From Inverness, we made our way to Fort William, driving a long winding road alongside Loch Ness where we stopped at several viewpoints to look over the smooth waters and fall colours. No sign of Nessie, old girl. At one rest stop, there was a stairway down to a rocky beach, and we wandered down to get close to the water. Another older couple soon made their way down, and we exchanged pleasantries about the golden weather. Miles before, we had passed a man riding on a spindly bicycle, and by the time we climbed back up the stairs, there he was. A tourist from China, student age, on his way to see Urquhart Castle, though we weren't able to tell him how much farther he had to go. As we pulled away, I saw him sitting on the rocks down below, stripped down to his t-shirt, having a snack.
Arriving in Fort William, we headed out for a hike immediately, driving up the road to the Glen Nevis info center, stopping at the Braveheart parking lot, which we later found out was built for the filming of the movie.
We chose the Cow Hill Circuit path for a hike, and made our way along beautiful mossy tundra, up into grasslands that were one cow pastures (hence the name), looking down to the waters and the town of Fort William below, and then ending down through pinelands to the trail back to the lot. Warm in parts, windy and cold in others. Gorgeous overall.
The fragrance of woodsmoke as we walked in Fort William that evening on the main pedestrian strip of shops, stopping in at the Ben Nevis bar for a post-hike drink and bite to eat. Outside, the feeling of Whistler Village with a multitude of outdoor gear shops and people walking in their outdoor wear. Definitely a feeling of a place where people live for outdoor activities, mountain biking or hiking, and ski hills nearby in the winter. At our accommodations, one of the other guests was there to climb Ben Nevis, the highest peak, and we looked up at it throughout our hike, watching as layers of clouds enshrouded it, wondering if it was doable, but ultimately deciding that it's not a climb to be taken lightly. Perhaps one day, perhaps not, the hikes that we enjoyed were satiating in themselves without the big bucket list checkmark of a peak. Breathing in that glorious fresh air.