On our trips to Fort William we become avid train spotters. It’s not just any old trains we’re keen to see though, in fact we only have eyes for one particularly special train: the Jacobite. This glorious old steam train that travels between Fort William and Malaig has definitely stolen our hearts and we try and cram in as many views as we can. All trips to the supermarket have to be timed for when it will be at the station at Fort William and walking Jarvis at Glenfinnan so we can see it pass over the viaduct is a favourite walk. But this holiday we managed to find our best viewing spot yet - Loch Eilt.
I’m not going to argue that the iconic view of the Jacobite at Glenfinnan is well worth the trek up to the viewing point but well it’s always so busy and it’s difficult to get nice and close. Well Loch Eilt certainly trumps it hands down and is definitely well worth the effort for private viewing.
We launched our canoes from the first lay-by we found on the road out to Mallaig from Fort William. We weren’t exactly sure what time the train would be passing, but we knew from the timetable for Glenfinnan we didn’t have too much time for messing around. We paddled up the Loch searching for a good viewing spot, all the while keeping our eyes and ears peeled. After a couple of false starts, James was convinced every cloud that passed by was a hint of steam, we saw the plume of steam in the distance.
We got into position up close to the track and waited. The rumble got louder and louder, and soon it wasn’t just a rumble we could actually feel the tracks vibrating too. Now I’m going to say something I never thought I’d say, I think we actually got a little bit too close to our favourite train. The rumble as it whizzed by was pretty deafening and definitely worthy or ear defenders. And whilst we definitely got an amazing up close and personal view, it wasn’t the longest of glimpses. Once the train past we were engulfed in a cloud of steam and it took a wee while for it to clear enough for us to see it again as in trundled on it’s way to Mallaig.
Whilst Loch Eilt was lovely, it wasn’t the biggest of Lochs and we struggled to find a good spot for lunch. Normally lunch is quite a leisurely affair but on this occasion our two were even turning down s’mores cooked on the Kelly kettle in a rush to get back in the canoes. The fact the Jacobite was running to a timetable and we had plenty of time was a bit lost on them both. On our paddle back down to the car we decided to stay in the middle so we could get a good glimpse of the train down the whole length of the loch.
Loch Eilt was the perfect spot for combining two of our favourite west coast activities and I have a feeling it’s going to be the highlight of any trips out west for a long while.
About the Author
About Me & Mine
James' family is James' (aged 7 months), daddy - Dominic, mummy - Helena and Jarvis the dog. We currently live in Norwich but head to the mountains of Snowdonia and the Lake District as often as we can.
Before James was born we were a very active family doing lots of canoeing, hill walking, camping and snowboarding. Since having James we are determined that having a family and enjoying the outdoors are both possible. We are keen to make sure James can not only join in with our adventures, but that he will be happy and comfortable at the same time.
Favourite place in the world:
It's a tough choice but Arisaig on the West coast of Scotland gets our vote. With the whitest sand and bluest sea we've seen, you have to keep reminding yourself you're in Scotland rather than a tropical paradise. The views out towards the Small Isles and the Cuillins on Skye are stunning; it really is a magical place. With sea kayaks it's easy to find your own private beach - well apart from the odd otter (real ones rather than Spotty ones) and seal to share it with. It's definitely somewhere we plan to take James to as soon as possible.
Favourite things to do outdoors:
We are keen canoeists and love to get out on the water as much as possible - whitewater, flat water touring or sea kayaking; we're not fussed as long as it's wet. We are both qualified instructors and enjoy passing on our love of paddle sports to others at our local canoe club. We have already has our own little bow paddler in the making, James, out in the canoe and are looking forward to many more trips.
We also do a lot of walking. We get out everyday to visit our local woods and parks to walk our coker spaniel, Jarvis. When we get the chance though, we prefer something a bit more challenging and regularly visit the mountains of Snowdonia and the Lake District. James' dad Dom, is a qualified mountain leader and is keen to pass on these skils as soon as possible.