Saturday, August 6th–Mallaig, Highlands & Islands

Rugged & wild weather; across the Loch for the Knoydart highland games in Inverie ; catching the early boat back to Mallaig; heather ale at the Tea Garden restaurant/coffee house; back to the Fish Market for dinner

Marine Hotel

Black Toyota Rav4



Today was a mildly disappointing day, mostly due to the not very nice weather, but not altogether unpleasant.

The shower here in my room in the Marine Hotel is barely adequate for rinsing off and that's only because it's a handheld shower nozzle which you have to hold mere inches from the target area. I can, however, get in and out more easily than I could in some of the showers of similar size I used in Ireland and there's plenty of hot water.

The weather was decent this morning so I went over to the small ferry terminal around the corner from the hotel and booked a spot on the 10:30 AM ferry to Knoydart with a return at 5:00 PM figuring I'd enjoy the Games until then. There was a to me surprisingly large crowd on the boat to Knoydart–actually, let me rephrase that. I learned that Knoydart is actually the name of the peninsula nearest to Mallaig across Loch Nevis, which connects to the ocean. Inverie, which is where the ferry lands and where the Games were, is the name of the small town. Anyway, I think most of the people on board going over were locals, either living in Knoydart and Inverie or here in Mallaig.

We got there about 11:30 and when I walked with everyone else into the village center there were no signs indicating where the Games were to take place, so I followed everyone else for a bit until I decided that they might not actually be going to the Games then or didn't have any better idea than I did where they were. I finally asked a nice lady working on the flowers outside the small local church, which I forgot about seeing if it was open, and she told me it was back towards the ferry terminal a bit. I had seen a sign which said the Games wouldn't start until 1 PM, and when I asked in the Foundation's small tourist office where I could eat lunch she suggested the small teashop.

Inverie is a very, very small town. There's a tiny village hall, which is where the ceilidh after the games was going to be held tonight, the church I mentioned, the small but very pleasant tea shop where I had a nice lunch before the Games and wound up spending most of my time, the office/tourist center of the Knoydart Foundation which as a community bought most of what was the old Knoydart estate (I'll have to put links in for all this later, since although I can connect to the Internet via the hotel's wifi I still can't connect using the laptop, and it's way too late tonight to have anyone at Microsoft call me to help solve the connection problem–they close at 5 PM EST on Saturday & Sunday and it's past 10 PM here), and the Old Forge, which bills itself as Scotland's & indeed the whole of the UK's most remote pub which I thought opened at 3 PM from their sign (but I just found out actually opened at 2:30).

I learned on the trip over that Inverie and the Old Forge can only be reached by sea or a 20 mile walk from Mallaig. That being so, it turns out that there are several lodging options in Inverie and right outside the town, including a bunkhouse owned by the Foundation. I saw a to me surprising amount of vehicle traffic while I was there.

While I was in the tea shop having a pleasant lunch I thought I saw that the weather had turned for the worse and it had. It was drizzling very persistently when I came out and basically never stopped.

The Games themselves were a bit of a disappointment as well. I never heard any music, pipe bands or otherwise, and besides a dog show and a tug of war and some very small scale athletic events including an agility/assault course that was amusing to watch people try, basically all that was going on was a small pub outside and a raffle going on in the village hall. And the wind picked up.

So, after about an hour or so of being cold and wet and getting miserable I went back into the warmth of the very pleasant little tea shop since I didn't think the Old Forge was open yet. I had decided I'd try to get passage back on the much smaller 3:30 boat instead of on the much larger boat at 5:00, the same boat I'd come in on. If I couldn't, then I planned on hanging out in the Old Forge until 4:45. I walked back to the ferry terminal and sat in the small shed that was at least roofed to keep out the rain and had walls on a couple of sides to block much of the wind.

I was able to get on the small boat which came at 3:30. As we were waiting to board, the band which was playing at the ceilidh tonight was disembarking and unloading their stuff. I was indeed able to get on board what turned out to be a very small craft which barely held a dozen people including two kids and a stroller–but I was on, out of the weather, and heading back home.

After we got back I stopped in at the hotel. I wanted to see if I could get another blanket, since I'd been a bit chilly last night. I also wanted to ask about the wifi, since last night I hadn't been able to get connected on anything. The girl at the reception desk said that everyone had problems with the wifi yesterday, including the owner who had to leave her apartment upstairs and go down and use the computer at the reception desk, even though she'd reset the router several times. When we were chatting I learned that she's actually from Vancouver BC and was visiting Edinburgh when a friend who worked with the hotel's owner mentioned that they were looking for someone to work here, so she's here for two months before going back to Edinburgh. I told her that Vancouver's one of my favorite cities because I know it fairly well since I'm from Portland and Seattle.

I went around the corner and I had been correct, there is a small museum right next to the hotel beside the train station but since it's only open from 10-4 I missed it. (If I don't got to Skye tomorrow I'll go then.)

I next went up the street to the very lovely Tea Garden restaurant/coffee house where I had a wonderful bottle of the local heather ale, which the maker claims to be the oldest continuously made beer in the world. The Tea Garden isn't open for dinner, so I went back across the street to the Fish Market where I'd had lunch yesterday to make a dinner reservation for 7 PM. I then came back here to my room, figured out how to turn on the heater, and climbed under the new spare blanket to read until dinner.

It had stopped drizzling/raining when I went across the street for a very nice dinner but it was still very windy, so I skipped wandering around town some more after dinner and came back here to my room instead.

As I mentioned earlier, although I still can't get connected to the Internet via the hotel's wifi I can on everything else, my Kindle Fire and both my smart phones. That's good because the first thing I need to do early tomorrow morning is check the weather forecast and whether CalMac is still sailing for the Isle of Skye. If there are service disruptions again I think I won't chance taking the ferry over and having to drive all the way around to the bridge from the island back to the mainland and then back here, which takes at least a couple of hours. I'll probably just have another quiet day here in Mallaig, visit the small local museum, find somewhere I haven't eaten yet for lunch and dinner, and walk out along the water for exercise if the weather cooperates.

I can always have lunch at the Tea Garden which looked quite nice when I was there having my delicious heather ale.

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