Scotland Day Thirteen: Glencoe Lochan and Hagrid's Hill

Birds sighted: Long-tailed Tit, Herring gull, Hooded Crow, Mallard ducks with babies, Wren, Song Thrush, Chaffinch, Tree Creeper, Green Finch, Willow Warbler, Grey Heron
Mammals: Vole, Roe Deer
Plants: Butterwort (insectivorous)

From the slopes of Sgorr nam Fiannaidh looking southeast at Stob Coire nan Lochan

Today we started off with a walk around the Glencoe Lochan area. There are three marked trails of varying difficulty. We took the most difficult first, the one that takes you up and around slopes surrounding the lochan (really part of the rise that leads to the Pap of Glencoe). This is a great walk through some dense evergreen forest although its quite a steep climb. Near the lookout that has views of the hills around and Loch Leven we were assailed by a horde of Long-tailed Tits. These very cute little birds flitted around and fought amongst each other most earnestly, finally taking the argument further down the slope and out of sight and hearing.

We made our way down toward the lochan (and spotted a Tree Creeper doing exactly what its name implies) and took a second trail around the lochan itself. There were two female mallards with babies. The ducklings were hilarious, splashing around and jumping at or into weeds and then scurrying together on shore and resting all balled up together.

Mallard ducklings

Went to the Chlachaig Inn for lunch. This Traveler tried Haggis for the second time in her life. This time I actually liked it. The first time I had it was many years ago and it tasted too much of kidney. The apple-blackberry crumble drowning in custard was by far the best desert I've had in a very long while.

Looking southwest down the glen with An Torr below

After a much needed nap (that was one heavy lunch and my stomach had no idea what to make of it and since my stomach and brain are very closely connected a rest period was called for as both contemplated what had just been ingested), we decided to tackle what we call Hagrid's Hill. It is actually the side of a peak called Sgorr nam Fiannaidh, which sits to the east of the Pap of Glencoe. There is no marked route. We were basing the location on what we had surmised from a photo of Hagrid's Hut hanging in the cottage we are staying in. We walked up the road to the Inn (again). There is a path leading straight up the peak opposite the Inn. We took this a short way up and then quickly turned west and threaded our way across the rather precipitously steep slope following what are either sheep or deer paths. At one point I came face to foot with a vole. Silly vole just sitting there, you should be glad I was not a Hen Harrier. I think we both were so surprised by each other that neither of us could move. But Mr. (or Mrs.) Vole was nice enough to let me take its portrait. The view from this slope is amazing and here and there the odd bit of bell heather was starting to bloom. There were also butterworts blooming all along the hillside.

A vole

After a bit of wandering back and forth over parts of the slope and comparing various ledges and locales to the position of Loch Torren below we finally zeroed in on the location of the hut. We found a suspiciously perfectly round depression on the side of the hill. That had to have been the location. So we sat and had a snack and admired the view.

The view from just above Hagrid's hut with Loch Torren below

On the way back to the cottage we decided to take the woodland route (An Torr) back past Signal Rock. This turned out to be much more of a hike than we anticipated but a beautiful one at that, with the added bonus of catching brief glimpses of a small group of Roe deer furtively making their way through the forest. We also found another large rock outcropping with a good view, much like that of Signal Rock. If the druids used Signal Rock as the Rock of the Sun then I would place good bets on the fact that this other outcropping would have served as the Rock of the Moon. You can't have one without the other. Ask a druid.

We arrived at the cottage just in time to see a mother Mallard leading her babies to the Loch to see water for the first time (they were that young, tiny and yellow).