STRING OF PEARLS
Departing the unfortunately austere Fort William station, the sights and sounds soon emerge as views of the country’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, open out on the right-hand side of the train. Meanwhile the lined black engine at the business end trumpets its presence as it increases speed, rattles over Fort William Junction and takes the ‘Road to the Isles’. On its 42-mile journey, the train crosses the unusual Caledonian canal swing bridge (at the foot of Neptune’s Staircase of eight locks), traverses four concrete viaducts (including the emblematic 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct that overlooks Loch Shiel and the statue of Bonnie Prince Charlie) and plunges into ten rocky single-bore tunnels. On its sinuous path, the ‘Jacobite’ passes Britain’s deepest freshwater loch (Loch Morar); the shortest river (the Morar) and the deepest seawater loch in Europe (Loch Nevis). By Loch Nan Uamh Viaduct, at the foot of Beasdale bank, there are spectacular views of the Irish Sea, before the Hebridean islands Eigg, Rùm, Muck, Canna and Skye come into view (on a clear day) on the run into the quaint fishing village, Mallaig.