Fort William to Malaig: Wild Scottish Landscapes, Harry Potter, and a Thriving Business

You don’t marry a steam enthusiast without spending time around trains. On our 2015 trip to Europe, Don and I had to ride the lovely little steam train on the Isle of Man with the cars that opened directly onto the platform, and spend at least a day at the National Railway Museum in York (two for Don). But the centrepiece of our visit to Scotland was the visit to the Jacobite on the West Highland Railway.

If you have a husband who grew up on a motorcycle, there is no better way to tour Europe. We arrived in Fort William and checked into our hotel, but before we could even go to dinner, we had to ride out to the steam yards. Don has a nose for steam, so even though we didn’t know where it was, he followed the rail, flipped under overpasses and through residential neighbourhoods and around chain link fences to where the steamers were waiting for the next day’s trip. The West Highland Railway Line yard was closed, but this was only our first taste.

The next day, of course, we had to ride the train to Malaig. I never saw Don, as he spent the entire time in the vestibule in cold Scotish mist, breathing in coal dust and squinting cinders from his eyes. And, taking photos, of course.

Finally, our last day in Fort William, I knew Don wanted to chase the train for photos but I really wanted to ride the motorcycle over some twisty Scottish roads, so we agreed that we would do that in the afternoon. The day threatened rain, but we took off to photograph the steam train going over the Glenfinnan Viaduct anyway, and it was very spectacular. Have you seen the Harry Potter movie where Harry and Ron drive their flying car around the viaduct while the train is going over it? That’s the spot. Then we rode the motorcycle around the spectacular west highlands, with amazing mountain and seaside scenery. Then we wound up—back in Glenfinnan! And JUST on time for the afternoon train! How about that? This time we walked from the station to a viewpoint through some very scenic meadows, and got two good shots of the afternoon train going to Malaig and the morning train returning to Fort William.

Yep. A wonderful trip. And…did I tell you about the trains we saw on our tenth anniversary? Yes, another story…

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