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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

On The Road: Ft. William to Skye

Himself was moving slower and stiffer as we left Ft. William… it would be a while before Ben Nevis worked out of his muscles. 

This next leg of our journey was a wee bit different.  Perhaps some of you will recognize this sight… the Glenfinnian viaduct.  It and the steam train that goes over it have been featured in a recent popular movie series.

I’ve always wanted to ride on a steam train, so this opportunity was jumped on!  It’s called “The Jacobite Steam Train” and it runs from Ft. William to the coast town of Mallaig (from where you can catch the ferry to Skye). 

We boarded into our car (something I would recommend is to go with 1st class instead of the 2nd class car as we did – it was a bit cramped). 

The ride was delightful.  All senses were engaged for this ride… we saw beautiful countryside and small villages, we listened to the chugging of the engine and the clack of the rails, we smelled the sulphur smell of the coal smoke, we enjoyed our refreshments served to our tables and we felt the constant sway of the train as we traveled along.  For a portion of the ride I stood in the vestibule and shoot some photos out of the large open window there (it was lightly raining and the rain ruined opportunity to shoot out the window next to our seats).   It actually worked out better to photograph from the vestibule as several times I leaned out to get a shot like this one.  I’ll have to admit it wasn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done, as there was a bit of a ‘cat and mouse’ game between me and brush growing next to the tracks on rocky outcrops.  The only reason I was able to do it was I noticed a change in train sounds as we passed a rock outcrop… the sound raised in pitch. 

This is Mallaig.  While we were on the train, Dave drove to meet us.  He parked in the queue waiting for the ferry and was there at the train station when we arrived. 

And we arrived hungry!  A block and a half from the train station was a ‘take away’ fish and chip shop (a chippy) that was a hole in the wall.  And there was a long line of people waiting for their turn.  Himself and I shared this fresh haddock and chips.  And I certainly wish we had each gotten our own portion.  It was delicious!!!  We ate at quite a few chippys while in Scotland – including one voted “Best Fish And Chips”.  This little Mallaig chippy has my vote as best. 

Sorry I can’t remember the name of it, but it is uphill behind the Cornerstone restaurant.  Look for the stairway with a line of people on it!
After we finished our fish and chips we walked a bit on the dock next to the ferry terminal.  This man was working on his shrimp pots. 

A little warning NOT to drive off the end of the ferry terminal…

…unless you see this in front of you!

And here we go on another ferry ride!  Until this year I had never ridden a large ferry.  Now I’ve been on seven of them (counting the two in Washington State this summer). 

We landed on the island of Skye, drove northeast and drove OFF Skye via the new bridge.  Our next stop was one of those “you can’t get there from here” locations at Mallaig.
The iconic Eilean Donan castle.  You might recognize it from perhaps the Highlander movie or maybe just about any calendar featuring Scotland!  Tide was out while we were there but it was still fabulous. 

Heading up the causeway. 

At high tide with is full of water.

Inside the castle walls.  The stairs go up to the banquet hall.

The courtyard is built around the rocks the castle is constructed on.  It’s full of ‘hidey holes’ and strange angles.

After we finished exploring Eilean Donan, we drove back to Skye and the village of Kyleakin.  See that pink house?  That was a real oddity in Scotland.  Even the blue one is unusual.  Most of the homes are white or some shade of brown – from a cream to almost dark brown (we saw some red granite homes too).  Such a pop of color was almost startling. 

I never got tired of the beautiful water views.

After our full day we spent the night at the Tigh an Dochais B&B.  Nice room with a great bath.

This wonderful view of Broadford Bay is from our room’s window.  I just wish there had been beach access from the B&B.  The yard was fenced for their dog… in fact, we couldn’t even open our glass door because he was allowed on the decking.  

Our breakfast the next morning was one of the best.  Very posh and delicious.  Then it was time to head off for our next day of touring.

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