United Kingdom

From Ullapool to Fort Williams

Ullapool to Fort Williams
Route from Ullapool to Fort Williams

The journey from Ullapool to Fort Williams will involve a ferry route. The weather is even more common. Please note that the tickets are ready for dispatch. Unfortunately, the latest available appointment that day was shortly after 1 p.m.

And we also know that the condition of the roads between Ullapool and Fort Williams was a bit unclear and I couldn’t plan exactly how long it would take us to get to the ferry, so we’d better leave early. That’s why we set the alarm clock… yes, you know, we don’t need an alarm clock; What’s next? So again: That’s why we get up a little earlier today and are all in the car together at nine o’clock and straight to the first gas station we find, where the fuel costs “only” 1.46 British pounds.

Incredible, we’ve come so far that you can at least be somewhat happy about such a price. Oh well.

The weather is also incredible! It has only rained briefly in the Orkneys since the first night in Edinburgh and the start of the trip to the Cairngorms on the second day! On the contrary, it is slowly but surely getting warmer. Kurt is already thinking about using his shorts! Are you crazy! After all, we are in Scotland, and here it is raining like hell!

We’re not really angry about the weather after all. We are more pleased that the endless rows of gorse and wonderfully blooming rhododendrons finally reveal their full splendor in the sun. Incidentally, the rhododendron in Scotland is an introduced plant that now dominates entire areas of Scotland and has been declared public enemy number 1 by ecologists. The state forest rangers of the Forestry Commission and all major nature and environmental protection organizations have been looking for ways to control the wild plant for a long time.

But rhododendrons grow like weeds in Scotland. In 2014, James Fenton, one of the National Trust’s leading ecologists, called for a concerted effort to destroy the rhododendron and make the campaign a top priority. However, tourists admire the sea of ​​colorful rhododendron forests; many visitors even travel to Scotland in early summer to experience the rhododendron blossom.

And to be honest: the rhododendron is beautiful when it blooms!

Yesterday the road already led through several raised moors. Over 17% of Scotland’s land area is covered by heather moorland and peat. The largest and most intact moorland in the world is in Sutherland, in the north of Scotland. Kurt already became acquainted with the soil conditions of such a raised moor yesterday. The shoes are freshly washed today, but still dripping wet!

 Eilean Donan Castle
Eilean Donan Castle

But I digress! The next route point on the way from Ullapool to Fort Williams is Eilean Donan Castle. Here I refer to Wikipedia:

Eilean Donan Castle (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Donnain) is a lowland castle near Dornie, a small village in Scotland. The name itself means “Donan’s Island” and refers to St. Donnán of Eigg, a 6th century Celtic martyr. Eilean Donan Castle is located on Loch Duich in the western Scottish Highlands. The castle sits on a small spit of land which becomes a tiny tidal island at high tide. It can then only be reached via a stone pedestrian bridge. The castle is the ancestral home of the Scottish Macrae clan.

We can’t get any further information because of the countless crowds of visitors, which, together with the parking fees, make us shy away from visiting!

From Ullapool to Fort Williams - Waiting and the Armadale Ferry
Waiting and the Armadale Ferry

We also have a fixed date for the ferry on the route from Ullapool to Fort Williams. To do this we drive from Kyle of Lochalsh over the Skye Bridge onto the Ilse of Skye and then on the south coast to Armadale. When we arrive at the ferry port, we are told that due to a ship maneuver between Armadale and Mallaig, the departure will be postponed by almost an hour at short notice. Alright.

But after all, we’re on vacation and besides, it’s still pretty early afternoon. So no need to rush! Georg passes the time with a ginger beer, which is almost common for Gerald too –  whoever likes it!

From Ullapool to Fort Williams - Loch Nevis
Loch Nevis

But then everything follows its orderly path. The car ferry crossing is very quiet apart from the annoying wailing of a Mercedes alarm system. The views are not bright because of the overcast sky, but the mountains look quite interesting even in shades of gray.

We leave the ship in Mallaig and take the direct route to Fort Williams. But we still have another highlight of the route from Ullapool to Fort Williams right in front of us: the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Glenfinnan is first of all a tiny village with around 100 inhabitants and a small train station . So far, so unspectacular. But what makes this small hamlet so interesting for millions of tourists is also connected to this railway line.  And here I allow myself to simply quote Wikipedia:

The Glenfinnan Viaduct is a railway viaduct on the West Highland Line route in Glenfinnan, Scotland on the section between Fort William and Mallaig. It was built between July 1897 and October 1898 and is one of the most important facilities on the railway line that opened on April 14, 1901. The viaduct cost £18,904 at the time.

The 380 meter long structure consists of 21 pillars that are up to 30 meters high. At the time of completion, the viaduct was a pioneering technical achievement, as it was one of the first large (stamped) concrete bridges ever. That’s why the builder Robert McAlpine later received the nickname “Concrete Bob” in addition to being knighted.


The line used to be important for the local fishing industry, which benefited greatly from the construction of the line. Today the route is used exclusively by Class 156 diesel multiple units for passenger traffic; Freight traffic no longer takes place. In summer, the special tourist train “The Jacobite” with steam locomotives runs every day except Saturday, which has made the viaduct very famous.

Scenes from many films and television series have been filmed at Glenfinnan Viaduct, including Charlie & Louise – The Double Lottchen, The Love of Charlotte Gray, Monarch of the Glen and the Harry Potter films Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, each of which is based at Hogwarts -Express passes the viaduct. The Bank of Scotland £10 banknote issued from 2007 to 2016 features the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Of course, the crossing of the Jacobite is expected at the exact time we arrive there. It’s hard to imagine how many buses and cars are parked there at this point! The gigantic parking lot is overcrowded, cars and buses are parked along the narrow street, entrances to houses are barricaded and it is no longer possible to get through.

Nevertheless, I let Kurt and Gerald get out to take photos and retreat with Georg to a more distant parking lot with a kiosk. In a conversation with the operator of the stall, we learn that things are still relatively harmless today. “Sometimes scenes take place here that make you think you’re in the Wild West!” is one of the man’s more harmless statements.

It’s good that Gerald and Kurt are back at our car before the general departure of the crowds and we can cover the rest of the way from Ullapool to Fort Williams fairly free of traffic jams.

Alexandra Hotel Fort Williams
Alexandra Hotel Fort Williams

There we move into the Alexandra, one of the many Scottish hotels with the oft-quoted morbid charm of a formerly elegant house. Here too, the renovation backlog is evident in many corners. After a round of Schafkopf we move into the pedestrian zone of Fort Williams, get in “The Geographer ” After half an hour of patient waiting, a table and a recommended dinner were served.

Oh yes, the evening has another real highlight: just a few meters from the restaurant is a pub that I enjoyed sitting in five years ago. Tonight there in “The Volunteers Arms” live music of a special kind. Two really young men play the flute or bagpipes and guitar. Both interpret traditional music in their own way and the result is sometimes virtuoso, but always worth listening to! All attention!

Because of the good music, the Schafkopf evening round is canceled today and we retire straight to our beds. Therefore: good night!

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