I am on holiday in Scotland for a week, staying in a place called Acharacle, a small town on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, the westernmost part of mainland Britain. The cottage (actually a glorified caravan which I would be prepared to bet was moved to its current site on the back of a lorry) has a decent wifi connection, so I will to be able to at least some posting while I am here. This post deals with my travels and travails getting here yesterday.
A ROUTE OF MANY CHANGES
The plan was that I would travel from King’s Lynn to Fort William, where my parents would collect me. This is not the most straightforward of journeys and the ticket I booked involved four changes – King’s Lynn to Ely, Ely to Peterborough, Peterborough to Edinburgh, Edinburgh to Glasgow, Glasgow to Fort William, and almost exactly 12 hours travel for the public transport leg of the journey. This would have been fine, but as you will see there was a rather major hitch.
A SMOOTH START
I got to King’s Lynn station in very good time for my train (indeed had I really hustled my way through the station I could have been on the earlier train, but decided there was little point). The train reached Ely very promptly, and I had the good fortune to get a quick onward connection to Peterborough (I accepted this piece of good fortune because although it meant more waiting at Peterborough for a train I had to be on, Peterborough like the majority of railway stations is less exposed than Ely). I found my seat on the train to Edinburgh without undue fuss, and enjoyed some excellent views between Newcastle and Edinburgh. Waverley proved not too difficult to negotiate and I was at the platform for my train to Glasgow in very good time.
The run to Glasgow was also smooth, and the train arrived at Glasgow Queen Street (low level) bang on schedule at 6:00, which in theory meant I had 23 minutes to get upstairs to the main station and find the platform for my train to Fort William. Unfortunately this was the cue for…
NIGHTMARE ON QUEEN STREET
I scanned the information screens for details of my train (on which I had a pre-booked seat – this leg of the journey was supposed to last three and three quarter hours) and found nothing. I sought assistance as departure time drew closer with no evidence of said train in site, only to discover that the service had been cancelled with no notification. After using my mobile phone to tell my parents about the problem I contacted my sister to see if she could help me find somewhere to stay overnight in Glasgow. As the evening wore on it became clear that that was not an option, and we settled on a taxi ride to Fort William station and a pick up from there by the parents. The taxi arrived in Fort William just after 11PM, and it still was not fully dark. The driver’s card reader failed to function due to how far we were from Glasgow, but my parents and I had enough cash between us to cover the fare (and every intention of getting the money back from Scotrail, the cause of the problem) and we settled up and set off for Acharacle. It was nearer one o’clock than 12 by the time we got there, meaning that I had been travelling for some 15 hours, with the only serious time spent other than on the move being the very antithesis of restful, so unsurprisingly I was exceedingly tired. The taxi windows were not big enough for taking photographs through, so in addition to everything else I was deprived of pictures of the most scenic part of the whole journey.
I do still have some photographs, some from the walk to the station and some from the most scenic sections of the parts of the train journey that actually happened…