By rights, the first post in this “Scotland Series” should be all about the Caledonian Sleeper train that we took from London to Scotland … BUT Mr Big Shot Train Fan hasn’t gotten around to writing it yet, and I’m afraid some very delicate egos might be bruised if I took the liberty.
So I’ll pick up where the Caledonian Sleeper leaves off … at Fort William. And that’s all I have to say about Fort William. No really, we spent all of 12 minutes there whilst changing from the sleeper to the scenic West Highland Line, which The Man in Seat 61 (the guru of all things train-travel related) calls “The most scenic line in the UK”. I have to agree with The Man, but with a slight caveat. Yes, the LINE ITSELF is very scenic, but be careful which train service you take on that line. You can take a regular old ScotRail train, or you can take the scenic Jacobite Steam Train. Which one do you think I recommend? If you guessed the steam train, you’re wrong!
First off, let me explain. This is the line that was famously used in the Harry Potter movies to show the way to Hogwart’s. It’s got that gorgeous viaduct, the lochs, and the mountains. But the scenic Jacobite Steam Train also has dozens of hysteric teenaged children dressed in Harry Potter outfits, waving their magic wands and chanting spells. Yes, you read that right. There were actually kids dressed up in character for this excursion. On one hand, I wanted to say “Good for you, embracing your imaginations”, but on the other hand I wanted to say “FOOLS! IT’S NOT REAL!!!!” and destroy their precious little dreams.
See? I’m really an awful person.
I’ll try to make it up to you by posting some pretty pictures from the train. The train travels from Fort William to Mallaig, and does pass through some gorgeous landscapes. But word to the wise, travel on a regular ScotRail train and save yourself some hassle. Also, it’s quite nice to watch the scenic train pass over the viaduct, which is hard to do when you’re actually INSIDE the train. In hindsight, we should have taken the regular train, then hiked to a good spot to watch the scenic train pass, and then continued on our journey. Please forgive the poor quality of some of these pictures, as the steam train had the filthiest windows I’ve ever seen.
I was going to write a really long post about how amazing St Ives is, but it turns out that there aren’t enough superlatives! It’s my new favorite place – maybe even in the whole world! So here is a slideshow of just a few of our pics. Enjoy!