Saturday, 25 September 2010

Tyndrum & Loch Awe 1- Ben Cruachan Power station

My biggest concern that I had about this trip, for a few months beforehand, was what do I do if the weather is not suitable for hillwalking...... Today was that day!.... as the cloud base was low and the weather forecast for the afternoon was bad.
The weather forecast looked good for the following two days so I needed to take it easy in preparation for that. The natural destination would have been to visit Oban but I had been there just a few months ago by train (see Oban label)... incidentally you can see the railway line in the above picture on the left.
The loose plan I had started at the Green Welly stop in Tyndrum. This place can only be described as being professional in giving the tourist a complete service. I can't decide how this business grew but I get the feeling that it must have started life as a petrol station.

The premises are ideally located for such a business near a major road junction that take traffic to Oban and the Isles in the west, Glencoe and Fort William in the north west and Loch Lomond / Glasgow or the Trossachs / Stirling in the south and east. The petrol station shop has grown into the usual mini mart that looked after me for post dinner treats and a sandwich for lunch time today. From my description of the location, you can gather that it has to be run like a professional organisation accepting 100's if not 1000's of people everyday. The car park was just as professional...

The main part of the shop deals with the need of the tourist to eat food, have a toilet break and to buy souvenirs for people you don't like !!!..........
Seriously though, there were some good things for purchase, but on the second day of my trip,  I wasn't quite looking for that kind of thing just yet.
When I spent some time in these parts on holiday with my parents as an early teenager, I often asked if we could go to the "Hollow Mountain". Unfortunately, they didn't share my enthusiasm and consequently I never went. As it was only 30 minutes drive, I thought it would be an ideal choice for the day out of the rain. I travelled along the shores of Loch Awe heading in the Oban direction to the Ben Cruachan Hydro electric power station.....

During the morning, I learned that the small site was artificially created from the rocks excavated from the four reservoir pipe shafts when the power station was built. The work took 6 years to complete in the 1950's/60's and provides Scotland with a small amount of hydro electric power at peak times. The reservoir is unseen from the road and the pipes are angled at 55 degrees to create the momentum of water to drive the generators.
To give you a feeling of the space available at the bottom of the mountain, the main road that passes the car park going to Oban was a major building achievement as it was created with no artificial base......

The small visitor centre consisted of a shop, cafe, electricity exhibition and a video presentation. There were two minibuses that took visitors to see the generators and as there was only one space to park it underground the 30 minute trip for £6 had to be on schedule. The lasting experience that I gained from the bus trip was not the long dark tunnel ( just felt like travelling at night time), nor was it the hewn out tunnels in the style of early James Bond sets with tropical plants beside the walkway or the 1960's engineering, but the amount of facts that my head was pounded within the period. There wasn't enough time to talk about it all at the small viewing platform that we were taken to, so we had a full commentary on both sections of the bus journey.
 I was however disappointed to learn that we weren't allowed to take in cameras or bags, so these had to be left in the lockers provided. This the last view before the trip......

check out this Cruachan guided tour link for a view of tunnel and walkway/plans and google images has a photo of the yellow generators we saw.
  I had to content myself with photographs in the exhibition of how electricity works.....

.... and how to cook a turkey in the microwave !!!!.......

My window shopping experience continued a theme that I left off in Tyndrum with items that the Scottish locals would be embarrassed about.....

Time for my lunch time sandwich outside the building next to the Loch overlooking a Trout fish farm that supplies Marks and Spencers and Tesco ( I'm told). After lunch it was time for something a bit more interesting, but first one more thought from The Green Welly shop ...


  1. Hi Jo_on_tour! Thanks for visiting my blog through Rafael Lam's one! Ben Lawers and Killin seems much agreeable to me than Cruachan...but I like its souvenirs, specially the Ying and Yang dogs!

  2. Nothing wrong with this post. It is all about travelling and there are good days and bad, they are all worth sharing. Been good to see inside the mountain but that can't be helped. Mean devils.

  3. Very funny post.
    I enjoyed it.
    good trip J.

  4. Great, went to Loch Awe myself a few years back, never went to see the power station though. I paddled a kayak and camped among the islands instead.


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