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Caledonian Sleeper

Posted by Andrew Frogson on

Now I'm not a Railway buff or a trainspotter but when I discovered you can ride an overnight sleeper train from London Euston to Inverness, I felt a nostalgic twinge and decided me and the family should take the plunge. 
Maybe it doesn't sound as exotic as The Orient Express, but it still resonated with me as the British equivalent. 
Lets do this,  S&B does The Caledonian Sleeper.
I opted to to go the whole hog and get cheap train tickets from East Midlands Parkway to London St Pancras to make it a full adventure holiday. If you book the east Midlands parkway to London tickets at the correct time you can find some real bargains. 
St Pancras itself is a sight to behold. Quite different to back in the days when I used to travel to London for Coats Viyella, the place was a doghole. Now restored to its former glory & beyond as it should be, its a tourist attraction and a hive of international activity now. Love this place.

Whilst wandering though we caught a set by The Hollow Coves, being broadcast live on Hoxton Radio. It was a good set.
For our evening meal we headed to Carluccios in St Pancras.. A great place to watch the world go about its busy business.
Once our bellys were full we had a steady walk over to Euston Station where the overnight sleeper departs from. Now Euston needs a good renovation, It's the opposite to St Pancras but has potential. 
A little look down Platform One & the Sleeper is there in all its finety, all 15 plus carriages of it. Once it arrives in Edinburgh it splits into 3, taking sections to Aberdeen, Fort William & Inverness.
Inverness was our chosen destination, it's the furthest North out of the three and we chose it for the Loch. 
We were warmly welcomed aboard by our Hostess for the journey. Each carriage has its own Hostess on call 24/7. We made our way to the cabin. It came with Bunk Beds which were quite a decent size too. I could easily fit my 6 foot plus frame up on the top bunk. Our cabin had Water, USB plug. Perfect. 21:15 & she lurches away bang in time. As it slowly gains speed it creaks & groans as expected from a 60's relic.  So far both my Wife & daughter seemed quite happy. Bonus points. After an hour taking in our new surroundings, we walked to the Lounge Car. Very cool. Time for a glass of beer & a cheeseboard in true British fashion. We were amongst many different people, tourists, business people & the loners.

Back to the cabin for a kip, it's the first time I have slept on a train, barring sat upright on the late night train from London to Nottingham after a days work. This was different. You're sideways on for a start, we had a good sleep to Edinburgh, where the train splits into 3. I honestly felt like I was on a movie set or something.
The train arrived in Inverness in perfect time at 8:38. I won't admit to having a great sleep, which was partially due to the excitement, & my daughter asking when we go over the "Harry Potter" Bridge. P.S - Thats on the line to Fort William, but we went over a bridge which "looked like" the Harry Potter Bridge. She is 8. Lessons to learn. Just before we departed the whole clan had a quick splash in the Sink. Feet and all.
We opted for a two night stay in Inverness. A lovely City with its castle, Loch Ness etc. We enjoyed two great days there but with a train journey so exciting we were just looking forward to the train back to London. And before we knew it it was time to climb back on the Sleeper. We all slept all the way through this time, only to be woken by a gentle tap on the door by the Hostess delivering Oatcakes & Tea.  Overall the experience was something special and different. Staying in Britain, travelling overnight by train. I would highly recommend.  As a footnote, the Carriages are being replaced next year by shiny new modern ones. Quite excited to try it again, but next time to Fort William, so we can go over the Harry Potter Bridge.

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