We checked out of our room in Oban in the morning and continued our scenic drive to the Highlands.
Our plan was to do some hiking in Glencoe, which is a sort of outdoor destination place in Scotland. There is a giant nature park with a bunch of hikes as well as skiing and ice climbing in the winter.
Since we couldn't check into our hotel on the outskirts of Glencoe yet, we decided to drive straight to the Glencoe visitor centre. We parked here, enjoyed some good views of the highlands, and did a short nature walk.
This walk was really short and easy, so we decided to try out the Pap Glencoe hike that we head read about. We had a couple water bottles and two granola bars and figured that we were seasoned enough hikers that the "hard" rating for this 5-6 hour hike wouldn't phase us. Turns out, we were maybe a little more nonchalant about it than we (or really I) should have been.
Here was our view from the start of the trail. Our destination point was the top of the rounded "Pap" in the distance.
The hike was incredibly beautiful all along the way, but the "trail" conditions were pretty miserable. One section was really boggy and almost impossible to walk through without mud oozing into your shoes. In other parts, you had the option of walking through boggy mud or a stream. I really wished that I had waterproof hiking boots, but we made due with what we had!
I was quite warm on the steep incline during the first part of the way up. But all of a sudden we got pelted with heavy raindrops that were getting blown sideways into us by the wind. I had a drop of rain fly straight into my inner ear. Ugh! We were well prepared with rain jackets, but I still had to spend some time wiping water off my glasses and getting drips in my eyes as evidenced below.
The weather soon cleared and we kept hiking higher and higher. By the time we got to the last part, we were basically scrambling up rocks to the summit. I wasn't so sure about going to the very top, but Dylan wasn't about to hike for 3 hours only to get close to the top.
We climbed our way into a cloudy storm, but we made it to the top! Here was my very great view from the top...
I didn't get many photos on the way down because I was using all of my energy not to slip and fall as I scrambled down rocks and through streams and bogs. The real kicker was that we came across swarms of little bugs at several points on the hike. On the way up, we were going fast enough that they didn't really land on us. But I was quite slow on the way down, leaving them time to land on my face...and bite me! They really hurt and added a comic level of misery to getting down the mountain. (Dylan later counted 8 small red welts on my face and neck.)
It ended up being one of the harder hikes that I've ever done (although it doesn't touch half dome). But I made it and now have a very healthy respect for Highland hikes and their ratings!
Dylan actually liked all of the scrambling (even in his well-worn Crocs). This photo captures our feelings at the end of the hike.
We were quite muddy from the hike by the time we checked into our hotel. Our hotel room, which was really nice but also pretty dated, had a giant standing tub in the bathroom. We took advantage of it in some unconventional ways...
Ultimately, we treated ourselves to a nice dinner at the hotel restaurant so we didn't have to go anywhere else. The food was pretty good, but the sticky toffee pudding dessert we ordered was amazing! These were some much deserved calories, I think.
And we completed the day with some reading and chill time with our fantastic view of Loch Leven from our room.