen to encounter a car, you merely back up to the nearest pull-off and let them pass. (Aaron loved driving this one lane road. I viewed it as a precursor to a heart attack.) The scenery was definitely worth the drive, but I definitely gasped and grabbed my seat in panic more then a few times. ;)
The River Etive running through the Glen is a popular place for kayakers, even when the river is low.
The drive through the Glen rapidly became one of our favorites, ranking up with the Road to Hana in Maui. While Glen Coe is stunning and famous, for obvious reasons, Glen Etive is a quieter version with the same stunning beauty. Glen Coe is known for hiking while Glen Etive is popular for camping. On the return drive after dark we saw little fires along the road where people had set up their tents. Naturally, we vowed to come back with our tent. While it would definitely be chilly, it would be a memorable experience, I'm sure!
Of course, no trip to the Glen would be complete without a hike. At a small pull-off we hopped out to get a picture of the Glen and heard red deer bugling across the glen. We were well-dressed for a muddy hike and traipsed down to the river to see if we could spot the deer.
Sadly, we could only hear the deer, and never got a glimpse of the beasts, but the trek was absolutely beautiful.
We scurried back to the car (up a muddy hill) because we were rapidly losing daylight and wanted to get to the end of the Glen before dark fell.
We made it to Loch Etive just as it was getting dark. The water was perfectly still and we could hear the deer blowing and bugling back and forth across the loch. The sound was eerie but appropriate in such a wild place.
The drive home was so dark. The sky was cloudy and the damp road sucked up all the light. Driving in Scotland is such an adventure, not just because of the driving on the left, but because it's such a picturesque country and we're never quite prepared for what we may see. I'm looking forward to many more drives (as we can) and even more adventures in this stunning country.