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Tying up to the pontoon below the architecturally desperate Isles of Glencoe Hotel (ph 01855 811 602) is a bit like coming to rest in a slate quarry, which of course is exactly what this once was, indeed most of Ballachulish was. The pontoons are run by Lochaber Yachting and Watersports which changed hands in April 2011. They also charter yachts and have various small boats for hire - let's hope they prosper.
Behind the not at all bad information centre and café in the village you can walk round the very impressive old quarry which started production in the late 17th century and dwindled to nothing by 1955, and ponder on the whereabouts of all the slate that once came out of this place – slates from here and the Easdale area must have roofed most of Scotland until recently (now it is all dull uniform foreign slates from Spain, China and other countries). Roofers can easily tell the difference between these two types of slate. A small track to the left towards Glencoe leads in a few minutes to a rather remarkable slate arch built in 1822, now in the care of Historic Scotland. This was used to transport slate from the quarry to the shore and so on to boats, before the railway arrived in 1903.
The unexciting village has a very good Co-op, and a hardware store. And The Laroch, a rather nice restaurant which caters as much for children as for adults who want a good meal by a Michelin star chef - particularly note the very classy desserts (ph 01855 811940). And there is a bar. The mountaineering minded could quite easily do the splendid Ballachulish Horseshoe, but that would take most of the day. The golfers might like to try the Dragon's Tooth 8-hole course, but it is a bit of a walk (which I am told is what golfers enjoy).
You can get a meal and a drink in the hotel (not that I have felt very encouraged to do so), and maybe a bath too if you ask – there is a small swimming pool which might do instead! And there is a small adventure playground for the kids just up from the pontoons, and a nice view of Eilean Munde, surprisingly close, close enough to see the gravestones if you know what you are looking for.
But this is not a wildly attractive place to stop for the night, too much noise from the very busy road is a minus, but then there are not many safe anchorages in the loch and this is one of them, and it is a good place to stock up.
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The Ballachulish Horseshoe from Eilean Munde
The Yachting and Watersports pontoons