"Escape To The Country"

Trip Start Sep 22, 2012
Trip End Oct 19, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Tuesday, October 9, 2012

There seems to be a theme developing of late... TripAdvisor lists the Jacobite Express as a top attraction with many, many positive reviews, so tickets are booked for the trip from Fort William to Mallaig and return. It is not only another steam train, but we discover it is also another with connections to Harry Potter... The engine is the one used in the outdoor train scenes!

AND the crew apparently stayed at The Highlander during filming!...

This morning, however, there is no Daniel Radcliffe but a sea of grey waiting outside the dining room for breakfast. Last night's dancing to Tina Turner has not slowed them. I quietly admire their zest for life as one table breaks into song during their porridge and eggs.

There is frost on the grass and a serious chill in the air. Lindsay at reception chuckles when we repeat the forecast of snow. Apparently, forecasting in this high country is futile. There may be a dusting of snow on the peaks, but he suggests looking down the loch for a more accurate estimation. We see a heavy blanket of rolling fog with sunshine on the peaks above.

Melbourne training doesn't help...

We board the Jacobite for a 10.15am departure. The fog along the lake slowly lifts as we follow the shoreline west. It is a two hour trip through stunning country again... a blend of autumn trees, grasses, low-lying bogs with the occasional Suffolk sheep or English breed of cow and always soaring craggy peaks dotted with grey, lichen-encrusted columns of rock.

All this is accompanied by the chortle of the steam engine's puff. Ian and l hang out the windows of the doors at the carriage's end for photos - a cold pastime.

In the second hour, we catch glimpses of estuaries and finally the sea. We have two hours to fill in the seaside port of Mallaig - easily done with a warming lunch of jacket potatoes or fish and chips and a walk around the port. A couple of levels of white houses dot the hills opposite and a large car ferry leaves for the outlying islands. The Isle of Skye rises out of the sea on the horizon.

The return trip is just as captivating - although with her heavy cold, Hilary sleeps for most of the journey. We beat the coaches home and rest up before another frenetic night of 60's hits on the dance floor...
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