From Arrochar, Scotland to Fort William, Scotland and A Ride On The Train That Was the Hogwarts Express In The Harry Potter Films.

Hmmm, Harry Potter seems to be making unexpected visits during this trip.  More about that in a moment.  First let me bring you all up to date.

I spent Monday night in Arrochar at a really lovely bread and breakfast with a view of the lake and mountains.  Too bad it was only one night but that is one of the pitfalls of traveling for the first time in new territory.  When I arrived in Arrochar, I left the station and began walking toward my guest house because the conductor told me there were no buses or taxi’s in Arrochar.  However, I walked, maybe, about 2 blocks and I saw a bus coming down the road, and I thought why not wave it down and see what happens.  I did this because while I was in Ireland I learned that anyone who waves down a bus, no matter where they are, and even if it is not a bus stop, the bus pick them up.  Well, the bus did stop and the bus dropped me off right in front of my guest house.  

Yesterday morning I left Arrochar in time to walk an mile and a half to the train station.  No taxi, and very limited bus service and no one could tell me when the next bus would arrive.  I did not want to miss my train so I walked.  Good thing to because no bus came while I walked to the station.

The train arrived on time and I got on anticipating quite a scenic ride to Fort William.  However, five minutes after the train began its journey, the conductor announced that there had been an accident on the tracks and that the train would terminate at the next station.  Buses would be there to take us to Fort William.  When we arrived at the next station everyone got off but there were no buses.  After about an hour the busses began trickling in.

Once I arrived in Fort William, I asked for directions to my guest house.  Turns out that even though the address on Booking.com said the place was in Fort William, it is actually in a town called Happy Valley…really, which is about 7 miles from Fort William.  So I haled a cab gave him the address but the driver was not sure where the place was so we called the guest house.  The owner answered and the cab driver said he had a passenger on his way to the guest house and that he, the cab driver, needed directions.  Well the owner was not happy and said that no one would be at the guest house till 4:00 PM and to come back then.  That meant I had to once again, cool my heels.  This time I found a library and spent the three hours there since I did not want to walk around Fort William dragging my luggage for three hours.

At 4:00 PM the taxi picked me up at the library and we headed toward the guest house.  While we were driving I relayed the story about having to leave the train before Fort William because of an accident on the train tracks.  The driver told me that a young man took his own life by jumping in front of an oncoming train.  Then the driver told me this astonishing story.  It turns out the young man who jumped in front of the oncoming train had recently broken up with his long time girl friend.  Apparently, the breakup was not his idea because when he jumped in front of the train the person driving the train was his ex girl friend.  That is pretty nasty.  Now I’ve not been able to verify that story but here is the story in the local news,  http://www.lochaber-news.co.uk/News/Man-dies-after-being-hit-by-train-in-Lochaber-19082014.htm

I’ll keep on following up to see if I can verify this story.  However, multiple taxi drivers have told me the exact same story.

Now back to the the trip to the guest house.  When I arrived here the owner must have sensed that I was not happy because he immediately produced an email saying that he told me that the guest house was not in Fort William.  He may have sent it, I just don’t remember receiving it much less reading it.  Anyway it was too late I would just have to spend at least $40.00 a day in cab fare while I’m here.  So I did what I always do.  I got over it.

However, my patience would be tried even further yesterday.  As I was unpacking my phone rang which actually scared me because the only reason someone would call me I thought is if there was an emergency at home.  Well it wasn’t an emergency but it was my hotel or I should say the owners of a suite hotel I had booked for my final week of this trip in London.  They called to tell me that if I wanted to hold the reservation for September 8 I would have to send them cash via bank transfer for the entire eight nights I’ll be in London.  There was no way I was going to do that so I cancelled the reservation.  Now I have eight days in London with no place to stay.  Just one more thing I have to work out quickly.

Today, I took a ride on the Jocobite Steam Train Journey.  You can read more about it here. http://westcoastrailways.co.uk

The train ride was a lot of fun despite the chilly, misty day.  I met a very nice couple on the train from Yorkshire  England.  Our conversation made for a pleasant journey from Fort William to Mallaig which is an 84 mile round trip.  The couple from Yorkshire only went to Mallaig.  I made a round trip back to Fort William.  On the way back my coach was attached to the engine so I stood for the two hour ride back in the vestibule of that car and shot lot of video which I’ll post to Veimo and put the links to the videos in the videos section in the next week or so.  I want to say at the outset that these videos were taken with my iPhone and although the quality is excellent there are a lot of blurry trees in these videos simply because this train does not creep along it moves rather fast during most of its journey.  However, in between the blurry trees and rock that are really close to the train there is a lot of stunning scenery and you get to hear the steam locomotive in action up close although I’m somewhat surprised that the sound isn’t nearly as loud (more like ear splitting) as I heard where I was standing taking the videos and pictures.

Now what is the connection to Harry Potter and Hogwarts.  Well one of the two steam locomotives (alas not the train I was on) was painted red and was used for all of the Hogwarts express runs in the eight films.  Additionally, the passenger cars were also used and the footage of the train traveling to Hogwarts is what you see on this trip.

Before I sign off an update on the photo albums.  The internet connection is slow here as well so I decided not to even try to put an album together until I find a high speed internet connection.  Which means I still have to upload pictures from Dingle and the Dingle Peninsula, Dublin and now Fort William and the Jocobite Steam Train Journey.

Tomorrow I journey from Fort William to Glasgow, and transfer to a train that will take me to Dundee.

1.Louis.skypala@verizon.net © Louis M. Skypala 2014