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Fort William or Mallaig?

I'm planning a solo trip to Western Scotland in late August and will be using public transportation. On my list of must do activities is the Jacobite Steam Train (Harry Potter), Skye, Mull and Iona islands. I'm trying to figure out if I want to stay in Ft William and take the train round-trip or take it one way to Mallaig and stay the night in Mallaig. I'll be 55 years old; so not some young backpacker and don't plan on hiking (such as, I wouldn't hike Ben Nevis). But, I like being outdoors and seeing some of the sights and also enjoy exploring quaint towns. I am trying to plan to have more time on Skye and Mull and not many stops in between. Also, I did have concerns about how easy it would be to get from Mallaig to Portree on Skye using public transport. I don't necessarily want to spend all day pulling my small roller suitcase and my daypack from train to bus to ferry to bus, etc. I'd like to get where I'm going and then head out to explore. I look forward to your helpful responses.

Posted by
3107 posts

" I don't necessarily want to spend all day pulling my small roller suitcase and my daypack from train to bus to ferry to bus, etc. I'd like to get where I'm going and then head out to explore. " Unless you are willing to rent a car to get to Portree , the ferry and bus combinations are the only alternative , that I am aware of .

Posted by
68 posts

I expect to take trains, buses and ferries - it's just that when I looked at options from Mallaig, it seemed like it was sending me back to Ft William first as there were not any other good public transport options to Portree if I took the ferry from Mallaig. I am wondering if people suggest giving Mallaig more time rather than Ft William (due to being more interesting, etc), and if so, what options are there for getting to Portree without spending my whole day trying to get there.

Posted by
1293 posts

There is a bus from Armadale to Portree. However it the bus company has an ad hoc timetable during the summer months so public transport websites will probably not be aware of it. There is a scheduled service to Portree from Ft William hence guiding you back via the Fort.

The other thing to remember is there will be more accomodation in the Fort rather than Mallaig due to size. If you want to stay in Mallaig you will need to be booking now.

Posted by
1047 posts

We visited Mallaig some years ago on a day trip from Fort William (by train, but not the Jacobite).
My impression was that Mallaig is just a place where you change from the train to the ferry. Nothing to see.
Others may chime in with things I missed :-)