Epic Rail Trip West Part 2 ~ In Scotland
On the Saturday our plan was to take the train to Mallaig but we had to flag down the train to stop, a novel experience for us. On this short journey of less than half an hour the mountains opened up to the sea and our line of vision was drawn from sandy inlets to views of the western isles of Rum and Eigg.
Mallaig is a delightful little port, the main gateway to Skye before the road was built, but it is still an important ferry route to many of the islands. We thought we might catch one and had not done our homework. The ferries were infrequent and the summer timetable didn’t commence until the following Monday. In fact, the only ferry out that day had already left at 10.20 whilst we were drinking a cup of coffee in one of the pleasant cafes. Also, we would have been on the ferry all day, which was not our intention, so we ambled around Mallaig for an hour or so more before deciding to walk to Morar, the next station on route back to the hotel and the last of the beautiful seaside villages we’d passed on the way.
With only the occasional car passing us on the long stretches of coast-hugging road, it was pleasant, although walking along the side of an A-road would not have been our usual choice. Yet again with a little planning a map could have told us of an alternative route inland, looking out over the bay from the cliff top. This would have met our road at a half way point, just before the ridge, and I would certainly choose that route in the busier summer months when the views must be stunning too.
As we reached the brow of a hill we could see the village ahead of us but we had one last climb up to a hotel where we had hoped to find lunch, only to find that it, too, was closed until April! Fortunately a local came to our aid and pointed towards a B & B beside the tiny train station where they cheerfully directed us to a table by a window with stunning views over the bay. There we were spoilt for choice of sandwiches, cakes and beverages and good old genuine hospitality.
The lady of the house suggested we walk towards the loch rather than the bay and if we were energetic enough to take the steps to a cross on the hillside nearby, she reassured us that we would not be disappointed. We’re so glad we took her advice. It was mild and sunny and over one hundred steps later we were grateful to sit and gaze out over the view of the inlet. Behind us were equally beautiful vistas of the loch, in fact, we whiled away a good half an hour there, just enjoying life and reflecting on how lucky we were to be live and well.
After descending the steps we walked to the loch and back but we could not resist popping back into the B & B for a cup of tea and a piece of cake, although my husband spoilt himself with a cream tea instead, a perfect end to our afternoon before catching the train back to our hotel.
That evening we shared a table with one of the other guests, a serious hill walker who extolled the virtues of such a pastime. We were sad to turn down the offer to go to a Ceilidh in Glennfinnan, since we had the long journey home ahead of us the next day and my husband had work on Monday. By all accounts a good time was had by all when we met other bleary- eyed guests at breakfast, some who’d been up half the night. We had lost an hour too!
With a promise to return, we left the hotel at 10 am for the return journey. The mist added to the atmosphere across the moor and a stag posed for us within feet of the train. We were in awe of walkers we spotted in the bleakest part of the route, several miles from civilisation in every direction. It has put ideas into my husband’s head though, for our next challenge when we’ve completed our stretch of the Fife Coastal Path.
Tired but satisfied we arrived home in rain and mist and treated ourselves to a Chinese Take Away from the village, our first since we arrived in Kinghorn in September. It was all the more welcome since I did not have to cook it myself!