Fort William is well known for the highest mountain peak in UK. The ropeway to this peak was one of the attractions . However it has been discontinued due to an accident.
Among others there is a cruise wherein one gets to see seals and birds .
The one which appealed to me was the Jacobite Steam Train ride .
I had made a trip a few years ago to Fort William only for a day and could not experience all this .
Recently my wife and I decided to take a short break from Glasgow to Fort William . I checked at the possible places of interest to see before our departure. My wish was to get on the steam train ride, but no seats were available as they had been booked online for the entire year . This was very disappointing.
Out trip commenced with the ScotRail train from Glasgow Queen Street station to Fort William.
We were one hour early at the station. I thought the timing of the train was 1207 hours. It turned out to be 1222 hours. At 1215 the platform number was announced and we immediately moved to it. We were told by the railway checker that we should occupy the middle carriage. However our tickets showed carriage A . Being a bit confused we were about to enter the last carriage with A on it. The guard frantically told us to occupy the middle carriage. This is important as 2 rear of the 4 carriages separate at Crianlarich one going to Oban and the other 4 to Fort Willaim .
We settled in our seats and enjoyed the journey . City landscape gradually changed to country scenery . There were open meadows with sheep and cattle grazing. As we approached Fort William we saw hills and rivers.
We also saw waterfalls. Forests passed in a flash. In 41/2 hours we arrived at Fort William.
At the station I enquired about the Jacobite steam train ride. Here is where our little miracle began . The ticket checker told us that the operator for this ride was independent of Scot Rail, and we could try for tickets at 8.30am next morning at the same platform .
We then proceeded to the hotel Cruachan . After checking in we went for a walk and got a few photographs on my camera.
Since it was about 7 pm we decided to go for dinner, and were in for a shock as practically every restaurant was full with diners. The Tavern looked good and we entered . There was already a couple waiting to be seated. After about 20 minutes we got a table and had a good meal.
The city center of Fort wIlliam looked quite desolate as we stepped out . So we returned to our hotel. The rooms were very comfortable. We showered and retired, to wake up next morning to a pleasant day. The buffet breakfast was sumptious.
It was then 9.30am and we were told to come to Fort William Station at 8.30am to buy tickets on cash payment as just one carriage would be available.This was for the Jacobite steam train.
With a prayer on our lips and hope in our hearts we proceeded to the station. Lo and behold the queue of passengers for tickets was being allowed to enter the platform to buy tickets at carriage A. Surprisingly we got tickets for the last two seats .
I got a nice picture beside the steam engine. The train steamed out of Fort William for a two hour ride to Malaig a tiny port famous for fishing . We had good weather ideal for photographs . We passed through forests and hills with mountains in the distance including the famous Ben Nevis. The train stopped for 20 minutes at Glenfinnan station. Passengers walked around. Since the engine was still emitting steam we took a few pictures with that at the backround.
On leaving Glenfinnan station the train proceeded to its destination not without a breathtaking view of the famous viaduct over which it was passing through. It has a long curve and one can get beautiful pictures. This part of the journey is famous for being featured in the Harry Potter film.
To add to that we had good catering on board. The staff had black úniforms with a hat that had a caption ‘éngine driver’ on it. One of them was quite amusing . He blew a long whistle which sounded like the hoot of the engine; and chatted away with passengers as he served. He was the most hardworking in serving and clearing.
In an hours time we reached Malaig. There we stopped for 11/2 hour . At this port , we walked around and again I pulled out my camera to get a picture.
We decided to have lunch when again we were late and every restaurant was filled to capacity. Eventually we discovered a family run cafe just opposite the station. I had a roast pork roll with apple sauce. The apple sauce was new to me and delicious.
The wind and rain began just when it was time for departure so we hurried to the train, which left on time.
The train passed the Neptune Staircase on the Caledonian Canal which consists of 8 locks The weather gradually changed and was not suitable for photographs
I recorded the sound of the steam engine chugging along, something I remember as a child when travelling from Mumbai to Bangalore.
In two hours we arrived at Fort William station where we spent about an hour to get our train to Glasgow Queen Street station. The time was 1720 hours and few passengers were on board , a far cry from the Jacobite train journey which was buzzing with excited passengers.
The sunset on our return train journey brought a peaceful end to our memorable trip to Fort William.