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Thread: Sleeper train to Scotland

  1. #1
    Mini Goon James K's Avatar
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    Inspired by the article in tgo a couple of months ago, my girlfriend and I took the sleeper train up from London to Corrour station the weekend before last. We had a brilliant time - we wild camped by Loch Ossian and walked over seven (ish) munros around and about, walking from the tent as a base. The weather was amazing, the most spectacular clooud inversion I've ever seen (tho, I think it's probably my second, so I guess this isn't saying much...) on the Sunday just after lunch - distant mountains would drift in and out of view like magic kingdoms. Then the clouds completely cleared and we enjoyed clear blue skies for the rest of Sunday and all day Monday. Pretty chilly on sunday night though - a fair bit of boot thawing went on on Monday morning before I could get them on again :-).

    If anyone else is thinking about taking the train up, then I would definitely recommend it. We left Euston just after 9 at night, then woke up again in the middle of the highlands next morning. What more could you want :-). In fact, we've already booked the next trip up for March - walking & camping between Rannoch station and Bridge of Orchy is the current plan. So anyway, thanks to tgo for the article, we hadn't realised quite how easy it could be until we'd read it. Any recommendations for other good walks from stations along the line?

  2. #2
    Mini Goon Bob Simpson's Avatar
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    There any number of walks taking the train.
    Corrour to Fort William via Glen Nevis.
    Corrour to Spean Bridge via Lairig Leacach. Corrour to Dalwinnie via Ben Alder Cottage( you can get the sleeper back from Dalwinnie). All there routes give you the option staying in some good bothies.

  3. #3
    ‹bermensch Jim Chalmers's Avatar
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    Excellent day walks on big hills from Crianlarich.

    Think Cairngorms, too, from Aviemore, for instance.

  4. #4
    Mini Goon James K's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. We'd thought about the walk from Corrour to Dalwhinnie - taking in Ben Alder + the ridge to the west on the way. It's a beautiful area round there. I was surprised at how desolate it was - it really hit me when when I stepped off the train from London straight into wilderness.

    Alas my girlfriend, having grown up in Glasgow, spent many miserable school days out in Crianlarich, but hopefully she can be persuaded that it's not that bad really... Aviemore would be good though - though maybe later in the year as I'm not really sure our winter skills would be up to the task.

  5. #5
    Initiate ecco's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, I think it is necessary to buy 2 single tickets to go london to corrour, dalwhinne to london and it effectively doubles the price.

    The sleepers a great service but very pricey compared to easyjet and BMI

  6. #6
    Ultra King Paddy Dillon's Avatar
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    I'm very keen on using public transport, and use it to reach all my walking destinations around the world. However, while I've tried to sleep on long-haul flights and buses, I've never used a sleeper train anywhere in the world. Reading the above, I can't think of a better way to travel. The thought of going to bed in a city and waking up in the middle of nowhere, fed and watered, ready to hit the hills... that's the way to travel!

  7. #7
    Mini Goon James K's Avatar
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    ecco - I think you are right and you would need two single tickets because dalwhinnie and corrour are on different lines. I hadn't realied that, what a pain :-(.

    Generally though, I'm not sure that the plane works out much, if any cheaper. Assuming you can get an apex return, the train would be £99 and nothing extra - and that would effectively include 2 nights accomodation. The plane tickets would be less than this for sure (maybe £40-50 for the return?), but then I would have to get from london -> stansted and from the airport at the other end (Glasgow or Inverness? Perth is pretty expensive to fly to and I'm not sure about any other airports) into the highlands, so that is either hire a car or take a bus, both of which are more cost & hassle. Put that together with being able to get the train after work on the day I go up and then go straight into work on the day I come back, saving me holiday time, and the train looks pretty good to me.

    Paddy - I managed to sleep fine coming back. I was a bit more of a nervous sleeper on the way up - terrified I would sleep through my stop! The bunks are a bit small, but they're a hell of a lot more comfortable than a bus or train seat when it comes to sleeping.


  8. #8
    ‹bermensch Andy Howell's Avatar
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    Paddy,

    It is fine IF you can can get to sleep on the bloody thing!

  9. #9
    Mini Goon outdoors's Avatar
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    remember I did the sleeper thing london to Scotland when a student - i had a temperature and was coming down with flu ...you've no idea what a surreal state this evokes...(no drugs involved..) anyway I couln't understand why the whole thing was blacked out and kept (trying) to chat to folks all the way to scotland ...oh boy..

  10. #10
    Widdler
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    The need for two single tickets if coming back from another station need not necessarily be a problem.

    Whilst saver returns would be precluded, it seems that the train operating companies have recently altered the arrangements for cheaper tickets. Virgin's "value advance" tickets and GNER's "standard advance" tickets are now sold as singles. The only problem is getting these cheap tickets, as numbers are limited.

    The National Rail Enquiries web-site seems to indicate the existence of single Corrour tickets at £22 (London) or £21 (York), and single Dalwhinnie tickets at £24 (London) or £18 (York).

    Perhaps someone can advise on the availability of sleepers, using these cheap tickets. The web-site merely states "the number of berths available to holders of discounted tickets may be restricted at any time."

  11. #11
    Initiate ecco's Avatar
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    I did have a good look at the sleeper service a few months ago for planning a few trips. The times are great in that you get full days out on the hill and don't every need to overnight somewhere just to catch a plane. Also, you can usually shower in the stations.

    However, the cheap tickets are very difficult to come by, even if you adapt your own trip around them. Also the £99 refers to a berth, fine if there's two of you travelling but otherwise you might have to share. First class is so expensive it only the landowners travellling to the house of lords at the taxpayers expense who can afford them. There are sleeper seats available now for about £59 (airline style) but 12 hours of that would leave me feeling knackered for the hill.

    Planes are not as conveniently timed but i can usually get to inverness by mid morning ang fly back around 5pm. From invernnss, public transport is great.


  12. #12
    Mini Goon Bob Simpson's Avatar
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    If you look at the First Scotrail web site under caledonian Sleeper they have " bargain Berths" ranging from £19 - £49 for a single.

  13. #13
    Initiate ecco's Avatar
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    Yeah, but try finding them at a time you want to travel

  14. #14
    Widdler
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    My teenage children and I went from Euston to Inverness in the seats. They were small enough to curl up a bit, but still slept badly. I hardly slept at all, but despite feeling completely washed out in the morning (we sat blankly in Safeways cafe trying to wake up!) the adrenalin kept us going for the rest of the day. If you can't afford a bunk it's still worth considering a seat. You'll certainly sleep very well the following night!!

  15. #15
    Widdler
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    I mean my children were small enough to curl up!! Not the seats! oops!

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