Posted by: Rory Brown | June 2, 2008

Travelling to Inverness & the Highlands from London

Sleeper train to Inverness When I first started travelling to Achiltibuie as a child in the early ’70’s I remember it being an epic journey. Usually 2 days in the car stopping off with my Grandparents in the North-East of England on the way up.

It seems amazing to think now that my brother and I would usually sleep for much of the way in the boot of our estate car with no child seats or seatbelts – but hey, we lived to tell the tale..

The other thing I remember from those regular trips was packing the car with fruit and vegetables because it was so difficult to get anything from the local shops. [Not so today with the excellent shops in Achiltibuie and Polbain].

Then came the launch of the budget airlines. Easyjet was launched in the mid ’90’s and suddenly everywhere seemed so much more accessible – and at a price you could afford. While the convenience is great, in a way I do miss those long drives. Stops in Perth (usually at Timothy’s restaurant) and at the Landmark Forest Themepark in Carrbridge seemed to be part of the whole experience as the country got wilder and more alien. This all added to the sense of excitement about our trips.

Over the past few years I have always flown up. The thought of driving that distance with young kids has been too much to even contemplate. But, on our last visit my brother and his wife joined us and decided to get the Caledonian Sleeper overnight from Euston to Inverness. They loved it.

For some reason I haven’t done this for years – not since one Christmas visit when the lounge car ran out of booze before reaching Watford – but I am now tempted to try it again. The main advantages are that you gain a day on your holiday and avoid the nightmare that is airport security. I have seen mixed reports online about the tiredness of the carriages and lack of facilities on board but I will look at the options next time we travel. The Times’ Caitlin Moran wrote a great piece last month about the joys of the train.

Full details of the services and timetables can be found here.

Alternatively, if you want to go down the budget airline route there is a handy price checker here.

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