Staying overnight at Loch Etive
Glen Etive is situated in the Highlands of Scotland. The drive into the glen, alongside the river Etive, has been used in films such as James Bond’s Skyfall and Braveheart. Described as one of Scotland’s most beautiful drives and 12 miles of mostly single-track road and it comes to an end at Loch Etive. The only way out is the same road back.
Glen Etive is about 83 miles from our home but as luck would have it, we weren’t home. We had just spent our first wild overnight camp at Loch Creran, which had gone really well and we were keen to move onto somewhere new. As it turned out, Glen Etive is only 41 miles from Loch Creran. It was an easy decision! We were going to stay overnight in Glen Etive and we were also going to make the most of the 41-mile road trip, taking in as much as we could on the way.
We would be following the A828, which hugs the shore of Loch Linnhe for 12 miles but first, we needed a coffee. Regular readers will know that we love our coffee and if you would like to buy us a coffee, please feel free to follow this link – https://ko-fi.com/ontheway it would genuinely be appreciated. We were lucky to find the Castle Stalker View only 4 miles from setting off. This was a picturesque stop, to say the least. We sat at our window seats, looking out at Loch Laich, an inlet off Loch Linnhe, with Castle Stalker position in such a way on a tidal islet that it was impossible to take your eyes off it. Castle Stalker is a four-storey medieval tower house and has a turbulent history including clan rivalry, murder, illegitimacy, intrigue and royal connections.The site originally supported a small fortified building (fortalice), built in 1320 by the Lords of Lorn, the Clan MacDougall.
After our tasty and picturesque coffee, it was back onto the A828. Our next stop, to stretch our legs and give Sam our dog some fresh air, was Highland Titles Nature Reserve. To be honest, we had never heard of this reserve, let alone the concept behind it. The Highland Titles Nature Reserve is a uniquely funded conservation project selling souvenir plots of Scottish land to people all over the world and use the profits to manage the land as a nature reserve. Thousands of customers visit the nature reserve each year to witness the progress made possible with their support.
We were there to stretch our legs, rather than become a Laird and Lady but that’s ok as all visitors are welcome. There is a beautiful range of walks with spectacular views of Loch Linnhe and beyond. There is also FREE WI-FI at the Reception cabin.
After a quick stretch of the legs and imagining buying a plot of land and becoming a Laird and Lady, it was time to get back to Dora and continue to follow the A828.
About 8 miles on from Highland Titles Nature Reserve, the A828 continues over the Ballachulish Bridge and at this point we joined the A82, stopping at Glencoe. The name Glencoe has a real Scottish magnetism to it, which is hardly surprising when you delve into its history; Massacre of Glencoe as well as what it has to offer today – Glen Coe offers 40 miles of footpaths for you to explore. The Lost Valley is the hidden valley where the MacDonalds of Glen Coe hid their rustled cattle. A visit involves a very rough but intensely dramatic and scenic walk. The Three Sisters is one of the most scenic and beautiful places in the Scottish Highlands. A magical land straight out of a medieval story book and worth the visit.
We really enjoyed our stop at Glencoe and although we didn’t take in many of the abundant walks, we managed to sit and savor the dramatic scenery around us before heading off again.
Next up was the B road that would take us to Loch Etive. It is only 1 mile further along the A82 from Glencoe and is clearly marked. We took a right-hand turn onto the single-track road and immediately knew that we were driving into a wilderness. The road is 12 miles long and follows the winding route of the river Etive. The hills and mountains quickly surround you as you slowly drive with a mixture of wonder and constant alertness, as you prepare for vehicles coming in the opposite direction. Then there’s the sheep and deer, who have no issue with standing in your way. We loved every moment of it and we knew that this journey would be etched in our memories forever.
The only nagging concern was trying to find somewhere to stop. There were some opportunities along the way, close to the river but we wanted to be next to Loch Etive and this meant taking a gamble. We had researched enough to know that there is a small parking area at the end of the road, right next to the loch but it had limited spaces and if it is full, then you don’t really have many options other than to turn around and drive back the 12 miles you have just come from.
Finally, we reached the end of the road and a spot caught our eye. It wasn’t in the main parking area, which made us wonder if it was actually ok to park there. We decided to get out and investigate, not that there was a convoy of campers coming behind us or anything but we were still keen to grab it if we could.
This was only our second wild camp. Our first had relied on luck and a willingness to explore. This had resulted in us finding the perfect spot and here we were, the very next day, in a similar position. Surely, we wouldn’t get luck a second time!
As it turned out, we were! The PERFECT spot again. We were level, off the road, parked up by ourselves, surrounded by amazing views and we were lochside. We couldn’t believe it.
That evening, in that special place was just the way Aileen had hoped it would be. We stood next to the loch and watched some crazy swimmers enjoying the freezing water. We looked out for as much wildlife as our eyes would alert us to in the failing light and we took a relaxing post evening meal along the shoreline.
One of Tom’s abiding memories was lying in bed that night with the wind howling outside, the campervan getting shook about and the sound of the rain being battered off the roof. It just amplified the cozy feeling of being in the middle of a Scottish wilderness, snuggled up in a special campervan.