Mags and Teri recently travelled to Scotland, having had their plans for holidays further afield placed on hold! Teri tells us about their travels in the highlands:
We kicked off our Highland fling with a fully automated check-in at Heathrow T5. Luckily Magsie is adept at attaching those sticky luggage label things otherwise I’d still be in the queue stuck to my own suitcase...
It’s a bit different flying in the current situation – duty free is quieter and everything is contactless, not just for paying but also scanning a barcode to get a food and drink menu on your smartphone.
By the time the in-flight snack pack has been distributed it’s almost time to descend into Glasgow where we picked up a great red beast of a car. Sixt car rentals have a very odd set of conditions and I had to confirm that my main profession is not ‘a professional sportsperson, actor, tv personality, musician and/or royal’!
A three hour, very scenic drive, wound along glens and lochs and into M&S in Fort William where we stocked up on ready meals and wine then another 20 minutes to our highland hideaway.
Nestled down by a burbling burn our cottage was at first glance like a high-tech designer portacabin but once inside it was easy to appreciate the architect inspired features – the extremely well appointed kitchen, Bosch appliances and a very high tech underfloor heating system that even had a full colour touch screen control panel!
The weather decided that October half term would be its time to shine and we were treated to some amazing days.
We did a circular drive heading west from Glenfinnan to the coast then south to head back east along the shores of Loch Sunart then north along Loch Linnhe back to Fort Willam before turning west back to Glenfinnan. Stunning scenery with the Glens decked out in their autumnal finery of russets, burnt orange and muted greens and the lochs mirror smooth.
It also turns out that Glenfinnan is more or less where Harry Potter went to school. The train, having left King’s Cross platform 9 ¾, crosses the viaduct in Glenfinnan in at least four of the films. A walk from the station takes you to a perfect viewpoint as it steams past.
Harry also fought a dragon in the area, in the fourth film, at Steall Falls which are stunning, cascading down the side of the mountain. The only way to get to the waterfall is across a rope bridge, which is actually just a steel cable with two guide ropes to hold onto. The walk to the falls is a mile and a half or so and is quite tricky in places, clambering over tumbled down rocks and across streams but not too great a challenge.
We had planned to have a rather swanky dinner at Inverlochy Castle but the restrictions meant we had to settle for lunch. However, lunch was easily the best burger and fries – called Pont Neuf Potatoes – I think I’ve ever had!
The west coast is noted, quite rightly, for its beaches. The Singing Sands at Gortenfern are an hour and a half walk through the woods from Kentra Bay but well worth it. Arrive early to catch the tide out and you can have the beach practically to yourself.
For our last day we drove to Mallaig, the end of ‘the road to the isles’, a fishing port where the Harry Potter train ends its journey and you can catch the ferry to the Isle Of Skye.
On the way there we detoured via a number of fabulous beaches between Arisaiag and Mallaig - Sanna Bay, Camusdaruch, the Silver Sands of Morar…
Alongside Mallaig railway station the Mallaig Heritage Centre is well worth a visit. I loved the faded photographs of schoolchildren with names like Flora McDonald and the story of the Herring girls, noted for their amazing speed at gutting fish.
All in all, the Highlands in October were a delight and a surprise with weather to match.
You take the high road and I’ll take the low road and we’ll definitely be back in Sortland before long!
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