As I noted in yesterday’s blog (Saturday September 8th), Mary and I had “hit a wall” from the pace we had been keeping, and we had decided to take our foot off the gas for a day. That meant that today (Sunday the 9th) we slept until well past 8 AM (a rarity for us), and we really took our time getting going. It had rained all night and we were awoken on a couple of occasions by rather blustery winds, but as we made our way over to the main building at the Gleddoch Hotel for breakfast, we were favored with mostly blue skies. As we found out later in the day, the weather can turn on the “spin of a dime” in Scotland (I know they don’t have dimes in Scotland, but you know what I mean).
We had a nice leisurely breakfast, and then returned to our room to read, catch up on emails, and talk about our plans for the week ahead. It was well past noon when we eventually made our way to the car, and before leaving we took one last opportunity to breathe in the view.
In order to ensure that we didn’t get too rambunctious today, I had broken with our daily routine and made a reservation for us, yesterday afternoon. My choice, the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, about half-way up the west side of Loch Lomond itself, and just a short 30 minute drive north of the Gleddoch Hotel and Spa.
As you can see from the pictures below, our drive north involved some narrow but scenic roads, and you can also see some leftover puddles from last night’s rain.
Since our room at the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel wasn’t going to be available until 3 PM, we had a couple of hours to kill. Mary said she felt reasonably refreshed and suggested she was up for a short sight-seeing drive. I noted that the town of Tarbet was just a quick 11 minute drive north from the hotel, and that we might manage a few glimpses of Loch Lomond (through the trees) along the way.
At the crossroads of Tarbet, we took a right turn with the intention of finding a stop for a cup of tea, before reversing course and heading back to the hotel. We didn’t and couldn’t know that we had turned onto a narrow winding loch-side road that would not yield so much as a single driveway or pull-out spot for 13 kms. Finally, at Ardlui, we did find a lovely old hotel which had a cafe facing Loch Loman, exactly what we had been looking for!
After ordering lunch, I ventured outside to take a picture while waiting for our food to be delivered. As you can see (below), it was an absolutely beautiful location, and it gave us our first real look at the “bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond”.
What transpired over the next 40 minutes was quite remarkable. First the clouds rolled in. Then we saw rain sweeping across the lake until it reached our location. Within minutes, blue sky had appeared again. Check out the picture sequence below.
Our waitress at the Ardlui Hotel Cafe told us that what we’d just experienced was nothing out of the ordinary. Wow!
After soup, a fudge slice with ice cream, and of course a shared pot of tea, we headed back down the west side of Loch Lomond towards our hotel. The traffic in that direction was scarce, and for the next 25 minutes, Mary and I were treated to a steady stream of “ah” moments, with views like the one below, around every corner.
I had a surprise in store for Mary. Knowing how tired she was, I had booked us into a stone cottage that was separate from the main hotel. It was right alongside a river that ran through the property. When she first saw it, I got the “oh my gosh” reaction I’d been hoping for, and once inside, she was beside herself with delight. It was gorgeous!
While Mary settled in, I went for a short walk along the river, but I was not out for long, as the skies opened up again, and unloaded a torrent of rain on me. I hustled my butt back and found Mary checking out the artwork that was generously hung throughout the cottage.
For the next few hours, we read, Mary worked on a cross-stitch pattern she had bought earlier in the trip, and we both relaxed. We opened the windows and could hear the sound of the river running rapidly past our front door. A little later we went across the highway to the main lodge, where we had a fantastic meal in what Mary described as “exactly what I envisioned a restaurant in a Scottish Inn would look like”.
Back in our room, I was delighted to discover a couple of “wee” treasures that had been left for us. Given that Scotch is Mary’s all-time favorite tipple, I couldn’t imagine a better way for our day of (relative) rest to end.