This time last week my sister, dad and I had just returned from a couple of days away. You see it was my dad’s 75th birthday in April and I decided to get him something a little different from his usual malt whisky, golf balls or Hotel Chocolats! I knew he’d always fancied taking a trip on the Jacobite Express from Fort William to Mallaig. I have to admit I had always wanted to take that trip too! Add into the mix that my sister also celebrated her birthday in April…and hey it seemed like a good idea to have a wee adventure together! So last Tuesday morning we headed off and I’m not really sure we had bargained for such astounding weather.
We pottered up the road past the Safari Park at Blair Drummond and on into Callander. Each turn in the road brought us to another port in our trip down memory lane! “Do you remember when…” statements hurtled around the car as we laughed at some of our childhood memories. After a quick stop in Callander we headed on and into Glen Coe, one of my favourite parts of Scotland. Just then, as we came over the brow of a hill we all had a sharp intake of breath, wow! There below us, a loch like a mirror reflecting the rolling hills still peppered with pockets of winters snow. There were people all around – both admiring and photographing the breath taking view. Of course we had to join them…okay so I jumped a few fences etc to get a slightly different view point but hey…I’m a photographer! A couple of quick selfies and we were back on our way.We stopped in Glen Coe for an early lunch and then headed on to Fort William where we had a quick g&t and malt whisky stop before boarding our steam train for the journey to Mallaig. We puffed our way out of the station and before long were surrounded by more magical landscapes and scenery. We were also lucky enough to be joined in our isles by a fellow photographer and his son from the Netherlands and a further 3 friends from India who were touring Scotland on motorbikes. We shared some Prosecco and snacks over stories from our different corners of the world! What a wonderful addition to our journey. Made famous by the Harry Potter movies, we all oohed and ah’d as we crossed the magnificent Glenfinnan Viaduct. Again the views were remarkable. Then onwards to the station where we stopped for a short break.Further still and we pass over another viaduct, not quite as magnificent but by this time I had discovered I could indeed hang out of the windows in the isles to get a photograph or two! Out of nowhere we pass the Polish Church before ambling our way into our destination for the night. Mallaig…Our first views were of Eigg and Rum and we were greeted at the station by Nick who had come to collect us and take us to our B&B for the night. Well this is where it gets really funny! I seemed to think it would be hilarious to tell my sister that I had booked us a family room and that she and I would be in bunk beds. Now those of you who know me will know I am no stranger to sleeping in bunks as I love hosteling. Those of you however, who know my sister, would know that even a hint of such things would be her idea of hell! Well I would like to set the record straight (if any of her friends ever read this!!!!). I did indeed tell her about the family room to start with however I actually went on to tell her we would be sharing a room, just her and I, and our dad would have a nice double room to HIMSELF. However I told her on the evening of her birthday when we were all out for a celebratory meal and drinks. She says she can’t remember me telling her but I assured her I did :) So you can imagine the relief on her face when she seen our lovely little twin room and that we weren’t sharing with dad!!Oh boy, how I have laughed at this…and will continue too!!! Anyway, we wandered down to the town just in time to wave the Jacobite Express off on it’s journey back to Fort William. We headed down to the harbour for a quick walk and caught up with some fishermen who were bringing in their catch. They said it hadn’t been a great one for them but also that good catches were few and far between these days. Then we went for a bite to eat and a couple of drinks in the fantastic little Chlachain Inn where dad tried a couple of new malts and Gill and I discovered the joys of Edinburgh Gin’s liqueurs. Yip the Rhubarb one was a winner for me! So here’s the view from our dad’s bedroom – it really was a great little place to stay and I’ll be sure to make it my base if and when I go back to Mallaig. So after a good night’s sleep and a hearty Scottish breakfast dad writes in the visitors book before we board the train and head back to FW to pick up the car and take ourselves back down the road. Of course we did manage one more stop in Glen Coe at the ‘other’ cafe for a lovely lunch and a couple of pottery purchases for me. What a wonderful couple of days. Happy birthday Dad and Big Sis, I hope you enjoyed your wee gift. Gill, I’ve got you a Scottish Youth Hostelling Voucher for next year ;) xx