The trail from Bridge of Orchy to the Pass of Clen Coe is one day’s journey on the Scottish West Highland Way – the 96-mile trail starting in Milngavie and ending in Fort William.
It is – by far – one the most magnificent parts of the journey (don’t judge! It includes a moor and the mountains, what else would one ever need?!) and gives you just a glimpse of one of the last wildernesses in Europe.
When K and I walked the West Highland Way in October 2015 (check the archives for stories from that time), the Rannoch Moor part of the journey turned out to be a rare stretch without full sunshine.
I’ve read descriptions of people getting lost in the rain or crossing the moor in scorching heat, so getting an opportunity to cross it in another season and specially in March, was a chance not to be missed.
Why is it wonderful to cross the Rannoch Moor in March?
1. It is is quiet.
At first, you can guess the traffic sounds in the background, but as you get further into the moor you’ll start finding pockets of silence where only a littil bird of a flowing river is adding their notes to the ambiance.
Silence, just like the feeling of real fear, has become rare in 2016. (Disclaimer: I wrote this text before the EU referendum.) But only one of them is a luxury we should stretch after. And nature, even moor nature, is definitely quieter in March than later on in the year.
2. You can get very lucky with the weather.
Locals have said that the Highlands tend to get a fair weather spell around Easter. Whether it was due to the early Easter this year or just a lucky chance, the day became fit for a T-shirt.
(The same weather stretch magic applies to early October – I’ve heard it from the locals and tested it myself.)
3. You can have the moor to yourself.
The usual West Highland Way crowds start appearing from April onwards. In March, you can still feel like walking in remote parts of Alaska in here, literally meeting no one the entire way.
4. A chance to taste all the seasons.
If you can’t return to Rannoch in every couple of months, March will be a wonderful time to see snow either on the ground or on the mountain tops.
Yes. It is wonderful to try to escape the moor when being annoyed to oblivion by midges in summer and to see it cloud-covered in autumn, but if you don’t have proper winter clothes to wear, March can still give you a little taste of the winter season as well.
5. No. Midges.
Just like during the first days of Paradise.
6. Flexibility with hotels.
The hotels at the start and end of your journey are less likely to be fully booked. And if your destination is set around Glen Coe, you can start off from the Bridge of Orchy Hotel (meaning that you can fuel yourself by one of their glorious breakfasts). Mmm.
7. You can hear that bird!
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, relish in your luck. (Ok, I’ve also heard that bird in October. Sue me and leave me alone next to a solitary birch tree!)
Walking down from the moor (location pictured below) to be greeted by a sudden, invisible mock-laughter is just one of those reasons to go and wander around in this wilderness that Europe still holds.
I will not look that bird up. Something that sounds freeing and demonic at the same time should remain a mystery.
And this is just a short list of reasons to return to Scotland as often as possible. ❤