Ike visits Glencoe, Glenfinnan & Mallaig – Part 2

After watching the Jacobite Steam Train leaving Mallaig on the way to Fort William (see the previous post), Ike, Jane and friends got back on the minibus to travel to Glenfinnan to watch the steam train travelling over the Viaduct.

Glenfinnan is halfway between Mallaig and Fort William. The steam train had left Mallaig at 14.10 and was due to cross the viaduct at around 15.10. There are also two steam trains running on Saturdays so there was a chance to see the two trains crossing the viaduct.

Jacobite Steam Train at the Glenfinnan Viaduct

The minibus got to Glenfinnan and Ike, Jane and friends climbed up to the viewing point to see the trains passing over the viaduct.

When they arrived at the top of the viewing point they did not have to wait long before the first train appeared on the way to Mallaig.

Jacobite steam train crossing the Glenfinnian viaduct

Unfortunately, second train which they had just seen leaving Mallaig, crossed the viaduct without producing any steam which was disappointing for everyone.

The following photo is a cropped and enhanced version of the train crossing the viaduct. The viewpoint was too far away to get a closer view of the train.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Glenfinnan Viaduct was built from 1897 to 1901 and is located at the top of Loch Shiel  and overlooks the Glenfinnan Monument and the waters of Loch Shiel.

The viaduct was built by Robert McAlpine & Sons with Simpson & Wilson as engineers. Robert McAlpine & Sons was headed by Robert McAlpine, nicknamed “Concrete Bob” for his innovative use of mass concrete.Concrete was used due to the difficulty of working the hard schist in the area.

Construction of the extension of the railway from Fort William to Mallaig began in January 1897, and the line opened on 1 April 1901.The Glenfinnan Viaduct, however, was complete enough by October 1898 to be used to transport materials across the valley. It was built at a cost of £18,904.

Glenfinnan Viaduct has been used in several films and television series, including Ring of Bright Water, Charlotte Gray, Monarch of the Glen, Stone of Destiny, The Crown, and four of the Harry Potter films. After its appearance in Harry Potter, British Transport Police had to warn fans not to walk on the viaduct after a handful of near misses with trains had occurred.

The Glenfinnan Viaduct features on some Scottish banknotes. The 2007 series of notes issued by the Bank of Scotland depicts different bridges in Scotland as examples of Scottish engineering, and the £10 note features the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Glenfinnan Monument

As they climbed back down from the viewpoint Ike, Jane and friends got a great view of the Glenfinnan Monument with Loch Sheil in the distance. It was a wonderful sight.

The Glenfinnan Monument from the viaduct viewpoint

The Glenfinnan Monument was built in 1815 as a  tribute to the Jacobite clansmen who fought and died in the cause of Prince Charles Edward Stuart or Bonnie Prince Charlie. It was designed by James Gillespie Graham.

The raising of the Prince’s Standard took place at the head of the loch on 19 August, 1745, in the last attempt to reinstate the exiled Stuarts to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland.

The monument is 18m high with a lone, kilted highlander at the top providing a reminder of the clansmen who gave their lives to the Jacobite cause. It is possible to climb to the top of the monument to be rewarded with views of the mountains which surround Loch Shiel.

Ike gets a closer look at the monument
Memorial plaque at the base of the monument

There is also a visitor centre and shop which is managed by the National Trust for Scotland. There are displays and an audio programme about the Prince’s campaign and his final defeat at Culloden. There was also an exhibition in the visitor centre which tells the story of Prince Charles Edward Stuart and the 1745 Jacobite Rising.

Since the Harry Potter films, the monument and viaduct have become popular tourist attractions, particularly in the summer months. The place was very busy when Ike, Jane and friends were there.

The Drovers Inn at Inverarnan

Time was marching on and so everyone climbed back onto the minibus to travel to the last port of call at The Drovers Inn at Inverarnan. This is a small hamlet in Stirling, near the village of Crianlarich, which is over 300 years old and is reputed to be haunted. It is known for being one of Scotland’s most haunted pubs.

The Drovers Inn

A Ghost Story

In the winter of 1792, a  young crofting family were forcibly removed from their croft after their landlords had decided that the land would be be more profitable if it was used for sheep farming.

Like many crofters who had nowhere to live and very little money, they headed south in the hope of finding employment in the Scottish lowlands.

On their long journey south they were caught in a heavy snowstorm. They had been trying to reach shelter and safety at The Drovers Inn but as the visibility was very poor, they took a wrong path somewhere on the way. The family froze to death while trying to get back on the track that led to The Drovers Inn.

There have been many accounts of people witnessing the family wandering the land in the winter months, trying to find shelter. On more than one occasion, they have even appeared to have arrived at their destination on that fateful night.

A couple who were staying recently in The Drovers Inn, in room 2, woke during the night with a cold shiver to find that the young family were standing shivering at the foot of their bed, their breath visible in the freezing air. The young boy was waving up to the couple, as if he was happy to have finally found what they were searching for.

The interior of the inn might not be to everyone’s taste but the food was very good.

The Drovers

Cattle played an important part in the Highland economy. A chieftain’s wealth was measured by the number of his cattle. Rent to a feudal superior was paid in cattle. They were also an important food source. As well as their meat, the cattle could be bled without killing them, and the blood mixed with oatmeal to make an early version of black pudding

Cattle were a major export from Scotland and part of the economy was also based on the sale of cattle in the Lowlands. This meant that huge numbers of cattle had to be moved each Autumn to be sold at markets.

Cattle droving was a much-valued skill throughout the Highlands. As well as having a business sense, drovers had to know the terrain and weather, in order to judge how fast to move the animals. If they were too slow, they would miss the market. In contrast, if they were too fast, the cattle would lose weight and fetch a poor price.

A table ready for a meal at the Drovers

The walls had many stags heads hanging from them and there was a metal bear stood next to the piano:

Before they left to return home, the tour guide, Fergie, played a few tunes on the bagpipes under a canopy on the grounds of The Drovers Inn as it was bucketing with rain.

Tour guide Fergie plays the bagpipes

It was soon time to get back on the minibus and make the 1.5-hour journey back to Glasgow. It had been an eventful day.

Further Information
Travelling by Car

Take the A82 road to Fort William and then turn left onto the A830 to Mallaig.

Public Transport

By Rail

There is a regular rail service from Glasgow Queen Street to Fort William. There are 8 daily services from Fort William to Mallaig.

By Bus

Megabus and Scottish Citylink both run a regular service to Fort William. Connecting buses leave Fort William to Mallaig.

One Reply to “Ike visits Glencoe, Glenfinnan & Mallaig – Part 2”

  1. The Scottish Highlands is steeped in ancient history and this blog describes the lives of its people well. Learning about what a virtual cashe is was also interesting.

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