Day 7 - A Steam Train & A Monster
Breakfast is included today at our hotel and then it is allllll aboard!
We'll journey from Fort William to Mallaig on The Jacobite steam train. This stretch of track was completed in 1901, but it wasn't until 1995 that the line's name was changed to The Jacobite, so dubbed because of the many Jacobite historical moments that took place in the area. The ride is beautiful, winding past lochs, waterfalls, patches of wildflowers, small villages, and important historical sites. And of course, keep your cameras ready as we approach the Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous in its own right and made even more so after being a backdrop to scenes from the Harry Potter films. This curved Viaduct is the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland (416 yards / 380m), and sits 100 feet high above the River Finnan.
We recommend bringing a picnic lunch today as once we arrive in Mallaig, there are limited dining options and they get swamped by train passengers, but you can always take your chances getting a table - some offer reservations. Take time to check out the working waterfront, with dozens of large fishing boats, plus the many cute local shops (yes, including Haggard Alley if you're a HP fan). There is also a great art gallery with original pieces, prints, cards, and more in town that is full of treasures.
We'll have had a chat in advance about how we'd like to depart Mallaig; either by boarding the train for our return trip or arranging for Alison to come pick us up so we can make some stops of our own along the route back. This would give us the possibility of seeing the Viaduct from the ground, as well as some other beautiful sites that aren't accessible when you're riding the train.
Whether we join Alison in Mallaig or back in Fort William, we then will continue on to one of the most famous places in all of Scotland: Loch Ness! Keep your eyes peeled for Nessie when we stop in Fort Augustus, at the southern end of the loch, to take in the views along the shore line. Then we head up the less traveled East side of the loch so we can venture to see a waterfall that feeds into it. If you're not feeling up to this short, but steep, uphill there is also a walk alongside the loch with beautiful views too!
Finally, we arrive in Inverness for the last two nights of our trip together. Our hotel is right in the center of the city, perfect for taking advantage of any free time this evening and for finding a delicious location for dinner.