MTK sitting on first class seat in train
On the train from Edinburgh to Inverness. (Image also exists in slightly larger size.)

Friday, 3 May: a day for travel
and meeting our fellow walkers

The alarm was set for 6:30, but I had showered before that, and after Mark showered, we went down to breakfast in the hotel. This was acceptable, even if there was no fish to be had in the selection. There wasn’t much else to do in the morning but get to the railway station, Waverley, the cental station in Edinburgh.

The station is large and very busy. I think we must have gotten there around nine, for a 10:36 train, and the traffic was im­pres­sive. There seemed to be no proper waiting room, at least none that we could find, and the station, being on the same level as the tracks, was cold. We sat, but Mark noticed that I was shivering (good exercise! wonderful for losing weight, as we’ve discovered after our move to Minnesota), so we moved over to the Caffè Nero right there in the station, which offered warmth and caffeine both.

When we left the coffee shop, I spied a number of Country Walkers luggage tags surrounding a couple, to whom I went over and in­tro­duced myself, and had Mark join us. They were Sharron and Don, who turned out to be in the other group of 18 walkers, so we never got to know them very well. But we chatted there, and after the train ride to Inverness, we shared a cab with them to the hotel where the tour would originate.

The train ride itself was of four hours’ length, and did not offer any spectacular views, except perhaps towards the end, nearing Inverness. I took no pictures at all, and Mark took only a few. I was hoping to get a good view of the Forth Rail Bridge, which I had read about since childhood as a technological and engineering marvel. The train route crosses the Firth of Forth shortly after leaving Edinburgh, and until the Forth Bridge was completed in 1890, the route to by­passs the Firth was very circuitous. But the view from the train itself is not especially good; even on the return trip, when I could stand in the back of the Observation Car, I did not feel that I was getting an ad­e­quate feel for the achievement that the Bridge represents. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the approach from the Bronx to the Hell Gate Bridge, a much less impressive span. But in the case of New York, the track curves just to the north of the span, so that southbound passengers get a fine view of the bridge they’re about to cross.

On our arrival in Inverness, the rain was coming down hard, and we suggested that Sharron and Don share a cab with us on our way to Culloden House. So all four of us, and our many bags, piled into a cab that materialized just as we got out to the street, and away we went.

Room in Culloden House, I Room in Culloden House, II

The hotel itself is very elegant, a house from the mid eight­eenth century at least. Our room was more than com­mod­i­ous, and the gentleman who brought us up to it claimed that it is the room that Bonnie Prince Charlie slept in the night before the battle that des­troyed his ambitions. Mark and I did wonder whether everyone was told that their room had been slept in by BPC, much as throughout the Eastern Seaboard from New Jersey southward, all sorts of improbable places tell you that George Washington Slept Here.

At any rate, I took two shots of the room with the fisheye lens, they’re over there to the left (upper: big image, small; lower: big image, small).

Before dinner there was a special treat, which I un­for­tu­nate­ly have no photographs of. A Scottish story teller, who arrived in the dress of a highlander of the period of the Battle of Culloden. That costume involves the plaid, consisting of around fifteen yards of wool, which a man dons by laying it out at length, and then rolling himself into. All this was interesting enough, but he also went into some detail of what happened, the political ins and outs, before and after the Battle. This was most helpful for us for the next day, when we toured the actual site of the fighting.

Dinner was very pleasant, but perhaps oiled with too much wine. Same menu for all 35 of us, salmon with broccoli and potatoes. Dessert was a lemon sweet, very nice. Afterwards, bedtime, for a good sleep before a day of touring and traveling.