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Arisaig (1)


The third part of the May trip took place after we'd had a weekend at Benview B&B on Skye (where we climbed The Storr and saw The Old Man of Storr and met Helen and Paul of WalkHighlands, but that's a story for another day).

Beth and I took the ferry from Armadale off the bottom of Skye which takes you to Mallaig and there she left me and made her own way home. I was booked into the Sea View B&B at Mallaig for a couple of nights (run by the lovely Fiona, nice place).

So I had Monday and Tuesday to spend some time in Mallaig. It's not a big town, pretty touristy now but it's still an active fishing port and it's got a Seamen's Mission. These are one of the great little treasures of UK ports. Jenny and I discovered the one at Eyemouth a couple of years ago when sailing up the east coast. They're open to all and serve simple food and a cuppa just about any time (they will also do your washing and offer rooms).

The world\'s biggest jam doughnut and a mug of tea at the Seamen\'s Mission
The world's biggest jam doughnut and a mug of tea at the Seamen's Mission

The one in Mallaig was very popular with the locals and I got the distinct impression that the cafés were left for the tourists while they used the Mission. I followed suit and ate there quite a lot as the photo above shows only too clearly.

Anyway back to trains. On Tuesday I went to Arisaig, the station two stops down the line. I was going to pass through there on Wednesday but I wanted to actually get off there for a couple of reasons. The first is that Arisaig (and not Penzance as you might expect) is the most westerly station in Britain.

There's even a sign on the platform to prove it so it must be true.

My second reason for going to Arisaig was to check out the natural harbour and boatyard there, both for my own purposes and as Jenny is thinking about moving her boat to these waters eventually. And it's perfect: nice boatyard and a well sheltered any weather natural harbour accessible at any state of the tide so long as you don't draw more than about 1.5m. There's no pontoon berths, it's all swinging moorings, but there is a pontoon you can come alongside to load and unload and the boatyard has facilities to take boats out in the winter.

So this means one could get the sleeper on Friday night to Fort William, then get the first train to Arisaig on Saturday morning. A weekend of sailing and then return the same way. I had a chat to a bloke who kept his boat there. He lived on the other side of Scotland and it took them four hours to drive over but he still thought it a better base than the east coast which says all you need to know about sailing in Scotland.

Walking back to the station I came across a slow worm in the road leading up to the station but the real highlight, and the reason I went back to the station early, was the arrival of "The Jacobite", a steam special hauled by our old friend the Black 5 45231 "The Sherwood Forester".

"The Jacobite" every day runs all summer from Fort William to Mallaig and had started the service the previous day (where I'd seen it arrive at Mallaig station- see the album for photos of that). According to someone I spoke to it was a great cash boost to the town as all the passengers got off and descended like vultures on the shops and cafés before heading south again.

Anyway I got some photos of it arriving and this video of it leaving:

So that was Arisaig (and Mallaig). More photos here.

Written 26/05/10

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