24 Apr 2020 9:27 PM
  • Scotland

We set off on a short trip to the north of the British Islands. A region of Highlands, Scotland. This is the place with lots of Lochs and Glens. A morning train called Caledonian Sleeper departs from Glasgow at 5:48. It’s dark outside and all the passengers are asleep.

Middle of march – not the best time for tourism here. We put on the warmest clothes we had. I’ll sleep, too.

The train is creeping through the hills, covered in dense last-year grass. The tops are covered in snow. Sometimes snow descends closely to railroad tracks. Vast spaces without people offer to watch “Braveheart” again.

Fort William

We’ve come to Fort William. Near it sits the highest peak of Great Britain – Ben Nevis. The next train is in 2 hours. We’ve decided to take a walk by the embankment. A very deep bay and thousands of brooks trickle from the mountains, and the water already turned out to be salty. Not many people around. We sent postcards to relatives. And met the birds we’ve never seen before. Only on postcards.

We go further. A little diesel train with two well-warmed cars takes us to Glenfinnan – a little hamlet, where the local viaduct became a picturesque feature of the Harry Potter films.

Here our first trek begins. We go down from the station to a Loch Sheil, week out the viewpoint on the viaduct. The decision comes that out trip lacks extreme – we put on trekking shoes for some reason – so, our party of two thunders through the fields, hills, and ravines to the viaduct, skipping little streams. The hills literally ooze with water. Melted water and precipitation saturates the soil under the dense grass. Feet immediately became wet to the ankles and we dried them only in the evening in the hotel.

We came to a viaduct for a reason. The scale can be perceived only at its base.

We didn’t want to get back to the poorly populated village left behind. We got over a brook, found a road, and began walking upon it towards snow-capped mountains. The wind was very strong and wet shoes dried really fast. Fed with conversations, apples, and bananas we walked by the asphalted road for about 4 or 5 kilometers, until we reached a fork. To the left lay, a road to a private hotel – a greenish building gleamed with windows on the hillside; to the right – a track led to a long stone hut. Having decided, that if we wanted to keep to ourselves in the future, we will undoubtedly come to this hotel at the world’s end. We went to the hut for now.

Opened. Inside – a spacious room with a fireplace, an axe, a saw, shovels, hammer, electric stove and a pot; tea and coffee, some preserved goods, first aid kit. And in the corner – a pallet to sleep on. Tucked into a sleeping bag – a perfect bed. Tomorrow leaves some tip in the box and go your way. This was a proper climax to today’s trek, we got back to Glenfinnan. The last train left to Fort William left at 19:04.

We were surprised to find a cozy restaurant/bed-and-breakfast near the station. A dinner seemed to be in place after a long walk.

We stayed the night in the amazing  Distillery Guest House. Clean and cozy. Hot shower after the windy spring walks – a heavenly experience. Relaxed we fall asleep under thick blankets. A new day tomorrow.

We wanted to prolong this hotel for one more day – they didn’t have vacant places. Destiny wants us to continue. We will go to Loch Ness in the evening and spend the night there.

Today we have a massive trek – Ben Nevis. The start is at The North Face Car Park not very far (5 km from Fort William). At first, we go by the picturesque forest, reach a viewpoint, which shows the town, then the road leads upon the open hill. A mountain peak appeared before us – now it’s difficult to get lost. It started snowing. Strange… blue skies and the sun shining, but the snow is fierce. We guessed, that the strong wind raises the snow from the mountain peak and sprinkles everything around.

As we neared the mountain, the meeting wind became stronger. Later it just lifted you from the ground. We meet people – sincere greetings and red smiles from cold and wind. It’s easily seen, that everybody feels the unity with nature.

The end point for today was CIC Hut – a shelter for alpinists, ice-climbers and other crazy people. When we reached it, the temperature fell, the wind didn’t cease, it became very slippery without crampons. We couldn’t stay – the wind robbed of active heat quickly. We turn around and march back. A thought warms, that it gets warmer with every step of the way back down.

A superb trek. So many useful inhales and exhales of clear mountain air, thousands of useful steps for the body, so many breathtaking views, smiling eyes – and it’s free. The only thing needed is desire.

We come down to the highway A82. We wait for the bus (check out transfers between the cities beforehand – it’s 3 or 4 buses per day, and less than that during the weekends) and arrive in the village of Drumnodrochit, on the banks of Loch Ness. Tomorrow we’ll look for Nessie.

Loch Ness

A small town of Drumnodrochit on the banks of the lake, where we’d arrived, is famous for two museums of Loch Ness monster Nessie, where everything connected to the monster is gathered. Documents of witnesses, search reports, proofs and disproofs of its existence… also, hundreds of souvenirs with the local sight. We weren’t tempted to peek inside, we’re not superstitious. We set off into nature, walked through the forest, by the lake’s shore. Through the fields with sheep, we’d come to Urquhart Castle (XIII-XVI century).

We walked the paths, read through interesting facts. The castle is situated on the lake’s shore, it is one of the biggest and most frequently visited in Scotland. The entry is free of charge. There are 2 free tours per day.

I noticed, that most national museums in Scotland are free to enter. We visited 2 amazing, rich in interesting and rare exhibits museums – National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and Riverside museum in Glasgow.

We stayed the night in the guesthouse called  Aslaich Bed & Breakfast for 44£. A beautiful living room with a fireplace in classic style, cozy rooms. One can choose any breakfast beginning with classic continental to traditional Scottish. Chasing after local food we’d ordered haggis, black pudding, homemade sausages, cooked tomatoes with beans and mushrooms.

We go home, preparing new outings into the beautiful Scottish Highland.