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This is it. It’s happening.

It’s been 7 years since we returned from Scotland and said we were going back, and 18 months or so since I started idly researching places we might stay and things we might do, without locking anything in.

Then on the weekend, I realised – it’s summer in the UK right now. Their school holidays are about to start. And when they are over, some people are going to start thinking about next year’s holiday – which is when we will be travelling.

I am a planner, so this was virtually a call to panic stations. The way I travel, this meant I essentially need to start booking accommodation now, and I didn’t even know where we were staying, where we going, or hell, even when we were going to be there. Mum and Dad are coming with us, and I hadn’t even nailed down definite dates with them. So I immediately started researching – which bore out my idea that I need to book ASAP, as some places already had bookings for summer next year.

At the end of my weekend whirlwind of research I produced an approximate itinerary – hurrah, now we know where we are going – and this is it:

So you might notice we’re spending a week in Fort William – and here’s a couple of things we might do while we are there.

gondola

Also known as ‘The Harry Potter’ train, this is the steam train that runs over the Glenfinnan viaduct made famous by the movies. It stops at the Glenfinnan monument, where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard in rebellion, and then goes on to Mallaig, through some fantastic Scottish scenery along the way. We did this the first time we visited, but since we’ll have the kids in tow, we thought they’d love it and we should do it again.

Other sights worthy of note along the trip are Ben Nevis, at the starting station; Britain’s most westerly mainland railway station, Arisaig; the deepest freshwater loch in Britain, Loch Morar; the shortest river in Britain, River Morar; and the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis!

I only recently learned about this one – you can take what we here in Australia would call a ‘cable car’ up the Nevis range. The gondolas take you from 300ft up to 2150ft on the north face of Aonach Mor, the eighth highest mountain in Britain, and all in 12 – 15 minutes. Each gondola can accommodate up to six people inside – which means my family will fill it. Gondola to ourselves! The kids are already excited.

<From the gondola you can see across the Scottish Highlands, including the Great Glen, Ben Nevis, and even as far as the Inner Hebrides on a clear day.

Ciara Ballintyne is visiting Scotland in 2016 – join her on a virtual tour of Scotland and other parts of Great Britain as she plans her trip. Somewhere you think she should go or stay? Please comment!

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