Scotland by Railway

 

After the memories of the first hitchhike-tour were fading, it was time to get out the backpacks and to see again the beauty of Scotland.

 

This time Martina and I took the train to Hoek van Holland. The passage to Harwich was quite stormy and I have never seen so many people with green faces like on this small ship. In the dawn we finally reached the coast of England. To London we took a funny old train which slowly puffed through the flat landscape of the South of England. When reaching London Liverpool Station we immediately changed to the 'Underground' to Ravenswood, where my aunt and my uncle were living.

This time Martina and I took the train to Hoek van Holland. The passage to Harwich was quite stormy and I have never seen so many people with green faces like on this small ship. In the dawn we finally reached the coast of England. To London we took a funny old train which slowly puffed through the flat landscape of the South of England. When reaching London Liverpool Station we immediately changed to the 'Underground' to Ravenswood, where my aunt and my uncle were living. We spent a few days with them and repeatedly took the train down to London.

We went shopping and took a look whether Piccadilly Circus, Carnaby Street, and Abbey Road were still there. Then finally the time had come: in the late evening with rucksacks on our backs and a prickling in the stomachs we were waiting at Euston station for the arrival of the "Royal Scotsman", which should take us up to the Midlands. At first it seemed to be a train ride like many others. Houses, trees and people appearing and disappearing, while we rushed into the night. In the darkness the rattling of the wheels stressed the monotony of the tour and so we were slowly lulled into sleep.

 

This time Martina and I took the train to Hoek van Holland. The passage to Harwich was quite stormy and I have never seen so many people with green faces like on this small ship. In the dawn we finally reached the coast of England. To London we took a funny old train which slowly puffed through the flat landscape of the South of England. When reaching London Liverpool Station we immediately changed to the 'Underground' to Ravenswood, where my aunt and my uncle were living. We spent a few days with them and repeatedly took the train down to London. We went shopping and took a look whether Piccadilly Circus, Carnaby Street, and Abbey Road were still there. Then finally the time had come: in the late evening with rucksacks on our backs and a prickling in the stomachs we were waiting at Euston station for the arrival of the "Royal Scotsman", which should take us up to the Midlands. At first it seemed to be a train ride like many others. Houses, trees and people appearing and disappearing, while we rushed into the night. In the darkness the rattling of the wheels stressed the monotony of the tour and so we were slowly lulled into sleep.

As the morning had broken, we were woken up through a strong jerk. The sun just was up, when we were roused by a strong jerk. Looking out we saw to our unlimited delight the first mountains of Scotland. In the relatively empty train we of course had one window seat each. We looked at the most beautiful scenery we had ever seen. The "Royal Scotsman" pounded through a wild landscape, rough and very, very beautiful. Again and again we saw the unavoidable sheep and in the background one mountain followed the other. In between we could glimpse at the sea and the whole picture gave us the feeling of absolute freedom. The train meandered through valleys, framed by high trees, went over a high bridge and on through a tunnel. Again and again there was a short break at one of these small, dreamy stations, whose names appeared to us strange and ageless. It was a ride through the solitude - lonely and incomparably beautiful.

 

 

Close to noon we arrived at the lonely Rannoch Station near Loch Rannoch. As far as I remember, we were the only ones leaving at this station. We speedily gave up the search for a restaurant or at least a snack bar. Absolutely nothing was here but one or two small houses and an endless landscape. Our eyes followed the train which disappeared, crossing a bridge over the moorside. Now a long walk lay ahead of us - unless a car would pick us up. Talking about cars, we felt as if we made a timejump into the past. Far and wide no car at all was to be seen.

 

For the first 10 kilometers we actually did not meet one single soul. Sheep, which in a meager rocky landscape watched us curiously, were the only larger living beings. On and on the lonely tramping went, heavier and heavier the rucksacks became , shorter and shorter the distances between two rests.

 

Some "Highland Cattle" approaching us curiously could be fed with grass - a welcome opportunity to talk to somebody else. They did not really answer, but at least those big animals looked friendly at us with their big brown eyes. If only we could have mounted them to ride on.

As matter of fact within 6 hours two cars passed us. Unfortunately none stopped. I think next time Martina should thumb for a lift. In my experience that works better on such hitchhiking tours. She had already the first blisters at her feet, but heroically she held out and we went on through this almost archaic landscape. My attention was roused by a small electricity-flat on the left side of our road, for this Indian point seemed well known to me. Without doubt we were slowly approaching our destination very slowly!

 

 

 

Many kilometers later we reached the place, where years ago a schoolmate and I pitched up our tent during my first visit to Loch Rannoch. In all the years the water of Loch Rannoch had risen so much that in fact the old pine tree, beside which we had camped, stood in the water. This was no longer a good place for camping.Too bad, we had to look for another spot. Luckily a teacher stopped her car and took us along the last a few kilometers towards Kinloch Rannoch. Exhausted, we pitched up our tent and cooled our feet in the waters of the loch.

 

We were definitely too poop to pop and by not means fit to walk to Kinloch to get any food today and restricted ourselves to our supply.

Gorgeous days were to follow..

Every day our campfire close to the lake was burning late into the night. Sausages or potatoes were grilled, the inevitable beans of "Heinz" came again on the (nonexistent) table and the guitar was played.

 

 

 

Whenever we ran out of supplies we went to the small town of Kinloch. Every now and then we tried to get a lift to Pitlochry, in order to take a warm shower on the campground over there.

 

At one of our first excursions up to there we met Peter. He was the owner of a hotel at the Loch and offered us to use the swimming pool, which belonged to his hotel, for no money. That again was another example for Scottish hospitality, which I met so often.

 

At one of the following days we got visited by a forest ranger, as we straightened up just our tent. He examined our fire-place and left us with the advice to leave "everything so, as we found had it", but that is selfunderstood! We again were sitting at the fire, playing guitar and drinking cider when we got unexpected visit. Chris and Mike from Glasgow had set up their tent a couple hundred meters further and had been attracted by our music. From now on we spend the evenings regularly with each other and our both new friends were honestly trying, to explain us the sense of English jokes. To tell the truth, they were not successful at all, perhaps we should repeat that once more! Chris and Mike were not the only neighbors, for we had found a "Wobler" - so Chris and Mike explained later on - beside the road. A small bird, similarly to the domestic sparrow. The bird lay for any reasons weakens aside the road. We built him a little wooden box in a hollow tree near to our telt and provided him with food. At least we tried to feed him, but whatever we offered him, he refused to eat.Even earthworms were not the right one for him. In the need the devil devours flies, we thought, and so we tried it this way.

 

 

Actually, that worked, indeed it had to be living flies and thus we were pretty busy and since these days we know, how hard the job of a little birds parent is. Shortly before our departure had come, the wobler began, to leave his protecting nest and started to jump around in the area. Little later he disappeared completely.

Now it was time for us say goodbye, too. Starting again at Kinloch Rannoch we took the postbus to Rannoch station and looked again and again sadly to the other side of the Loch, there, where we had enjoyed again some kind of a completely free life. We were much too early at the station and set up a last time the camping stove and opened us a last time a can of beans. As the train came, we boarded sadly and looked still in the direction of Loch Rannoch.

Our decision was quite clear: Next year we will come back again!

 

Top