Tales from the driving seat – Loch Lomond to Fort William and the Jacobite

The drive from Loch Lomond to Fort William is rather pleasant. Along the way It takes in Glencoe, which is a real reminder of the beauty that Scotland has to offer. It was interesting to see how the landscape changes from pine forests at Loch Lomond to the harsher bare landscape of Glencoe.

On leaving Lochearnhead, we swing along the top of the Loch Lomond National Park on the A85. We pass Glen Ogle viewpoint where you can stop to take in the sights of the viaduct and take the opportunity to fill up at Lix petrol station (petrol stations can be few and far between, so it is best to keep topped up, especially when your fuel gauge doesn’t work!).

Continuing along the A85, we reach Ben More and Crianlarich. At this point you can go south towards Loch Lomond on a road that then meanders along its shore, but we head further North passing through Tyndrum, which has lots of opportunities to grab supplies and there is a community woodland with a “Gruffalo Trail”; a woodland walk with large wood carvings from the Gruffalo – a great chance to stretch legs and let dogs have a comfort break too.

As we Continue north, we pass Loch Tulla on the left and as we begin to climb in altitude on the approach to Glencoe there is a decent sized car park and viewpoint to enjoy. Continuing the steady climb, the road passes between Locan na h-Achlaise and Loch Ba, both of which also have layby and viewpoint options for a quick stop to take in this breath taking landscape.

As the steady climb flattens off, the road straightens out and continues in a straight line cutting through the landscape for what seems like forever. The view ahead is stunning. The road eventually bends round the base of the mountains and we pass the Kingshouse Hotel on the righthand side. If you decide to travel this way this is where to make a mental note: the next left hand turn after crossing the river Etive – take it and follow the road for just under 4 miles until you reach a spot that will look familiar if you are a fan of the Bond Film Skyfall. This is the spot where 007 and M stand on the roadside sharing a moment together as Bond reflects on the place where he grew up. We stopped here and took our own version of the infamous shot.

We head back to the main road and continue on through Glencoe towards Fort William. There are several spots here to stop and enjoy the area with a walk, cycle, or even just stop and take it all in. There is a car park (well parking) on the left hand side as the road sweeps round to the left. Stop here and get a picture of the small white house sitting in the shadow of the mountain; apparently it’s the most photographed house in Britain! From here you can also hike the Devil’s Staircase.

Carrying on down the road there is a proper car park that allows a well trodden walk up the mountain and just a little further on from that is Glencoe Waterfall and The Meeting of Three Waters. As the road continues to sweep though the Glen, there are more parking spots and opportunities to enjoy this wonderful place. As the road exits the Glen there is an official Visitors Centre and you are greeted by the shores of Loch Leven. This area also offers several campsites; perfect for spending more time in this area if desired.

We continue on towards Fort William, crossing water where Loch Leven joins Loch Linnhe. It is the shores of Loch Linnhe that play host with our campsite for the night; Bunree Caravan and Motorhome Club Site.

We have stayed here once before in 2019 when we completed the NC500 (I will cover that trip in the future) and so we know that one of the secrets of this site is to book a non-awning pitch (ssshhh don’t tell anyone!) as they are all located on the water’s edge with the best views.

We have a quick cuppa before out to Fort William train station. In 2019 we watched the Jacobite steam train cross Glen Finnan viaduct, as it does in the Harry Potter films and said that we would like to do the route from Fort William to Mallaig.

The route takes in stunning views across lochs, mountain terrain and coastlines that are perfect and unspoilt. Not only that, you also pass Dumbledore’s final resting place, an island in the middle of a Loch where his silver tomb is broken open by Vuldemort. Of course you also cross the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, featured in several of the Harry Potter films during the train journey to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. 

On arrival at Mallaig we had just under 2hrs turnaround to have a look about. We spotted a seafood cafe that had outdoor seating and was dog friendly, so we quickly got over there before the rush from the train… We enjoyed fresh local prawns that were delicious! 

Our return journey to Fort William was just as pleasant, seeing the views from the other direction of travel. 

We headed back to Bunree campsite as the sun was setting, just in time for Ruby to have a quick paddle before settling in the camper for the night and watching the rain roll in across the loch towards us. 

Phil Aldridge

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