A Tour of Scotland: Mallaig to Fort William

We awoke to a lovely day. I raised up my fist to the sky and growled. It was the day after out tour of Knoydart and it was nice weather again. AUGH!

It was our last day in Mallaig, and we wanted to go to the Mallaig Heritage Centre.  It didn’t open till 11 am, so that meant we could fill up the morning exploring, shopping and just enjoying the town.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallaig

We went down to breakfast in the dining room of the Seaview Guest House at 8 am. We both had porridge, scramble eggs and I had sausage and he had salmon. Once again the coffee was good.

Check out was an early 10 am, so we busied ourselves with packing up. Alan took a load down to the car and came back for the rest. I was ready a little after 9 am so we headed down with the rest of our stuff. I had Alan pay the lodging bill in cash and he got a handwritten receipt. We asked if we could leave our car in the B&B car park till we left town in a few hours. The manager was okay with that.

We headed west towards the middle of the town and I started weaving in and out of the stores. There were two shops that were very good. They had a lot of clothing for outdoor activities, outdoor activities supplies, even a canoe or two. They also had a lot of souvenirs. At the first shop, we bought some small Nessie dolls for several of the grand kids.

Mallaig harbor the next day after Knoydart – Sunny and warm!

The main street – Tea Garden restaurant to the right with the umbrellas

Another main Street with shops and inns

We found another interesting store down an alley way.  I spotted a gargoyle and a sign and got curious.  I walked down the alley and into the open door and found this wonderful shop filled with Harry Potter memorabilia. Haggard Alley is the name. I was very happy.  I looked around at all the of what they had: books, wands, clothing, a broom and other items.  They even had some unique and amazing displays down this other hallway.  I bought a Hogwarts Jacket. I could have bought a Gryffindor labeled jacket but the Sorting Hat had not given me its verdict. I believe there was a sorting hat in the store, ah yes above the counter?

Haggard Alley in Mallaig, 18 E. Bay opens 10 am

Anyone for a Nimbus 2000

I chatted with the friendly salesperson about Harry Potter, the characters, movies and books. I had just read all the books so I was up on the stories. What a riot! Alan showed her Diagon Alley photos from our area. This man had built a mini-Diagon Alley in his driveway in Ballard a neighborhood of Seattle.  That display is gone now but it was fun to see.  I left a link on the stores Facebook page about it:  https://www.facebook.com/Haggardalley/

I love my Hogwarts jacket. It is soft and comfortable. I have since had several comments about my jacket and it is fun to tell them were I purchased it. The sales lady said that the store had only been open about 3 weeks.  There was a shop on the Jacobite Train which comes to Mallaig. I think this might be what Amie thought was a museum for there were various displays like the fancy broom pictured above? It was a kick and I highly recommend that you stop by and see what they have!

We wandered down to the Bakery, which had been recommended by the young man on the ferry-boat to Inverie. The desserts, pastries and breads looked real good but it was standing room only. We still had a little more time till 11 am so we went over to the Tea Garden Cafe. It was sit down and the restaurant felt like sitting in a garden. I had tea while Alan had coffee and a lemon cake.

Mallaig Heritage Centre

It was time to go over to the The Mallaig Heritage Center. It was a small museum next to the train station. http://www.mallaigheritage.org.uk/

You enter through the door and the first room is the gift shop which has lots of books. I found several that I liked, so I bought them.

Chapels of the Rough Bounds: Morar, Knoydart, Arisaig, Moidart, by Allaidair Roberts. I have mentioned this before in my past post.

Arisaig & Morar A History, Denis Rixon 2011. This is the same man who wrote the Knoydart A History I featured on my past post.

Moidart, Among the Clanranalds, Charles MacDonald, Edited by John Watts.

So now with all the books that I have been collecting, I have a good overall general history of the area of the Rough Bounds and more.  I am slowly working through my books from Scotland.

You pay the entrance fee at the reception desk and then enter the main museum. There are reader boards that explain the history of Mallaig which was founded in the 1850’s. There is little documentation before 1841 for this town.  They describe the Jacobite’s and Charles Edward Stuart and the effect this had on the Mallaig area. Lots of very interesting old maps about the area are shown.  It describes that Mallaigvaig was the original settlement but all that changed due to the owner who was The Earl of Lovat (Simon Fraser 16th Earl) efforts to do improvements and breaking up of the farms and moving people out. Pictures of individuals at various forms of work like cutting peat, carrying seaweed, weaving, sheering sheep and other pursuits.

There was a section on Knoydart showing a chart of the population in 1755 at about 800+ and by 1991 it was almost zero. That is 236 years later.  There is even more explanation of the 1800’s and the population decline. They describe the 1851 Knoydart Clearances which were brutal.

The picture below is the best I can find of a Creel house. I learned about this in the Knoydart History book. This is the house of our ancestors in the Highlands. The rock house ruins that I presented in my past post on Knoydart are probably the remains of the improvements done by the forfeited estates commissioners. Those living on Knoydart towards the “end of the 19th century were able to boast houses with stone walls.”

Houses Loch Hourn mid 1850’s or later? on the wall of the musuem.

Knoydart a History by D. Rixon

This is where I found out information about the Knoydart History that Amie had mentioned. The receptionist disappeared and reappeared with a copy of it. They did not have any for sale.  I took photographs of several pages, so I could buy a copy later. I now have my copy which I ordered online. I have written about this book in the past post on our visit to Knoydart. Go there if you want to learn more about what the book contains. This is not a genealogical book it is a historical and sociological study of the Knoydart.

I told the receptionist I had emailed them but no one had responded. I asked if there was some way I could contact a person directly, if I had questions. She handed me a business card with an email contact. I might revisit their website and see if there is anything of interest.

The Jacobite train came into the station next door and we went out to take pictures and enjoy all the commotion of people getting on and off. The train was much longer than I expected. The railway station was crowded with people.

Jacobite Train

Jacobite Train in Mallaig

Crowds around the train

A very long train

Very very long

We would not be riding this train for we had the rental car. I was glad that it had appeared for my hubby likes trains.  I suspected that we would see it again that day.  https://www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/jacobite/jacobite-steam-train-details.cfm

It was time to leave Mallaig and head to Fort William, so we finished up in the Mallaig Heritage Centre.

Our first stop on this part of our journey was Loch Morar. I wanted to take a picture of the loch. Loch Morar divides the areas of North Morar from South Morar.  My understanding is they tend to call the South Morar after Arisaig. It also has its own monster named Morag and he is older than Nessy. The town of Morar was bigger than I expected it would be.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loch_Morar

From Wikipedia:  During the period of the Highland Clearances, many residents emigrated to Canada.[16] Boats left in 1790,[16] 1802,[17]and 1826,[18] carrying people to QuebecGlengarry in Ontario, and the Strait of Canso in Nova Scotia respectively.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morar

Loch Morar – no monster sightings today…for Neil

Loch Morar is very deep and freshwater with lots of history…

Loch Morar is swallow at the west end and at the east there are steep hills on either side

Our Lady of Perpetual Succor & St. Cumin – Catholic

We had to drive through Morar to get to the Loch. We got off A830 and followed Columbia Rd through the town and then this other road to the Church in the photo above. It is right on the Loch. We stopped for a while taking photos and enjoying the sounds of the loch. Then we took the road along the River Morar and found this lovely waterfall and park with green grass and benches to sit on.

The River Morar

River Morar waterfall

River Morar and lovely bridge – the park is to the left

Arsaig was next with a stop at the Land, Sea and Island Museum. They were tearing up the parking lot so we had to park in the Medical office lot across the road.

Land, Sea and Islands Centre in Arisaig

When you first enter you are in the gift shop. It was filled with books, memorabilia, clothing and more. I studied everything and decided on the book: The Scots A Genetic Journey, by Alistair Moffat, 2017. I had heard of this book but hesitated to buy it online because I do like to study them before I purchase them. The author takes you on a DNA journey from Africa and how man and woman migrated to present day Scotland and discusses the mixes of DNA that are in Scotland. It is pretty interesting. You should see my scribbles of the DNA haplogroups on my piece of paper – I covered it all. I wrote them down as I read through the book. He does provide an index so you can go and look the DNA up and refer to the pages he is discussing. I have seen DNA videos about the progression of man through the world and they are pretty fascinating. This book is focusing on the Scots.

Inside the Land, Sea and Isles centre

Peat – very odd stuff – rough and stiff – used for fuel

Crofting – the land had to be done manuelly

Another picture of housing in the Highlands

Loch nan Ceall – Arisaig

The museum was very small but well done. They also emphasized several of the islands west of the area which was interesting.  http://www.arisaiginfo.org.uk/

Arisaig is a very pretty place with a lovely bay. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arisaig

We left Arisaig and headed east on a very nice wide road A830. The landscape was either piles of rock at various heights or rocks that looked like they were slices bunched together on their ends. Scotland’s landscape surprises me constantly. Well Scotland was under several ice ages so it does look very chiseled.

We stopped for lunch at the Glenfinnan Train Car Restaurant which is next to the train station and not far from the Glenfinnan Monument and the Viaduct.

Glenfinnan Train Car restaurant

Bring your suitcase

The dining room

Outside of the restaurant

Lunch at the Glenfinnan Train Car restaurant

I ordered mushroom soup, and a cheddar cheese toasty (toasted cheese sandwich). Alan had a pulled pork sandwich and a salad.  https://glenfinnanstationmuseum.co.uk/facilities/dining-car/

While we were eating the train came into the station from Mallaig. This was the one that had pulled into Mallaig a few hours before. We had been wondering how the engine got turned around. Well it didn’t get turned around for this train’s engine was backwards. Well we now knew how it worked.  A little while later another train came in from the other direction and stopped.  Alan went off to get pictures of the train. Again I lucked out and the timing could not have been better to catch this famous train at another location.

Train Station Glenfinnan

Steam Train

Steam Train

Heading out

Almost gone

Heading for Mallaig – can you see the young man wave from the train?

After our meal we visited the train station museum next door. This was a very tiny museum and quite fun. Alan explained the use of tokens to me. I asked the museum receptionist about the walk to the viaduct where the train travels on.  She said it would take 25 minutes to walk to it and that meant it would take an hour or more for us. This is the viaduct that is in the Harry Potter movies.  We decided that it was a bit too much for us today.  I was okay with that.

We continued onto the Glenfinnan monument. This is where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard and rallied the Clans to help him win back the Scottish Crown. We had been at Culloden and seen the outcome of this claim for the crown and here was the beginning of that Jacobite rebellion.

We parked the car and walked across the busy highway to the monument which is a very tall tower with a Jacobite Soldier on the top.  It is set in a beautiful place at the north of Loch Shiel.  https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/glenfinnan-monument

Glenfinnan Monument and visitor centre

Loch Shiel

Glenfinnan Monument

Glenfinnan Monument

We walked around the base studying the plaques at the bottom.  When I saw the name of Archibald MacDonald of Glenaladale listed in the plaque, I was very amazed. Somehow someway I am related to this family via DNA at Family Tree DNA. Actually it is my brother’s DNA and I have tried to figure out where on this family tree we come from but so far I am at an impasse.  So this means South Uist and the Hebrides are also of interest. Just couldn’t make it there this trip.

Plaque at Glenfinnan with a Glenaladale featured

At various archives I have asked about the Glenaladale MacDonalds but no one seemed to know who they were.  I was seeing chapters and articles on this line of the clan in my travels so far, but I need to do more digging.  This article is from the Dictionary of Canadian Biography and it is not bad.  These MacDonalds came to Prince Edward Island and settled:  http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/macdonald_of_glenaladale_john_5E.html

It was time to move on. Fort Williams was only 17 minutes from the monument, so today’s journey was almost at an end. It took a bit of maneuvering to find the Ashburn House our lodging destination. We turned off on the wrong exit for a roundabout and had to get righted. Fort William’s main highway is very busy and right along the waters of Loch Linnhe. The Ashburn House was down the main road below the center of the town.  We did find it and the car park in back. http://ashburnhouse.co.uk/

The roundabouts were very confusing. I started to hold up my hand with my fingers up for the number of the exit we are to take. So if there were three exits expressed by the Navigation system, we would count them out. It was helping.  I know it sounds silly but when you are in busy traffic it really helps. The Scots are very quick and fast. Fortunately the Navigation system in our BMW was pretty good. I named her Petunia and she would tell us twice which exit to take.

Ashburn House in Fort William

The Ashburn house was very grand. I entered the front door of the House and rang the buzzer. A man came out and he graciously showed us around. The Ashburn House was very fancy. It had a major flowing staircase to the second floor. The door to our room was this large wooden piece. The room was very pleasant but there was this odd couch in one corner.  I think it was a hide a bed. The bathroom was cozy and it was obvious it had been added. They look like units with raised floors.

West End Hotel

We decided to walk into town and settled on the West End Hotel bar. It was a tad cold on that walk along Loch Linnhe. At the hotel I had a glass of wine, Alan had a beer. I also ordered an apple pie and ice cream. I shared it with Alan. There pie is not like our pie, more like a pastry. The West End Hotel is a big hotel with a large restaurant and bar area. You ordered your food and drinks at the bar. It was comfortable with views was of the Loch.

On the way back to the B&B we passed many fancy B&B’s that were huge. The one for sale was £535,000. It was very big and old-looking. There was construction going on at one rather large old building and Alan said it was being renovated for the city government.

Fancy House in Fort William – this one might be two houses together?

Back at the Ashburn House it was time for bed.

Alan and I had just done what is called “The Road to the Isles.” We went from Mallaig to Fort William and they usually write it the other way around.  There are many more places to stop and dally then want we did today. Google has lots of ideas for activities.

About BJ MacDonald

Interested in travel, really into genealogy and researching my family history, classic novels and movies, fantasy and science fiction, photography, history and more... Here is a tip. Make sure you are commenting on the blog you were visiting and the post you were interested in. My blogs are listed by hovering over my pictures and clicking. Clicking one of them will take you back to the correct blog. You can try me here: bjmcdonell@gmail.com
This entry was posted in Arisaig, Glenfinnan, Mallaig, MCDONALD/MACDONALD etc., Morar, Scotland May 2018 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Tour of Scotland: Mallaig to Fort William

  1. Oooh, how interesting. I’ve just been walking through this area and have decided I must go back sometime and take a ride on the steam train.


    • BJ MacDonald says:

      Ruth: Thanks for stopping by, well I had to read my post again to remember all that happened. So the train goes from Fort William to Mallaig and then back. There is no turn around so it, I believe goes backwards from Mallaig or something like that. I was considering taking it but what to do with the rental car meanwhile? They might have parking at the lot in Fort William? We did miss the Viaduct but the 1 hour walk was a bit much for it was getting late in the day and we don’t do night driving. If you go have fun and enjoy. Oh, I put to much stuff on this blog and had to up my storage and pay for it, AUGGH, so I have to take this Scotland trip off and reduce my Scotland trip to a PDF on a page of this blog in the next months. Pages are at the top under the picture in drop down menus. I will have highlights on the page. Again, Thanks for stopping by. Bonnie


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