Day 2 – Oban to Fort William

Oban to Fort William – August 12, 2013

We woke to bright sunshine this morning in contrast to the mostly grey, dreich weather after our arrival. Before leaving Oban, since the weather wasn’t suitable yesterday, we decided to make the trek up the ‘hill’ to McCaig’s Tower.

It’s a good thing the views from up there are spectacular, because the drive up to the tower were far from it. Narrow streets, stone walls, parked cars. I might be 50 shades greyer after the drive.

Walking up the hill to McCaig's Tower
Walking up the hill to McCaig’s Tower

I offered to take a photo for a young couple since he was taking pictures of her. It’s not often on holiday you get photos of you together. They were very appreciative of the gesture. Afterwards, the guy thought he would try to walk along the narrow ledge on the wall to the next opening. He succeeded but not without a helping hand.

Don lending a helping hand
Don lending a helping hand

We went our separate ways for a bit. We went out onto the observation platform outside the tower for some photos. It was considerably cooler out there without the stone walls to protect you from the wind.

View from McCaig's Tower
View from McCaig’s Tower

Shortly after coming back within the ‘warmth’ of the tower, we met the couple from earlier. This time they returned the favour and he took a picture of Don and me together.

Don and Mel at McCaig's Tower
Don and me at McCaig’s Tower

Before we left, I took one last photo from within the confines of McCaig’s Tower.

Inside McCaig's Tower
Inside McCaig’s Tower

Next it was off to Fort William as we had a date with the Jacobite Steam train that we didn’t want to miss.

Loch Linnhe on the way to Fort William
Loch Linnhe on the way to Fort William
Our rental car at Loch Linnhe
Our rental car at Loch Linnhe
The Ballachulish Hotel
The Ballachulish Hotel

There was no parking available at the train station so we came back to the B&B we had booked for tonight to see if we could leave our car there since we were checking in tonight. Well, they bent over backwards to accommodate us – brought us to the house adjacent to the main building where we’d be staying and we were checked in straight away.

Our B&B in Fort William
Our B&B in Fort William
Loch Linnhe at Fort William
Loch Linnhe at Fort William

A couple from couple from the continent sat in the seats opposite us on the train. We were all quiet until he got a phone call and then pronounced loudly “they’re idiots!”. Well that cracked us up and from that moment on, we visited with them.

As the train approached the Glenfinnan Viaduct aka Harry Potter’s Bridge, it slowed allowing us to get some wonderful photographs.

Glenfinnan Viaduct
Glenfinnan Viaduct

We stopped at the Glenfinnan Station a short ride up the tracks for about twenty minutes where we could get off the train, stretch our legs and take photographs. Then it was back on the train to continue our journey to Mallaig.

waterfall on the mountain
waterfall on the mountain

It was really hard to tell if this church was still used or not because of its remoteness to anything and the plainness of the structure. What’s your call judging by the photo below?

church
church

The heather grew in clumps along the rail line but in places way too close (I thought) to be able to get a decent photograph. But I was wrong. Still, the mountains weren’t as purple with it as I had hoped. Maybe we have to get a bit further north?

Heather along the rail line
Heather along the rail line

The end of the line at Mallaig, and I mean the end. After the train stopped everyone rushed to the street to get a photo of it. Me included. I waited a few moments and as soon as a free spot appeared next to the stone wall, I squeezed in and got this picture.

Jacobite at Mallaig
The Jacobite at Mallaig

We decided on our way to Mallaig that depending on the size of the bottle of champagne on offer (for a fee, naturally) we would get a bottle for the ride home.

After a poke around Mallaig, we stopped at the fish and chip takeaway, got an order of fish and chips each, then sat on a bench on the platform and ate them. After all, we didn’t want to get pished (as they say here) and fall off the train when we got back to Fort William.

On our return journey, our seats were on the opposite side of the train and our carriage was closer to the back due to the way they turned it around. We got different views this time, but our friends from the continent were our seat mates again.

Once the train got rolling, the bottle of champagne and two glasses were brought to our table. Don asked for two more and after they were brought to us, he opened the bottle. It had been shaken enough with the jostling of the train, being picked up and sat down that when it was opened, it sprayed all over everything and everyone – including people across the aisle!

Mountains on return trip
Mountains on return trip

On the way to Mallaig, we saw a herd of about ten deer on the mountain. We were hoping we’d see some on our way back and we weren’t disappointed although there weren’t as many this time round.

Deer on the mountain
Deer on the mountain
Loch Eil shrouded in steam from the engine
Loch Eil shrouded in steam from the engine

After sharing our bottle of champagne (what didn’t get sprayed away) – and yes, it burns your eyes – our companions bought us each a beer and we continued our journey in convivial company.

Just outside Fort William, we crossed over the Caledonian Canal and the locks known as Neptune’s Staircase.

Caledonian Canal - Neptune's Staircase - at Fort William
Caledonian Canal – Neptune’s Staircase – at Fort William

As we were getting ready to detrain, a young couple across the aisle asked us which part of Ontario we were from (as they had overheard our conversation) and come to find out they were from Ottawa – basically in our own backyard.

We said goodbye to our companions and made our way back to our B&B.

Our room at Myrtle Bank
Our room at Myrtle Bank
Our room at Myrtle Bank
Our room at Myrtle Bank
Our room at Myrtle Bank
Our room at Myrtle Bank

Let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!

Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand

At 11:00 pm last night I still hadn’t got all the pictures I wanted for this post downloaded. I was a bit bleary-eyed from being up so late so decided to finish up this morning.

After our breakfast, our next destination is Dufftown. Will post more tonight.

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