My heart broke upon leaving Edinburgh this morning (but I’ll be back next week – in time for Burns Night!), but the train ride to Fort William was a beauty.
It was the nicest train ride I’ve ever done in my life, and I’ve been on quite a few trains. The Scottish Highlands are very similar to New Zealand’s countryside, and I’m sure I’ll see even more parallels when I go to Iverness, Portree, Isle of Skye, etc. It was so calming to stare out the window and see huge mountains, rolling hills, sheep (not as many as in NZ, awww), some waterfalls, streams, lakes, bridges… wow. It was like a dream – everything was so perfectly picturesque. I could just go back and forth on that scenic train all day and I’d be happy as a kite.
I’m staying in Fort William for two nights just as a base, and it’s nothing really special. It’s a port town, aka the gateway to Ben Nevis (the UK’s highest peak). Since I arrived with half the day gone (the train took about 4 hrs from Edinburgh), I ignored the visitors centre lady and hopped on a bus to Glencoe. I’m so glad I did, because it was much more worthwhile than hiking up the recommended Cow Hill trail that didn’t seem to yield a rewarding view.
Some glimpses into the Glencoe recreational park (I don’t remember if that’s the name, but it’s too hard to go back through my thousands of photos to find the sign):
I mainly ventured out to Glencoe since a friend (probably the most knowledgeable person about Scotland ever since she loves it so much) recommended it. I didn’t even realise that it was also where Hagrid’s Hut was built. Me, being stupid, thought the actual hut from the set would still be on display, but of course that wasn’t the case. There is no signage or any indication that a hut was even built there, but the location is so beautiful that it’s easy to see why the filmmakers chose that spot.
I’m pretty sure I spent half an hour taking about 200 selfies and photos from different angles of the location. The clouds shrouding the mountains on the top gave off a Misty Mountains vibe – combining the best of both geek worlds ?
There were sweeping views of Glen Nevis as well as forestry in the back, and the little cliff overlooked a beautiful lake. I’m a bit biased because of the Harry Potter connection, but this was one of the most stunning views I’ve ever seen in a particular spot.
The buses don’t run that often here (as expected), so I’m hoping that I manage to squeeze all my intended Scottish Highlands adventures in. If all else fails, I’m resorting to a day tour somehow – again, this is all my fault for not planning a single thing and just flying by the seat of my pants. However, from what I’ve seen so far, Scotland is just a marvel of a country.