Friday 11 July 2014

Scottish Trip Part 3

And so to the main event, at least it was for me. An early start saw Grace and I aboard the 0633 from Edinburgh to Perth, on the first leg on our day trip to Skye via the Inverness - Kyle of Lochalsh line. However, before that I spent a rather novel 15 mins at 6am taking pics of buses in the early Edinburgh sun - how many buses can you take pics of at 6am round here!!

Lothian 936 Volvo B9tl Gemini 2 SN09 CVX taken at 6am by Waverley Station
So off we went in the comfort of 3 car DMU 170421 on the journey to Perth. A short wait there and another 170 came in on the long jorney to Inverness, which passes through some really spectacular and changing scenery.

First Scotrail 170415 at Perth en route to Inverness
At Inverness we had the chance of a short break so out came the camera for the most Northerly bus pic taken by a blog owner I have seen so far!

Stagecoach 27906, E200 SN63 VUE close to Inverness Station
We then boarded DMU 158 for the trip to Kyle of Lochalsh, and it didn't disappoint. It is simply stunning, and it is a continuous niggle that I was 6 weeks away from a transfer to Kyle depot when my eyes gave out on me. I can't believe I would have been paid to travel that glorious line day after day. The only downside was that the weather changed while we went from East Coast to West Coast and it was a howling gale when we got there, with rain following later. However, I still got a pic of our 158 at what is my favourite terminus in the UK.

Scotrail 158713 at Kyle of Lochalsh with the mountains shrouded by cloud
It was gone half past midnight by time we got back to Edinburgh, and I was amazed at the number of night buses in operation. Unfortunately my camera didn't manage to get a pic worth publishing, but it only enhanced my respect for the Edinburgh public transport system.

The next day I rather sulkily headed back to London, this time by train, and an experience of the East Coast Main Line. No problems to report - again there was a powerpoint at my seat - Greater Anglia please note - and we arrived in Lindon on time. I was hoping for an HST set, but the Class 91 that pushed us all the way did a more than adequate job.

Unusually on a normal set Sky HD liveried 91125 sits at Kings Cross after arriving from Edinburgh
Three companies impressed me no end on this trip. Stagecoach's Megabus service is that cheap I can see myself being quite a regular on it in the future - I already have my next trip booked. Lothian Buses and now Trams give Edinburgh a transport system a lot of places would do well to take inspiration from. Cheap - very cheap, accessible, regular and well publicised. Can't fault them. A highly varied fleet too. And finally First. First Group seem to make a better job of running trains than they do buses. Scotrail operated faultlessly for us over the 18 hours we were travelling. Clean trains, punctual trains, quality staff, great information. Just don't charge 30p to use loos in places like Inverness - pointless when you can wait and go on the train!

I'll finish this series of posts with the cutest train you'll ever see. A lot of Scottish stations have them, and I think they really add something. I hope you've enjoyed this series and I hope for another one in a couple of weeks.

Altogether now - Awwwwwww!! Seen at Kirkcaldy Station


  1. Wonderful, brought back old memories . . . when setting out after school around 1972, I did the same trip (via the old rattly National Express in its early days) but having a fortnight took in the Highland Line to Thurso/Wick and the sea trip to Orkney and across the island as well as traversing Skye with the crossing the Tobermory and across the island to Iona, and out to the Outer Hebrides and across the islands to Stornoway too, and Tongue. I wonder how much has changed, The Skye bridge, obviously, but otherwise I think not as much as I might expect, apart from the inevitable branding of everything . . . And that's the problem. I suspect despite all the competition hype, those local set-ups that were good in the old days of the 70s are still by and large good today. And those things that were second-rate then, are still second-rate today, with a few noteable exceptions. We all get defensive in the face of change. Names change, but people don't. The same is true of individual hospitals, surgeries, schools and public services generally, as well as buses and trains. What makes the difference, good management helps, but I suspect that means patience, perseverance and attention to detail: the very opposite of what any management consultant will tell you. Or I'm just getting old and nostalgic.

  2. Well 11 years ago there was a 20 min bus service from Kyleakin, acroos the Skye bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh which cost 15p - i kid you not. now there are about 5 a day, operated by Stagecoach Sccottish Citylink and the fare is £1.80! The cafe at Kyle has gone downhill dramatically, but who cares when the scenery hasn't. I feel as though I've gone home when I'm up there and already l,ooking at cottages to book next year!

  3. It was a great trip! but it was very long! you got some great pictures, I love the one at kyle of lochalsh x

  4. Wouldn't have been the same without you, Grace. Yes I can do 14 hours on trains with ease, but I forget for others that is a right marathon, and you really were in a zombie state when we got back to Edinburgh! I'll never forget waiting for our last connection at Stirling with you in an almost trance like state! Bet you'd do it again though!

  5. My inner traveller has just let out a squee at reading this. Wonderful, thank you. I can't get over how well presented both buses and trains are. Sadly I can't do trains as often as I'd like as I have a habit of falling asleep on them, although I - like you - could happily do 14 hours on a train without a problem.

    Thinking of trains, love that little train too. I've actually got a similar sort of one, albeit much smaller and sans plants, sat on my TV cabinet. Mum got me it (the train, not the cabinet) years ago.

  6. Tinker it's comments like that which inspire me to carry on. Thanks so much for taking the trouble to make a comment like that.

  7. Epic trip Steve lad epic !!!! I'm with tinker bring it on !

  8. Cheers,Tim buddy - hope to be over to see you soon :)