I met my future partner/wife Susan Wales when I started working for West Lothian Council in 1997. I had recently complete my 22 year service in the Royal Air Force and found setting back to civilian life a bit irksome. I consider myself very lucky in gaining employment with the recently created West Lothian Council as a temporary maternity cover Assistant Licensing Clerk (which led to full employment until I took early retirement in 2011). Whilst we were colleagues we were not (at that time) involved socially. Between 1997-2005 we slowly got to know each other through Social events such as birthday’s, Christmas \Parties, and outings to the Theatre all part of the social activities with Administration and Legal Services. In fact I made some good friends working there and one very special person. Susan was in love with Scotland, and enjoyed hill walking, Bagging Munros ans scrambling up her favourite mountain “Buachaille Etive Mòr” in Glen Coe. I was more the stay at home and read – I’d had enough gallivanting and globe trotting in the RAF. I did have pride in my country and Scottish history. In 2005 I discovered Digital Photography and that lead to me being a bit more active and walking to work on nice days taking my camera. This led to lunchtime walks with Susan and our friendship began to develop. On 25 July 2005 Susan’s mum, Mabel passed away and she was feeling the loss badly. She had looked after her mum travelling down to Runcorn at weekends – eventually Mable moved up to Scotland and was well looked after by Susan. I never met Mabel by all account she was a lovely lady.
Our first outing took place on Sunday 31st July 2005 and started at the crack of dawn as a result of a spur of the moment decision to travel up to Fort William and take the steam hauled train to Mallaig. This trip was inspired by a conversation regarding “Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets” and how the film had shown the Hogwarts Express crossing the Glenfinnan viaduct, Susan mentioned she had never crossed that viaduct and so we made plans to set off on Sunday 31st to catch the train and enjoy the journey.
We set of a 7 a.m. on a lovely summer’s day and it got better as we headed north west from Livingston to Fort William, travelling through some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscape. Our route would take us through the village of Callander then taking the west highland route (A85) via Crianlarich then A85 to Fort William, stopping at Loch Tulla Viewpoint, then across Rannoch Moor to Fort William. We took a slow trip up, enjoying the views and the early morning sunshine. Surprisingly the traffic was light and good time made arriving in Fort William Station Car Park with plenty of time .
Link to Album – The Jacobite Adventure