The most wonderful train in Britain
I’m not a trainspotter, but I would agree that the journey is definitely as important as the destination. So here’s how my month ‘off’ will be starting tomorrow night, as described by Mark Smith, the travel expert behind the phenomenally useful website seat61.com:
Easily the most amazing train ride in Britain is the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Fort William, sometimes known as ‘The Deerstalker’…
Why? Imagine the convenience of a train that leaves rainy central London after work at 21:00 and arrives at Fort William in the glorious Scottish West Highlands at the foot of Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in Britain) at 09:43 next morning. Imagine a trip where you go to bed as the train speeds through familiar London suburbs at 80mph, then wake up in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mountains, streams and woods, sunlight streaming through the window, deer bounding away from the train, a diesel locomotive struggling to haul the two sleeping-cars and lounge car up the gradients and around the sharp curves of the scenic West Highland Line at 40mph. Imagine a train that has almost ‘cruise train’ facilities – private sleeping compartments and a plush lounge – yet on which ‘Bargain berth’ fares start at only £19 one way.
Regular fares start at £107 return sharing a 2-berth room or £199 return with a room to yourself (passengers travelling alone can opt to book a berth in a 2-berth room and share with another passenger of the same sex, if they don’t want to pay the 1st class single berth fare). Anyone who lives in London or the South of England but who loves the Scottish West Highlands should know about this train. If you fancy a weekend away in the heart of the Highlands, this train makes it possible..! Book online at www.firstscotrail.com.
To complete the experience, take the connecting train from Fort William to the end of the line at Mallaig, a small fishing port and ferry terminal for Skye. This is one of the most scenic sections of line in the UK. Or you could climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain – the main track up ‘the Ben’ starts just 15 minutes walk from Fort William station.