One of Those Days

Trip Start Oct 22, 2005
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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Today was one of those days that I'm sure every traveler has. You know the one we mean; the one where nothing goes to plan. We woke up early as there were a few things in the area we wanted to do before we headed to the ferry for the Isle of Skye.

It all began kind of backwards because we wanted to see the local steam train cross the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, which is about 30 minutes out of town on the road to the Skye ferry. We'd heard that the train leaves Fort William at about 10AM so we figured it would take about half an hour for it to reach the viaduct so we'd have to be on the road early. The second thing we planned to do was take the gondola up Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK. It didn't open until about ten as well but annoyingly we had to drive past it to get to the viaduct. "That's ok" we reasoned "we can drive back after seeing the train".

10:25AM found us perched up on a viewing area in the rather hot sun, chatting excitedly, and waiting for the train to arrive. 10:45AM - no train yet. 11:00AM - still no train, 11:25AM - yay sounds like a train approaching. 11:26AM - nope just an airplane. 11:45AM - yep it's definitely a train this time though not a steam train though just a regular electric one going back towards Fort William. We realised at this point that there is only one track all the way back to Fort William which means there will be no other train until this one get back there. We gave up in the end and headed back down to the tourist office where we saw a small sign that, in our earlier excitement, we had missed. In big bold writing on the door of the office: Steam Train: Mon to Fri and Sun only. Yep you guessed it, it was Saturday.

Oh well we headed back to Ben Nevis excited that we could go in a gondola ride to the top. Arriving at the car park we headed to the office to buy a ticket. Instead we found, in big letters on the door "CLOSED due to a recent accident". This was typical of our day so far. The gondola's Promotions Manager came out to apologise personally after finding out we were directed there by the local tourist board who should have known it was closed. She told us that earlier in the week a gondola had fallen from the wire and injured the occupants inside and obviously they now had to have a big investigation before they could operate again. You cant really be upset about that kind of thing, unfortunately if we had of known it was closed we could have been half way to the Isle of Skye instead of driving all the way back to Fort William after our non existent train fiasco.

We refueled with coffees and cakes then headed to the ferry. The remainder of the day went as planned and we made it to the Isle of Skye and our hostel for the night. That night we were all in bed, scratching little bites on our arms and legs. The Scottish Midges, little flying, biting bugs, had had a feed on us while we had waited for the steam train that never came.

The next day we spent the morning taking in the Isle of Skye. There are some fantastic view points dotted around the island with magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and coastline. We drove to the Dunvegan Castle but decided not to go in, instead driving up the road for a great view of it from the roadside. We also had a look at the rock formation, Old Man of Storr, which looked fantastic silhouetted against black storm clouds. On the way we also stopped at the remains of the Dun Beag Broch. Brochs were used as a safe haven for a village when invaders attacked. With not much else to do on a Sunday in Skye (some of the island's residence are very religious and on Sunday nothing is open even public playgrounds for kids) we headed back to the mainland and to Eilean Donan Castle which was once ruled by the MacKenzie Clan. Glenys enjoyed seeing the castle as she was originally a MacKenzie.

We wandered around the restored castle, now in the hands of another Clan, thankfully the rain had abated by this stage and the sun had begun shining again. Traveling onwards we arrived in the early afternoon in Lewiston on the banks of Loch Ness. No sign of the famed Loch Ness Monster but we did have a big black bug crawl out from under a table in the hostel room, scaring Megan and causing her to do a spontaneous little dance trying to get away.
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