I am not a superstitious person, so the luck / bad luck about travelling on Friday the thirteenth has never bothered me. As I have written about in an earlier blog, last weekend I completed the RNRU 3 Peaks Challenge, organised by Doc Cox and Ed Moss-Ward to raise money for BLESMA, the RNRMC and Rugby for Heroes. The event started on Saturday 14 July and for the rest of the team that meant a 12/13 hour journey, by mini bus, from the South Coast. I was the fortunate one. A lie in, the mid day ferry and a short drive through some of Scotland’s most wonderful scenery to Ballachulish. Though I nearly missed the ferry as I was again distracted by a pod of 30+ common dolphins in the Sound of Sleat just North of the Isle of Eigg. Wonderful creatures, that are mesmerising to watch as they play and feed together.
Neither the high road nor the low road – take the slow road
Usually I am faced with 590 miles when I leave the ferry at Mallaig so its rare to have the luxury to dwell and enjoy the Maillaig to Fort William road.
At 300m Loch Morar is the deepest loch in the UK. At 400m, the river Morar, that runs from Loch Morar to the sea, is probably one of the shortest rivers. Despite having a hydro scheme embedded within, this short river is very picturesque, with a number of gentle cascades over the underlying rock. It finishes its briefest of journeys at the Silver Sands of Morar.
The Silver Sands of Morar must be one of Britain’s best kept secrets and are a landscape photographers dream location. Very often, when viewed from our home across the Sound of Sleat on the Isle of Skye, the sands of Morar and the beaches at Arisaig are lit with a wonderful golden glow of the setting sun. The briefest of glimpses is viewed on the new road from Mallaig to Arisaig. However time to stop and walk on these beaches is time well spent. The sand is the texture of icing sugar beneath your feet. You can always find a quiet spot to enjoy the solitude and the waters are crystal clear.
All that is needed is a good book and a long, cold drink.
Railway Catering as never tasted before
After the toil of the Silver Sands of Morar lunch was calling. Glenfinnan is famous for its monument to the Jacobite Rising but in the village itself is the most quaint railway station, recently restored to showcase its former glory.
This railway between Fort William and Mallaig is not only a busy (relatively speaking!) commuter route but also a major tourist attraction with a regular running of steam trains by West Coast Railways. The viaduct at Glenfinnan has appeared in a number of films, including most recently the Harry Potter series.
Also at the station is a former dining carriage converted into a modern day cafe. The lunches are excellent, as I can now testify, and whether you sit inside and enjoy the restored splendour of the carriage or sit outside to look over Loch Shiel it is a most enjoyable way to relax and take a break from the car journey.
Sunset at Glen Coe
Having enjoyed a leisurely day we still had to wait until nearly 21:00 for the rest of the 3 Peaks team to arrive from Portsmouth. They were staying at the JSMTC Ballachulish but for me Karen and Colin’s B&B at North Ballachulish was the order of the day with an evening meal at the Lochleven Seafood Cafe. Karen and Colin have long supported my photography and have always been the perfect hosts. Just a short drive from them is one of the best seafood restaurants I have eaten at, and I have eaten quite a few! For me scallops followed by the dish of the day – sea bream. For my wife, scallops followed by langoustines. Fabulous as always. Then to cap a great and relaxing day the setting sun decided to light up the islands in Loch Leven and the mountains behind Ballachulish. Perfect.
A couple of images from my day are to be found on the landscape gallery page. The Silver Sands of Morar are in the North West Highland’s gallery and a couple of pictures looking across Loch Leven are in the Glencoe and Ben Nevis gallery.