A Travellerspoint blog

Roy Bridge - Fort William - Mallaig - Eigg

sunny 18 °C
View Eigg on IainT's travel map.

Day 2.

An early start and I was away from the B&B at 7:30 to get the 8:30 train from Fort William. My ticket - booked in advance and using my senior railcard - cost £9.20 return.

Scotrail's 8:30 to Mallaig

Scotrail's 8:30 to Mallaig

It was a spectacular journey through amazing scenery to get the 10:20 ferry to Eigg (it also calls at Rùm and Muck). The unusual names come from Norse and not Gaelic.

I had an hour on the ship under windless, blue skies. Between the mainland coast, the Small Isles and Skye, you’re surrounded by beauty. All for £7.70 (return).

Calmac's 10:20 to Eigg

Calmac's 10:20 to Eigg

I settled quickly into my home from home thanks to the owner’s daughter, who then rushed off to fret about her 400 sheep which are about to start lambing.

Shepherd's Hut

Shepherd's Hut

I decided to have lunch out as the only cafe on Eigg is only open on the days the ferry arrives (3 days a week at the moment - still the winter timetable). Lunch out on the deck. In March...

Lunchtime

Lunchtime

More exercise kept me busy in the afternoon - I tackled An Sgurr, the biggest hill on the island. It was tougher than yesterday’s hike - a path which alternated between rocky and boggy. Still, another 3.5 hours and 12 or 13 km on the clock.

Rùm from An Sgurr

Rùm from An Sgurr

The island has its own micro-brewery - not bad for a population of 83 and very welcome after the climb.

Posted by IainT 05:45 Archived in Scotland Tagged mountains trains scotland ferries island eigg calmac Comments (0)

Coire Ardair

sunny 18 °C

Day 1

Out the door about 10:30 this morning after 3 hours of running around the house (plus a trip to the supermarket to buy something for lunch).

Why? Where?

I’m on my way to Eigg. It’s one of the Small Isles, just south of Skye.

To get there you take a Calmac ferry from Mallaig. It leaves at 10:20 - only 3 times a week in winter (summer timetables start with April). Mallaig is a 3.5 hour drive from my house. In theory I could leave home at 6am and be on time. In reality, any delay would mean missing it and a 2 day wait for the next one!

Calmac

Calmac

Much safer to spend the night in a bed & breakfast in Roy Bridge (close to Fort William). A 1 hour drive from Mallaig.

In fact I decided to get the 8:30 train tomorrow from Fort William to Mallaig - I can sit and enjoy the views.

The weather was sunny and warm, so I decided on a 12km hike near Roy Bridge this afternoon - to Coire Ardair at Creag Meagaidh, and back.

Coire Ardair

Coire Ardair

One of the highlights was being able to grab a handful of snow to rub on my face and neck to cool down. Perfect.

Tired now (10pm). All that fresh mountain air and exercise!

Posted by IainT 14:24 Archived in Scotland Tagged mountains snow scotland eigg calmac Comments (0)

Verdant

all seasons in one day 2 °C

A wee trip close to home last week - north to Dundee.

The country (UK, not just Scotland) was in the grip of Storm Doris, but all it did around here was dump a bit of wet snow on higher ground. It did mean that outside activity would be unpleasant, so we decided to visit the Verdant Works in Dundee.

Verdant

It's an industrial heritage museum and as well as preserving a historic jute works (built in 1833) it serves to educate on the history of that industry.

Verdant Works - exterior

Verdant Works - exterior

We had an enjoyable and informative couple of hours.

Verdant Works - courtyard

Verdant Works - courtyard

As a bonus, it was warm and dry. Another bonus was the coffee shop afterwards - home made soup for some inner heat and the chance for my friend (Dr D from Bavaria) to taste Dundee cake for the first time.

Verdant Works - exhibits

Verdant Works - exhibits

Dundee isn't on the tourist map for most visitors to Scotland, but it's very close to St Andrews. It will become more of a draw in summer 2018, when the new V & A Museum of Design opens.

V & A

Posted by IainT 12:50 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland dundee Comments (0)

Trains, Planes & Automobiles

overcast 3 °C
View Gaimersheim on IainT's travel map.

My first trip to Bavaria in 2017.

Remarkably, all the travel went according to plan!

This trip involved 2 cars, a bus, a plane and 2 trains. It gave plenty of scope for problems.

Stagecoach

Stagecoach

My son drove me to the local park & ride to catch the 07:35 bus to Edinburgh Airport. It’s free because I’m over 60, so why pay (say) £30 for airport parking? In any event, driving would have involved the grim Edinburgh rush hour but the bus whizzes past the jams using the bus lane! Quicker, stress free and no cost.

On Time

On Time

Time for breakfast at the airport before EasyJet’s 10:25 to Munich. The flight arrived about 10 minutes late, but in view of the Edinburgh weather (a bit foggy and frosty) that was OK. They had to get the plane’s wings de-iced before take off and that doesn’t happen often in Scotland.

Waiting

Waiting

£64 return for this flight this time. That’s a bargain.

Munich Airport

Munich Airport

Usually I’m collected at Munich Airport and then it’s a 50 minute drive to my destination (near Ingolstadt). On this occasion the arrival time meant I had to get the train. 45 minutes on the S-Bahn into the Hauptbahnhof and then 70 minutes on a Nürnberg bound “regional express”. All very comfortable and civilised compared to a typical British train experience.

15:29 to Nürnberg

15:29 to Nürnberg

DB offers a Bayern ticket which gives unlimited travel within the state after 9am. €25 for 1 person. A good deal even at today’s exchange rate.
I could have bought a ticket for €19 which would have been a quicker journey (an ICE to Ingolstadt) but - like comparable British tickets - if you miss the train you have to buy a new ticket. It doesn’t matter which airline you use, you can never be certain you’ll arrive on time.

I’ll end with a question. Why is flying so often stressful and taking the train often relaxing?

Posted by IainT 02:19 Archived in Germany Tagged trains germany bavaria gaimersheim nürnberg ingolstadt Comments (0)

Lockerbie

A Tragedy

overcast 9 °C

I had my first business trip of 2017 today. It was to Lockerbie, in the Scottish Borders.

Locals

Locals

Having made that journey by car many times, and once by train, I opted for the train this time. It involves changing trains in Edinburgh and that creates the risk of a delay causing a problem in making the connection, but today it was all perfect.

In fact the train back from Lockerbie to Edinburgh arrived 10 minutes early. TransPennine Express operates that service, and it’s really a connection between Edinburgh and Manchester/Manchester Airport.

Lockerbie Station

Lockerbie Station

I was in 1st class for the Edinburgh/Lockerbie trains - well it’s a business expense and I get a good reduction with my railcard. The total cost was £41 return. Had I driven, the cost (at £0.40 per mile) would have been £89.

Town Centre (2)

Town Centre (2)

Travel time was another factor. On paper the drive should take around 2 hours each way. In reality, major roadwork on the route mean it would probably have been more. The train took 1 hr 45 minutes each way (including the time spent waiting for the connections).

Town Centre

Town Centre

It’s a poignant place to visit. I have vivid memories of 21 December 1988, when Pan Am flight 103 exploded over the town killing 270 people. 11 of the town’s residents died when the largest piece of the fuselage landed on Sherwood Crescent. That street is about half a mile from the railway station.

The criminal trial which followed, the appeal procedures after that, and then the release (on compassionate grounds in accordance with Scots law) of the only person convicted served to keep the atrocity in the public eye for decades.

Posted by IainT 12:17 Archived in Scotland Tagged planes trains scotland lockerbie Comments (0)

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