I’m currently spending a bit of time on a wee outdoors adventure of sorts. I’ve had a long weekend booked off work for quite some time, but had never really gotten around to booking anything in for it. Then, at the start of December, I got an email from the Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA), advising that any stays booked for January which were made before the end of December, would get a 30% discount. That, coupled with a new camera and a desire to get out and about to use it, sealed the deal! A 4 day trip, with 3 nights at different youth hostels was planned!
When planning my trip, I wanted places that would be scenic, hopefully provide good photo opportunities, not too long, but included some walks that I hadn’t done before.
After some searching on the Walk Highlands website, I found the walk for Coire Ardair, in the Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve… With an estimated walk time of 3.5 – 4.5 hours, it was about right for the first day.
I got up early, and made the 2 hour drive to the start point. Having never been here, I had no idea what to expect. I was surprised to find almost a dozen cars in the car park… Clearly this place is popular, as most people will have returned to work today! (Though I only actually met one group returning as I was walking!)
Immediately upon entering the path, you enter into woodland. The amount of lichen on the trees was quite astounding! (This is actually a good sign… Most of the lichens on these trees only grow where there is good air quality!)
The standard visitor path leads up a fair bit, then eventually comes to a viewpoint overlooking Loch Laggan below, and the surrounding mountains.
It is at this point that the (very clearly signposted) path breaks off for Coire Ardair.
The walk is relatively steady uphill, but not too steep. Initially, it progresses through Birch woodland, with the occasional gap to view the way ahead.
The further you go, the more you can see of your destination, and it gets to the point where you can barely keep your eyes on the path… You just want to see what is round that corner!
At this point, I got to witness my first Golden Eagle of the year! Result!
Annoyingly, while I was frantically struggling to switch to the 50-200mm lens, it flew directly overhead, really close! I did eventually get the lens on, but the eagle was much further away by then… Still, at full screen, you should be able to tell what it is!
A little bit more walking and the destination is beginning to show
A little further on, and yet more can be seen. Nearing the end now!
And there it is, the Lochan within Coire Ardair!
After a brief stop for a snack, I quickly turned around and made the return trip.
I have to admit, this walk has really rekindled my love of the Scottish countryside, and just goes to highlight the hidden gems that can only be found if you put one foot in front of the other. All in, the walk took me pretty much 4 hours exactly, which isn’t too bad… Particularly when you consider how many times I stopped to take photos, etc!
It left me on a bit of a high… Now, can the other days achieve the same?!
I’m currently writing this in the Glen Nevis youth hostel, having transferred the files wirelessly from the camera to my tablet. Now I just need to pop along to use the free Wi-Fi at McDonalds, to upload it for the world to see!
A couple of short trips within Glen Nevis tomorrow… Hopefully they’ll be just as interesting!