THE KYLE OF LOCHALSH
More by luck than judgement we found an easier road out of Plockton and headed down to Lochalsh to take the bridge over to Skye, and before too long arrived at our destination. Once again on my seafood quest I had heard of an excellent restaurant, this time situated in the converted waiting room on the station platform at Lochalsh, and once again I had checked ahead about getting Thebus there and whereabouts it would be suitable for us to park.
No problems! There's bags of room! - was the cheerful reply (how many times have I heard that!) Just come on down towards the station and there is plenty of parking space opposite the platform, they even get big lorries in, park up and just walk back over the bridge. Now I am not sure what you would imagine from those instructions, but I thought there was big parking area next to a platform. I would park Thebus in there then walk over a pedestrian bridge to access the platform on the far side of the tracks where I would find the restaurant.
As we headed into Lochalsh I duly spotted a sign for the restaurant and headed down the road indicated. At the bottom I could see some Victorian looking railway buildings and a yellow grid road box which I took to mean - Do not enter unless your exit is clear -and imagined that implied there was some sort of exit, presumably to the aforementioned large carpark.
Not a bit of it. The yellow grid box was actually painted on the station platform, and the only exit was the steep little road I had just driven down. Two choices confronted me. Either reverse back up the hill, avoiding the row of parked cars all down one side, and then out into the traffic on the main road. Basically pretty dangerous, especially the reversing out from a blind turning into oncoming traffic. Or do one of my by now, famous sixteen point turns on the station platform.
I chose the later, but of course had to keep stopping and getting out to see that the back end of Thebus was not projecting out over the railway line. After a couple of gettings-out to check a kind passer by offered to see me back, for which I was extremely grateful, and I rather shakily escaped to find that the promised large lorry park on the other side of the road bridge was currently completely cordoned off for resurfacing and building works, with the result that not only was there nowhere to park there, but the lorries which normally used it had taken up every available large vehicle space in the vicinity.
Eventually in desperation I parked in a bay which said Coaches Only, and hoped that Thebus looked sufficiently like a coach to pass muster. When I finally walked back over the ‘bridge’, which by then I had found out was a normal main road railway bridge, I discovered that just a few minutes after I had been performing my manoeuvre the Royal Scotsman had arrived carrying passengers paying a thousand pounds a day for the privilege. I am so pleased I was not still on the platform when it pulled in, let alone with Thebus backside projecting over the line!!!!!
It was a beautiful train, polished to perfection, and as by the time I got back the passengers had all departed for their early evening coach trips so I could have a look in through the window and take some photos. Apparently in the evening after dinner is over they rope off by the observation car at the bottom end and have kilted pipers and Scottish dancing on the station platform.