LOCHABER, SCOTLAND – One family’s outing was ruined when they were stranded in the Scottish Highlands. Thankfully, The “Hogwarts Express” was nearby to help.
Jon and Helen Cluett had planned a brilliant excursion for themselves and their four young children. They had packed their car and canoe, and were spending the night at a remote bothy (cottage) in Lochaber, Scotland.
“You can get to [the bothy] by quite an arduous walk in – or you can paddle for 10 minutes in a canoe across the loch from the road. We had a canoe so we paddled across the loch to the bothy,” Mr. Cluett told the BBC in an interview.
The Cluetts and their children, ages six, eight, ten, and twelve, were on a much-needed vacation away from school at the Essan bothy on the south shore of Loch Eilt. Unfortunately, it didn’t go all according to plan. They had left their car across the loch, and had paddled by canoe to the cottage and tethered it to some rocks at the edge of the water. When they woke up the next morning, their boat was gone.
“We were all in the bothy, warm and fed – all was good – but we’d moored the boat in a little burn behind the bothy, tied it to a wall, pulled high out of the water. My daughter woke up yesterday and says ‘Daddy, Daddy – the stream is massive’. The burn was overflowing. The entire area was underwater. The rocks I’d tied the boat to were pulled apart and the boat was gone.” – Jon Cluett.
At this point, the family seemed to have just two options. They could take a three mile walk around Loch Eilt to get back to their car, or they could walk along the nearby railway line. The walk around the Loch was boggy, and the railway would be dangerous. Neither was practical with small children.
In the end, the Cluetts decided to phone the police and mountain rescue instead to see if they knew a better way back to the road. The police had a solution. They arranged for the next train that ran on the railway line close to the cottage to make an unscheduled stop.
The best part?
It wasn’t just any train. It was the Jacobite steam train – the same train used in the Harry Potter movies as the “Hogwarts Express”.
When Mr. Cluett told his children, there were “big smiles” all around.
“We threw all our stuff into some bags and boxes and ran out of the door of the bothy at the same time as the train is coming around the tracks,” he said, “The train is getting closer, we’re running down, stuff bouncing everywhere, big smiles on the kids faces. It all started to be fun at that point.”
Mr. Cluett was sad to have lost his canoe, and he’s hoping it’ll turn up soon, but all because of the Jacobite steam train, what could have been a huge disaster was turned into an awesome adventure.
The family was dropped off at the next stop, and from there they were able to make their way back to the car and safely home.
“The kids have certainly had an adventure. We’ve all had an adventure – a big thanks to everyone who helped us.”