We departed Glasgow on a 5 hour train ride north into the West Scottish Highlands and Fort William. The scenery changed quickly from urban to a starkly beautiful landscape of bogs, rock, and rolling hills. The weather became a constant fog and cold mist.
The combination of the changed weather and rugged scenery looked right out of Harry Potter and well it should since we were on the very train line that has been featured on every one of those movies. With a bit of planning and a lot more fare money we could be on the Jacobite Train, the steam train Harry rode to Hogwarts every year! It’s a real train that travels between Fort William to Mallaig. It is incredibly popular and considered one of the greatest train journeys in the world. Tickets must be purchased weeks and sometimes months in advance. Fortunately, the “ordinary” train plies the same route and while popular, does not require such planning or capital. In the next 3 days we may day-trip to Mallaig, but for now we are happily in Fort William on the shores of Loch Linnhe.
This is a thriving community of 10,500 and a draw for tourists eager to hike the Highlands and perhaps climb Ben Nevis, at 4,411 feet the highest mountain in the entire United Kingdom. Depending on the weather I may give the climb a go of it.
Our train ride was quite crowded and in mid-journey it divided. 4 coaches split off for Oban and our train consisting of the two remaining cars then continuing on to Fort William.
I love new foods. I have rarely found a cuisine I disliked, and as I sit here I can’t think of a single one! I figure if an entire people like a dish then there is a reason. This is one of the very few things upon which Christine and I are not in agreement. In Scotland I have found (to Christine’s wonder) two new favorites in Haggis and Black pudding. They are simply the best! However, description of their ingredients could give one pause.
Haggis is a combination of a sheep’s offal mixed with oats and spices, sewn into the sheeps stomach and boiled. Cut open the stomach and dig in… Wonderful! Black Pudding is not a pudding as we know it in North America, but rather it is a traditional blood sausage made from blood (of course!) grain, spices, and meat. It is a breakfast staple in the UK. I seek it out any chance I get.
Fort William is crowded, perhaps for an antique car rally, in addition to the usual crowd of Highland tourists. I could not find an available accommodation until I lucked upon an AirBnB and it’s wonderful owner, Shana. She picked us up at the train station and has even done our laundry! We will enjoy Fort William and her hospitality for the next 4 nights, the longest we have been in one place since this journey began.
Peace Everyone. Pete