The Stair Arms Hotel Review

Just a half hour drive outside of Edinburgh city centre, in the small village of Pathhead, is one of the most charming Scottish hotels I’ve ever had the luxury of staying in.

My sister and I, were invited along to The Stair Arms Hotel after work last Friday for a girly overnight trip. Situated along the main road, the hotel has a very cosy, country feel to it which makes for the most idyllic and peaceful setting. The ideal stop for passing travelers and locals.

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Family run, The Stair Arms has recently been refurbished, staying true to its Scottish heritage in the capital with chic tartans and grand chandeliers, the rooms have a real luxurious feel to them. Upon arrival we were greeted with the roaring warmth from the log fire and the friendliest staff, who just couldn’t do enough for us.

Once checked in, we quickly threw our bags into the room and headed straight down for dinner.

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The food in particular was outstanding. The menu was bursting with creative and elegant dishes, using only fresh local ingredients. The home made bread rolls and dip in particular were a highlight and there was a whole other menu just for vegetarians and vegans – which did not disappoint.

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The cauliflower steak with mushroom potatoes, carmalised onions and carrot puree was heavenly and the mac n’ cheese with vine tomatoes and garlic bread was the perfect hearty, comfort food. We decided to share the chocolate brownie sundae for dessert – only because we brought our entire weight combined in snacks for a Halloween movie night in.

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The Stair Arms Hotel

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The interiors are nothing short of fabulous – traditional meets modern. The Stair Arms have a range of rooms available, all very spacious and cosy. Check out the next day is at 11 am, perfect for those who enjoy a long lie.

Packed up, we headed down for a glorious traditional scottish breaky (vege options available also) and a wander around the grounds, a peaceful awakening to our day.

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The Stair Arms Hotel

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The Stair Arms also cater for weddings and with the experience of their wedding coordinators, can cater to any type of wedding.

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Inchconnachan, Loch Lomond

More commonly known as Wallaby island, Inchconnachan is situated amongst the larger islands in the middle of Loch Lomond. Having visited last year, I was keen to go back and explore some more. And of course, see the wallabies again.

The wallabies were first brought to Inchconnachan in the 1940’s after the second World War, by one of the most eccentric and admired aristocrats of the 20th century, Lady Arran Colquhoun. She was also a celebrated power boater, and earned herself the nickname “the fastest granny on water” after reaching 103 mph on Lake Windermere in the 1980’s.

Scotland has been absolutely glorious these past few days so I grabbed my best gal gang (and Stuart) and headed up to Loch Lomond for some paddle boarding. We set off from Luss pier and headed straight for the famous island.

We paddled round to the west side of Inchconnachan called The Narrows, a waterway between the site and Inchtavannach island, to escape some of the wind. This is where you’ll find Lady Arran’s bungalow which has long been deserted.

Inchconnachan Island

There’s definitely an eerie feel to the place. Approaching it, we felt that we were at the part in the horror film where everyone was shouting ‘GO BACK!’ but we survived to tell the tale. Head inside and you’ll find the most amazing map of Loch Lomond, which has been painted on what appears to be the living room wall.

Inchconnachan House

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After exploring the bungalow, we hiked to the top of the island in search of the wallabies. The views at the top are gorgeous, the perfect spot for a girlie catch up.

Inchconnachan Hill

Inchconnachan Island Views

After battering through bushes and branches, we eventually caught a glimpse of the wallabies. It’s incredible to see these Australian natives bouncing around in Scotland and easy to understand why most people think you’re crazy when you talk about them living on an island… in Loch Lomond.

Lady Arran was a quirky character with a love of exotic animals. She once owned a backyard menagerie that included creatures like wallabies, llamas, and pigs. It was only after the second World War, she moved her beloved wallabies to her holiday home on Inchconnachan.

Wallabies Inchconnachan Island

Wallaby Island, Loch Lomond

We spent the afternoon in total bliss, after a quick snack break we paddled through The Narrows and headed over towards Inchmoan.

Inchconnachan Beach

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Determined to get a cute group picture… I’m not sure we succeeded.

Paddle Boarding, Scotland

Paddle Boarding

Paddle Boarding Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond SUP

There’s something pretty special about having the beach all to yourself, you’re only a short paddle or boat trip from some beautiful, secluded beaches, the perfect summer camping spot.

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Paddle Board Yoga

Inchmoan, Loch Lomond

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

I also got to test out the new MOAI board, which is a total dream to paddle on. Although, wetsuit season is well and truly over! Absolutely roasting in them, we headed in for a quick dip before heading back.

Inchmoan Island

Loch Lomond is a home from home for me, I’ll never tire of exploring the same islands or paddling the same routes, there’s just something instantly calming and freeing about being on the Loch.

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Images: SUP Glasgow

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Bracklinn Falls

After last weekends adventure with Glasglow Girls Club, Jen decided she couldn’t get enough of me and invited me along on another trip with Excelsior Adventures. This time to Bracklinn Falls. Having seen pictures of the stunning waterfalls, I jumped at the chance to finally go and see them.

Bracklinn Falls is a great, easy walk just north of Callander, in Scotland. Crossing through varied woodland to the Bracklinn bridge with views of the falls and gorge below, it is absolutely breath taking. The wonder of this gorge is that the stones are continually on the move.

Nicely propelled by caffeine and some T-Swift we headed off from our meeting point at George Square, Glasgow. Kudos to Jen who makes driving a mini-bus through narrow country lanes look completely effortless.

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Be sure to get there nice and early as it’s a popular tourist spot and was already super busy when we got there around 11 am.

Crossing over the bridge, turn left to continue the 5.25 km circuit. Following the path upwards through a bit of steep climb (but not too difficult) will lead you out to stunning views of Ben Ledi, Stuc a’ Chroin and Ben Vorlich.

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We had the circuit all to ourselves on Saturday morning so Theo got the run of the place whilst we all enjoyed a good girlie catch up.

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Further along the path, we came to the Scout Pool just below a second bridge which passes over the Keltie Water.

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A little further along, we passed the sweetest wishing well and of course stopped to make a wish. The circuit took us around 2 hours to complete, with plenty of breaks along the way. The Bracklinn Falls circuit is perfect for all ages with stunning views at every turn, it’s great to enjoy the luxury of being able to fully switch off and enjoy the world’s natural beauty.

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Glasglow Girls Club | The Whangie

Summer is finally HERE!

And what better way to enjoy the sunshine than a Saturday morning adventure with Glasglow Girls Club. I was invited along to their second hill walk with Excelsior Adventures, where we would be climbing The Whangie and then heading down to explore The Devils Pulpit.

In case you haven’t heard, Glasglow Girls Club is a growing members’ network for women in Glasgow and the surrounding area. It provides a forum for Glasgow women to come together and share recommendations and advice, promote their own businesses and help each other to grow, both professionally and personally.

At the heart of it all is Laura Maginess. During our sweaty climb, I managed to grab her for a quick chat on why she started GGC Hillwalking.

“When I was in Sri Lanka earlier this year, I was doing a lot of walking in this beautiful country and I thought to myself, I really want to start a walking club in Glasgow, and encourage more women to get out in Scotland and appreciate what we have to offer. Scotland is stunning!”

Cue Jen.

Jen - Excelsior Adventures
Jen – Excelsior Adventures

The most “morning person” person I have ever met, Jen created Excelsior Adventures after discovering how hiking and being out in nature rapidly improved her mental health after leaving an abusive relationship and suffering from depression.

“I am now at a place where I want to use my experiences to help other people.”

Jen describes Excelsior as a ‘forward-thinking company with the potential to support individuals all over Scotland by creating a vision that emphasises excelling at outdoor activities which strengthen your mind, soul and body.And what better place than Scotland?

Excelsior Adventures

Girl gang assembled, we headed off around 9:30 am from Glasgow Quay. First stop, The Whangie. Located in the Kilpatrick hills, it’s a bizarre rock-feature with wonderful views towards Loch Lomond, the Highlands and the Campsies. The walk is just under 5K, and took us around 2 hours up and down, with plenty of water and selfie breaks along the way, it was the perfect balance between feeling challenged and still being able to enjoy the hike.

Glasgow Girls Club Hillwalk

Glasgow Girls Club Hillwalk

Glasgow Girls Club Hillwalk

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Glasgow Girls Club Hillwalk

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The Whangie

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The Whangie with Glasgow Girls Club

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The Whangie with Excelsior Adventures

The Whangie with Glasgow Girls Club

Full of knowledge, Jen filled us in on some fun facts about The Whangie.

  • The Whangie is a stone corridor, allegedly created by the devil flicking his tail with the oncoming excitement of visiting Stockie Muir (the scientific community might disagree).
  • The Whangie’s name is derived from the old Scots word for slice (as in whang o’ cheese).

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Glasgow Girls Club

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The Whangie

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The Whangie

Amanda Hill Photography

Next up on our adventure was The Devils Pulpit. I get pretty enthusiastic about most things, but I cannot emphasise how incredibly fun it was to visit this magical location. Known both as Finnich Glen and the Devil’s Pulpit, it is well hidden along the A809.

The Devils Pulpit

The Devils Pulpit

There are two main locations where it is safe to park – either on the A809 next to the footpath just south of where the A809 crosses the glen itself, or a little further north at the junction with the B834.

Jen led us alongside the gorge through the forest. It’s pretty easy to follow, but do be careful as there’s no fence and the drop down to the gorge is quite far. After around a 5 minute walk, you will come to the stone steps of “Jacob’s Ladder”.

Not for the faint hearted, you will feel like you are climbing down to hell. Jacob’s Ladder is an ancient stone staircase which runs down to the gorge below. It’s really steep and in very poor condition, but is pretty much the only way to get down to the gorge. However, totally worth it!

You’ll definitely want to bring your swimsuit or wetsuit with you in the summer to explore the water.

The Devils Pulpit with Excelsior Adventures

Amanda Hill Photography
The album drops next week

If you’re thinking of getting into hill walking or just looking for a fun girly day out then I would highly recommend GGC Hillwalking. Laura and Jen have thought of everything from tasty snacks to boogie tunes for the journey, Jen made sure everyone enjoyed themselves and that we all felt safe and stayed together throughout the day.

Amanda Hill Photography
 
The next GGC Hillwalk is 25th May at Conic Hill. Buy your tickets here.
Thanks so much to Laura for inviting me and Jen for organising such an amazing day.
Also, special thanks to Amanda Hill Photography, who got some fab snaps of us and managed to carry her camera (and dignity up and down that gorge). Check out her page.
Keep up to date with my latest adventures: A Bonnie Travelers Inside Guide

Ben Donich

Last weekend, my dad and I headed up to Loch Lomond to blow away some of the summer cobwebs, we planned to do a bit of kayaking on the Saturday and take a jolly up Ben Donich on the Sunday morning. However, either being optimists or idiots, neither of us checked the weather forecast…

We had the loch all to ourselves on Saturday and so paddled up to Tarbet and then over to explore some of the hidden beaches underneath Ben Lomond.

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We had perfect conditions for kayaking minus the eerie mist that was hovering. The route back was slightly trickier with the weather being borderline stormy and the mist making it difficult to see, however, we hugged the nearby shore line, avoiding the worst of the weather, back home to some warm hot choccy!

Waking up on Sunday to dry, cloudy weather, we grabbed our backpacks and headed up to the Rest and Be Thankful taking the B828 towards Lochgoilhead.

The munro is pretty well signposted and there’s a decent sized car parking area, free of charge. Follow the signs for ‘Glen Mhor, Ben Donich Hill Access’.

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The path is pretty well maintained the whole way up, although, there are some boggy areas over some grassy slopes nearer the summit. The walk provides fantastic views down to Gleann Mor as well as back over the Rest and Be Thankful to Loch Restil, with Beinn an Lochain towering above it.

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We were only about ten minutes in to our climb when we got caught in some lovely Scottish weather and got completely soaked, the fog started to lift about half way up but we didn’t manage to see much from the summit.

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My dad is a pro at hill-walking and of far higher ability than me when it comes to climbing tougher munros. He’s always up at the crack of dawn every weekend doing hill sprints, climbing, the lot – but it’s always fun to do a nicer, easier one together.

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Although our views were a bit restricted nearer the summit, I thought this was a fab little climb and great for easing back into hill-walking if you’ve not been out in a while, guilty! 

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Birthday Celebrations at Stobo Castle

I had the most lovely birthday weekend ever – thank you so much to everyone for all your kind wishes!

This year I decided to invite the girls round for some home-made sangria and prosecco (and lots of it). I love hosting parties and decorating the house, laying out all the crisps and nibbles and decorating the drinks with fruit and fancy umbrellas. I really wish I had taken some pics of them all, they were so cute. Afterwards, we headed down to my local, Angels, for some more prosecco and gin. It was such a fun night!

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Queue the hangover from the fiery depths of satin’s lair…

I woke up on the Sunday to find out that I was being whisked off to the spa of dreams – Stobo Castle. The ultimate hangover cure!

I have been a few times before and can honestly say hands down, it’s my favourite spa that I have ever been to.

Nestled in among the scenic Scottish borders, about an hour and a half from Glasgow, city centre. The luxury spa is set in an old, rustic castle with beautiful architecture and history.

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Once checked in, we headed to the Courtyard Lounge for some much needed lunch and refreshments. We were told that the courtyard had previously been converted from stables, this explains the horse statue at the back of the room.

The courtyard itself, was such a lovely place to chill out, with so many places to sit and relax it would be easy to spend all day there reading a book, drinking coffee or if you’re waiting on a treatment… or two!

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I kept hearing lots of screams and giggles coming from the Ladies court yard toilets. Ha-ha, girls you have to check them out!

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The piazza-style bar and coffee shop hosts a wide selection of hot and cold lunch options and amazing cakes. I opted for the soup and sandwich option along with my favourite green tea – Flora Tea. I always order this, it looks so pretty but it tastes even better and it’s super healthy.

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Lily Fairy‘ – Jasmine: Calming, good for the digestive system and kidneys
Lily: Helps to ease and give restful sleep, good for the liver and eyes

Although we didn’t book in for any treatments it was really nice to wrap up in robes and relax by the pool and enjoy the use of all the facilities. It’s impossible to not feel relaxed here – with a wide range of saunas, steam rooms, Jacuzzi’s, 25 metre pool and relaxation room, it’s just spa heaven.

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The relaxation room was definitely a favourite, the room is so tranquil and calming (minus the fellow snoring guests who also felt the same way).

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Our room was a ‘Standard Room’ over-looking the pool area and just across from the new cocktail lounge which offers over 30 different cocktails – Ideal!

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Side Note: If you’re a fellow gin lover, you have to try the ‘Gold Gin 999.9’ – Our waiter recommended it and it’s now my new fav. It’s mixed with juniper, tangerine, violets and a few other ingredients, it smells and tastes incredible! 

The room was really spacious, elegantly decorated with quirky Scottish touches and our bathroom was huge, with a large shower and bath along with a selection of beautiful Molton Brown products. The bed was so comfortable and everything was so clean, zero complaints! (Excuse our messy room).

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The food was also incredible – so good I forgot to get pictures ha-ha! Breakfast had a really lovely selection of hot and cold food. Really fresh pastries, meats & cheeses, overnight oats and berries, as well as an array of hot plates… and great coffee.

Lunch and dinner are both a three course menu. (Breakfast and lunch can be enjoyed in the comfort of your robes and slippers whereas, dinner is slightly more formal wear).

Before lunch on Monday afternoon, we wandered down to the beautiful Japanese Water Gardens, located about a five minute walk from the castle entrance.

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Designed to promote a zen-like calm, it is absolutely stunning. With beautiful towering trees and picturesque bridges leading you to the gorgeous water fall, you’ll feel completely calm and relaxed.

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My only criticism (and it’s a small one), was how busy the hotel was – the pool and saunas were exceptionally busy making it a little less relaxing at some points.

Overall I had a fantastic stay and would absolutely recommend the hotel for anyone visiting Scotland.

Note: Not Sponsored 

 

Surfing in Scotland

Road Trip…

This weekend, I headed to the west coast of Scotland for some surfing, still being a bit of a newbie, I decided to book a lesson which was scheduled for the Sunday morning so me and my friend headed up late Saturday afternoon and camped on the beach… how romantic?!

It’s around a 3 hour drive to the west coast but totally worth it, even the drive up alone is insane. It’s near enough a straight road from Glasgow city centre, along the A82 onto the A83. It is well worth a trip if you ever get the chance, the beaches are so beautiful and the locals are so, so friendly and welcoming.

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My poor, little car just about managed the journey, I am one of those people living in the 1900’s who doesn’t have an AUX cable… I know, I know, okay! So we piled all our ‘NOW…’ and ‘Disney’s Greatest Hits’ CD’s into the car (CD’s ha-ha I can’t believe I’m writing that) tent, sleeping bags, galore and headed off.

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We did stop off in Dumbarton and Helensburgh en route, on the hunt for a disposable BBQ but it seemed everyone else had the same idea and every shop was completely sold out!

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Instead we opted for a take away pizza on the beach with some beers, which I thought, was 10 times better. It was still light at 11:30 pm with the pros still out catching waves until near enough midnight. I could have easily said I was in Bali or somewhere super exotic and you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.

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Spot the Glaswegians…

I absolutely LOVE camping, especially on a gorgeous beach, however, I did not take into account how small a 2 man tent actually is, on top of the glorious 30 degree heat (I promise, I’m not complaining) but waking up in the morning was definitely not a pretty sight… to say the least. #sweatfest. Laaavely.

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Once we were up and ready, we headed into the local town, roughly a 10 minute drive from the beach and got some much needed coffee and then headed back for our lesson. There are loads of companies all around Scotland, that offer surf lessons so get in touch if you’re looking to try it.

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We had perfect conditions for learning with clean waves, we occasionally got caught in the rip tide and had to fight our way back up the beach but it was so much fun.

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It was just a perfect weekend all round. The weather was incredible, the beach was filled with sunbathers and surfers – a lil’ seal even made an appearance a few times when we were out, how cute?! And I even managed to stand up and catch a few good waves.

Kayaking in Loch Lomond

Summer 2018 is well and truly underway with Scotland having a massive heatwave this week! Who needs Ibiza when you’re living in 30° heat?!

Typical Brit moaning about the weather but I swapped my hiking boots for my wet-suit last weekend and headed out onto the loch. It was just waaay too hot for a hike.

I headed up to Inverbeg, where my family have a little place over-looking the loch. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. It was sooo warm and the water was calm but super busy. Great minds…
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I hadn’t been out kayaking in a while and have always been really keen to explore some of the beaches surrounding Inverbeg and Rowardennan. I definitely wasn’t the first, as I found remnants of BBQ’s and campsites at a few.

I also wasn’t the only one out on the loch – it was filled with jet-skiis, boats, water-skiers and a few fellow kayaks. I even passed a couple who totally had the right idea… the girl, sunbathing, enjoying life with a bottle of wine whilst her boyfriend rowed his lil’ heart out, ha-ha. Yes please!

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My sister and I, have a 2 person kayak and whilst it’s good for bringing lunch/ bags etc. It’s so tiring and heavy after a while, we don’t ever get very far in it ha-ha so I had managed to borrow my neighbours – a single kayak with detachable comfy seat! It was super lightweight and easy to maneuver.

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I was also pleasantly surprised at the lack of litter on the beaches – I know this is something that the park are cracking down on as it’s becoming a big issue but I am proud to report I found little to none.

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There are lots of companies up in Loch Lomond, that offer kayak hire and water sport sessions so I have linked a few below that I felt offered good value for money. As with most water sports, being able to swim is a must and always ensure under 12’s are accompanied by an adult.

1. Loch Lomond Leisure – offer 1 – 3 people kayak hire from 1 hour to long term. They also offer group guided tours. Wet suits are not included with most packages but can be purchased for £2.00 – bargain! They also have a wide range of other activities from water skiing to banana boat rides as well. I am BUZZING to try some of these out.

2. Loch Lomond Wakeboard – offer 1 – 2 people kayak hire also, from 1 hour to long term (Wet suits are included in all packages). These guys also offer other water activities such as wake board and water-skiing lessons so I will definitely be checking that out as well.

 

Ben Vane

This was, hands down, the hardest hill I’ve ever climbed. Ben Vane, is described as only just reaching munro status at 915 metres. So, if like naïve, little me, you think this will be a nice, easy stroll – you are very much mistaken.

Ben Vane is one of the Arrochar Alps, standing slightly separate from the other mountains. Located on the A82, near Inveruglas, approximately an hour outside of Glasgow. It’s described as a ‘steep, rocky, little mountain’. That word ‘steep’ should be in CAPS, bold and underlined!

I read it takes around 4-6 hours up and down (it took me just over 5) so headed off around 9:30 am and reached the Inveruglas Visitor Centre where I was able to park. There’s also a small café, restroom facilities and gorgeous views over-looking the loch if you just fancy a day trip. When I got there, it was super busy with tourists, I got chatting to a family who had traveled over from India and said that they were just over-whelmed at Scotland’s beauty. T’awww!

I struggled to find the starting point for Ben Vane and first, ended up along the path of ‘An Ceann Mòr’ where this beautiful structure was created, part of the Scottish Scenic Routes pilot project – it reveals the panoramic views over the banks of Loch Lomond and the Arrochar Alps.

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I soon came across a group of girls who looked like they were going hiking as well – I asked them if they knew where the starting point was and they also, were confused. We soon realised that there were also about another 10 people trying to find it, all of us using the same website. Walk Highlands sort your directions out, eventually someone was able to steer us in the right direction and we headed off. For the record, you want to cross the road from the car park over to the Scottish Hydro Power station and walk past it.

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Keeping to the right – you will soon come across some blue arrows, after about a kilometre, turn right onto a gated tarmac road leading under the railway.

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You will soon come across a large electric substation on your left, where the slopes of Ben Vorlich should come into view on the right and Ben Vane ahead. (I didn’t know this until later…)

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Already the views behind me were stunning! It was such a gorgeous day in Scotland with 19 degrees of glorious sunshine! Amazing – guess who ended up getting burnt?!

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Had any of us been paying attention, we would have known that we were supposed to turn left at this bridge with the sign saying ‘Glen Loin’ but to be fair it should have also had a sign labelled ‘BEN VANE‘ seeing as that. was. it. right. there! … Instead we walked a good 20 minutes past this and wondered why we had lost the other 10 people following us.

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We then came across this bridge and realised we had made a mistake somewhere, thankfully, a Scottish Power van drove past us and offered us a lift back to Ben Vane, we found out that we were on our way to Ben Vorlich. Massive shout out to Scottish Power haha!

After finally getting to the right hill, it didn’t take long before the steep climb began. Basically, straight away.

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The initial path is a little unclear and boggy but it soon turns into a clear, stone path the rest of the way up. I think the hardest bit about Ben Vane (besides how steep it is) is the amount of false summits. I counted about 5 – it was horrible haha.

After the first few false summits, I started to realise how big this munro actually was.

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The top bit you can see there isn’t even the top. A few of the girls I started off with had decided to stop and call it a day while the rest of them went on, with me. I was actually so glad that they were there as there were some tricky climbing and scrambling parts.

The views were totally worth the steep climb in the end ha-ha and it did make me think about what that family had said earlier, we really do take these views for granted.

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Ben Vane Summit

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You’re best to re-trace your steps back down the path, and as always I would recommend a good pair of walking boots, especially with a good grip for this one.

Road Trip: Glen Etive

I had the best Easter weekend EVER!

It was so lovely to have a few days off from my busy work schedule to go and explore some more of Scotland. I started off the weekend climbing Conic Hill up in Balmaha and then climbed Ben A’an the following day. Finishing off with a road trip up to Glen Etive – it was so much fun!

Prepare yourselves for all the spam but the views were truly breath taking and we met the friendliest wild deer.

Glen Etive is just slightly past Glen Coe, situated in the Highlands. Popular with visitors seeking out the famous James Bond’s Skyfall and Braveheart film location, you can follow the route along the river Etive which then leads into a sea loch, Loch Etive.

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It’s roughly a 2-and-a-half-hour drive from Glasgow so stock up on snacks and sort your road trip playlist out! I recommend ‘Disney’s Greatest Hits’. If like me, you’re super dis-organised for these long trips, there are plenty of shops and restaurants on the way to stop in at. We chose to pop in to the Green Welly Stop for some much-needed coffee and sugar. They have a cosy little café where you can get just about anything from soup and a sandwich to burgers and pasta along with a little gift-shop and outdoor shop if you find that you’ve forgotten some of your hill-walking stuff…. Guiltyyy!

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We had planned to climb Ben Starav, which sits on the south side of Loch Etive, however, we struggled to find it and decided to follow a few of the trails along the river. Only to later discover the path to it was DIRECTLY across from where we had parked… Haha, I need supervised.

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The drive up was incredible. It’s hard to believe these views are just 2 hours from Glasgow. I was desperate to get some pictures of the Skyfall film location and feed the deer, who are so tame and friendly (as long as you have some food – we brought carrots).

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How cute is this guy?!

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One of the best things about the day is how much there is to see but also how quiet it is. Whilst we passed a few cars on the road, feeding the deer, the trails and walks were completely empty. Meaning we could take as many guilt free selfies as we wanted haha!

We stopped into Helensburgh on the way home, just as the snow was coming down… in April… I know! We headed into La Barca, a tapas restaurant, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. I would highly recommend it and can’t wait to go back. Just what we were needing and the staff couldn’t have been nicer! I had the stuffed pepper with paella rice, vegetarian paella and the calamari. Soooo good!

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The famous James Bond – Skyfall road

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I have to give instagram.com/aaronspencee credit for the slightly more ‘professional’ looking photos haha. Every gal needs a pro with a camera on these trips.

 

Cycle Route to Firkin Point

My mum and dad have been bringing me and my sister up to Loch Lomond since we were babies and it’s still one of my favourite places EVER. Specifically, the great cycle routes, there’s loads to choose from, my favourite is the route from Inverbeg to Firkin Point and on to Tarbert.

It’s beautifully secluded and off road so there’s no traffic to worry about, ideal for families with little ones or buggies. The route also forms apart of the West Loch Lomond Cycle Path.

One option would be to park at Inverbeg Holiday Park or The Inn on Loch Lomond (perfect for a spot of lunch/ glass of wine… or 2) and follow the path on the right-hand side of the road. There’s a layby for reference just up from the holiday park. Or you can drive to Firkin Point, (15 mins from Inverbeg) and park there and continue the walk. Firkin Point has free parking and toilets available also with plenty of picnic benches that look onto the loch.

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The path follows alongside the loch the whole way, It is usually quite busy with tourists but with plenty of stoney beaches to set up camp and relax for a bit or enjoy a picnic, you’ll be able to find a quiet area. The views are incredible, plenty of perfect picture spots – It makes such a difference when the sun it out.

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It’s easy to see why this is such a popular route, it’s so calm and relaxing. Such a fab way to spend the day – it only took me around 2 hours there and back and I stopped for many a selfie. There’s plenty of places to stop in Tarbert for a bite to eat, although, I would caution that when you’re approaching Tarbert, you have to rejoin the main road so might not be ideal for little ones.

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It’s easy to spend a good few hours here, with so many little nooks and crannies, it’s easy to lose track of time. The road is flat the whole way so no strenuous uphills to worry about.

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The Arrochar Trail

Soooo I was super productive last Sunday and managed to fit in a quick hill walk before my mum was up looking for her Mother’s Day presents.

I also realised this would have been a good walk for any active mums before going for a nice Mother’s Day lunch but as usual I was so disorganised haha. Anyway, it’s a really easy, picturesque walk if you ever want a nice hike but nothing too strenuous – perfect for a Sunday!

It’s the Arrochar trail between Arrochar and Inveruglas. I didn’t actually make it the whole way as I was conscious of time and wanted to be back for my mum getting up so only went around half way. The walk usually takes around 4 hours there, and back. Head up towards Tarbert Railway Station where you can leave the car and head under the bridge adjacent to you.

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After climbing up through some forestry, you’ll see this sign, turn left. You can see the walk that will take you to the right here.

Once you emerge from the forest, you will reach a cross roads – continue straight up past the yellow things into more forestry…

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Although you are climbing up and down a few hills throughout the forest, there isn’t anything particularly difficult about this walk. And Spring was well and truly in bloom, there was so many tadpoles and frogs eggs along the rivers beside the path.

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Frogs Eggs

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Eventually, you will emerge from the forest and begin to see some gorgeous views over Loch Long and Arrochar. Most of the hills were covered by the morning fog though.

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These views continue as you go further along the path where you will then reach the sign below, you can continue further which will take you across to Inveruglas or you can turn left and head down into Arrochar village.

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I carried on about another 40 minutes or so where the sun finally started to come (a tiny bit) with the help of an Instagram filter…

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Gone in search of some sun

I am keen to do the entire trail one day, however, a couple of my friends that have done it, recommended starting at Inveruglas as there’s more places to grab a bite to eat in Arrochar before heading back, another option if you have the luxury of 2 cars was to leave one at either end. It’s also an ideal cycle route for all ages.

Ben Arthur’s Bothy

Ben Arthurs Bothy

It’s not often I get to say this, but the weather was amazing in Scotland over the weekend. It was still FREEEZING (obvs) but the sun was out, and everyone was absolutely buzzin’.

And what better way to enjoy the weather than with a hill walk and a trip to the pub?!

After spending the morning walking from Inveruglas to Arrochar, we stopped in at Ben Arthur’s Bothy.

This little gem of a pub offers the most beautiful views over Loch Long and onto The Cobbler. With a 4 star rating on Trip Advisor and raving reviews from the locals – I was keen to see what they had in store.

Ben Arthurs Bothy

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From the outside, it doesn’t look like much but as soon as you step inside, you are hit with some spectacular views. They also have the option to sit outside and enjoy a pint or bite to eat. I was told they sell the best soup but was disappointed to discover it was pea and ham – my friends got stuck in though and it did smell AMAZING! It’s your typical pub grub menu, they did have a few vegetarian options but not loads, so I opted for the vege burger. Which I have to say, is one of the best vege burgers I have ever had! The portions were massive as well, just what you’re looking for after a long walk.

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Decking area for Ben Arthur’s Bothy
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Views over Loch Long with The Cobbler in the background

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I would highly recommend Ben Arthur’s Bothy to anyone passing through Arrochar. The staff are so welcoming and friendly, the prices were more than reasonable, and the food is insane! They also cater to private functions, have live entertainment on throughout March to September and have a pool table and plenty of TV’s for anyone wanting to watch the football.

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Hi dad!
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Sunday’s hillwalk

Cruach Tairbert

The first hill climb of 2018 started off well… NAAAT!

Thinking that it’d be a great idea to travel up to Loch Lomand to climb Cruach Tairbert in the middle of all the snow that we have in Scotland right now was not one of my brighter ideas.

Me and my friend headed off around 10:30 am up towards Tarbet, a small village in Argyll and Bute, located within Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. It is a straight road from Glasgow city centre and so scenic once you’re off the motorway. We noticed that the snow was pretty deep past Helensburgh and, so we opted to do the waymarked circuit that climbs through the forest plantations on the lower slopes of Cruach Tairbert above the village.

The walk begins just behind ‘The Slanj’ which is a cosy restaurant to stop in for some food or a coffee, and if you ask nicely, don’t mind you using their carpark. Head up behind the restaurant towards Tarbet Railway station and pass under it to reach an information board detailing the route, which is marked in red. The other way will take you along to Arrochar – so turn right here.

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Where’s my sledge when I need it

I felt like I was entering Narnia, the forest was covered in so much snow, it was gorgeous! The path then approaches a burn climbing left alongside it, ignore the waymarked branch to the right (it’s the return route), the path then climbs steeply up by the burn and then swings along to the right. You’ll pass a bench which was once apparently an amazing viewpoint but is now blocked by conifer trees. I think I spent more time on the ground than actually climbing ha-ha it was sooo icy!

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This is supposedly one of the easiest routes to do (minus a few steep bits) but we somehow managed to get lost here, so lost! …and I’m pretty sure at one point were trying to climb up a frozen stream disguised with heaps of snow.

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Continue along the path to eventually descend to cross a footbridge (You’ll see a small picnic table just above you). By this point, the snow was coming down pretty heavy – we could barely see 2 feet in front of us and had heard from home that the roads were getting pretty bad also so quickly followed the descending path through the trees and along a second footbridge before passing a gap in the wall. You should be able to see the stunning views towards Loch Lomand over the Tarbet Hotel here.  When the path approaches a burn don’t cut across but follow the loop slightly uphill to re-join the outward path. Turn left to retrace your steps back to the path junction above the station, turning left again to return to the start.

A walk that was supposed to only take us an hour and a half max. turned into a 3-hour long trek! We did however get some really cute pictures which is really the only reason we went.  I am keen to do this one again though and hopefully not get lost next time. I don’t think this walk is a particularly popular one, mainly because the views have all now been blocked by the growing forestry which is why I thought it’d be a good one to do in the winter, if all I’m going to be looking at is trees, they might as well be Instagram worthy.

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First time using my Instax camera – OBSESSED!