Today, folks from Eugene descended on Fort William in preparation for our barge journey that starts tomorrow. Jim, Becky, Lori and Peter scaled Ben Nevis. Dee Ann and Hal “rode their butts off” on bikes. And Dave, Nan, Brad and I walked 11 miles. We were all feeling it tonight when we had our group dinner at the Lime Tree Restaurant.
The four of us set off on our epic walk around after breakfast and coffee. We decided to walk to the Ben Nevis Distillery, where we had a tour scheduled for 1PM. The walk was very pleasant, along the canal for part of the way, and it got us into the Scottish countryside mood. We stopped at Interlochy Castle, which is in ruins, for a few photos.
The distillery tour was interesting. There was a goofy video to start that told the story of the “dew of Ben Nevis”, aka scotch. But then Ian, our tour guide, gave us a good overview of how the process works. The distillery has been in operation since 1825! It is located near Ben Nevis for the good water that comes from the mountain snow and rain. Although the scotch was nice, we didn’t buy any.
We then took off for Neptune’s staircase. We will depart from the top of the staircase tomorrow, so we wanted to get a sense of where we were headed. The site is gorgeous! There is a series of locks that take 1-1/2 hours to traverse. We got the chance to see a sailboat head through one of them, which was interesting. At the top of the staircase, our barge, the Ros Crana, was docked. The crew was changing over from the cruise that ended today. We got to see Dave (“Swampy”) who was mate on our cruise 12 years ago. He at least acted like he remembered us … but he was about to take the week off and he will not be on our cruise. And we got to meet the new barge dog, Bracken, who seems quite up for the job.
Then we walked back. That was probably a mistake. We were all a bit tired and each has our own aches and pains. Unfortunately, Brad twisted his ankle during the walk and it now looks all purple and swollen. I am hoping that a good night’s sleep and some drugs will help and he will feel better in the AM.
But nevertheless, we headed out for our first group dinner. The Lime Tree Restaurant was very nice. The group ordered a variety of interesting entrees, including Hake, local trout, aubergine (eggplant) in Cajun spices, venison, pork, and Nan was brave and ordered the haggis. As far as I know (but remember that I had a cocktail and a large glass of wine), all of it was delicious. Here is the pork (including the “pork donut”) and the venison, for those that want to see the food. Mine was the venison and I can attest to its deliciousness. Lori and I each ordered a large glass of Chilean Merlot that was billed on the wine list as “gluggable”.