this post finishes the details of the pubs ales and scenery encountered during myself and Wee Fatha's epic 10 day tour of the West of Scotland.
We awoke in Archgarve near Laide to a lovely breakfast, and were nearly eaten alive by midges when we left. We headed back past the Old Inn and nipped in to get a card (since the phone number isn't in the ever so reliable GBG!) and then headed inland and out again towards Inveralligan and the mountain of the same name. The weather was glorious and the scenery was breathtaking throughout, and the "road" down to Inveralligan prepared us nicely for the other track to Diabaig.
In 1993 we parked at what WF calls Upper Diabaig across from the Post Office to walk 5 miles across bog in the dark to Craig Youth Hostel. Despite that description, that was one of the highlights in terms of location. This time, noticing no sign of the made up part of the village (although the address of the below is Lower Diabaig), we parked down by the front and visited the Gille Brigdhe, which as all you Gaelic speaking readers will know, is the Oystercatcher. The licensed restaurant, with a link to their website, serves high quality food but most crucially, has a range of about 30 all Scottish bottled beers to drink in or take away. As fans of Scottish ales we bought about 12 bottles between us including Lerwick IPA, Cromarty Red Rooster and Windswept Weizen, and ate a fabulous large chowder each which was absolutely packed with beautiful seafood and fabulously creamy. Well worth a visit.
From here we headed towards Applecross and climbed the impressive Bealach Na Ba pass before ending up in Applecross in the car park. This was my third visit, and WF;s 5th or 6th, and inside the Applecross Inn I did have to laugh when the barman joked that a pub without beer would not be a pub. When WF and Mumrah visited in 1972 they asked to be seated for a meal and were told they weren't doing food. They opted for just a drink but were told the bar was closed. On asking for a room, they were told they weren't doing accommodation. Suffice to say, things have improved since.
I have never eaten here but I hear the food is excellent, and the views out over the water are amazing. There were two real ales on, Loch Carron Black Cow porter and Skye IPA. I had a half of each, since WF was driving, and enjoyed both. We got chatting to one of the, I think, sisters who runs the pub and thoroughly enjoyed our albeit brief visit. And then, we headed back up over the Bealach Na Ba and on towards Plockton.
Here the Plockton Inn serves a few real ales including Plockton Starboard. This was a well kept and very tasty golden beer, although we did not buy the bottles. Plockton, if you've never been, has a wonderful harbour and coastline, and we sat eating our chips in the car enjoying the view. That night, further on inland, we stayed at the Claunie Inn. Two real ales were on, Orkney Corncrake, and a red ale of unrememberable producer. I enjoyed our drinks, possibly five pints of the Corncrake, in the bar with a bloke called Alan, or similar, and a lady who may have been from Shrewsbury. I didn't enjoy finding an out of date English fiver in my change. Have now put it in the bank.
The next day our first stop was at Roy Bridge in a real ale pub selling three real ales - I had halves of Cairngorm Trade Winds, and Wild Cat, whilst WF had a pot of tea. I had forgotten how sweet the Trade Winds was, but the ales were well kept.
Our next stop was to have been at the Hikers bar at the Kings House Hotel at the top of Glencoe - alas its being refurbished. There is a cafe and bar on site, and we had halves of a Swedish pale ale on keg with our quite substantial late lunch. From here it was a mad dash to Innerleithen after a brief stop off in the Falls of Dochart Inn in Killin. Fyne Summer Skies and Harviestoun Wheat Beastie were both tried, and on goo form, with the Fyne one of the beers of the holiday.
That night we got to the Traquair Arms just in time to order tea and I had several pints of the Tempest Pale Armadillo session IPA, and took away some bottles of theirs including the Loral IPL. I also tried the Stuart Ale from Traquair House Brewery. With thanks to the barman, who may have been called Alan or Adam or something similar, for his help and company. The Pale Armadillo was excellent.
Our final day featured few stops, apart from a half of Sam Smiths Extra Stout in the Eskdale Hotel in langholm - since the Crown was shut til 14.00. Our only real ale stop came in Penrith in the Dockray Hall Hotel in the centre, one time home of king Richard the third. Cumbrian Legendary Ales featured with four casks and one from Barngates which was a red, and three or four kegs. All the beers were well kept, and the Oakham Green Devil was a welcome hoppy surprise.
All in all the beer scene in Scotland continues to expand, improve and innovate, and we thoroughly enjoyed the ales sampled, well, almost all, whilst in the West of the country. Heres hoping we can get back again next year to sample more delights, and witness more breathtaking scenery.
Your very best health!