England and Scotland, May 2005 : Day 9
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Day 9, Friday: Les, Nan and I (Judy had to work again) took the day to drive to Mallaig, a small fishing town on the west coast. This involved driving southwest almost to Fort William, then turning west, past Loch Eil, Glenfinnan at the northern tip of Loch Shiel, on out to the coast, and then up the coast a bit. The drive by car ranged from pleasant to really beautiful; the railway stretch from Fort William to Mallaig is part of the West Highlands Railway and is supposed to be quite beautiful.

During the summer and on a few other special days, which is to say not while I was there, the route is travelled by the Jacobite Steam Train. The impressive Glenfinnan Viaduct along the way was featured in the Harry Potter movies, travelled by the Hogwarts Express; apparently students from a local school got to play wizards on Hogwarts Express for a couple of the movies.

Glenfinnan is known primarily for being the site where Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 gathered his supporters for rebellion, the failure of which marked a major and painful shift in the lives of the Highlanders. (This country is chock full of bloody history.) The Glenfinnan Monument at the edge of Loch Shiel, sporting the statue of a highlander (not the prince himself), marks the commencement of the rebellion.

The Glenfinnan Viaduct

Not exactly Hogwarts Express

Glenfinnan Monument

Further on we took a side route along the coast, with some excellent views. Beach scenes from Highlander and (even better) Local Hero were filmed somewhere in this area. I would love to spend some real time relaxing here.

Eventually we reached Mallaig and wandered around the port some, watching seagulls and seals, then Nan treated us to fish and chips.

Along the scenic coastal side-route,
probably near Arisaig

A seal searches for handouts

Seagulls pick over nets
on a fishing boat

A bit of the
port at Mallaig

Nice spot at end
of scenic route

On the way back we stopped for a few photos of the Catholic Church of St. Mary and St. Finnan. On the way up I had noticed the dramatic backdrop, but the light wasn't cooperative by the time we returned - I suspect some stunning photos could be taken here under the right conditions.

We also stopped briefly at the Devil's Staircase, which is I gather the longest stretch of water locks on the Caledonian canal.

Once back near Fort William we stopped for petrol, and I took the opportunity to run across the road for some photos of the barrels outside the Ben Nevis Distillery. Just down the road (on land that might also belong to the distillery) were several highland cattle, including a rare black one.

In the evening we finally managed to burn off the huge pile of wood in back yard of Crianlarich (from some trimmed trees). We had tried earlier in the week but failed to get it started well so put it out. This time we struggled again for a while but finally got big, hot bonfire going. And us with no Guy, when there's an unused one sitting in Alabama. (No photos of the confire, sorry.)

Loch nan Uamh viaduct

Catholic Church of
St. Mary and St. Finnan

The Devil's Staircase

Ben Nevis Distillery

Whiskey barrels

Highland Cattle

The sun begins to set over Fort Augustus

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