When we did manage to extricate ourselves from Glasgow, we were plunged immediately into the Scottish wilderness of mountains, lakeland and forest. Intermittent downpours mean the scenery is revealed in installments, all the more fascinating for it. These are the bonny, bonny banks of Loch Lomond. All sorts of other music is implied. In and around the lake, mountains come out of the sky, and they stand there. Obscured by clouds springs to mind.
At the head of the lake, we break into open heathland. Welcome to the highlands, the sign says, in Gaelic. It’s a rollercoaster ride into Glencoe through heaven’s own mountains. This is a land of death and everlasting life, starred setting for Scotland’s savage history. Perfection, obscured by clouds, enhanced by the occlusion.
A sporty old couple in a convertible float amongst the vales and hills, their top rolled down oblivious to the rain showers. A bit of overtaking is called for as I briefly mimic the typical lunatic highland driver. They have roadsigns up here chastising you to get out of the way of speeding drivers. Despite the remoteness and the scenery, this is life in the fast lane. Downstream there’s is a roadside place where we stop for a wee haddock and chips. Our first taste of idiosyncratic Scottish service, but good food nevertheless.
Finally to Fort William and the Clan McDuff Hotel. Our room is fitted with balcony to overlook the lake. Fort William is busy, the long pedestrianised Main Street well kitted with shops to cater for visitors. A good selection of drinking and dining options too, although we rely on the hotel which has a good restaurant with scenic view. A walk on the lakefront leaves us a bit isolated. Man, that road is hard to cross. We retrace our steps and head back to base camp for the evening. Ben Nevis is lurking up there in the clouds. It can wait till tomorrow.