Europe Travel

The Caledonian Sleeper: A Scottish Train Adventure

Train Scotland-2769Is there anything more romantic than an overnight train journey? Tiny, foggy train stations where people say goodbye to their loved ones, waving from the train with a white handkerchief while the whistle blows and the last passengers hurry to get on board. Dining in a lounge car whilst watching the gorgeous scenery pass by, then retreating to a private cabin for some reading, writing and sleeping, to wake up hours later at a new destination in a new country perhaps, fully rested. That sounds pretty perfect to me.

Apart from the saying goodbye to loved ones and waving with handkerchiefs, this scenario pretty much resembles our train adventure in Scotland. Let me start with saying that the hobbit and I both love train travel (not counting my daily commute here obviously); it’s such a laid back way of seeing a country and covering a lot of ground in a comfortable way.
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We started our journey in Edinburgh, where we took a normal train service up in North West direction to the coastal town of Mallaig.

Scotrail map
The route is beautiful; it takes around 6 hours with only one change in Glasgow, but it is one of the most scenic train routes.

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It takes you over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which you might know from the Harry Potter films; the Hogwarts Express takes this route as well. 🙂 It is located at the West Highlands of Scotland, overlooking the waters of Loch Shiel.

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Though hard to capture through reflecting train windows, we were surrounded by gorgeous autumn colours, rolling hills, bendy rivers, and peaceful lochs.

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The views never get boring, so before we knew it, we were in Mallaig. We had two hours here before going back to Fort William, so we spent this time wisely; we wanted to taste some local flavors, so we found the perfect spot in front of the fireplace of Chlachain Inn, around the corner from the train station.

The hobbit tried haggis, while I had a go on delicious haddock fish cakes.
In this town, fish practically jumps on your plate directly from the sea.

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I conquered heavy wind and a few drops of rain to get some more landscape pictures.

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There isn’t going a lot on in this town, but what do you need with views like this?

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We headed back to get to the main event: the epic overnight 11-hour train journey from Fort William to London on the Caledonian Sleeper. It’s a renowned journey amongst avid train travellers, and it was named in the Top 10 of Sleeper trains by Lonely Planet. It goes partly through the magnificent landscape we saw earlier that day:

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When we boarded the train, it started to snow. I was so excited!
We quickly found our cosy first class cabins where a 6’4 ft bed awaited. I could fully stretch my giraffe legs. There are no cabins with double beds, and the single beds are not overly wide, but we had joining cabins so we could at least chat and see each other.

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The welcoming kit has a few handy items in it. There is no shower on board (all first class cabins do have their own sink though), but you do get shampoo and shower gel.

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After inspecting our cabin, we were ready for some more food. Again. 🙂
We were curious to check out the lounge car and the onboard menu.

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There was a lot of choice on board, and the prices are very, very reasonable. Of course, there was a separate Whiskey menu; we were in Scotland after all. I choose a tasty fish dish for supper.

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We decided to indulge on our Sticky Toffee Pudding in the private comfort of our cabin, before tucking in.

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After a good night of sleep, a tad bit noisier than normally but nothing extreme, we had breakfast in bed which was delivered to our cabin, while approaching London.

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Breakfast wasn’t that extensive, but good enough to get us through the first few hours of the day and on the next service home from London, with a lovely first overnight train experience in the pocket. I can’t wait to start planning the next one!

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  • Reply
    Little Miss Traveller
    2 December 2015 at 22:28

    Really enjoyed this post, I also love long train journeys and would like to take this one sometime soon.

    • Reply
      Tall Wife
      2 December 2015 at 22:41

      I can really recommend it, the scenery is amazing, you won’t regret it! 🙂

  • Reply
    27 December 2015 at 18:11

    Sounds wonderful and I would love to do this trip and take in the scenery! I’ve only been on an overnight train once but I’d love to do it again. We took the train from Munich to Venice on our honeymoon and also had a first class sleeper cabin. Arrived in Venice before sunrise, dropped our bags at our B&B, explored the quiet streets of Venice and watched the sun come up.

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