Day Forty Nine

We spend today on a road trip through the western highlands. We
start near Fort William at Onich, and take the ferry from Corran to
Ardgour on the west side of Loch Linnhe. We then circle the remote
end of the highland and join the Mallaig to Fort William Road for
the journey home.
As part of the drive we visit the forest of Ariundle Oakwood and for
part of the journey we follow the train line from yesterday’s trip.
When they said small gauge railway, they weren’t kidding. The
tracks look as if they are made for a toy train set. It’s quite
extraordinary that a huge steam train can run effectively on it at high
speed.
The drive is beautiful. We are either surrounded by forested
woodlands, sheer mountain cliffs, or lochs that are as still as glass.
Often all three together. It’s spectacular countryside, and often
gives you the feeling that you have stumbled into another planet.
The stillness in many places is eerie. For the first time perhaps, I can
truly appreciate what total isolation from the modern world might
look like. If you took the road away, the landscapes we see differ
little from what they would have looked like hundreds, perhaps
thousands of years ago.
Half way through the drive we stop at the forest. It’s a special place,
the only surviving xxx forest of its type and it supports many of the
ancient plants that originally populated the landscapes we see
today. Lichens, mosses, ferns and fungi were the start of the floral
ecosystem we have today, we are reliably informed by the forest
information guide. The walk takes us on a round trip around a river
that runs thought the area, and in the most precious areas, there is a
raised walkway that contains walkers to prevent damage.
The trees on the walk are really interesting, ranging from ancient
gnarled oaks that are twisted into strange shapes, probably from
the harsh weather conditions, to trees that look like silver birches,
old, but no larger than saplings. At the base of each tree, and all
through their branches, moss and lichens about, given the whole
scene an other worldliness. All the scenes set in The Hobbit and
other Tolkein novels are coming vividly to,live around us. Chris, I
suspect, is in heaven. All we need is a hobbit to come wandering
past to make the picture complete.
No hobbits appear, but we do run across a proliferation of jet black
slugs, as large as a finger. They are super shiny and have a highly
details striping on their backs. Good looking slugs, if such a thing is
possible.
We finish our walk and set off for the rest of our road trip, stopping
for as many photos as possible. We spot a few red deer, but all in
the distance and zooming by.
Back in Port William, we have dinner at the Indian restaurant where
the waiter is delighted that we are as he puts it”having a real Indian
meal” complete with chillies, raita, nans, and curries off the chefs
recommendations. We get the feeling he sells a lot of butter
chicken. Haha. The meal is delicious and the chillies are fiery.

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