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Scotland: the west Highlands and the Jacobite steam train, 2018


The pretext
The Jacobite steam train, featuring in the Harry Potter movies. An admittedly  frail travel excuse for somebody who has not seen any of the movies or read any of the books…

The secret desire
Meet Nessie. The Lochness monster/fish - dinosaur, by now at least 500 years old, but still going strong.

The reason
The nature, glorious landscapes, of the frightening kind: I could not help trying to imagine how certain places would look like in the winter, when everything is frozen.

Being attracted by isolated, forgotten places mainly because it gives me the artificial satisfaction of escaping them at the end of the trip, I really liked Scotland. My after-feeling of this trip is very similar to having visited an isolated island.

Which in a way seems normal, as water is EVERYWHERE in Scotland.

The people

Polite and rather hospitable, although a barrier is sometimes raised after the exchange of only a few phrases. If you understand at all the Scottish accent that is…
Kind reminder: eating is NOT a reason for this trip, unless you are into haggis ("a savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck (heart, liver, and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock,

traditionally encased in the animal's stomach") and other food served with haggis. Opt for life: fish (not fried), as salmon, cod. As for the unavoidable Kartoffeln (chips, fries, mashed, squeezed, whatever), diet starts upon return, correct?

You are definitely bound to do a lot of driving in Scotland. It's best to have someone to drive with you, apart your teddy bear. Otherwise, drivers are extremely courteous, but distances seem longer because roads are very narrow,

especially if you get off the beaten track and start exploring the tiny roads and villages. Give passage when you get to the ubiquitous Passing places, your best way to actually admire the scenery for some seconds when you're alone drivng.

In night, beware of deer, especially in a foggy, misty environment. And beware, although police is very discreet, Scotland has the strictest alcohol limit in the whole of the UK.

Outings (food included)
NONE. In the West Highlands, a pub may be the only highlight of your evenings. Be there before 20.30-21.00, if you want to eat at all, although at around 21.00 you may have to beg a little. And eat the remains of the kitchen.
And if you are into coffee,  bring your caffeine patch with you! Espresso has not really reached the local shops, and there is a pronounced lack of imagination as far as tea is concerned as well.

The slideshow features the sleepy villages of Dorres, Foyers, the town of Fort William, the departing point of the Jacobite steam train, and the village of Mallaig, at the other end,

the village of Morar with its fantastic Silver sands and its false Caribbean feel (summer 2018), the cute village of Arisaig and my short stroll with my sweaty clothes,

the unpronounceable village of Drumnadrochit , the capital of Lochness, and the place to buy your Nessie pluss ,  the fantastic, eerie island of Skye and its scenic capital Portree,as well as the best Salmon on earth here, among other places on Skye,

the photogenic, otherworldly castles of Urquhart and of Eilean Donan, and last but not least, probably my best:  the god-forgotten village of Inverie, reachable only by sea, with its handful of inhabitants, its sole tearoom and the remotest pub in the UK,

belonging to a Belgian who, following a centuries-long Belgian tradition, remains closed when you need a drink.