We just had one of the weirdest days one can have on a holiday. Things turning to custard and things well baked.
Fort William is the starting place for something special. It is the home of the Harry Potter Hogwarts express. In real life, its non magical form, this train is known as the Jacobite and it still over that famous viaduct you see in the movie. As soon as we found out about its existence we decided we wanted to get on there, badly.
In summer the train runs twice daily from Fort William to Mallaig on the coast and can be booked on line. So on line we booked – not! It was fully booked! As were just about all coming three weeks! Disaster, panic it all struck, this is a must do! So we called to see if something could be done person to person. Nothing could be changed at that point but the operator told me that there would be abut 50 tickets (all standard class) available at the station at 9 am the next morning. What a wonderful idea keeping some tickets back from the tour operators for sorry sad, last minute people like us. I like it. 🙂
That morning we were at the station around 8.45 and a queue was already forming but we were within the first 20 people in line. Phew that looks as if we have some chance, we wait and see. Now waiting is not my strong point. Certainly not when I want to achieve something. SO was having a little fun at my expense as I drifted back and forth between determinate strong woman and total puddle of despair. Strange of course when just two days before I had never knew about this train and now it was a must have.
Of course we got on, I needn’t have despaired. Fort William – Mallaig standard class and the return trip in the afternoon first class even. We were not in one of the Hogwarts carriages, but we did get to see one, as that was the carriage before ours. As expected a lot of kids (age range 6-80) on board and really it was fun.
The rain poured heavily in the morning so the clouds were surrounding us and Scotland was showing its more wet and gloomy side than anything else. A good day to be indoors but not so great for the views. Still we loved the train the real feeling and sound of of ‘kedeng kedeng shoo shoo’. The train almost rocks you to sleep and the steam? Well afer a while you get used to the stench.. The fun part is when you go through a tunnel and the steam surrounds you as a blanket of ghostlike magnitude. When you come out of the tunnel the cloud stays with you for a few moments before it dissipates. Spooky indeed reminiscent of dementors 🙂
In Mallaig it was truly raining cats and dogs. SO went straight into one of the retaurants and we hid there until the weather started clearing and it was time for the return trip. And yes first class was better from a seating perspective. The weather had cleared and the views now had turned to magnificent. At the viaduct everybody was hanging out of the train – it was almost scary to see all the weight on one side – that being the side diving into the valley – but then again the trains are used to it. The train won’t fall at least so far it hasn’t and I am sure the hanging out of train bunch of tourists is a daily recurring effect.
After our train ride we went shoe shopping for SO. It was an emergency as in the morning he had found that his trusted hiking shoes had come undone (after 13 years). The soles were coming off and you can imagine you don’t want that to happen on a sloping hill. So we bought new ones. Just as well that it was a 70%off sale and as it turns out a great deal with shoes that SO really likes.
Then we went back to “our”pub and used therir wifi to book a room on our next place to visit. Or at least that was our plan. Just like the day before on line booking and us were not a match made in heaven. We had not taken into account that this weekend is a bank holiday in Britain and that half the country had decided to spend it on the Isle of Skye, just as we were planning to do. After a lot of phoncalls, scanning www.visitscotland.com and tripadvisor we finally found somethng that seemed suitable. A wee bit expensive, but you know beggars can’t be choosers. So my lovely SO booked. As soon as we got the confirmation I froze and read Taggart, Isle of Harris. According to my Scottish geography knowledge that is actually one of the outer Hebrides Islands, near to Skye, but most certainly one boatride further out. After a huge fit of giggles and what are we going to do we found that the trip was just not even doable. It would take us around 6.5 hours to get there. A bit much for just the two nights. So we cancelled, but now we had nowhere to go and I was a getting nervous.
SO suggested to ask our current B&B if they had a day more and if not to go to the local visitscotland office early in the morning. We did so but no we could not stay another night. Needless to say we did not sleep well. Our next night could well be in the car.