Friday, 14 June 2013

A Scottish train journey - Fort William to Mallaig

The Scottish West Highland train journey from Fort William to Mallaig is considered to be one of the world's great little train journeys. The Caledonian Sleeper leaves London for the Highlands every evening. The following morning your breakfast is accompanied by views of lichen covered oak trees, bubbling brooks, the might of Ben Nevis with it's surrounding mountains, and deer bounding away as the train passes by.
The sleeper train terminates at Fort William, but you can then catch the local train, as we did, for the 41 mile journey to the end of the line at Mallaig. There is also a steam train called the Jacobite which operates daily from mid May to mid October.
Before arriving at Fort William we passed through the Commando's training ground near Spean Bridge with its tribute memorial to all those who have lost their lives in WWII and continue to do so today in Afghanistan.
Leaving Fort William the train skirts Loch Eil. The base of Ben Nevis is to the left. This and the following photos were all taken from the train window so have unavoidable reflections and movement within them.
The train crosses Glenfinnan viaduct, which featured in the 'Harry Potter' films. Built in 1901, it was one of the first rail viaducts built of concrete.
Steaming in - Mallaig terminus
Mallaig is the boat ferry highway to the ancient volcanic islands of Skye, Muck, Eigg and Rum - it is interesting to imagine how this chain of islands must have appeared when active 55 million years ago.
The birds enjoyed our lunch too!!!
Homeward bound we passed Glenfinnan - the Jacobite monument to the clansmen who followed Prince Charles Edward in the 1745 rising for the Stuart cause.
Glenfinnan sits on the edge of beautiful Loch Shiel.

52 comments:

  1. I did a round trip of Scotland two years ago. You have reminded me what a stunning place it is.

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    1. So pleased that you enjoyed the ride Valerie.

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  2. Oh happy memories! We did this trip as part of our honeymoon in 2010 and the scenery was breathtaking. x

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    1. Good memories all round - lovely place to go for your honeymoon.

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  3. A beautiful post showing a beautiful journey. J.

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    1. If you ever get the chance do take the ride Janice - good weather permitting - you would love it.

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  4. Rosemary- I knew you would produce wonderful pictures of your train journey. We saw many of these views as we traveled back from Skye to Fort William and promised ourselves that we would return one day to take the train. It was a fantastic picture of the gulls and your lunch,hope you didn't go too hungry and they enjoyed it!
    Sarah x

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    1. It is a great little train journey Sarah. I was really surprised when I put the gull photo on the computer to see the piece of bread floating through the air. I was busy snapping them without really knowing what I was getting - one of the gulls must have dropped the bread and the others were then after it. I will admit to you now that the bread was not ours, we ate all of our lunch - a local old man came along with a carrier bag full of bread to throw for them.

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  5. It is all so beautiful Rosemary, you are strengthening my resolve that I must go to Scotland, as soon as I can. The lochs and mountains are glorious, just as I always imagine. I don't think I have ever recovered from being in the chorus of a production of Brigadoon when I was 20! Happy memories!

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    1. Dear Patricia - for some reason the mountains and lochs in Scotland are different from anywhere else. I do not know what it is about them. May be it is to do with the heather and bracken on the slopes, or the light, whatever it is the mountains can go from pale blue to navy blue to purple all within a few minutes.

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  6. Breathtaking views Rosemary. I enjoy train rides in Europe. Next time, we should try what you wrote here from London to Fort William. Scotland is so beautiful.

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    1. Hope you have the chance to give it a try - but you must do the last stretch of the journey from Fort William to Mallaig.

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  7. Wow what a fantastic landscape. Brilliant photo's I can see the weather was lovely.
    Have a wonderful day Rosemary.

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    1. Scotland's landscape is certainly rather special and there is plenty of it.

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  8. A beautiful post Rosemary. So nice of you to include us in your journey. Will probably never get that far north. The warm blankets look very reassuring next to, and what appears to be, a very cool climate, even in early summer. ox, Gina

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    1. Dear Gina - It was warm enough for us to go without coats all the time we were there even in the evenings. The billowing clouds high on the mountains tops are probably portraying the wrong impression of the weather.

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  9. What a spectacular scenery! I can’t believe these photos were taken from the train window: they are so clear and beautiful. I like to travel by train. My country is covered by extensive and reliable network of railways.

    Yoko

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    1. Yes Yoko, the train is a good means of travel. The photos are really not too good if you look closely, you can see the reflections and the shrubs in the foreground are blurred, but thanks for your kind comment.

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  10. Wow.... breathtaking photo's....
    Youre trip was wonderful i think...
    Have a nice weekend Rosemary..

    Greetings,
    Inge, my choice

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    1. It was a good trip and we saw lots of majestic landscapes which we really enjoyed. Good weekend to your too Inge.

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  11. Hello Rosemary, I am impressed how unspoiled that area still looks--even the train is old enough not to jar. The Glenfinnan monument is handsomely proportioned. If I were to go there I would want to read more about the geological history you pointed out--those strata visible in the rocks on the shore are intriguing as well as visually striking.
    --Road to Parnassus

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    1. Dear Jim - I wish I could tell you more about the geology in the area. My son is a geologist and Scotland is where his interest was developed during his schooling there.

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  12. Dear Rosemary,

    You have whet my appetite for a long train excursion! I like the idea of waking up to very different scenery than when one dozed off. The deer running from the tracks is a wonderful visual I'll keep in mind.

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    1. Dear Mark - when I think about it I have done quite a lot of night sleeper train journeys. The first when a teenager, Paris to Gerona, Spain. Very exciting leaving Paris and then seeing something totally different in Spain - it was my first trip abroad too. I did a sleeper trip in China which I wrote about. A trip from Moscow to St. Petersburg which was still Leningrad at the time. I have gone up the east side of Scotland to Aberdeen overnight, and also taken the train to see the midnight sun in Norway. All of these occasions had slipped my mind until you mentioned how the idea appealed to you.

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  13. What wonderful photos of that glorious journey, Rosemary. I've never made it by train myself, but have done the same run in the very small campervan and know it's said to be one of the most beautiful railway journeys in the world.

    Our joint followers are getting some lovely photos of Scotland at the moment. :-)

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    1. Dear Perpetua - they will think that we are in league with the Scottish Tourist Board. Actually when I did a post on the Giant's Causeway, N. Ireland, I received a comment from the Irish Tourish Board thanking me.

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  14. Extremely nice lake views.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  15. Such beautiful views. You've had a great trip. Those fabrics remind me of Bay City Rollers.. ;O)

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    1. My understanding is that the Bay City Rollers came from Edinburgh, so as a Scottish group I suppose they chose their national tartan fabric to distinguish themselves. Glad that you enjoyed seeing the views.

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  16. Hi Rosemary, how fun to do a train journey through Scotland. Your photos of the landscape are just breathtaking. I am very happy to be able to tour Wiltshire right now, but I love to visit Scotland one day as well.
    Christina

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    1. You are not too far from me now - I live in the county of Gloucestershire. May be if you return next year you could visit Scotland.

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  17. Dear Rosemary,
    I have taken that train journey myself and it is spectacular. You would have passed Rannoch where my cousins used to live and I remember back in the mid 80s helping the landlord and a couple of patrons, carry two drunken shepherds out to the train on evening when it pulled in. The conductor helped get them into the waggon down the back where the bikes were kept. He knew the shepherds and said he would stop the train a way down the line so that he and the other passengers could haul them off into the grass to sleep off their excess (it being summer)... I don't suppose such things take place these days!
    I think from memory that back then the train service to Mallaig began at Glasgow.
    Your post has brought back many pleasant memories of a wonderful summer holiday.
    Thanks Rosemary!

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    1. Your memory serves you correctly Kirk - the train that came into Fort William which we boarded was the regular train from Glasgow.
      It is the night sleeper that travels all the way up from Euston as far as I am aware.
      On another train journey that we took, it had request stops, where people could flag the train to stop for them. One of them was actually a halt for the sole benefit of a Lady Ashburton - imagine having your own train request stop.

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  18. Stunning landscapes , a trip that I have written on my to do list:-)

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    1. Dear Jane - I do hope that you will have the opportunity to do the trip at some time, and hopefully the sun will shine for you as it did for us.

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  19. You take good photos, Rosemary. The views from the train window are spectacular. It must have been a leisurely way to travel. I was interested to see the monuments, especially the one of the Commandos. My father trained in the Scottish (and Welsh) mountains - not as a Commando, but with the RA and with mules in the 1940s. I would love to see more of Scotland myself, particularly where you have just visited.

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    1. Dear Linda - sometimes we are so busy visiting Europe and other parts of the world that we forget what is on our own doorstep. I am always amazed at the diversity that we have in our own island. Do try and visit, you will enjoy it.

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  20. Simply wonderful Rosemary. I have been to Fort William and climbed a neighbouring 'mini mountain' near Ben Nevis when I was a wee lad as part of my Scottish grand summer tour. I'd love to take the trip on the Highland railway next time, it looks amazing. How was the sleeping experience onboard?

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    1. Dear Paul - we actually flew up, I mentioned that it was possible to take the sleeper as an alternative. However, I have travelled up to Aberdeen on the sleeper many times, as our son was at school near there. The sleepers are fine, you can have a single berth or a twin berth . Nice white bedlinen and towels, with a small washing sink. You can have an evening meal - haggis, neeps and tatties for example!!! or more conventional chicken curry. In the morning a continental breakfast is available. Personally I found it difficult to sleep with the noise of the train going over the rails, but this was many years ago, it may be more silent these days.

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  21. Wonderful photos of a beautiful area. I've only been there briefly and would love to go back. I did a lot of long and short distance train travel when I was younger and loved the thrill of passing through new countryside. Your photos are lovely and clear through the train window.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the photos Wendy and nice to know that you have visited the area. The photos were not as good as I had hoped, it is very difficult taking pictures through moving windows. In the old days you used to be able to let down the windows in the carriage doors but not anymore. Health and Safety issues I expect.

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  22. I found you from Style and Travel Journal and had to check out your blog since you have such a FAB name, Rosemary (Same as me!!) My mom also has the name too, it was both of my grandmother's names combined. Your site looks lovely and I am now going to follow and hope to enjoy your posts! Have a GREAT weekend!

    Rosemary
    NYC Style and a little Cannoli

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Rosemary and for becoming a follower. I look forward to seeing your blog and hearing more from you. You are my third follower with the name of Rosemary, and yet I hardly ever meet any others in real life.

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  23. I love your photos of the mountains as they form into a v-shape with the water pooled below, such untouched beauty. Of course, can't help get a shiver of excitement seeing the bridge that helped bring Harry Potter's world to life!

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    1. Nature forms herself so beautifully - I always wondered which viaduct was used in the Harry Potter film!

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  24. Very lovely is the scenery. The bridge is wonderful...reminds me of a few down this way :)

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    1. It is possible for man to invade the beautiful countryside and yet not destroy it.

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  25. Another beautiful post, Rosemary, with lots of lovely pictures! I love the landscape and the seagulls. It may sound silly, but the image I really like is the tartan collage! So beautiful and colouful!

    We are very busy here, but I wanted to say "CIAO!" Will be posting again, next week!

    BIG HUGS...

    ANNA

    xxx

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    1. Hello - how lovely to hear from you. I am presuming that this has come courtesy of Italy. Hope all is going well for you, will you have some photos to share on your return.
      Glad that you enjoyed the post.
      Take care,
      Ciao

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  26. Dear Rosemary,very interesting post!!!Wonderful pictures of so beautiful places!!I love traveling by train!!You can see so different places and sceans!Thank you for sharing!
    Dimi..

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    1. Dear Dimi - the train journeys we did were lovely - magical landscapes and we also interesting company with us.

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