Today the sun was shining, and it was warm, just like a winter’s day in Australia! We headed to Fort William in the western Scottish Highlands on the shores of Loch Linnhe. We walked through the main pedestrianised cobble-stone High Street which is very quaint. Our first visit was to the West Highland Museum which is housed in a former bank. The Museum exists solely to collect, conserve and present items of significance and historical and cultural interest related to the West Highland area. There are eight rooms with exhibits on archaeology, natural history, warfare and weaponry, highland crofting life, costumes, Victorian times and medals. The most renowned and unusual collection relates to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite cause. We found the room that was most interesting was the display and film which tells the story of the Commandos in Lochaber during the Second World War. The training regime was legendary and those who completed the gruelling 6-week course were awarded with the prestigious green beret. Another fascinating item on display is the famous Secret Portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie. A head and shoulders portrait of him can be seen reflected at the bottom of the reflective cylinder or goblet, but if the cylinder is not there the tray appears as a meaningless blur.
We then drove north to the outskirts of town to Banavie to Neptune’s Staircase. This amazing feat of engineering raises the Caledonian canal by 19 m over a quarter of a mile of continuous masonry and takes around 90 minutes for a boat to travel up or down the eight locks. It was designed by Scotland’s most famous engineer, Thomas Telford, in the early 1800’s and is the longest staircase lock in Britain. We followed a vessel through the locks which gave us a great understanding of how this deceptively simple process works. The operators move from one control panel to the next filling the lock or opening the gates.
Tonight, we wild camped with a beautiful view over Ben Nevis.