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|Days S1 - S20 Scottish Highlands|
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North of England
English West Country
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Time of departure: 9.00 am
Time of arrival: 2.45 am
Place departed: Glencoe, Highland
Place arrived: Kings House, Highland
Cum miles: 237.2
Percent complete: 24.4
Kings House Hotel ****
Cost for bed and breakfast: £28 ($56)
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What others say
The scenery was glorious today, as I walked up Glen Coe, over the pass, mainly on the old and new A82, and in parts on the West Highland Way, avoiding the harsh lairg and the devil's staircase which I described previously.
This is territory that Mark Alvarez of Waterbury, Connecticut has hiked, and with a heavy pack. Mark is a generous supporter of my hike by email. He's also a TGO Challenge aspirant when he's not doing the fatherly thing of putting his daughter through medical school.
Glen Coe, or valley of that name, has historical associations which I described yesterday. Today, my thoughts were on the spectacular hills and mountains which bordered the ten mile ascent from Glencoe village. The snow-covered peaks and crags closely frame the tranquil valley with its rivers and lakes. Of course, it rained, hailed and snowed - but only for half the day.
It's my father's birthday today, and he would have loved these surroundings. Always interested in roads and passes, and especially in monitoring progress, the old and new A82 heading east from Glencoe would have fascinated him. I can visualize him carefully loading the Ford's trunk (boot) with our vacation belongings, and setting out with my mother and me, commenting that modern roads now cost as much as £10,000 ($20,000) a mile and wasn't that amazingly high. He'd point out the remnants of the old road and its narrow bridges, today remarking that it was a good thing that they were replacing the bridge over the River Coe three miles east of Glencoe. "The old bridge was too darn narrow," he'd say. And he'd tell his friends about the new bridge when he got home.
He'd put a canvas water sack on the front bumper, and we'd enjoy cool water even in summer due to the marvels of evaporative cooling. There was no such thing as auto air-conditioning in the early 1950s, and even coolers-with-ice weren't the norm.
Mountain passes were his favorite. Retaining walls and hairpin bends (switchbacks) were there to be marveled over. Roadside water reservoirs for radiators, tire pressure adjustment and higher octane for higher altitudes . . . all these were part of mountain motoring in those days.
Climbing Glen Coe or any other pass would give him an excuse to show off his engine compartment cooking skills. Taking a piece of foil-wrapped raw meat, he'd put it under the hood (bonnet) and drive until it was cooked. That, however, was not a simple skill. There were special places in the engine compartment that worked best for steak and other places that worked best for chicken. Moreover, the pass itself affected engine temperature and therefore cooking time. I can see him half-seriously deliberating on the place and cooking time for a medium-rare steak to be cooked on Glen Coe pass in March. Most of the time he got it about right - either that or my Mom didn't argue. At eight years old, I couldn't tell one way or the other.
Part of any multiday trip was the overnight stay. He and Mom liked the kind of old lodge hotel that you still find in Scotland. The Letterfinlay on Loch Lochy was one such. They'd have liked the Kings House Hotel at which I stayed tonight. A rambling old place in the country, with several comfortable but old-fashioned public rooms, a leisurely drink and dinner . . . and, after dinner, the staff feed table scraps to an assembly of wild deer at the back of the hotel near the kitchen door. Yes, my Mom and Dad would have liked being here today, and I wish they could have been.
|Kings House Hotel|
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