Far from the bustling crowds, the commute, the work I swear I didn’t leave on my desk and the piles of post and strange free newspapers that cascade through our front door, there is another world.
A world of sunshine and soft hazy days. H’s uncle has a little put-put motor boat for nipping around the loch and for fishing and we spent several days last week pootling about.
Our family is inclined to wax rhapsodical about this part of Scotland (and to be fair we can see why); they mention the mountains, the lochs, the waterfalls, the fresh air, the peace and quiet – and the complete absence of traffic on the roads.
We would agree with them, until they get to the ‘no traffic’ claim. No traffic is very true, until you try to move the Etive Belle the tiniest distance from home to the loch shore. And then you go over a pothole. And then another pothole. And then there was a slight, but increasing, grinding noise.
And as we pondered the source of the noise, H looked out of the back window at the wheel on the trailer. Or should I say, the wheel that was formerly attached to the trailer but was at this stage making a wobbly but concerted bid for freedom.
In the half hour or so it took to jack up the boat, nip home for a stronger jack, establish that the wheel bearings were a figment of our imaginations, and move the boat the final 100 yards to the shore by the combined power of prayer and positive thinking, we encountered more traffic along that little one track road than we saw in the entire remainder of our holiday in that village. Clearly there’s no traffic in the rest of western Scotland because they’re all on that road!
Loch Etive itself is backwards-L-shaped, with high mountains at the top giving way to rolling hills nearer to the sea. We spent our first trip out heading north to the hills and if my horizons are anything other than horizontal I beg your indulgence; H and K were driving.
The first of the hills on the eastern loch shore is Ben Cruachan. It doesn’t look like much from this angle but it’s a Munro and 1126 metres at its peak. The name in gaelic means ‘heaped hill’ and it isn’t so much the one hill that you can see here, as a series of peaks running along a ridge.
From the north you can see (a) the snow! and that series of spiny vertebrae. Apparently it is a big thing for mountaineery types to climb more than one peak of Ben Cruachan at one sitting. We admired from afar and stayed on the water where all good people with salt in their blood belong.
Working your way along the eastern shore you pass by these wonderful, and unexpected, scooping valleys. From memory this is a tiny place called Lochetive.
As we made our way up the loch we started to be able to see over and around promontories to the head of the loch in the distance.
And around another bend
The hills in the distance are the head of the loch at Gualachulain which can only be accessed by road from Glen Coe, a massive round trip from the eastern shore. The hill on the right is Ben Starav, another Munro at a diminutive 1078 metres. Mere photos simply cannot do justice to the might and beauty of this place. Go and see it (just not all at once!)
In the wood to the left of this picture is a little cottage, accessible only by boat and with the very basic of facilities but an open fire and comfy leather sofas. It can be rented for the ultimate escape from the world outside and I couldn’t think of a nicer place to hide on a sunny day.