Right after our wedding in Edinburgh, we spent the night in a small town on the western coast of Scotland called Troon. Rosie and Dave of M.V. Reliant B&B had a steal of a room listed on AirBnB and we spent one night with them on their boat in the harbor. It was while pouring over Dave’s collection of old maps that he advised us to take a break between trails when we reached Fort William and hop the scenic train to Mallaig and then the ferry to the Isle of Skye.
After our wild night getting into Fort William, a little detour didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Especially considering the stormy weather was supposed to continue in that area and Skye has long been a dream destination of mine.
We dragged ourselves out of our tent by the River Nevis and back into the wet and windy weather plaguing Fort William. It was a mile and a half walk to the train station where we booked our ride to Mallaig. It was a two hour wait for the train, and while I drank tea in the café, Zach went out to the platform to try and catch Wi-Fi and book the ferry to Skye.
His search made an abrupt stop: The ferry had been canceled for the day on account of poor weather.
We began to look towards Mallaig.
This search bore the same kind of fruit.
Which is to say, none at all. The tiny coastal town of Mallaig appeared to be completely booked out this weekend. (“What the hell is going on? What’s with all the English people we keep running into? Is ALL of England vacationing in Scotland right now?”)
There is something to be said about making advanced plans while you are on the road. This, however, is not always our strong suit. We tend to squeak by, day by day, and its fine. Just then, however, our lack of strategy was biting us on the ass.
We were still wet, more than a little grumpy, and exhausted from the trials of the past 151 kilometers. We needed to find somewhere to regroup, no matter where.
The only place Zach found with a vacancy online was the Prince’s House Hotel & Restaurant in Glenfinnan, about half way to Mallaig. It wasn’t ideal considering we had already paid to go all the way to Mallaig, but sometimes you just have to cut your losses.
The only thing to do was push on and it turns out…
That place was awesome!
One of my greatest joys in traveling around Scotland was unearthing and learning Scottish history. So imagine my utter jubilee when I found out that the reason the hotel is called Prince’s House is because the Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard in 1745 right across the road on the shores of Loch Shiel! It doesn’t get much more exciting for a history/Outlander nerd than finding out she’s sleeping 500 yards from the start of the Jacobite Rising of ’45.
But wait, that’s not all!
You know the train ride between Fort William and Mallaig?
Does this look familiar?!
Yes, that’s right. We were on the Hogwarts train. As in, the train to Hogwarts. The viaduct is the iconic image from the Harry Potter films and the Black Lake is Loch Shiel!
Along with being a childhood dream come true, the train ride was just as gorgeous as Dave led us to believe. If you ever find yourself on the western side of Scotland, it is worth the train ticket. By the time we got off at Glenfinnan, I had almost forgotten that only a few hours ago we had woken up to rain in a soaking tent on the other side of a sheep pasture.
Then thankfully, at the Prince’s Hotel, we could rest and regroup.
That’s the thing I find most consistent with traveling. Sometimes you feel exhausted and like the path is throwing every obstacle at you. You don’t even want to go on anymore.
But those feelings never last if you keep going. If you give up, it will be terrible. You will probably regret it almost immediately. But, if you keep going, it is likely that you just might find something wonderful.