What an epic weekend, I spent Saturday climbing Buachaille Etive Mor and on Sunday I took the scenic route to Dornoch. It was my girlfriend, Soozie’s birthday the other week and we decided we should get away to celebrate. So of course, instead of driving straight there and back, we decided to make a few pit stops along the way. What should have been a 3 and a half hour journey turned into 10 and a half on the road! My apologies, this may take a while to read.
We started from my house, Denny in Central Scotland and took the A872 road to Stirling. Instead of hopping on the A9 at Dunblane, we opted to drive along the A84 and through Callander. We joined the A85 at Lochearnhead and followed it all the way to Crainlarich. From there we joined the A82 and followed it all the way up through Rannoch Moor, Glencoe to Fort William. At Fort William, we went West along the A830 as far as Glenfinnan and Loch Eilt before turning around and heading back to Fort William. We rejoined the A82 and followed it North, all the way to Fort Augustus where, instead following the road left, we took a right turn onto the B862 and drove along the East side of Loch Ness. Then we took the cut off for Foyers and followed the B852 until we joined back up with the B862 at Dores. We then rejoined the A9 at Inverness and drove the rest of the way to Dornoch.
As you can imagine, the scenic route to Dornoch had plenty to see along the way.
For around 50 square miles, this spectacular boggy moorland is a Special Site of scientific Interest. Rannoch Moor is home to an abundance of wildlife and hiking trails, also being part of the West Highland Way. For fans of film & TV, Rannoch Moor has featured in Outlander, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 and of course, the famous “it’s sh*te being Scottish!” scene in Trainspotting.
The drive through the valley of Glencoe is one of the most picturesque that I have ever seen. Mountains on either side, protruding to the sky. Rocky outcrops and little streams add to the beauty of the drive. Glencoe was also home to Hagrids Hut, an area was used as the filming location but unfortunately the hut is no longer there. I couldn’t find it personally but recently discovered it is near the Clachaig Inn.
Fort William & Ben Nevis
Fort William is at the heart of ‘the outdoor capital of the UK’ and quite rightly so. There is plenty on offer; hiking, water-sports, snow-sports and climbing to name a few. If your feeling adventurous, there is also the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, to climb. Ben Nevis stands at a cracking height of 1,345 metres (4,411ft). There’s a view point just North of Fort William at the Spean Bridge Commando Memorial.
Glenfinnan Monument & Loch Shiel
The Glenfinnan Monument, erected in 1815 in tribute to the fallen Jacobite soldiers who fought and died in the Jacobite uprising of 1745. This uprising was led by Charles Edward Stewart, also known as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’. The monument of a lone Highlander has a spectacular backdrop of Loch Shiel. For Harry Potter fans, this is one of the lakes they used to shoot scenes of the Hogwarts Lake.
The Glenfinnan Viaduct was opened in 1901 and is part of the West Highland Railway Line. It overlooks the Glenfinnan Monument and Loch Shiel. Glenfinnan Viaduct rose to fame after featuring in the Harry Potter films as part of the line that the Hogwarts Express travels over on its way to Hogwarts. At specific times of the day during the peak season, you can actually catch a glimpse of the Jacobite Steam train making its way to and from Mallaig. The black and red train does slightly resemble the Hogwarts Express.
Loch Eilt isn’t as well known as other Lochs in Scotland. It’s not one of the largest nor deepest but there is a hidden gem on the Loch. Eilean na Moine, an island on the Loch was used as the setting for Dumbledore’s final resting place. It is instantly recognisable, despite the fact that they actually used Loch Arkaig for the background of the shot. It also features in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban, in the scene where Hagrid is skimming stones and yells “they’ve sentenced Buckbeak to death!”
Fort Augustus is located at the South of Loch Ness. It lies on the Caledonian Canal which runs along the Great Glen Fault Line. There is a fantastic viewpoint of Loch Ness from Fort Augustus as well.
Falls of Foyers
The Falls of Foyers can be found on the East Coast of Loch Ness. This beautiful waterfall has “a fine cascade” and falls 165 feet. The falls are only a short walk downhill from the small village of Foyers.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty more to see and do along this route to Dornoch but I’ll leave that for you to discover yourself. Plus, we never had enough time to see it all. I hope you enjoyed this post and found it informative in some shape or form. I’ll do another post for the way back down from Dornoch in a few days or so. Anyway, I’ll sign off here. Be sure to check out the gallery below!
Thanks for reading,