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A short break in Spean Bridge, Scotland, with 3 suggested itineraries
Where to stay in Spean Bridge
Spean Lodge Bed & Breakfast
I spent 2 nights at Spean Lodge Bed and Breakfast, located in the centre of Spean Bridge, an attractive village only 15 minutes from the bustling town of Fort William. Check out my recommended itineraries below to discover some of the best things to do in and around Spean Bridge.
Spean Lodge sits in the heart of the village of Spean Bridge within walking distance of the main amenities including a few restaurants and the railway station. The famous Commando Memorial dedicated to the original British Commando Forces is also close by, a popular tourist spot with open views towards Ben Nevis.
The Lodge dates back to the late Georgian era and retains many original features. Owners Glen and Suzanne both have an interest in history and art which is reflected in the period decor and furnishings of the house. Even the sprawling grounds have pedigree, being landscaped by a professional gardener from Kew in London in the mid-19th century.
The spacious accommodation has the feel of a historic country home and a stay here does give you a bygone taste of life as a Highland Laird or Lady. I can't think of anywhere else I've come across on my travels around Scotland where you can get this experience at such an incredibly good nightly rate, not to mention all the added personal touches that come with staying at a B&B.
My guest room at Spean Lodge was traditionally furnished in keeping with the style of the house. I don't think I've ever come across proper china tea cups on a hospitality tray before but they were a fitting addition and I felt even more like a Highland Lady as I sat looking out my bedroom window to the pretty garden sipping on my tea!
The room decor may be period but it had the usual 21st century comforts that you might expect including a TV and very modern bathroom with walk-in shower. I was delighted to find a generous supply of toiletries from the Highland Soap Company which is located a short distance away just outside Fort William.
As with all the places I stayed at on this trip, my bed was very comfortable and the whole experience was very homely. Glen and Suzanne are another couple of lovely hosts who are on hand to share their local knowledge if you require it while giving you space to relax and unwind if that's what you prefer.
Guests also have access to a large lounge with a bay window that maximises the view of the garden. I loved the period style and the cabinet of curios including old bottles, pottery and random historic objects with a story to tell.
I can imagine it would an amazing spot to curl up in front of the fire on an autumn evening after a day of exploring. Autumn is actually my favourite time to visit this part of Scotland so I might just have to book a stay and try that out for myself.
The breakfast room was another beautiful space, like the rest of the house, the walls are adorned with eclectic and interesting art. I don't know if you've picked up on it yet but I kind of fell in love with the decor and historic features of Spean Lodge, its a shame my stay was only temporary!
Although there was an extensive list of breakfast options, I stuck to my usual cooked items on the first day and was pleased to have the choice of gluten free sausages again which is definitely not always the case in places I've stayed at although every B&B on this trip had them on the menu which was brilliant.
On the second morning I opted for Suzanne's scrambled egg and smoked salmon special which made a nice change and lived up to Glen's hype! It was also recommended by another guest so I definitely had to give it a try.
Thanks to Glen's excellent hosting, all the guests were soon chatting to each other and swapping travel tips. As a solo traveller surrounded by couples at separate tables it can sometimes be awkward to work your way in to someone else's conversation so I do appreciate it when the host breaks the ice and includes everyone in morning discussions. One of the aspects of staying at a B&B I enjoy the most is the social interaction as I really enjoy hearing everyone's travel stories.
Not only is Spean Lodge a member of Scotland's Best B&Bs, it has also been awarded a 4 star gold. I really can't recommend a stay here enough as it is fantastic value for such a distinguished pace to stay.
Glen and Suzanne are also interesting and amiable hosts that make you feel very welcome from the moment you arrive.
What to do around Spean Bridge
Now you have your accommodation sorted, you might be wondering how best to spend your time in Spean Bridge so I've suggested 3 road trips that include some of the best scenery in the area.
THREE ROAD TRIP ITINERARIES
Using Spean Lodge Bed and Breakfast as your base, these routes are all easy to follow. I have included all the highlights so you can personalise each route to your own interests. It is unlikely you will have the time to to visit every place listed so I suggest picking a few places that you definitely want to include and adding in more attractions if you have time left over.
OPTION 1 - SPEAN BRIDGE & FORT WILLIAM
BEST FOR - HISTORY & SCENERY
This circular route takes you to the main town of Fort William before running alongside the Caledonian Canal to Gairlochy and returning to Spean Bridge. There are many (many!) things to do on this route so I have only listed my personal highlights to help you narrow down the options.
High Bridge & Commando Monument - Follow the 3 mile circular walk from Spean Lodge past the historic bridge and the site of the first shots fired in the 1745 Jacobite Uprising. The trail also passes the Commando Monument.
Nevis Range Mountain Resort - Take the gondola to the viewpoint with access to walking and mountain bike trails during the summer and snowsports during the winter. Stop by the cafe and enjoy the extensive vistas across Lochaber.
Old Inverlochy Castle - Explore what remains of this 13th century castle, once a medieval stronghold
West Highland Museum - Don't miss this free-to-visit attraction in Fort William's High Street (although donations are appreciated). A fantastic place to learn about the history of the West Highlands
Cruise Loch Linnhe - Go seal spotting, get a different perspective of Ben Nevis or enjoy a west coast sunset on one of their cruises from Fort William
Neptune's Staircase - Stop in the village of Banavie and walk along the Caledonian Canal to see the longest staircase lock in Scotland
Gairlochy - walk to the Pepperpot Lighthouse and take in the gorgeous scenery where the Caledonian Canal meets Loch Lochy,
Commando Memorial - If you've not already walked to this iconic monument from Spean Lodge, head to the car park for a close up view of the sculpture and panoramic vistas of the surrounding landscape
OPTION 2 - ROAD TO THE ISLES
BEST FOR - LOCHS, BEACHES & HARRY POTTER FANS
Drive the A830, more romantically named 'The Road to the Isles' to the end of the road at the fishing settlement of Mallaig, where, you guessed it, you can catch a ferry to several of Scotland's Hebridean islands. This is the option if you prefer a more relaxed excursion, return by the same route.
Treasures of the Earth - Visit this unique family-run attraction filled with giant crystals, gemstones and fossils
Glenfinnan - Join the crowds waiting for the 'Harry Potter' steam train to cross the photogenic viaduct. climb the Glenfinnan monument built as a tribute to the Highlanders who fought in the 1745 Jacobite Uprising - the panoramic views are worth the effort - or escape the crowds with Loch Shiel Cruises and head down the loch on a scenic voyage
Land, Sea and Islands Centre - Stop by this small attraction in Arisaig to view exhibitions covering local history and heritage then browse locally made crafts in the gift shop
Visit the beach - Camusdarach and the Silver Sands of Morar are two of the best beaches along this part of the coast, pack a picnic and enjoy the island views
Mallaig - Stroll around the busy harbour and sample some of the freshly landed seafood in numerous local eateries. If you have time, follow the Mallaig Circuit, an easy 45 minute circular walk
OPTION 3 - CIRCULAR ROUTE THROUGH GLEN COE
BEST FOR - SPECTACULAR LANDSCAPES
This circular route is all about the drama and jaw-dropping scenery, heading through the atmospheric Glen Coe, past the photogenic ruins of Kilchurn Castle in Loch Awe before following the picturesque coast of Loch Linnhe back to Fort William. Keep your camera at the ready!
Inchree Falls - Walk through the woodland to a viewing area where you can see the cascading falls, look out for red squirrels around the car park
Ballachulish Bridge - Stop at one of the numerous laybys for a photo of the iconic bridge or the distinctive Pap of Glencoe
Glencoe Village - Before you enter the infamous glen itself, visit the Glencoe Folk Museum located within 18th century heather-thatched cottages or go for a stroll around the highly photogenic Glencoe Lochan
Glencoe Visitor Centre - View a replica 17th century Highland turf house and find out more about the famous glen
Explore Glen Coe - There are numerous laybys where you can stop and photograph the brooding glen and rugged mountains, or stretch your legs on a walking trail - you may like to read my blog with 3 Easy but rewarding Glencoe walks for a few ideas
Kilchurn Castle - Stop by one of the most photographed castles in Scotland on the shores of Loch Awe
St Conan's Kirk - The magnificent architecture of this curious building is not as old as it first appears making it a truly intriguing place to visit
Cruachan Visitor Centre - Venture into the depths of Ben Cruachan mountain on a unique tour along the underground tunnels of this hydro power station
Falls of Lora - Time it right to view this dramatic natural phenomenon when the tide boils and froths! Check out this website for more info
Castle Stalker - Another well photographed castle located on a tidal islet. The Castle Stalker View Cafe & Gift Shop is a good place to stop and take a photo
Hopefully this has given you some ideas for a trip to Spean Bridge, a brilliant base for exploring the West Highlands. To discover more fantastic bed and breakfasts around the country, pop over to Scotland's Best B&Bs website.
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