Watching the sun come up, kissing the peaks and hills and crags as it makes its way through the sky in the early chill, and wanting coffee badly, I decided that I should probably start looking for a home here.
Naturally, we were the most fashion-forward of tourist. Getting a break from the boots was like walking on air.
The day was absolute stunning. Warm, sunny and windless and a near-glassy loch. Linnie is a saltwater sea loch, so we got to see a salmon fishery and a mussel farm, along with countless herons, eider ducks and wigeons.
While the salmon farm was a big, cage-and-net affair with quite the odor, the mussel farm was less intrusive.
They don't even seed the ropes, they just let nature take its course and then harvest the ropes after a couple of years. They don't fence or net in the treasured bivalves, so there are eiders that hang out hear year-round, enjoying the free lunch as far as they can dive down.
This route is a big train-spotting and train geek affair- it is reputed to be the most scenic line in the UK, and they filmed the train journey in and out of Hogworts along this line. You totally felt like a wizard here anyway. I tried to cast a few enchantments...
The sky was so clear, well, you could see all the way to Skye. It was a highlight of my last Scotland trip- it's just amazingly beautiful. See those peaks? The gentle, conical hills of the mainland are not what you find on Skye, but jagged peaks. They look like the Alps. While sitting on the jetty looking out, we were tempted to make some hasty plans to extend our stay. We frantically devised plans to stay longer, call in sick to work, eat the cost of the return train ticket, somehow get a friend let in our place in London...no, this was not the right thing to do. We need something to get us to come back, and those peaks on Skye would be it.
Even at the late hour, the top of Ben Nevis was still cloudless and visible. I realized around 2pm that my feet were fine after being off them for most of the morning, and we were kicking ourselves for not undertaking the big hike on our last day in Scotland.
Instead, we wandered around Fort William, walking barefoot through the immaculate lawn of the cemetery, exploring the very small remains of the original fort, taking in a dram and the salt air.
The main street becomes a parade late in the day as hikers come off the trail. It was fun to watch the reactions of people as they saw the end of the trail- it really shows a person's soul if they are cheerful or looking dejected, or just happy that their misery is over.
The next day, we were taking a bus back to Glasgow, and a train to London from there. What I had thought as a cold was now a flu, and I was feverish and wearing all the layers of clothes that I barely touched all week, and sipping at water and eating crackers when I could, and crunching myself up into a pathetic lump of shivering misery. Well, the bus ride was nice- it basically followed the A84, so we got to re-live the trail in a mere 3 hours, which was a bit infuriating but a good way to remember just how long that trail really had been. I had brought a lace shawl to knit on, and due to my lack of concentration and just general feeling of misery, nothing got done on it at all.
We stopped by the Pot Still in Glasgow, as I was told by everyone and their mothers the only answer is a dram. They opened just as we were rolling past, so the bar was quiet, with just a few people milling around.
I loaded up on cold meds for the ride home, had a lovely chat with an eccentric local, and curled up on the crowded train back to London, where somehow a large Russian family with many small children managed to get seats in the coveted "Quiet Car".
I'm so happy I ended my hiking season here. The days are getting short, and the rain has been endless recently, so there was a certain finality to this journey.
I miss it there already.