We could have flown to Scotland. We certainly looked at the options of doing it. Simple, get to Gatwick Airport and fly to Inverness. An hour or so flight away. Then pick up a hire car and head for the hills.
But where’s the fun and adventure in taking the quick option?
Especially when you can get an overnight train, leaving London Euston just after 9pm, to pull open your curtains the following morning, pressing your nose up against the early morning window light to reveal the peaks of Scotland awaiting you.
We were on the 21:15 departure from London Euston. The hills would be ours the following morning.
The train departed on schedule, pulling away from the bustle as dusk fell over the city we were keen to escape. I sunk into the comfortable berth, letting my head hit the pillow as I got stuck into a book. I had been in my office at 5, only a few hours before.
We trundled through the night, rocked by the motion of the carriage. Speed was not of the essence. A daytime trip to Edinburgh can take less than five hours, the overnight train further north to Inverness nearly twelve. But that isn’t really the point.
Passing through the towns of Pitlochry, Blair Atholl and Dalwhinnie, on through Aviemore, getting a quick glimpse of the Cairngorms off to our right, we slowly pulled into Inverness just before 9am.
It was a beautiful morning as we picked up a hire car. As we drove away from Inverness and towards the far north, to Sutherland county and the empty lands, a wry smile crossed my face – the knowledge that in an alternative world, I would be stuck in a departure lounge at Gatwick airport following an early morning alarm call.
As described on the brilliant Man in Seat 61 website, the sleeper train to Scotland is
the most civilised, romantic, time-effective & environmentally-friendly way between central London and the heart of Scotland, for a stress-free weekend in the Highlands or business meeting in London. Every night except Saturday night, Caledonian Sleeper trains link London with towns & cities all over Scotland, arriving in time for breakfast…
Take a trip to Scotland. The slow way.