Days 73 and 74…. still at the top of Neptune’s Staircase… now 13 days of rain!!

Tuesday…. heavy rain during the early hours before breakfast…. then miraculously cleared up and sunshine for the rest of the day until the late afternoon.

Just before 8am the “Puffer” departed blowing her steam whistle …. went chugging past Poli Poli up the canal in the direction of Inverness…. and billowing black smoke trailing behind her. We noticed a group of people near the foredeck having an early morning briefing. Something to do with the “working holiday” they were participating in no doubt. M says they were all having a cuppa!


After breakfast the sun came out…. and seemed to dry the decks of Poli Poli. What a difference a bit of sun makes…. thus work on boat maintenance jobs commenced…. T kneeled and lay on the sole boards ( nautical for floor boards ) in the saloon and other places and cleaned out/checked all the bilges. The new water pump ( from Bristol ) was carefully examined as was the engine ( oil dip stick, gear box oil level, alternator belt tension etc ). The new fender boards that Richard had made back in May were checked over and one or two bent “eyes” were replaced and new lashings attached.

Whilst all this activity was taking place… M went for a walk…. down to the Moorings Hotel where, amazingly, people were sitting outside! As was the case on another occasion M went for a “walk” and just happened to call in at the hotel cafe for a “magnum”! This time it was for a quick latte.

Lunch was aboard… a salad meal with syrup sponge and custard for dessert. M went walkies afterwards, T was asked by a guy from Alsager in Cheshire, if he would not mind taking a photo on his Samsung Galaxy Super dooper phone…. of his wife …. doing the Titantic bow pose on their hired motorboat up stream of Poli Poli. Mister Alsager also posed along with Mrs. Alsager…. you know…. arms wide apart etc. T duly obliged. The couple did not fall in over their pulpit!

Tuesday was also the very first occasion for Ben Nevis to show itself bathed in sunshine.

18B3E8B1-A773-4DB0-A2D1-8CEFF1B0251BThe evening…. well a few new boats arrived from the direction of Inverness. We have worked out that most evening arrivals at Banavie are for the 8am next day, eight locks of Neptune’s Staircase… and then exit out to sea ( actually into a loch ) at Corpach. the southern exit.

On each and every evening that Poli Poli has been moored in Banavie…. at exactly 8.15pm we hear the “chuff chuff…. chuff, chuff” and the steam whistle of the Jacobite Steam Train …. pulling into Banavie railway station after its 40 or so mile journey from Mallaig on the north west coast, back to its depot in Fort William. If you walk from the boat on its mooring to the upper locks on the staircase, you can actually see the black engine ( No. 45157 ) pulling a quite lengthy number of scarlet, red carriages heading across the level crossing in an easterly direction. For train enthusiasts, M’s Dad in Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells will be able to tell you all the details of the black and barrel shaped engine pulling the carriages.

train with smoke
Photo by Gabriela Palai on

The Jacobite Steam Train departs Fort William every day for the 84 mile return trip to Mallaig. One famous image of the Jacobite train, is that of the engine hauling the scarlet carriages across the iconic imposing arched viaduct at Glenfinnan. The train was also used as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films.

We also learnt from our visit to the West Highland Museum in Fort William, that it was at Glenfinnan, that Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard and rallied his forces prior to his ill fated march on London. So we listen out each evening for the 8.15 pm whistle of the big, black engine at the bottom of Neptune’s Staircase.


Poli Poli is the second boat along this long pontoon at the top of Neptune’s Staircase…Margaret took this photo on one of her walks between showers. Look at the swirling sky in the south west. T is talking to the man from Alsager on the canal footpath …the Titanic poseurs!



Needless to say it rained nearly all night…. and today, Wednesday has been punctuated every half hour by really heavy showers…. blown in by a strong south westerly wind of some force. The showers have been noticeably heavy and on one occasion, there were hail stones. At present the cockpit tent acts as the drying room for all our “wetties”!

This morning we caught the 47 bus into the town of Fort William …. and visited the West Highland Museum after taking coffee in a High Street refreshment emporium. The museum in Oban was pretty good… even though they denied all knowledge of the assertion made by the ‘Rough Guide’ that there was a piece of the Berlin Wall on display.

B238C030-DD43-4D6F-BBF4-E18F9CCDA845.jpegThe museum in Fort William was one of those experiences….not to be quickly forgotten. Not only were there exhibits of virtually every aspect of Highland life presented in a traditional way….. but extremely well done over eight rooms on two floors. We spent the best part of an hour in Room One… a detailed and moving section on the World War II Commandos , who were established nearby in 1942 and did their training in Lochaber.

8B86F5E8-A6F2-4C88-844B-C38A3A2BF8BB.jpegIt absolutely chucked it down outside for the near two hours we were in the Museum…. once back in the High Street M bought a pair of waterproof trousers and we went to the same Tesco Metro as before to get our food supplies. Taxi back to the boat.

We have heard that Chris was or is about to be, airlifted back home to Northamptonshire by Medivac from Inverness…. by means of his travel insurance. We have wished him a safe journey and a speedy recovery at home.


Amazing ….blue sky over Ben Nevis…in the blink of an eye!!

Our new crew member Vasco will be arriving tomorrow Thursday by train from Edinburgh. We will greet him at Banavie station at, hopefully, 4.25pm. We will then depart Banavie Friday morning, heading north eastwards up the canal to Gairlochy. Just hope the rain does not follow us!!



A rainbow over the Caledonian Canal ..M got very excited and took this photo through the saloon window starboard side.

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