Contrary to all indications I am still alive, though the high cost of internet access and my busy schedule have kept me from posting further updates. After three nights in Grasmere and a drive through the Yorkshire Moors and the Peak District with my Aussie friends, I took the train to Edinburgh and stayed for two nights. It's a very pretty city, very old and historic and a great place to wander around. I arrived on a busy weekend, though, so on Saturday–with every hostel in town fully booked–I took the train to the Isle of Skye. I spent three nights there, which gave me enough time to see a lot of the island and even take a day tour with MacBackpackers.
Kyleakin, the little village where I stayed, was all pubs and hostels–there wasn't even a grocery store–but it had a great little ruined castle just outside it and a terrific waterfront location. Skye itself has an amazing landscape, unlike anything I've ever seen before. It's very barren, but rugged enough to be interesting and with pockets of green, especially in the north part of the island. Very cool. I took lots of pictures.
After Skye, I took the MacBackpackers' bus to Fort William, the supposed Outdoor Capital of the UK and home to Ben Nevis, the UK's highest peak. Though it rained for the first couple days that I stayed, the skies brightened on Thursday and stayed clear until last night–perfect hiking weather. Today it's a bit grey, but as I'm leaving in an hour I didn't have plans to do much anyway. Thursday I explored a bit of Glen Nevis (the valley with the Ben to one side) and climbed Cow Hill via a trail that starts near the hostel–nice, but the weather was yuckily muggy. After a great thunderstorm on Thursday night and sleeping in late on Friday morning, I biked to a trailhead and hiked in to a waterfall. In the afternoon, I took the train to Mallaig from Fort William and back again, a beautiful route that was featured in the Harry Potter films as the Hogwarts Express.
And then, yesterday, I climbed Ben Nevis–not incredibly tall or anything but it is the tallest mountain in the UK. Again, great views, good walk, etcetera. I celebrated my triumph by going out with some people from the hostel, which was fun, though the nightlife in tiny Fort William is possibly even less exciting than it sounds
I'm now off to Oban for at least one night and possibly two, then it's back to Edinburgh for a couple of nights and on to Inverness. I'm thinking of taking the train to Europe from there, via London, so I can see a bit of France before heading to Italy.