Exploring Scotland Solo: Mallaig, Fort William, and Loch Lomond

Exploring Scotland Solo: Mallaig, Fort William, and Loch Lomond

After visiting the Isle of Skye, I continued my first trip to Scotland by going to Mallaig and Fort William. After hesitating whether to head for Oban and skip Fort William or stay in Fort William one day longer and then heading to Loch Lomond by bus, I picked the latter. I would have had (too) little time for Oban. Moreover, some ’empty days’ in which you have not planned much, but in which you can just explore the area are great as well when travelling. I recently picked up the phrase slow travel, I guess I’ve applied the concept without knowing about it!

Glenfinnan

Day 10

In the afternoon of day 10 of my trip, I took a ferry from Armadale to Mallaig, which offered some amazing views and was very cheap as well. It was 2.90 pounds in 2018, click here for more information. While travelling, I try to make public transport more than simply a means for getting from A to B, but an attraction in itself. Ferries are ideal opportunities for this! It was not a long distance that had to be covered. You can already see Mallaig from the Armadale (and vice versa).

View from the boat
Harbour of Mallaig

The town of Mallaig is very small and does not offer much to do. However, the small houses were cute, I bought some ice cream, and watched the sea gulls and boats. Even the sun came out. I had a good time and waited for my train to depart around 7pm.

Mallaig

You know the train by which Harry Potter goes to Hogwarts every year? Well, let me tell you: that train exists in real life. It is the Jacobite Steam Train and it passes also over the famous Glenfinnan viaduct you can also admire in the movies. However, I was a student on a budget and found the steam train very expensive. Luckily, the regular service of Scotrail also operates on the same rails! So, I bought a 5 pound ticket and took the Scotrail train to Fort William.

Jacobite Steam Train

As I said above, the train also passed over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which you might also recognise from Harry Potter. I have not taken a picture of the viaduct, because I have filmed this part of my trip. Nevertheless, in the featured image of these post you can see the view from the viaduct of Glenfinnan, which was amazing. In the evening, I arrived at Fort William, got to my hostel and fell asleep.

Day 11

I had planned to stay 2 nights in Fort William, which meant that day 11 was solely devoted to exploring Fort William. This town is mostly famous because it is very close to Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland (and the UK). People in the hostel kept asking me if I was planning to climb the mountain, but I decided I was too inexperienced to try that on my own. Maybe next time?

Fort William

Instead, I walked the Cow Hill circuit walk, which departed from Fort William. I had some great views of Ben Nevis (see the picture below). Unfortunately, the weather was a bit grim, but hey, It’s Scotland, you can’t expect every day to be sunny. When I had completed this walk, I had still some hours of daytime left. Therefore, I decided to start another walk to Inverlochy Castle. This walk was less spectacular than the Cow Hill circuit and the ruins of Inverlochy Castle were a bit disappointing comparing them to for example Urquhart Castle, but still I was happy to have explored something in the area of Fort William.

View of Ben Nevis in the distance

Day 12

Early in the morning of day 12, I took a bus from Fort William to Loch Lomond (bus operator: Scottish Citylink). This bus passed through the Glencoe. We should have had a spectacular view of The Three Sisters, but the weather was rubbish and I could barely make out any hill or mountain. I definitely need to go back to the Glencoe and explore it better. I got of the bus in Luss, a cute little village that is visited by many tourists, overlooking Loch Lomond.

Luss

I enjoyed the tourist shops, the small church and graveyard and chatted with a German couple (in a mixture of English and German) about our travels in Scotland. They also travelled by public transport and were waiting for the waterbus to the other side of Loch Lomond. I was waiting for a waterbus in a different direction: the waterbus to Balloch. I could have taken a regular bus service as well, but in my opinion, the best way to experience a lake is by being on that lake.

You can also explore Loch Lomond on an organised tour. Click here for several organised tours departing from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Loch Lomond

In Balloch, I walked to the castle, which was closed to the public and had a last view of the Loch. Then, I took a train to Glasgow, the last stop of my trip in Scotland.

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