Home > Ireland 2017, Vacations > Scotland 2017 – Day 19

Scotland 2017 – Day 19

Monday, May 22, 2017

Today we will drive up to Fort William to take The Jacobite Steam Train. It is only about an hours drive so we take our time eating our snacks, drinking our Sanka and browsing for something to do near Fort William as the train doesn’t depart until this afternoon. We find an interesting hike to do, so we are off on our way.

The drive up to Fort William is along the Loch Linnhe and it is a scenic one as the terrain is somewhat hilly. Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK and is located near Fort William, but we won’t be hiking that one today. We see a stop for gas and go in to investigate the possibility of some real coffee. There is a machine which looks promising so we try it out, unfortunately it is just flavored Sanka, sigh.

The hike today is to Steall Falls which is located in Glen Nevis and is the second highest waterfall in Scotland. As we drive through Fort William we note where the train station is located and then we keep on going out the Glen Nevis road which runs along the River Nevis. The road becomes rather narrow, but fortunately we had stopped at the visitor’s center so that we know we are on the right track. The road turns to gravel and becomes even more narrow so that we need to use passing pull outs when meeting other vehicles. Literally at the end of the road is the parking area, which is filled with vehicles. There is even a taxi coming all the way out here.

The trail is broad and well marked and although it starts out rather flat; it soon turns a bit steep and rocky. Good thing we have our hiking boots on. Much of the hike follows the stream so it is pleasant to see little cascades of water flowing over the rocks. The trees around us are plentiful and green, but the soil is rocky with strewn boulders as the landscape rises to the mountains. Then the path opens up and we are in a large meadow with the waterfall in the distance. We continue to walk towards the falls and we see that there is a path that takes a turn across the meadow where there is a sort of bridge to cross and go closer to the waterfall.
Glen NevisHike
Glen NevisHike
Glen NevisHike
Glen NevisHike
Glen NevisHike
Glen NevisHike
Glen NevisHike

This “bridge” is basically a steel cable with two more steel cables about waist high that you can hold onto to stabilize yourself as you walk across. There are a couple groups of people sitting near the crossing intently watching us to see if we will attempt it. Well we have come this far, I can do tightrope walking, right? At first I am over the exposed smooth river rocks as I adjust to the sway of the cable with each step forward. I think this cable is less than an inch in diameter, so it is a little tricky. Then there is the flowing stream, which messes with your depth perception and focus on stepping on the cable and balancing. I try to look down, but not look down. Finally there is the uphill part, the bare rocks, and I have made it to the other side. Vicky’s turn.
BridgeVicky crossing bridge

It is just a short distance to the base of the waterfall, but the trail dissipates into several branches as people have tried different techniques in navigating the bog before us. We also make our way tending to the higher ground when possible, but sometimes sinking a bit in the muck. Finally we are able to enjoy the falls and the large boulders at the base.
Steall FallsHike
Steall FallsHike
Steall FallsHike
BridgeEric crossing bridge

As we start our way back there is a young couple trying to get across the bog so we give what advice we can. She says at least you have proper boots! I look down to just see a pair of flat tennis shoes and I wonder how she made it all along the rocky trail to get here at all. As we approach the cable bridge once again, one of the fellows who had intently followed our progress before was slowly making his way across. His wife was watching him and definitely not thrilled with the idea, and she was definitely not going to follow him. So we wait our turn and once again make the crossing. We have to pick up the pace a bit on the way back as we have a schedule to keep. As we are nearing the portion of the trail that first turns steep and rocky from the parking area, there is another couple totally unprepared for the hike. This lady is wearing street shoes, not heels at least, but flat and slippery on the bottom. The man is trying to support her as she is trying to step across a small rivulet in the trail, but he is not much better off than she. At least they are making their way back to the car.

We make it back to the rail station, but it has now started to sprinkle rain, but not to worry we will be on the train. The Jacobite is a steam engine train and run the same line as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films. The line runs from Fort William up through the Scottish Highlands to Mallaig on the west coast. It crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct also prominently featured in the Harry Potter films and has beautiful landscape from mountain peaks to deep valleys punctuated by blue lochs.
TrainTrain
TrainTrain
TrainTrain
TrainTrain
TrainTrain
TrainTrain
TrainTrain

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