Kyle of Lochalsh to Fort William
Kyle of Lochalsh is notable for many reasons, depending on your priorities. It’s home to remarkably inexpensive fish and chips for example. A bay borders the one-mill town, which looks onto the Isle of Skye, while the restored Eilean Donan Castle, made famous by such movies as Highlander and the romantic comedy Made of Honor, lies aways to the East. Kyle also marked the penultimate leg of our journey before phase Harry Potter began in full.
Rain greeted us in the tiny town, as did a wryly good-natured fish and chips salesmen.
“How ya liking the weather?”
“Sunny enough for ya?”
“We’d feel cheated if it was. We wanted the authentic Scottish experience.”
“It donna get more authentic than this.”
Bijani and I had taken a morning train from Inverness across the heart of the highlands—with its snow dusted mountains, its bright grassy valleys, its steely rivers and lakes—and if this trip and the stormy sound of Lochalsh represented the real Scotland , I was prepared to sign up for a lifetime membership.
An hour later we hopped on a bus that carried us along similar terrain south toward Fort William, on the shores of the beautiful Loch Linnhe. It’s a bed and breakfast town, not as picturesque as Inverness, but shadowed by the 4,409 foot peak of Ben Nevis.
In town we found more rain and Benny, the friendly Englishman and transplanted owner of Invernevis, a handsome stone B&B with twin gables that overlooked the lake.
“Lovely weather, isn’t it?” he said as he took our bags.
“Yes,” we said in unison.
Bijani and I both ordered a traditional Scottish Breakfast, before heading to the Jacobite Train, named for the anti-British revolutionaries, now commonly known as the Hogwarts Express. The classic, black engine puffed smoke onto the platform and excited children ages 3 to 70 rushed into the cars, “just like in the movie!” The beautiful look accounted for the train’s finest attribute, and I couldn’t help note that another half-price train ran along the same tracks, to the same destination.
“You know, we could’ve just looked at this train and taken a ride on the other one,” I said as we boarded.
“Humbug,” Bijani laughed.
The Jacobite Train does not go to a school of wizardry, but rather Mailag, the dainty western-most port town in the UK. Locals say its home to Scotland’s best fish and chips. Best usually means expensive. As we chugged along, the ashy-white mountains and whaleskin lakes lying starkly against green and yellow grasses lost some of their luster.
“You know we could have saved fifty…”
“You don’t get it,” Bijani said.
We missed the famous aqueduct bridge on the way back because we were fighting. We went to bed in a bad mood back at Invernevis.
…To Be Continued in Part IV – The Final Installment!