Saturday, 24 September 2011

Mallaig and the Mural of Working Life

Once Douglas left for home, the morning turned to the typical type of Scotch Mist weather. When camping in the highlands, you have to expect a little rain and make the most of it. I decided to re-acquaint myself with Mallaig and stock up on a few provisions.

I was delighted to see another piece of train history sitting at the railway station. This time it was the Royal Scotsman which transports just 36 guests at a time in an extravagant, entertaining, luxurious, very gastronomical, and extremely scenic journey through the best of the west countryside of Scotland.

A three night trip covering 660 miles of track from Edinburgh to Wemyss Bay via Glasgow then onto Fort William and Mallaig costs a cool £3400 per person, assuming you can find someone to spend the same to share a twin cabin. If not, there is a supplement of £2060 to book the cabin for single occupancy.

When I read this, I was very happy to think that five nights camping at Arisaig, the fuel to get there and my food had so far cost less than £150. I travelled much the same route to get to Mallaig and although I didn’t see Wemyss Bay, I saw Port nam Murrach instead.

I can only dream of such an extravagant life style, but my photographs cost nothing, and seeing it with my own eyes, made my day.

Oh.. and the passengers still had to spend a wet day in Mallaig .. just like me.

After gazing in envy through the windows of the Flying Scotsman, I went for a look through the windows of Mallaig. Its a hard working fishing town where life revolves around the harbour. The fishing fleet were in town so I guessed it was Sunday. Its easy to loose track of time in the highlands.

The locals work hard but play just as hard. There were few people around so I imagined them still in bed after a long night socialising and telling fishy tales in the local watering holes.

Come early Monday the harbour would be empty again as the fleet head to sea to earn their living.

This wall mural on the last of the old herring smoke houses of Mallaig (its now a joiner shop) tells the story of the town better than I can.

To the left of the mural, the older men mend the nets, wait for the returning fleets, and tell tales of the catches they brought home.

In the centre, the young men take the fleet to sea to catch the fish.

To the right, the women of the village prepare the catch and get it ready for market.

I couldn’t help but notice the Cal Mac logo in the mural too, but it is not surprising as Mallaig harbour is also the Cal Mac ferry terminal.

At least, that is my interpretation of the Mallaig Mural.

I then went to sample some of the local cuisine. In a small restaurant in town I had the most delicious Cullen Skink soup ever tasted, followed by fresh haddock and chips. It was a little expensive at £20 ..including the tip.. but I was happy with my lunch and the service.

I doubt if the Royal Scotsman could have served up better .....

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