A Tour of Scotland: Fort William, Glencoe, Loch Lomond, Dumbarton Castle and Glasgow

I was up really early and caught up my journaling for yesterday’s events. It was now almost 7 am so time to start backing and getting ready for breakfast, pay the bill and head out for Glasgow. It would be another busy day with a bit of driving to do.

This was our last breakfast at the Ashburn House. Alan tried a cheese plate with wafers and fruit. I had a full breakfast.  I tried some Haggis a Scottish dish. It was a circular slice probably from a loaf. It was a lot drier than I expected. I felt bad eating some but leaving most of it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haggis

We had barely left the car park of the Ashburn House and they were in our old room cleaning it. I could see them in the window. We turned left which was south on A82. It was pretty along Loch Linnhe. Unfortunately, it was a narrow road. This meant not much sightseeing but more keeping and eye on the road to keep from hitting someone or going into a ditch.  The road followed the loch and then turned east and we crossed a bridge.

The first stop was the Glencoe Visitor Centre.  We missed the turn so we had to find a place to turn around and go back. Some places ask you to contribute to the maintenance of parking or even the toilet. This time it was for parking:  https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/glencoe

Glencoe Visitor Centre Signs

The Entrance

We spent a lot of time in the museum. I wanted to understand the massacre of the MacDonalds of Glencoe.  This event took place in 1692. I spent some time listening to audio explanations and studying the exhibit boards. There was a movie explaining the massacre. Norman MacDonald was featured in the film and he is the man who wrote many books on the Clan Donald’s various lineages. He died several years back. His books are hard to find our buy for he self-published. They also dished the Vikings, Jacobite uprisings and more. It was well done.

Reception area Glencoe, Ranger station to the right – see the person in white T-shirt

We bought a Glencoe guide that has quite a bit of information mostly about the natural part of the area and includes hikes, rock climbing, nature, wildlife, the history, the volcano and geology, and more. It is quite the guide made by the National Trust of Scotland.  I did buy another book titled Massacre of Glencoe, by John Buchan, LangSyne Pub. We will see. I went back and bought a Glencoe T-shirt. I also found a Friendship cup. I think they needed this at Glencoe. Remember I drink first as the host, then you drink next and we don’t kill each other in the ritual of it all.

Quaich Cup – Friendship cup

I finished up and waited in the cafe for him to finish up:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_Glencoe

The very nice cafe with seating outside

There was a viewing area and look out at the Great Glen of Glencoe. It was spectacular with these mountains rising up very sharply. The weather was warm, sunny with some clouds. Apparently it was an ancient volcano at one time.  The area is now a historical and nature reserve.


The Viewpoint

More to the left

I am a bit frustrated as to exactly where the massacre took place. Well, the killing took place all over the glen where there were settlements.  Inverigan seems to be the main place were a group of MacDonald’s were killed.

Apparently, they are going to excavation the sites soon. This article mentions these settlements of  Achitriochtan, Achnacon and Inverigan as locations for Glencoe settlements at the time of the massacre: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5385245/Experts-search-site-1692-Glencoe-Massacre.html

Another location is Invercoe which I cannot locate at this time. I can see that this is very complicated and difficult to pin down the locations of the ruins.

Map of Glencoe from the guide book.

Inverigan is up where the #5 is located on the map below, I believe, and there are rocks and maybe a portion of a house ruins. This is from the Woodland Walk brochure https://www.nts.org.uk/Downloads/Properties/glencoe_woodland_walk_combined_low_res.pdf.

Maybe in time more information will come to light as they dig further.

Woodland Walk Glencoe

Remembrance Day in Glencoe:  https://www.scotiana.com/remembrance-day-in-glencoe/

There is large gift shop to the right as you enter the visitor area and before you pass into the museum and cafe area. I had visited it and when hubby was done with the museum we went over to the shop. I showed him my choices for our 6-year-old sophisticated grandson’s present and he liked my ideas. It is a book about the Kelpies. I liked the illustrations. They are spirits that inhabit the lochs and rivers of Scotland, and we will see if he responds to it. He wants to write scarry movies someday.  It is a beautiful book. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelpie 

We also got him a How to play Quidditch book which is part of the Harry Potter memorabilia and they had several shelves devoted to this fantasy.  His father said they were reading the Harry Potter books together. So this will be good and add extra details to the story.

I asked the Ranger for help in finding the MacDonald Glencoe Massacre Memorial but we failed to locate it and I decided we needed to move on. This blog has some very nice photos of the area along with the memorial. The memorial is located in Glencoe village north along the River Coe on upper Carnoch Road and past the Glencoe Folk Museum. We didn’t go far enough:  http://catswhiskerstours.com/2017/04/visit-glencoe-scotland-4/

It was time to move on. We headed east to Loch Lomond through the valley of Glencoe. We stopped at one viewing and hiking area, along the River Coe, for a few minutes trying to get more pictures. I believe it was called An Torr and is a free car park. The mountains are grand and each one is so different.

What follows is a gallery of photos and you need to be at the blog on the internet to make it work right.

As we continued along A82, we saw that the viewing areas were crowded with people and cars. It discouraged us from stopping. This was unfortunate because the scenery was outstanding and was constantly changing. At these car parks you can take short walks or go on long hikes. The Ranger station at the Glencoe Visitor Centre can help you plan your hike.

There are car parks at various locations along the road: Three Sister Car Park, Point 5 mile Walk which has views of the Ralston Cairn and the Meeting of the Three Waters a water fall. Further along A82 is the Glen Coe Valley View point with parking beyond that at Buachaille Etive Mor with more views. To your right the Glencoe Mountain Resort appears.

The road is a challenge and we had to be alert as we wound around the mountains. At a certain point the land opens flat and extends out to this large concave area. The mountains are far on the right side rising up. There are small lochs in the flat areas that you skirt at loch level. It was like a moonscape. https://www.zigzagonearth.com/a82-glen-coe-scotland/#tab-con-10

As we neared Loch Lomond https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loch_Lomond it became very green with trees both deciduous and evergreen. You are in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.  https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/landscapes-nature/national-parks-gardens/loch-lomond-trossachs/

At Ardiui is where you meet up with Loch Lomond. The thick trees came down to the water’s edge blocking views of the north end of the Loch.

It is possible that my great grandfather on my mother’s side, came from some where around Ben Lomand. His name was James McMurray. On the Canadian census was written “Beulowman” for the location of his birth. A cousin thinks it is Ben Lomond. There is no village of that name so he might have just given it as a location and the census taker misunderstood him.

The road along the northern part of Loch Lomond was very narrow. We saw several cars crashed on the side of the road. One was upside down on the edge of the road. The bus ahead of us barely made it around corners. At one curve the bus stopped and the large truck on the other side waited till the bus slipped by. Progress along this part of the Loch was slow.

Petunia, our navigation, was totally wrong with where Tarbet was located on Loch Lomond and suggest it was in the middle of the forest. We did come to Tarbet. It was very busy and the car park was packed. I didn’t’ see the Tarbet Tearoom anywhere. It turns out that we needed to make a right turn on A83 and go up this hill.  We turned to the left instead. It was so busy with cars that it was very confusing. Although we missed the Tearoom, I think, based on what I was seeing that we probably would not have been able to either find a parking space or would have had to wait to be seated.

Just beyond Tarbet, Alan suddenly pulled off finding a road that was along the loch. We took a break and took pictures of the Loch through the trees. It was a nice stop and gave him time to relax from the stressful driving he had been doing since leaving Glencoe. This road had a gate to a walk way at the end and the other gate must have been to a house hidden in the woodlands.

Loch Lomond below Tarbet

It was taking much longer to get down the west side of Loch Lomond than I had anticipated. I had not even considered the fact that the Loch would be impacted by people getting out enjoying the amazing weather.  I have a feeling that a different strategy for Loch Lomond is needed because it is just to close to Glasgow.

After Tarbet the road became wider and easier to drive. We did stop again at another viewing area on Loch Lomond further south and there were swains and a lovely beach. The loch appears to widen at the southern end.  http://www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/

Loch Lomond south end – looking southeast

Loch Lomond looking north, I think that Ben Lomond in the distrance.

South East Loch Lomond

Swans on the Loch, people too…

Alan and I had forgotten how to do roundabouts with two lanes and we had a few dicey situations as we got closer to busier traffic and more congestion.

Dumbarton Castle is embedded in this huge rock hill along the River Clyde. As I recall getting to the castle was a bit weird. The navigation wanted us to turn right on A82, which is very busy street into a side street that didn’t look like much. So we went down the block turned around and turned left into this street which worked better for us. As we were coming back to turn we noted a car was stopped in the middle of the road making an attempt to turn right into the side street. I don’t remember the name of the street. Then the route took us left and right to Castle Road and that was not too bad:  https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/dumbarton-castle/

Dumbarton Castle Entrance

The car park was in shade so that was a good thing. The walk was not too bad and we were into the castle area. It required more stairs of course to climb up to the battlements where the cannons were situated. This castle was a later version and not the medieval one that used to be there. Somerled had a battle in Renfrew nearby to the east and died there. The Vikings tried to take it over but failed. Mary Queen of Scots stayed there six months. A  Macdonald was imprisoned there by the name of Aeneas MacDonald, one of the seven men of Moidart who had accompanied Prince Charles Edward to Scotland in 1745. It was used as a prison for notable Jacobite persons who fought in the 1745 uprising.

We bought our tickets in the gift shop and went into this small room that had costumes from the soldiers who served the fort for a time. We then went outside and climbed more stairs to various levels.

Dumbarton Castle

Reader board for Dumbarton Castle

You can climb to the top of the rock from either side.

Up on the Rock

Alan decided to try the left side first. He came back left his jacket with me and did the right side. While he was exploring, I found a nice picnic table up on one of the levels and in the shade. So I settled in to observe the River Clyde. I could see cars on the other side of the river traveling along. No ships or boats came by while I relaxed and enjoyed the view.

River Clyde

Across the River Clyde

River Clyde – looking across

Visiting Dumbarton Castle was so I could look at the River Clyde. I was interested in this famous river, because of all the immigration to other parts of the world. Greenoch was further west on the other side another location for emigration. I probably could have seen it from the top of the rock. I am now thinking I should have visited that town. Anyway, ships do come up and down the Clyde through the channel and some do have to wait till the tide comes in. The Queen Mary II was built-in Clydesbank and the Cutty Sark in Dumbarton.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Clyde

My hubby’s photos from the top of the rock at Dumbarton Castle. This is in gallery mode so you do need to be at the blog on the web for it to work probably.

Hubby was gone quite a while, and I went to use the facilities and bought a candy bar to keep my stomach from growling. I was starting to fade away for I had not had any food since breakfast.

As I sat there contemplating the River Clyde, I decided that instead of finding a place to eat nearby, just go to Glasgow and find our lodging at the Argyll Hotel and then get some dinner in the city:   http://www.argyllhotelglasgow.co.uk/

While we were enjoying the castle, Alan and I had time to think carefully about the two lane roundabouts and how to handle them. I had mapped the route to the hotel in Glasgow so I had some idea of how to get there. We discussed our strategy.

Here we come Glasgow! Well we did good and so did Petunia (navigation).  She took us right in and to our hotel. I think there was one tricky spot getting on to Sauchiehall Street. I chose The Argyll Hotel because of its close location to several places I wanted to visit. I did not realize that Sauchiehall Street was so important and historical:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauchiehall_Street  

As we drove along, I spotted the Argyll on the north side of the street. We went down around the block parked about a long block and half away. I took off to check us in and forgot my cell phone. I came around the corner and I headed up the stairs and realized it was the Guest house and not the hotel. The sign said the hotel was across the street. Sauchiehall Street is not an easy street to cross for it is busy and they go fast.

Argyll Hotel

Looking east Sauchiehall Street

Looking East

I passed people sitting in a restaurant on the corner enjoying the warm lovely afternoon. I entered the hotel which was part of a long block of other hotels. They were ready for me with the papers and I took my time reading them carefully. Two nights was £219 pounds, not bad. She assigned me room 201. I paid for our room. The lobby was small but pleasant with a leather couch in one corner. The hotel felt closed in and looked a bit tattered but it will do.

I gathered my things and went back outside and spotted Alan across the street and yelled and waved to him. So he carefully crossed the street and I took him back into the hotel so he could learn first hand about the parking situation from the receptionists. This was very important to learn about for Glasgow was cracking down. That took about 10 minutes for her to explain the options. We both thought she was probably French. The other lady was probably Scottish and nice but she talked too softly and that is hard on us hearing challenged. I really thought the hotel had car parking?

We went out to get our luggage and the car parked properly. We got the car and tried the side street but all that was left was disabled and that would not work. We had been warned about those types of parking spaces and not to park there. Alan decided to return to the first parking space. So I grabbed stuff out of the back seat and headed to the hotel. He went back to the same previous parking spot and brought the two suitcases. There where parking spots in front of the hotel. They were now occupied by a big travel bus that took up two to three spaces and van that was right up to the bus. I asked the receptionist how long the bus was to be at the hotel. She said just one night. That was good news.

Fortunately this hotel has a lift and that would take the pressure off. No more stairs to lift our stuff up.

Meanwhile, I found an Italian restaurant around the corner and down the block called Mora. This meant we could walk to it and leave the car behind. When he returned to the room, he agreed it sounded good. https://morabarandkitchen.com/

Mora look the other side of the space

Glasgow is a big city and it reminds me of Rome.  It is dirty and busy. We found the restaurant easily and I managed to get them to give me table that had a bench and several pillows so my back would be supported. Our table was in an alcove with a big window.  There was a 4-6 people sized table next to us. Our two person table was perfect.

Dinner at Mora’s

I had a lovely Sangiovese wine and Alan was recommended an ale that he really liked, something about Marching Penguins. I could not make out the supposedly Italian pasta menu so I went for a pizza. They were a little short on the artichokes but it was tasty and had a thin crust. I ate a lot of it and the whole pizza was gone. Alan had a starter some focaccia bread with tomatoes.

There was a large window behind me and I could swivel on the bench to look out at the street. There were tables on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant that were filled with interesting people. There was a couple and the lady was rather young-looking and cute. The man had grey short hair. They were smooching a lot. They left after a time and an older man with another lady sat there but I could not see her face.  Lots of couples and a variety people walked by and that was fun to watch them.

Eventually the table to my right filled out with young people. I assumed they were students going to the University nearby. The two young men sat across from me and the two ladies were on the bench. The one woman farthest from us talked almost the whole time and the others did speak but not as loudly or as much. I was having trouble figuring out who was with whom but maybe it was a different mix.  Alan seems to think the young lady closest to me was very curious about us or me.

Alan was fascinated with the rental bikes across the street and the riders who sometimes wore helmets and other times didn’t. He noticed a Gelato store across from the restaurant but it was closed, darn!

We finished our meal and headed back down the street and around the corner to our hotel. Our room was much smaller than I expected and the bed is a double so we were cozy. Our bathroom is even smaller than the one at home. We moved one of the two small red leather like chairs so that I could have the little bay window to house my suitcase and he could have the corner on the left of our tiny bathroom.  There was a desk as well. It was close. The theme is the Clan Gordon room and I will have to read the picture on the wall.

The Picture in our room, Argyll Hotel.

Glasgow was a whole new world. We would be here two days which would be a good thing. No more castles, no more long drives on narrow roads and no more stairs.

It was time for bed.

About BJ MacDonald

Interested in travel, really into genealogy and researching my family history, classic novels and movies, fantasy and science fiction, photography, history and more... Here is a tip. Make sure you are commenting on the blog you were visiting and the post you were interested in. My blogs are listed by hovering over my pictures and clicking. Clicking one of them will take you back to the correct blog. You can try me here: bjmcdonell@gmail.com
This entry was posted in Glasgow, Glencoe, Scotland May 2018 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Tour of Scotland: Fort William, Glencoe, Loch Lomond, Dumbarton Castle and Glasgow

  1. I NEED to return to Glasgow, Adore Scotland!


    • BJ MacDonald says:

      Glasgow was our last stop in Scotland before we returned home. We had fun in that city. Touring Scotland was EPIC. We had a good time and enjoyed our trip. Thanks for stopping by. Bonnie


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