14 October 2011--Over the bridge to Skye we go, and on down to Armadale. We're well early for the ferry to Mallaig. It's very windy
out on the water, so we spend the crossing inside, with a cup of coffee.
There's plenty of time to kill in Mallaig before our onward ferry to Inverie. We get the car parked, drop our bags at the pier, and go for lunch. I've passed through Mallaig many times, and have yet to figure out whether I like it or not. It has a certain amount of wild west coast charm, and plenty of tourist-oriented shops and services; but it's clearly a working port, with more than a bit of grime and grit to it. I've also heard intimations of various social problems here, but I suppose such things are pretty typical in remote towns like this. Would I want to spend a night or two here? I'm not sure there's any reason to...it's a transit point, like Scrabster on the way to Orkney. But I am perhaps not giving it a fair chance, and I try to pick up its zeitgeist as we shop for groceries and poke around. New housing developments on the north side of the harbor would seem to indicate that some people, at least, think it's a nice place to be.
Soon enough, we're bound for Knoydart on the MV Western Isles. I first visited in 2007 (see SP2BoL 2007 Pt 4 and Portfolio: Knoydart), and have had a return trip on the list ever since. Ron, too, is keen for his first visit. We're pleasantly surprised to be met at the pier and given a ride to our lodgings, a mile outside the village. I'd tried to book us into the Knoydart Foundation bunkhouse, but it was booked up with a large group; the last time I was the only guest in. We are instead in another bunkhouse in the same neighborhood. Actually, we are not in the bunkhouse itself. We were offered one of two rooms in the small house next door, at a slightly higher price, still well below what the local B&B's charge. It turns out that no one has booked the other room, so we have the house to ourselves, and each get a private bedroom. It's a really sweet deal.
We spend some time taking advantage of the house wi-fi before strolling into the village for dinner and pints at the Old Forge, Inverie's marvelous pub. It's very busy, as you would expect for a Friday night. I imagine that a significant percentage of Knoydart's population is in.