Pine Martens and Pints: A Highland Wildlife Special

Last year’s sighting of an unexpected Southern Wainscot on National Moth Night won a free two night stay for two in the Highlands. You did know there was such a thing as National Moth Night, right? And they say the moth game doesn’t pay.

The destination was about seven miles north of Fort William. Scotch Argus has just emerged on a rare sunny day.

The nearest bar was the Moorings in Banavie, listed on the Highland CAMRA website magazine as selling cask beer, though their excellent magazine (that contains full listings) doesn’t seem to have been published so far this year. Alas the solitary Belhaven clip was turned round and a gassy half of local fizz was had. The view of Neptune’s Staircase made up for it.

Pic: Press and Journal

An hour or two in Fort William saw a welcome revisit to the Grog and Gruel – with beers from River Leven, Strathaven and Cairngorm – but not before friend Paul greatly enjoyed a Golden-ringed Dragonfly munching a fly on his shirt. Nice eh? The shirt I mean.

The mothing was productive as the rain stayed away and red squirrels and a family of three pine martens scurried about in ridiculously close proximity.

Moth du jour was the nationally scarce Manchester Treble Bar.

Thought would like to see this micro too. Pyrausta Purpuralis since you ask.

On day two we took a circular drive via the Corran ferry and Castle Tioram. Well you said you wanted to see some Highland grandeur.

On the way back we stopped at Glenuig where the eponymous Inn proclaimed real ales. It didn’t open till 4 so we spent an entertaining half hour in the village shop, run by volunteers.

Next door is the history society, run by the same volunteers but only open once a week.

Glenuig is remote but not as remote as it used to be. A public road was built in 1966 and mains electricity supplied in 1983.

Given its location I was surprised to see five handpumps- all from Cairngorm Brewery- and a bit less surprised to see them charging £5 a pint. London prices I mused aloud, and a group of seven Londoners demurred, saying their locals were much cheaper. I speculated with them about cask quality issues in such an isolated spot, gorgeous though it was.

One asked me to try her beer. It was well on the turn and changed without demur. The others then asked me to do the same with theirs, which ranged from ok to very good (Tradewinds is a great beer). The last in the group took the piss by asking me to taste her dandelion and burdock (my verdict: a bit sweet and over carbonated).

That night we went to the Ben Nevis Inn, a barn at the foot of the climb up Britain’s highest peak.

On Your Marks

Here we tried River Leven Blonde and Cairngorm Wildcat, the latter being the better weathered of the two.

We didn’t climb Ben Nevis. My mountain is the Good Beer Guide, which is more arduous.

7 thoughts on “Pine Martens and Pints: A Highland Wildlife Special

  1. Is this the next Fenland post? Great pics, anyway.

    I’ve a bit of sympathy with beer prices. Less so if quality hot by excess pumps.

    Just as I get above 91% of Guide completion, this is a reminder of how difficult the next 9% will be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From one geographical extreme to another. The first 91% is the hardest! Every confidence in you and happy to assist of course. They don’t call you Devonian Martin for nothing.


  2. Visited the Ben Nevis Inn after a stroll up the mountain, known by the locals as “The Hill,” I believe, in 2012. Two pints consumed greedily after the exertion. However, I cannot remember what the beers were. Great view up Glen Nevis through the windows in the background.

    Liked by 1 person

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