I had been invited to stay at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel and was pleased to accept this great offer. We had not visited the region properly for many years and personally I love the photogenic scenery around there, so we were going to make the most of it.
The Bridge of Orchy Hotel is only a 2 hr drive from Edinburgh and if you travel by train from London, about 12 hrs overnight on the Caledonian Sleeper https://www.sleeper.scot/. Despite having now lived in Scotland for 10 years, I still get taken aback by the beauty of the hills and mountains we drove past to get here, I guess it comes from me originating from a country that has no hills at all!
If travelling from London, why bother with planes, imagine lying back and closing your eyes in London on the Caledonian Sleeper and awaking in the morning in the heart of the Scottish Highlands! Only minutes’ walk from the Bridge of Orchy Hotel http://www.bridgeoforchy.co.uk/ and right beside the West Highland Way, River Orchy and the beautiful Glen Orchy. Currently the sleeper arrives six out of seven days, not currently on a Sunday morning. From here the train also goes to Mallaig on the Scottish West Coast, via Fort William.
The region is ideal for walkers, hill climbers and cyclists alike. White water rafting is another perfect sport for the region, with the many fast flowing rivers. Also with the remote locations you find around here, it’s also a great for spotting wildlife and you’re in luck with some amazing photography opportunities. With the location only a short drive from the famous Glencoe, it’s ideally located for a day in the wild and outdoors, including Glencoe Ski Centre and some of the most breath-taking Munro climbs in Scotland.
Our weekend at Bridge of Orchy Hotel
We arrived about 7pm on the Friday evening after a pleasant drive up from Edinburgh. It always strikes me how beautiful the landscape is on route here. We often visit Loch Tay, but rarely carry on beyond that, so it’s always a pleasure seeing this spectacular and dramatic landscape as we made our way through the twisting roads, north towards the Bridge of Orchy.
We got checked in and were delighted to be allocated one of their new rooms, which are part of a major extension added to the hotel, with new more luxurious features. Each of these are like your own little home and we were lucky to have a wonderful River View Suite, finished off with its own personal decking overlooking the River Orchy.
The room had a really good standard of finish and with the large patio like doors, very bright and made you feel like you were outside. As our room overlooked the river, it felt like we were in our own little highland lodge in the country, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
To finish off the luxurious style within these rooms, White Company toiletries are provided, a great walk-in power shower and a heated bathroom mirror, something you would usually find in new four star hotels, but here you can enjoy this in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.
There is one restaurant within the hotel and another by the bar and with breath-taking views across the hills and River Orchy. We dined at the hotel both nights and were in the restaurant with lovely views across the hills and River Orchy and seeing the sun set behind the hills was a real bonus. To finish off this wonderful location and beautiful views, it had a small balcony, which was often in use while we were there, during the day and in the evenings. Head chef Stephen Macniven has recently joined the team at the Bridge of Orchy and as we found out, had brought a great amount of skill and innovation to the dishes served in the restaurant.
On the first night I enjoyed fantastic Haggis and Stornoway Black Pudding Bon Bons on a bed of Bashed Neeps with a peppered sauce.
For my main it had to be the Braised Beef, which was beautifully cooked and both fell apart into strips and just melted gently into pieces when I ate it. This was served with a really nice and creamy mash with seasonal veg.
To finish off the meal we retired next door to the bar, which is what you would imagine bars in the highlands to be like, rustic and welcoming with a good selection of Scotch malt whiskeys. It would therefore have been rude not to enjoy a dram or two. As I am still working my way through the hundreds of Scotch malt whiskeys, I tried a new one for me, Clynelish 10yr old which had at first had a gently taste and then a nice a sharp finish.
On our second night we dined back in the same restaurant. We just loved the views and sitting overlooking the river Orchy and another beautiful sunset behind the hills, it was a wonderful way to finish off a long day out and about enjoying Scotland.
For starters I enjoyed a tomato and roasted red pepper soup, followed by a delicious Confit Duck Leg and Smoked Duck, such a good meal and so well presented on the plate too!
I finished off my meal with a lovely Vanilla Panna Cotta with fresh Strawberries and Honeycomb.
Again we had to try out their whisky selection and I tasted another new whisky for me, this time a Deanston 12yr old as this is fairly local from Doune which we passed on the way north. This was also another great whisky which was very nice and smooth to drink, with a simple spiciness coming through.
Being a tourist
On the first morning I had decided to make the most of our location, so had a bright and early start (4:15am in this case) to visit Glencoe for sunrise in hope for something magical, I was not disappointed! I spent the best part of an hour by Loch Ba, taking in the real beauty and peacefulness of this region.
When I returned to the hotel I decided to relax for a little while outside. What better way to enjoy your morning coffee, than sitting on our decking, enjoying the soothing sounds of the River Orchy calmly flowing by while the birds whizz by in a hunt for their first meal of the day, I certainly had the relaxing morning I asked for!
We enjoyed our breakfast back in the dining room overlooking the River Orchy. Mine was an amazing Egg Benedict, served with black pudding as per my request, as this is one of my favourite Scottish breakfasts.
After breakfast we set off on our day or exploring the region. First we drove along the old military road, which runs behind the hotel and parallel to the West Highland Way for a little while. Our first stop was Loch Tulla, only 5 min by car or maybe 25 by foot. This had a beautiful and calm mirror like effect and it would have been rude of me not to stop and take a photo.
After our round trip of the old military road, we headed north towards Glencoe. We had planned to visit this region today and explore Glen Etive. Last October we climbed our first Munros in Glencoe and had the most breath taking view towards Glen Etive, so thought it would be a nice way to see it first-hand. As it happened, the weather decided to turn a little and as we drove up the beautiful Glen had the rain starting and stopping. We spent a few hours driving to the end of Glen Etive, mainly because I kept on stopping for photographs and to just stop and enjoy the views.
For lunch we made our way north to the village of Glencoe and stopped at a little café called Crafts & Things, just of the main road, which was well kept with floral displays and looked like a former barn, but converted to a wonderful little café and gallery. From there we slowly made our way back to Bridge of Orchy. As usual we took some of the smaller back roads through Glencoe village and was rewarded with yet more breath-taking views. We arrived to this stunning scenery at Loch Achtriochtan and spent a little while taking in this beautiful site amongst the Glencoe mountains.
On the Sunday we enjoyed our last breakfast with yet another lovely view in the river view restaurant. After breakfast we got packed up and said our goodbyes and thank you to the team at the Bridge of Orchy for an outstanding weekend and break away from the hustle of the usual busy city life.
We didn’t want to drive straight back home, so we decided to take the B8074 through Glen Orchy, which is a beautiful little road which runs from the Bridge of Orchy to Dalmally. This scenic little road runs alongside the River Orchy and what a wonderful route for wildlife spotting and all the twists and turns making it a real joy. We came across several sits where people had been camping, but at least they had respected the riverside and kept it tidy after leaving.
We made our way to and through Dalmally, then from there took another small back route around Dalmally, the old military road, which took us to the Kilchurn Castle, which was not well posted, but well worth a visit. It was a bit of a walk, but such a great setting on Loch Awe and some wonderful views of the surrounding hills.
We then made our way south to Inverary and picked up lunch at the famous Loch Fyne Oyster Restaurant and Bar. Before heading back towards the city through the stunning road taking you past the famous Rest and Be Thankful and you end up by the banks of Loch Lomond
To find out more about what to do in the area and to book your visit at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, visit http://www.bridgeoforchy.co.uk/
I had been invited to stay at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel and the account of my experiences is honest and all opinions are my own and make sure you follow me along on my travels on twitter