In the beginning …
 We set off from East Midlands Parkway near Nottingham, England, with the Statesman heritage train company early one fine Spring day to travel up to Fort William via Glasgow and then on to Mallaig. The train provided excellent on-board meals on our journey North to ease our passage.
Travelling the West Highland line
The scenery became more mountainous  as we left Glasgow, passing along the banks of the River Clyde before joining the scenic West Highland line. Initially the railway line climbed alongside  Loch Long and Loch Lomond before really engaging with the mountains,  crossing features such as the Horseshoe Curve until we gained the wild expanse of Rannoch Moor . Here we saw Red Deer in the mist near the train as we slid through a desolate Rannoch Moor station.
We arrived in Fort William  in fine weather in mid-evening. From the station we had a short walk to the Nevis Bank Hotel where we were staying. This was  at the entrance to glen Nevis near an old distillery . It gave us a warm and friendly welcome and a very comfortable room. We greatly enjoyed its restaurant on our second night there, especially as it had Isle of Harris gin, a local whisky and clootie dumpling on the menu.
By train to Mallaig
The next day we took the road to the Isles by train. Leaving Fort William  we crossed the locks at the end of the Great Glen canal then got a view of snow-capped Ben Nevis [12a], before travelling along the shore of Loch Eil. We entered a wilderness  with few buildings or people 
Eventually we arrived at the remarkable Glenfinnan viaduct , the first bridge built entirely of concrete. From here we had magnificent views of Loch Shiel  and the Highlander memorial, raised to honour the failed invasion of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745.
From there the train rolled slowly and carefully along the twisty railway  line high in the mountains passing other peaceful and scarcely inhabited lochs before coming down to the coast  near Mallaig.
Near Mallaig the land became flatter with small farms  and villages dotted about. Mallaig itself is a pretty little town  tucked under the mountains behind it , looking out over its fishing port  which also serves as a ferry port to the Isle of Skye  and the other islands of the inner Hebrides.
Going home via Glasgow
The next morning we left Fort William, [24a] travelling up the Great Glen with its isolated sheep farms  and stunning views of the Nevis Range and Mamore Mountains, before climbing through the Monessie Gorge to travel alongside Loch Trieg . We had fabulous views of wild moors and distant snow-capped peaks [27a], especially as we approached the isolated station  at Rannoch Moor where we stopped briefly .
Then we made our way gently down hill  to the more inhabited lands near Tyndrum and Crianlarich , and so back passed Loch Long  to Glasgow and the central lowlands of Scotland. Much later that evening we disembarked at East Midlands Parkway , under the cooling towers we had left three days earlier.
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