An early start today; we are down at the jetty in good time to get the 9.30 boat across a loch of flat calm and low-tide-shallowness. We get the impression that Allistair is a little unimpressed that we have chosen to leave ‘his’ island.
Back on shore we drive round the end of Loch Shiel to join the road to the isles, making first to the fishing port of Mallaig and last stop before the ferry to Skye. At Mallaig we buy fish from a small fishmongers next to the station (in a building that might have once part of the station).
From Mallaig we journey (in reverse) the famous Road to the Isles. First stop are the silver-sand beaches of Morar, where we pause to paddle. Then its on to Glenfinnen and a picnic lunch of smoked salmon rolls from the Mallaig fishmongers and Irn-Bru as a train crosses the famous Glenfinnen Viaduct. Seeing the train cross really does make you realise how big the viaduct is, even if sadly it is just a regular commuter train and not a glorious steam locomotive. There is also the monument to Bonny Prince Charlie, but I am less sure about this once I discover that its not even the original memorial, and they aren’t sure where that was.
Further down the Road to the Isles we stop at a town by the lochside to get one of the best views of Ben Nevis and its summit, set against blue sky and fluffy white clouds, and reflected in the clear blue waters. We watch as sailing yacht is let through one of the large locks at the southern end of the Caledonian Canal. Moving on a little further we see the greaness of Neptune’s Staircase – a series of 8 locks leading into the Great Glen. Having taken day boats out on our own Oxfordshire canal, the extent of engineering seen hereis awesome and incredible to even think about. And when we think of it all as a manual operation and the need for a crew of 12 lock keepers it is unbelievable.
We do complete our journey down the road by ending at the beginning in a quick loop around Fort William to see just how uninteresting a place it really is. And then we drive back down the road to the isles in the correct direction until we reach our turning for Loch Shiel, and Ackarackle and to our very own Castle Tioram to get the boat back across to our island. I am disappointed to discover that you cannot get into the castle.
Back at our little red-roofed cottage in the roof we put an egg out with the nuts tonight, and it is gone by morning, but sadly we see no more pine martins tonight.