Several months ago, Chris and I were invited to join his brother, Corey, and his brother’s family for a trip to the UK, highlighted by a four day bike tour in the Scottish Highlands along the Great Glen Way. With the wedding and honeymoon later this year, we were hesitant to commit, especially considering that Chris only gets ten days of vacation. It was tempting nonetheless, because neither of us had ever been to the UK, and the fully-supported bike tour would be a fun contrast to our self-supported tour last year. After giving it plenty of thought and coming to peace with the fact that our honeymoon would only be about one week long, we decided we would join them for the Scotland portion of their vacation (they took two weeks for England and Scotland, but, in order to preserve vacation days, we decided to meet them in the middle). After asking several times, “Are you sure you really want to include us in your family vacation?”, they insisted that they would love to have us along. We’re a bit skeptical that they invited us so that Chris would take care of any mechanical issues during the bike tour, but before they could change their minds (or learn to fix bikes themselves) we bought plane tickets and reserved spots for the bike tour!
- The general itinerary for our trip:
- Days 1-2: Fly to Glasgow, sightsee, then board a train to Fort William, where we would start the bike tour.
- Day 3: Perhaps hike Ben Nevis, then meet up with Chris’ family, who would be driving a rental car up from London.
- Days 4-7: Ride the Great Glen Way to Inverness, overnight stops in Invergarry, Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit.
- Days 8-10: Take a train to Edinburgh, relax and sightsee with Chris’ family before flying home to Boston.
Fast forward a few months, and the exciting day finally came…
We left Boston around 5:30PM, with only an hour delay for our flight. Our first flight, to Halifax, was in a prop plane!
After being warned that its always rainy in Scotland, we were uber-excited to see that it was a beautiful, sunny day in Glasgow! We took the bus to the city center and spent the morning seeing the sights.
As lunch time approached, we made our way to the Queen Street train station to catch our ride to Fort William, the outdoor capital of the UK.
The scenery was lush and green as the train wove its way through the mountains, which were frequently dotted with sheep, like jimmies on an ice cream cone. We kept looking for the bridge shown in the Harry Potter movies, but apparently it’s a few stops past Fort William. (This route, the “West Highland Line”, was used for filming the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies; we decided riding on the exact train from the movies wasn’t worth the added expense, though)
By the time we arrived in Fort William, we’d learned new phrases like, “Alight here” and, “This train calls at Fort William and Mallaig,” and it had started to rain. After settling in at the Travelodge in town, we set off to find some dinner. Most places were an hour long wait, so we settled on a Thai restaurant for our first dinner in Scotland; Haggis would have to wait for another meal! After dinner, we hit up a sweet shop for fudge, then walked along Loch Linnhe in between rain showers before falling into bed at 8PM for some long-awaited sleep.