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    Celebrating Hogmanay at Onich, on the Shore of Loch Linnhe !

    Dear readers, dear friends and fans of Scotland,
    the whole team of Scotiana wishes you a very Happy New Year!
    May our Scottish adventures inspire you to travel and walk on the wonderful paths
    of La Belle Alba
    Never more than in winter,
    does she wear her lovely name better…

    Christmas banner Gingerbread Fairies Baubles

    !!! HAPPY HOGMANAY !!!

     

     

    Let me share with you today some of the best pictures we took in Scotland, last winter. After celebrating Christmas in Edinburgh and staying a couple of days in Oban we ended the year 2019 and began the following one at Onich, in the Highlands, on the shore of Loch Linnhe and at the entrance to Loch Leven, just a few kilometers from Glencoe, one of our favourite places in La Belle Alba. No need to say it could not have been a better place for us to celebrate Hogmanay! Our program for the festive season : Réveillon at the Lodge on the Loch, music, fireworks and Japanese lanterns rising up in the dark above the silvery waters of Loch Linnhe… what a wonderful night!

    Monday 30 December – Day 19/31 : on our way from Oban to Glencoe…

    • Oban
    • Connel Bridge : a beautiful cantilever bridge that spans Loch Etive at Connel in Scotland. The bridge takes the A828 road across the narrowest part of the loch, at the Falls of Lora.
    • Stalker Castle
    • Glencoe
    • Glencoe Visitor Centre
    • St John’s Church
    • Ballachulish Bridge
    • Lodge on the Loch Hotel

    After our not-to-be-missed Scottish breakfast at the Columba Hotel, we started early in the morning. We greatly recommend this hotel which is situated on the lovely and very lively harbour. From there one can see ferries sailing to and from the mythical Hebridean islands. We much enjoyed our room with its view onto the famous Mccaig’s tower which changed colours in the night for the festive season.

    The day before, our sunday walk had led us along the Dunollie castle lovely path. As I had come back to the hotel drenched to the skin we decided that, before driving on further north,  it would be more than adequate to buy a new pair of waterproof trousers for me. It seemed to us that the cold and pouring rain would never stop. I remembered how easy it had been, a few years ago and just before embarking in the ferry to Mull, to find a good parka in one of the many Oban sports shops. It was spring then but the island of Mull is known to be the wettest of the Hebridean islands, whatever the season. Unfortunately, in that rainy day of December, it didn’t proved so easy to find the much needed trousers. Each pair of pants I tried made me look like a clown. They are too “baggy”, the seller readily admitted ;-). We finally would find the much needed garment a few days later at Nevisport, the famous sports shop situated in Fort William. Indeed, you can find much more than sports clothes in the shop… you can have tea-time or a snack there and buy souvenirs for your family and friends. We love the place.

     

    Nevisport Fort Williams Google map Stuart Robinson 2017

    Nevisport Fort Williams Google map Stuart Robinson 2017

    Our Nevisport store in Fort William is located at the top of the high street, at the ‘gateway to the Highlands’. From here you can set off to explore the whole of the north of Scotland, and there’s no better place to pick up your outdoor gear.

    We stock outdoor clothing, boots, equipment and accessories from the biggest outdoor brands, such as The North Face, Rab, Montane, Scarpa and Salomon. With an extensive collection of supplies, we can kit you out with ease and expertise for hiking, camping, climbing, running, skiing & more. Our staff have been trained to the highest standards and most of them are keen practitioners themselves, so you get expert knowledge.

    We arrived at Glencoe early in the afternoon and, as we always do when we are in Glencoe, we went to the Visitor Centre… no much people at this time of the season but we much enjoyed our warm soup and scone here, in the festive Christmas ambiance. We also had a look at the shop, Scottish knitwear, books and music…

    Ballachulish St John's Church - Jasmin Gerish Photography on Pinterest

    Ballachulish St John’s Church Jasmin Gerish Photography on Pinterest

    We stopped at Ballachulish St John’s Church, a very romantic place with its lovely church surrounded by very old mossy graves and, last but not least, its magnificent view on Loch Leven and the Pap of Glencoe… Jasmin Gerish took a superb picture of the place! Many thanks to him! 🙂

    Glencoe Woodland Walk winter 2019 © 2019 Scotiana

    Glencoe Woodland Walk winter 2019 © 2019 Scotiana

    Then, as the weather was not too bad, we decided to take a few steps along Glencoe Woodland Walk. The winter colours of the mountains were beautiful and the austere landscape, emerging behind the bare trees, was of a rare beauty. We’ll never get tired of Glencoe scenery.

    Glencoe Woodland Path in winter river and path © 2019 Scotiana

    Glencoe Woodland Path in winter river and path © 2019 Scotiana

     

    Glencoe Woodland Walk information panel

    Glencoe Woodland Walk information panel

    Walk :

    • Length : 1 mile (1,5 km)
    • Time: allow 30 minutes

    Standing here, you are surrounded by Glencoe’s towering peaks. These mountains were created by the force of continents collinding 470 million years ago. Movements in the Earth’s crust caused deep faults to appear and as the Earth collapsed  into these, a series of violent volcanoes erupted. At least eight massive volcanic eruptions occurred here over a period of five million years. But the landscape you see today owes more to the glaciers and ice sheets that subsequently sculpted the mountains and carved out the distinctive U-shaped glens.

    Things to spot on your walk :

    • Blacfaced sheep and Highland cattle grazing on Meall Mar, the mountain in front of you. Grazing is part of our conservation work to ensure the survival of the flower-rich grasslands on Meall Mor.
    • The ruined house at Inverigan, one ot the sites of the Glencoe Massacre.
    • Look for roe deer, red squirrels, badgers, foxes and pine martens. Buzzards soar overhead, and goldcrests, blue tits, robins and wookpeckers all live in the woods.

    www.nts.org.uk

    The tumultuous waters of River Coe in winter on Glencoe Woodland Path © 2019 Scotiana

    The tumultuous waters of River Coe in winter on Glencoe Woodland Path © 2019 Scotiana

    We were very impressed by the tumultuous waters of the Coe and JC took some risks to go down closer to the shore in order to make pictures and a video of the torrent.

    Scotland in winter Glen Coe mascots © 2019 Scotiana

    Scotland in winter Glen Coe mascots © 2019 Scotiana

    Before getting back on the road to go to the hotel, we couln’t help from stopping on the little parking on the A 82 to salute the beloved mountains of Glen Coe…

    Glen Coe Mountains Interpretation Panel © 2019 Scotiana

    Glen Coe Mountains Interpretation Panel © 2019 Scotiana

    House for sale luminous toy train in the Highlands © 2019 Scotiana

    House for sale luminous toy train in the Highlands © 2019 Scotiana

    Tchou tchou !!! A house for sale! I would not have been against buying this one! Not far from Glencoe…

    We were lost and had fallen on this house accidentally. Before making a U-turn we stayed there a moment taking pictures and a video of the lovely glittering locomotive from which volutes of smoke escaped in the night, forgetting completely that we still not had found our hotel … it was not far but it seemed to us that we were driving in circles and it was dark, which did not help…

    The Lodge on the Loch Hotel at Onich on Loch Linnhe © 2020 Scotiana

    The Lodge on the Loch Hotel at Onich on Loch Linnhe © 2020 Scotiana

    Time flies ! As the picture above doesn’t show we arrived late at “The Lodge on the Loch”. On our arrival, though it was dark and cold outside, the very warm welcome we received at the reception did compensate. Our room was large and very comfortable and we slept very well. Last but not least, our joy was great when we discovered, in the morning, the magnificent view of Loch Linnhe we got from our window.

    The view from our window at The Lodge on the Loch Hotel © 2020 Scotiana

    The view from our window at The Lodge on the Loch Hotel © 2020 Scotiana

    The village of Onich, or Ounich, which means in Gaelic  ‘abounding in froth, frothy place’, is situated on the east shore of Loch Linnhe, at the entrance to Loch Leven. It’s a lovely place: lochs, mountains,  changing weather, clouds, sunsets… it is very close to Glencoe and its breathtaking landscapes, and on the road to Fort William, dominated by Ben Nevis, the mythical Scottish mountain…

    Scotland in winter Loch Linnhe from our window in the Lodge of the Loch Hotel © 2019 Scotiana

    Scotland in winter Loch Linnhe from our window in the Lodge of the Loch Hotel © 2019 Scotiana

    The view from our room at the Lodge of the Loch Hotel…

    View on Loch Linnhe from Lodge on the Loch Hotel © 2019 Scotiana

    View on Loch Linnhe from Lodge on the Loch Hotel © 2019 Scotiana

    31 Decembre : New Year’s Eve

    A great day! Not so cold and sunny with a summer blue sky. Our day began at Glencoe and then we drove back to the Glen of Coe. We did stay there up to the night. It falls quickly in winter. We wanted to walk down the glen when it would be dark to light a few candles in memory of the members of Clan MacDonald who had been massacred or died in the mountains during that fateful night of 13 February 1692.
    Loch Leven Glencoe New Year's Eve © 2019 Scotiana

    Loch Leven Glencoe New Year’s Eve © 2019 Scotiana

    First surprise in the morning:  Loch Leven as we never saw it even in spring and summer. Blue skye, light clouds – The Ballachulish bridge in the distance. Closer Eilean Munde where the MacDonalds rest in peace, at least we suppose they do for a number of them have fallen victims to the government soldiers during the terrible Glencoe massacre, “Murder under Trust” …

    Glencoe Marina on Loch Leven in winter © 2019 Scotiana

    Glencoe Marina on Loch Leven in winter © 2019 Scotiana

    Glencoe lovely marina… we would have liked to take a boat and sail to the burial islands…

    Glencoe Crafts & Things shop sign- Scotland in winter © 2019 Scotiana

    Glencoe Crafts & Things shop sign- Scotland in winter © 2019 Scotiana

    Shopping at “Crafts & Things”. We love this shop. There you can enjoy teatime, buy books about Scotland and souvenirs, knitwear and even waterproof trousers 😉

    Glencoe shopping at the "Crafts & Things" © 2019 Scotiana

    Glencoe shopping at the “Crafts & Things” © 2019 Scotiana

    Festive banner Christmas socks and candies

    Glencoe waterfalls in winter Scotland © 2019 Scotiana

    Glencoe waterfalls in winter Scotland © 2019 Scotiana

    On the A 82, at the Pass of Glencoe, near Kinlochleven… one must not miss the falls…

     Lairig Eilde Bridge with "love locks" at the Pass of Glencoe © 2020 Scotiana

    Scotland in winter – Lairig Eilde Bridge with “love locks” © 2020 Scotiana

    and Lairig Eilde Bridge from which we took winter pictures of the falls. It was the first time, however, that we saw “love locks”, many of them indeed, hooked to the bridge…touching symbols of unbreakable love. Sweethearts inscribe their names or initials or draw a heart on a padlock before fastening it to the bridge. Then they throw away the key…

    I made another discovery there and I will speak of in my next post about books… and also a mysterious meeting which I will keep secret for I’m not sure about it and JC didn’t see what I saw… a case of mysterious Scotland. Maybe, might be… or not!

    Anyway we lingered a long time in the area, waiting for the night to fall on the mountains of Glencoe. We looked forward to walk down the glen and find a place on a flat rock in the middle of faded ferns, heather and broom, to light the lovely little candles Nathalie had offered me… they had already been lit in Taynuilt churchyard, in front of Iain Crichton Smith’s grave, as a tribute to one of my two favourite Scottish writers. I hope I will be able to lit them again in front of George Mackay Brown’s grave in the seaside cemetery of Stromness in Orkney…

    Scotland in winter - candles in memory of the MacDonalds of Glencoe © 2020 Scotiana

    Scotland in winter – candles in memory of the MacDonalds of Glencoe © 2020 Scotiana

    Glencoe - Lights in the night © 2020 Scotiana

    Glencoe – Lights in the night © 2020 Scotiana

    Can you see the two little lights in the mountains? You must enlarge our photo to be able to see them…

    Now it was time to go back to the Lodge on the Lock to share a festive dinner, waiting for the year 2019 to pass away and eager to welcome the new year, cheering and giving everybody around our best wishes for 2020… without knowing what would happen soon all over the world… may 2021 makes us all forget the worst of 2020.

    Wednesday 1st January – Day 21/31 : Une journée de rêve

    Glen Etive Road Highlands of Scotland © 2020 Scotiana

    Glen Etive Road Highlands of Scotland © 2020 Scotiana

    Buachaille Etive Mor in the Highlands of Scotland © 2020 Scotiana

    Buachaille Etive Mor in the Highlands of Scotland © 2020 Scotiana

    As the weather was fine, we decided to drive along the Glen Etive Road up to Loch Etive… what a day! A gift from heaven to begin the year! We came back with a lot of pictures and unforgettable memories.

    Glen Etive is a glen in the Highlands of Scotland. The River Etive rises on the peaks surrounding Rannoch Moor, with several tributary streams coming together at the Kings House Hotel, at the head of Glen Coe. From the Kings House, the Etive flows for about 18 km, reaching the sea loch, Loch Etive. The river and its tributaries are popular with whitewater kayakers and at high water levels it is a test piece of the area and a classic run.

    At the north end of Glen Etive lie the two mountains known as the “Herdsmen of Etive”: Buachaille Etive Mòr and Buachaille Etive Beag. Other peaks accessible from the Glen include Ben Starav, located near the head of Loch Etive, and Beinn Fhionnlaidh on the northern side of the glen. The scenic beauty of the glen has led to its inclusion the Ben Nevis and Glen Coe National Scenic Area, one of 40 such areas in Scotland.

    A narrow road from the Kings House Hotel runs down the glen, serving several houses and farms. This road ends at the head of the loch, though rough tracks continue along both shores.

    The River Etive is one of Scotland’s most popular and challenging white water kayaking runs. It provides a multitude of solid Grade  rapids with a variety of falls and pool drops.

    In the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, Deirdre and her love Naoise founded Glen Etive after fleeing Ulster.

    Glen Etive has been used as the backdrop to many movies, among them Braveheart and Skyfall

     

    Scotland in Winter - Glen Etive River and Mountains © 2020 Scotiana

    Scotland in Winter – Glen Etive River and Mountains © 2020 Scotiana

    Scotland in Winter - Glen Etive, its river and mountains © 2020 Scotiana

    Scotland in Winter – Glen Etive, its river and mountains © 2020 Scotiana

    Glen Etive deers on the road - winter in Scotland © 2020 Scotiana

    Glen Etive deers on the road – winter in Scotland © 2020 Scotiana

    Scotland in Winter - Glen Etive Loch boulders Glen Etive deers on the road - winter in Scotland © 2020 Scotiana

    Scotland in Winter – Glen Etive Loch boulders Glen Etive deers on the road – winter in Scotland © 2020 Scotiana

     

    Scotland in winter Loch Etive at the end of the road © 2020 Scotiana

    Scotland in winter Loch Etive at the end of the road © 2020 Scotiana

    We hope you’ve enjoyed our pictures of La Belle Alba… maybe the New Year give us all new opportunities to travel to Scotland…

    In the meantime, in those dangerous times, take care !

    Un petit clin d’oeil: this very morning a Scotsman was playing the bagpipes at the entrance door of our local supermarket. JC took a short video of this moving scene 😉

    Time to leave now to prepare Réveillon… for two!

    So… Happy Hogmanay to everybody !

    Á bientôt.

    Mairiuna and the whole team of Scotiana, from Scotland, Quebec and France !

    Below is my little bonus to celebrate the arrival of the new year. Many thanks to the inspired photographer who made the movie with his drone, only a few days after our departure from Scotland. How we would have liked to see Glencoe under its white coat of snow. But we had been lucky, however, to saw the first snowflakes fall on the Cairngorms mountains…

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