The outward journey is always part of the holiday; the return maybe not so much. This year’s was an epic of our own making: the first 300 miles or so pretty much took care of itself – M6, A74(M), M74 until just south-east of Glasgow and decision time.
We were headed for Fort William, and anything other than the westerly option – M8, Erskine Bridge, A82 – feels counter-intuitive. But the road to Lomond and The Trossachs can be a frustrating experience on a summer Saturday and AA route-planner suggested that an easterly curve via Stirling and Callander would cost little or nothing in terms of either time or distance. What would be the worst that could happen?
I should say at this point that I don’t really know why we were agonising over the difference between the two options: any time gained or lost would become incidental as soon as we reached Glencoe and began pulling off the road every 200 yards to stare, take photographs, and say “We really must have a few days here sometime”. Just like we do every single time we drive through Glencoe.
I don’t know precisely how many times we turned off the road ‘for another look’ but it was a few and, with the late afternoon weather being glorious, we were never in a hurry to get back under way. It does say something for Glencoe that it can still look good even when photographed from a moving vehicle…
We eventually generated enough momentum to free ourselves from the gravitational pull of Glencoe, Loch Linnhe and the views to the west, then worked our way around Fort William and onto the A82 for Spean Bridge and Fort Augustus – just managing to get a shot of Ben Nevis from the moving car as we slowed for a junction on the outskirts of Fort William…
There would be time for one last diversion before we pressed on along the A82: we made the time to pay a visit and make a donation (never enough!) at The Commando Memorial near to Spean Bridge. The setting for the memorial, with its backdrop of Nevis and the Aonachs, could scarcely be more dramatic and the site is beautifully maintained.
And then it really was time to head north, passing east of Loch Lochy, west of Loch Oich, and then via Fort Augustus, Drumnadrochit and finally the last few miles to our destination above Glen Urquart with a little bit of help from Google maps and a smartphone for the fine detail. And then there’s that feeling when the wheels stop turning for the final time on that day… Phew!
That last pause at the memorial brought this song to mind.