The Trek and Run Team backpacked around Scotland for three weeks in the summer of 2014. We were supported on our journey by the following companies, who provided the resources we needed to make the best of our time there.
- Scotrail Caledonian Sleeper Service
- Robens Tents and Sleeping Bags and Mats
- MSR Stoves
- Helly Hansen Clothes and Boots
- Jack Wolfskin Clothes
- Keen Boots
- Anatom Walking Poles
- The Camping and Caravanning Club
- Ultrasun Cream
To begin our first Scottish adventure we travelled from London to Glasgow by the Scotrail Sleeper (find out more about this service here) and then onto Millarochy Bay on the shores of Loch Lomond by local train and boat (Sweeney’s Cruises, find our more here). Once at Millarochy Bay we walked the West Highland Way for eight days until we arrived in Fort William from where we decided to go onto Mallaig and then the Isle of Skye. We had a choice of transport but since Lamia was a big Harry Potter fan we decided on the Jacobite steam train, which had featured in several of the films. It wasn’t just the train itself that had featured in the films either, but also the scenery seen during the journey from Fort William to Mallaig. It looked like a fantastic trip that just shouldn’t be missed.
We were in Fort William for a while recovering from the walk so we popped into the train station to sort tickets out for a few days time and also to see the train as it departed on it’s daily trip to Mallaig. The rain was falling hard but the train made for a fine sight, and the staff didn’t mind if we climbed up into the engine and took photos either which was a bonus for us.
You can see in the photo above how thrilled Lamia was to be in the engine compartment of the Harry Potter train!
A few days later we packed up our tent, left Glen Nevis campsite and walked into town to ride the train ourselves. Thankfully it was a fine day, so we could enjoy the scenery.
As you can see in the photo above, we were travelling with two full rucksacks that we loaded into the luggage rack above our heads. I mention this as before we travelled I was worried a little about where we we store our bags as we knew the journey was extremely popular with day trippers and would likely be full, with little room to spare. So, no problem there. But do note that the trip was indeed full, as was our return journey a week later, so if you’re thinking of taking the trip don’t forget to book your tickets well in advance to ensure you get a seat.
The scenery was lovely all the way but especially so around Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan viaduct, which Lamia knew from the Harry Potter films. It was easy to pop my head out of the window here and take a couple of snaps.
We stopped for fifteen minutes just after the viaduct at Glenfinnan station, to stretch our legs and pose for some Harry Potter inspired photos (some passengers also visited the West Highland Railway Museum which is also located here).
And then it was time to move on again, towards Mallaig.
At times the weather closed in but not too much. Here are some photos I took on the way to Mallaig. To get these I stood at the end of the carriage by the door, where the window could be pulled down far enough to poke my head out (be careful when doing this as tree branches could knock you and when you go into tunnels the smoke from the engine fills the space. I quite like the smell but some might find it bad for their breathing). The first image below shows the smoke filled end of the carriage just after we’d passed a tunnel.
The journey to Mallaig took a little over two hours and we loved every minute of it. We’d taken our own food so we’d had a nice picnic as the scenery went past and we arrived refreshed and excited to continue our travels on to the Isle of Skye (the ferry to Skye is a five minute walk from the train station. There’s also a ferry to Knoydart that’s even closer to the station, see more about that here).
The Jacobite offers the kind of slow travel rarely experienced nowadays, and an element of nostalgia whilst passing through scenery that’s as beautiful now as it was centuries ago (as well as great excitement for Harry Potter fans!). Our Scottish journey was full of highlights and this train journey was one of them; if you’re in the area we do recommend taking a least a day trip to Mallaig or if you can make it your means of travel to and from the Isle of Skye, it’s a great way to travel!
To discover more about the Jacobite, and to book tickets, please visit http://www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/jacobite/jacobite-steam-train-details.cfm