The Anonymous Widower

Mallaig to Fort William

The ferry crossing was windy and cold,but uneventful and about an hour after landing, I was able to take the train for Fort William.

This is another line famous for the view as you can see from the pictures.  But again the line was suffering from crowded trains.

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

Over the Sea From Skye

The bus took a more or less direct route between Kyle of Lochalsh to Arnadale with a small detour to Broadford to put down and pick up passengers.

It was my first time on Skye since about 1972.  Then we had all come, with our three boys crammed in the back of our 1969 Porsche 911T. Strangely the car still exists and is in New Zealand.  But a picture of the car is the only one of the holiday.

Porsche 911T on Skye

That Porsche 911T was the first performance car we had and we acquired it for £1650 courtesy of a loan from my favourite bank manager, David.

I remember for that holiday we left early in the morning from the Barbican and first stop was Gretna Green at about 7:30 in the morning.  So when people say I push myself, it’s nothing new in my book.

We stayed somewhere north of Portree and I remember that we were greeted on the doorstep by a dead sheep.  It was nothing against holiday homes or anything sinister, but just an inconvenient expiry.  In the end we got the Police, who found who owned it and it was quietly disposed of.

I also remember we hurried off the island and I can still remember hurtling up Glencoe towards Glasgow, which we achieved at an average speed of about 80 mph.  Or that’s what I claimed at the time!  But it was certainly fast on an almost empty road.

The detour to Broadford reminded me that in 1975, the village had an airstrip. C said that next time we came we’d fly! I doubt I will and she sadly can’t!

I went straight to Arnadale and immediately got the ferry to Mallaig.

Arnadale to Mallaig Ferry

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kyle of Lochalsh

Kyle of Lochalsh is the end of the line and from here I got a bus directly to Arnadale on Skye for the ferry to Mallaig. Be warned that buses only run direct in the months when the ferry is running.  There are a couple of restaurants in Kyle and a well-stocked Co-operative supermarket, which I used to buy some filling for my rolls.

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh

The Kyle of Lochalsh Line is one of the great railway journeys in the world. It is probably best described as legendary, as anybody of a certain age, who has ever collected engine numbers or closely observed trains, has heard of the railway, that winds its way from Inverness almost to the Isle of Skye.

I’d spent the night in a comfortable B&B called Ivanhoe, where they went to a lot of trouble to get me some gluten-free rolls for my  breakfast.  They prepared a buttered spare for my lunch with some salmon or meat that I might buy on the journey.  I would certainly stay at Ivanhoe again.

The line sweeps between sea and mountains and alongside lochs on its way to Kyle of Lochalsh.

The real problem on the line is that there is just too little capacity.  I have been reading in Modern Railways about the problems of the replacement of the inadequate Pacers, that I used to get from Doncaster to Scunthorpe.  Surely the thing to do would be to create rakes of say four or five Mk 3 coaches and use those on lines like this with a diesel engine and then cascade the Class 158s to where they are desperately needed like East Anglia, Lincolnshire and the North.

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Food, Transport | , , , , , | 5 Comments

To Glasgow and Back

I’d been to Glasgow a few times before in my life.  The first was when I was a student and I hitched to see Spurs play in the Glasgow Cup, the second and third  were when I passed through on the way to and from Skye with my family and the last time was many years ago, when C took her first flight with me in Tango-Tango, my Piper Arrow.  In the last case, we were actually aiming for Prestwick, but weather meant a diversion to Glasgow Airport.  It’s sad to think, that the two people who accompanied me that day,  C and my youngest son, have both passed away. I can still remember us all getting out of the small plane at the General Aviation Terminal and saying to a pilot with a smart uniform, that today had been my wife’s first flight.  He suggested that because of the weather, that she deserved a Purple Heart!

I’m not sure now, where I’d hitched to Glasgow from in I suppose the summer of 1966 or 1967, but it could either have been Liverpool or perhaps London, where I was working at the time in Enfield Rolling Mills.  I do remember though going over Shap in an old Albion truck in the pouring rain, as there was no M6 in those days.  I also remember waiting perhaps two or three hours for a lift on the A74 to somewhere nearer to my destination.  In the end I got a lift from a driver in a van that had been delivering the Scottish Daily Express.  I think, it’s the only time in my life that I’ve had any positive thoughts to that rag in any of its guises!  I remember that the match was at the old Hampden Park and Celtic were the opponents.  Searching the Internet I did find this program, which sets the match in 1967, which must be right.  But then I must have known C at the time, so it’s surprising she let me go off hitching around the country.  Unless this was when she was being a mother’s help in Ireland for the Wright family from Norfolk!  Two of their daughters; Amanda and Caroline were later bridesmaids at our wedding.  They also had a brother Tim.

I also remember passing that day on the beach at Wemyss Bay after taking one of the Blue Trains from the centre of Glasgow.

I don’t remember much of the match, but I think Spurs won and I also remember a Rangers supporter who turned up getting thumped for his trouble!

After my troubles getting lifts in Scotland coming up, I took the late train down to Manchester.  It was very late and I remember I wrote a letter of complaint, about having to use a taxi to get to my friend’s house in Manchester.  I think they sent me a cheque for about nine shillings!  It gave me my first reward in the art of complaining.

So that trip shows, I’m just reverting to type after over forty years, by travelling around!

But on Monday, the trip was different!  My host kindly dropped me at Waverley, I bought a ticket from the machine and fairly soon, I was on my way to Glasgow in a smart new train. It’s when you do this sort of journey you realise how far trains have come in the last twenty years or so.  And also how far, some of the lines have still to go!

September 30, 2010 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trip of the Year, Month or Perhaps Weekend

I did think I  might call this post something like Trip of a Lifetime, but that wouldn’t be honest and I don’t want to shilt myself, as I really might do one of those when I get older.

But a trip starting at Ely on Saturday the 25th and then going via Peterborough and Doncaster to Scunthorpe, before travelling to Edinburgh for the night.  Then it was Glasgow on the Monday and then up to Inverness.  Tuesday it was down to Kyle of Lochalsh, Skye, Mallaig and Fort William for the sleeper back to London, before a train out to Dullingham after changing at Cambridge.

September 29, 2010 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment