Here is where I start quoting Harry Potter books and rambling on about how I believe in Something with a capital S and it might even involve Magic with a capital M. It’s where I start talking about confidence and innocence and imagination and generally, that I am a total nerd.
So when we boarded the Jacobite Express in Fort William, I was a happy camper. Yes folks, this is the train that they used in Harry Potter. The train that goes to Hogwarts. But more than that? It was living history.
I’ve been on very few trains in my life, but I can almost guarantee that I’ve now been on more steam trains than most people. The smell of this train was astonishing, the air would choke up with steam as we rounded corners. And let’s not even get into using the toilet while on a 100+ year old steam train – let’s just say the idea of “going with the flow” takes on a couple new and slightly terrifying meanings.
The ride was just a couple hours long but absolutely gorgeous, as we rocked and rolled through the Scottish countryside. The train was noisy – metal creaking on metal and footsteps echoing up and down the cars from near and far away, until they were drowned out by the SCREEEEE of the steam as it would release and the train would noisily announce it’s presence.
The train took us to Mallaig, and from there we boarded our trusty van to our final destination of Arisaig.
We arrived in Arisaig had a fun but failed attempt at a short trail that was covered in what the guides quite animatedly called “sharn” – a new-to-me vocabulary word they explained to mean “that stuff that comes out of a cow that’s not quite solid… but not liquid either.”
I never promised Scotland wasn’t going to be dirty.
There were cows and sheep, with babies who were quite adorable. The lambs in particular would bounce around as if their legs were made of pogo sticks, running as fast as they could towards us and stopping just a quickly, only to turn tail and run back to their mother, plowing over anything in their way.
Arisaig was a picturesque town on the water, and after officially giving up on the original trail, we rode our bikes around town, and found ourselves on the beach, where we poked at Scottish anemones and collected shells. Being on another shore always gets me feeling philosophical, staring at water that I could have just touched on another coast back home.
The day ended at the Library Hotel – which was as it sounds, an old library. It fit with the rest of the town perfectly, as if it had just fallen out of the pages of time, and some wonderful local had snatched it up and restored it to something more useful for today’s busy world. Sore from falling the day before, and exhausted beyond belief – we ate at the restaurant and I stuffed myself with fresh, local haddock and the-most-amazing sticky toffee pudding. I was in heaven.