This is a trip report I took last weekend, without flying. I went to a friend's wedding in Scotland, they hired out a castle near Dunoon, and the cheapest way to get there was by train, with a ferry and bicycle thrown in. My wife and I had decided that as our baby is still only just 1 year old, and the hassles in driving the length of the country, as well as the additional costs, I would attend alone.
The day started early, with me cycling to our local station on my folding bike. I'd packed my rucksack the day before with my small tent, inflatable mattress, sleeping bag, as well as usual items and suit.
This is the first train of the journey, a class 158 of East Midlands Trains:
The interior of the train. Note the little card seat reservations.
My tickets for the outward leg. £18.25 is not bad for a journey of that length.
View out of the window whilst going through the Fens.
After about 90 minutes, I arrived at Peterborough, where I changed for the East Coast main line. The train I was booked on went as far as Glasgow, my destination, but the reservation was only as far as Edinburgh - I was supposed to get off there and change to another (faster) train on to Glasgow. This had the disadvantage of arriving at Glasgow's 2nd station, Queen St, rather than Central Station, where the train on to Gourock for the ferry left from. I'd have to buy this ticket at the station. The different station wasn't a problem for me as I had decided to use the Glasgow Subway / Underground for the first time.
At Peterborough I bumped into a friend who had been on the first train as well, but in the other carriage. He was heading north to visit friends in Hull. We chatted for 15 minutes until my Edinburgh train (actually heading to Glasgow via Edinburgh) arrived. I managed to get on with my luggage, and find my seat. A guy with a baby was there, but the seat opposite was free, so I sat there. He was travelling with the baby, another child of about 4, and his wife, who was accross the aisle.
As you can see, this train was full. I got chatting to the couple, as their baby was asleep on the dad's lap - our baby would never sleep on anyone's lap, he was / is far too active and interested in everything going on around him! They too were going to a wedding, but not the same one - theirs was in Edinburgh.
The train - an Intercity 225, in the recently nationalised East Coast franchise:
I then bought some lunch in Boots, and boarded the next train to Glasgow Queen St:
Some people like catering shots, so here is the lunch:
As you can see, the sandwiches are £2.80, but they do a meal deal where the total for sandwiches, crisps and drink is £2.99.
Interior of this class 170 DMU:
South African users will notice the similarities with the new Gautrain - the electric version, on the same chassis and interior bodywork.
We eventually arrived in Glasgow. I then needed to get to Central Station from Queen St Station, which is only a few hundred metres, but I'd never used the Glasgow Subway (underground / metro) before. The system is a single line running in a circle, and the two stations serving the main line stations are next to each other. I thought I'd buy a single ticket, and ride the whole circle, before getting off at the station for Central, but after a couple of stops I decided to get off and head back to the right station. Most stops are single island platforms between the rails, with very little room.
Eventually I made it to Central station, and bought a combined train + ferry ticket to Dunoon. Dunoon is on the mainland, but it is a long drive round several sea lochs, and there is no railway, so the easiest way is to take the train (a suburban line) to the terminus at Gourock, then the ferry accorss the river Clyde to Dunoon. This I did.
The train to Gourock:
The train arrived in Gourock, and I had some time to wait for the ferry - the ferry runs every hour, whereas the train runs every 20 mins, so I had 40 mins to wait. There's not a lot at Gourock station, nor the ferry terminal - a ticket booth, some seats, a loo and a vending machine. As the crossing takes about 25 mins, CalMac, the ferry company, only has one ferry regularly operating the route.
Eventually the ferry arrived:
It only took a few minutes to load the huge number of cars, then we were off:
On docking at Dunoon, a friend picked me up in his car and we drove to Hafton Castle, where the wedding ceremony was held the following day.
The next day, the Sunday, was the day I left to return home. Most other people there were staying until the Monday, so Sunday morning the castle was deserted, so I didn't see anyone before packing my rucksack, unfolding my bike and heading off to Dunoon. I allowed plenty of time, in the end it only too 45 mins to cycle the distance, so I caught an earlier ferry. This connected with a train, same as before, back to Central station. This time my return journey was routed specifically from Central, direct to York, and change there and Peterborough again. Between trains I walked into the city centre, had lunch at KFC and tested the GPS functionality on my new phone - it could pinpoint me to the correct side of the road! Very impressive.
My train Glasgow - York:
As you can see, my carriage was empty (eventually about 4 people sat there) - something about a football match involving Germany was happening at the same time. At various points a Scottish guy had great delight in "sharing" to the other passengers the score. Between Edingburgh and Newcastle, the route is right along the coast, giving stunning views:
The town of Berwick-upon-Tweed:
We arrived at York more or less ontime, to be greeted with the news that the previous East Coast main line train had been cancelled, due to "a fault with the train" (not because of the lack of passengers due to the football!) so our, next, train had twice the normal number of passengers. Added to the cancellation of another York - London train on the St Pancras line for the same reason, our train was very crowded. Luckily I had a reservation on the running train, so I had a seat, and had to ask the chap sitting in it to move - he did so, and I said he could have it back from Peterborough, and when I got up to disembark, he was there in a flash to grab it back!
I bought a sandwich and some crisps at Peterborough station, disappointed because I accidently bought cheese and onion flavour - McCoys C&O are green packets, whereas the salt and vinegar flavour I wanted were blue - I was so used to Walkers S&V being green packets. Oh well. The last leg of the trip was uneventful, with dusk setting in as we arrived in Norwich, at 9.30pm, so I got out my lights and attached them to the bike to cycle home.
All photos taken with my phone camera, so apologies for the picture quality on some (especially the movement shots)