Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Scottish Highlands trip: Day two - Inverness to Fort William

We had to be up early for the journey to Fort William for our bus at 8:45am - as we were all still tired, we struggled to stay awake on the bus, but it was worth it for the scenic journal and picturesque views. The road from Inverness to Fort William follows the Great Glen Way, a walking and cycling trail taking in Fort Augustus and going alongside the famous Caledonian Canal, designed by Thomas Telford, for a considerable way.

Although Fort William itself is not a beautifully picturesque town, it is a pleasant and charming place on the solitary High Street. Clearly though, it's majesty lies in its location. It is quite literally in the middle of nowhere, surrounded on all sides by unspoiled countryside and soaring mountains, not least of which is Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK at 1344m. It is truly a delight to be here, away from the mass populated and urban settlements of much of the rest of the UK. After arrival, we went to check in to our hostel, but as the check-in was not until 4:30pm (rather late, we thought), we left some of our things and went back into town.

Whilst in town, we ate dinner, then decided to go for a walk. At the back of the leisure centre in Fort William is the start of the hiking trail that leads up to Glen Nevis, Ben Nevis's little brother. Climbing swiftly, it is a wonderful little trail that affords some stunning views, in particular from a large painted Scottish flag on the ground. We spent some time here taking photos until the rain began to come down (again) and we headed downhill and took the bus back to our resting place for the night.

As we couldn't find anywhere reasonably priced to stay in the centre of town, we had booked a room in a cosy little cottage called Farr Cottage in a small village outside Fort William known as Corpach. As it turned out, this was an ideal place to stay whilst in the countryside, with it's own conservatory, bar and games to play and situated nicely on the edge of the river, it was extremely comfortable and welcoming. Particularly at night, when we were all playing games together in the back without a sound to be heard outside, you could almost convince yourself that you were in a ranch out in the American countryside. Such escapism from life as this is hard to find and I genuinely hope this little place retains its character in the future. I for one will definitely be returning, as I still intend to do the train journey from Fort William to Mallaig - now famous as the railway featured in the Harry Potter movies, but known long before this as one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world.

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