Train tickets in hand, we left Kinghorn just after 9 am on Friday morning and settled into the journey along the coast and across the Forth Rail Bridge to Edinburgh Haymarket, where we caught the next train to Glasgow.
Having almost an hour to spare at Queen Street Station we popped over the road to Prêt a Manger for a bite to eat and a coffee before locating the next train which would take us via Crianlarich, across Rannoch Moor stopping at Fort William before the last leg and arguably the most stunning rail trip in the UK, towards Mallaig.
Informative conversation with a cheerful student from Glasgow University, who was returning home to Fort William for Easter, made this journey all the more enjoyable. Time passed quickly as her local knowledge added flavour to the breath-taking sites at every stretch. Snow topped mountains, waterfalls, bleak moorland and beautiful lochs, valleys and white-water filled gorges filled our vision; mile upon mile until over four hours later Ben Nevis came into view before the train paused for a while at Fort William and we bade our cheerful companion farewell.
The train left Fort William passing Neptune Steps, canal gates as far as the eye could see, before heading for the famous Harry Potter or Glennfinnan viaduct where we paused to take a photo of the Bonnie Prince Charlie’s monument set in the beautiful valley of Loch Shiel. We were staying at a place called Lochailort Inn a few miles away, which demanded us requesting that the train stopped for us, a disorientating experience being dropped off between the hills with barely a building in site. Fortunately a map at the station gave hint to the direction we should take and sure enough the Inn appeared as we trundled our small cases around the next corner.
The welcome was warm as we settled in, taking a stroll down to the loch before supper. During the journey I had tried to take photos of passing deer and remarked that photographers must have such patience to be able to take a perfect shot of a stag. (I mean photo) What a surprise when my husband gripped my arm. I froze as he pointed to an out-crop of rocks not far from where we were walking where a deer stood observing us as if to say, ‘this is my place. What right have you to be here?’
I took my photo and elated we returned to the hotel for supper where the menu included venison, salmon, haddock and beef, all local I have no doubt. I chose a venison chilli and rice which was delicious. We both slept well that night.