West Coast Wanderlust, Exploring the Scottish Highlands

by Linden Kingston  from United Kingdom

I’ve always wanted to explore northern Scotland and after living in Glasgow for a year and a half I decided it was time. I vaguely planned a route to explore some of the places I had wanted to go the most and booked the cheapest hostels I could find (under £60 for four nights). Once I had made a plan, I borrowed my mums car, picked up my travelling companion Sean and we were off!

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Scotland, Loch Katrine by Linden Kingston

The most popular route going north from Glasgow is to drive up the western shore of Loch Lomond which is a beautiful journey but as we had both done that journey before we decided to explore somewhere new. We drove northeast from Glasgow, leaving the motorway at Stirling and about an hour out of Glasgow we broke into the snow-capped peaks. We were mesmerised immediately and we took a small and very worthwhile detour which lead us to Loch Katrine. Standing at the shore with a light rain falling on the water and the clouds draped over the mountains, we struggled to comprehend the inevitability that the landscapes we were going to see over the next few days were going to be even more captivating.

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Scotland, Oban to Mull Ferry by Linden Kingston

After the first day and amazingly the only bad weather we had the whole trip, we left our hostel in Oban early and caught the first ferry to Mull. We were distracted from the chill of a February morning at sea by the incredible sight of the sun rising over the mainland behind us and illuminating the mountains ahead.

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Scotland, West Coast Road, Mull by Linden Kingston

The last ferry back to Oban was at half five so we wasted no time getting on our way driving straight up the coast to Tobermory. After wandering around the town, getting some breakfast and visiting a small open gallery we left into the wilderness of the island. We stopped off at a few places that looked interesting on our way and ended up at Calgary Bay, if we had more time I would have loved to walk along the coastal path from the bay but unfortunately, we had a ferry to catch. We set off heading South along the western coast road which I can say is without a doubt the most incredible road I have ever driven and if you ever get the chance to go I would strongly recommend it, just try not to get too distracted by the views while you’re driving.

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Scotland, Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe by Linden Kingston

Our third day was probably my favourite and the one I had been looking forward to the most – Glencoe! If you are like me and there is nothing you love more than a rocky, mountainous landscape then Glencoe is the place for you. Although this day was mostly driving and we didn’t have much time to explore on foot, there was so much to see that it didn’t matter. I could’ve easily stayed there a whole week and barely scratched the surface, the views were so hypnotising that we were continually lost for words.

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Scotland, Cliffhanger chairlift, Glencoe by Linden Kingston

The most surprisingly fun thing we did was get the chairlift up to the Glencoe ski resort. To someone who skis a lot this might seem mundane but to us it was novelty. It was a great way to see the landscape with views all around and the quietness of the lift made it quite relaxing and once at the top you are free to explore at your leisure – just watch out for skiers.

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Scotland, icy cliffs of Storr, Skye by Linden Kingston

By the fourth day, Sean and I had almost run out of film for our cameras so we unsuccessfully searched the high street in Fort William before we left for Skye. When we got to the island we headed straight to Storr – the most northern point of our journey. This was somewhere I had wanted to go for years and so, packed up with a heavy large format camera, tripod and various other equipment, we set off on the short climb up the mountain. There was almost no wind that day and even at the top of the mountain the air was very still which made the loch at the foot of the mountain look like a mirror, reflecting the vibrant colours in the sky from the sun setting over the Cullin mountains.

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Scotland, Marble Pools, Skye by Linden Kingston

Before we left on our final day we mentioned to the hostel receptionist that we were going to try and visit the fairy pools and she told us to go somewhere similar instead called the marble pools. She showed us where to drive to on the map and instructed us how to walk there from the road as there was no footpath and it involved walking through a bog. Despite these obstacles, we made it to the river and walked up to find some of the clearest blue water falling over smoothed marble and even after spending a couple of hours there we didn’t see a single soul.

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Scotland, Sunset over Mull, Oban by Linden Kingston

Despite being right on my doorstep I can say for sure that the west coast of Scotland is one of the most incredible places I have ever been and I hope it is not long before I can stand and watch the sun set over Mull again.

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