Scotland 2021: Getting There

An account of a journey to Scotland that almost went off the rails before it had really started.

Welcome to this first post in a series I shall be putting up about the holiday I am currently enjoying in Scotland with my parents. I am up here for a week which includes my birthday (the day itself is tomorrow, and it is my 46th). We are staying just outside John O’Groats. This post tells the story of my journey up here to set the scene.

PLANNING

The nearest the railway gets to to John O’Groats are the two northern outposts of Wick and Thurso, and these days the end of that line runs as follows: Georgemas Junction, Thurso, Georgemas Junction, Wick, so it made sense to arrange to travel to Thurso and from Wick. I booked from London to Thurso to incorporate an overnight journey, and then later from Wick to King’s Lynn. Thus I had to travel from King’s Lynn to London to connect with the overnight train from Euston. My plan was to get the 17:40 from King’s Lynn and have almost two hours in which to progress along the Euston Road from King’s Cross and on to the train (going onto the underground to travel one stop is in this case literally worse than useless – the interchanges between overground and underground at King’s Cross and vice versa at Euston are both lengthy. Probably the least bad way to do it by public transport would be to use the Circle/Hammersmith & City/ Metropolitan to Euston Square and cross Euston Road at surface level. However it is a fairly short walk along the Euston Road and that method is undoubtedly best…

BEST LAID PLANS O’ MICE AND MEN GANG AFT AGLEY

I boarded the 17:40 from Lynn to London without issue, but then the problems hit. First our departure was delayed because of power problems in the Finsbury Park area, then when we were finally cleared to depart our driver was instructed to run as a shuttle between Lynn and Cambridge, and those of us needing to get to London had to change to a Greater Anglia train. It was soon obvious from the stated timings of this service that staying on to Liverpool Street, from whence I would have to travel to Euston Square was a non-starter, so the only hope of avoiding a long delay, the cost of a night at the Holiday Inn on Euston Road and the cost a new single to Thurso the following day was to change at the last stop before Liverpool Street, Tottenham Hale, and get the Victoria line to Euston. Fortunately the problems between Lynn and London had used up my allocation of misfortune and I made it to my seat on the overnight train. Although this train was fractionally late into Inverness I still had over an hour and a half there before the final public transport leg of my journey to Thurso began. This, the sole purely Scottish leg of the journey, went absolutely smoothly and the train arrived in Thurso precisely when it was supposed to.

SOLUTION TO A TEASER

In my last post I included a teaser from brilliant.org and a little addition of my own:

A small additional question: can you identify the four mathematicians after whom Carl, Leonhard, Emmy and Sophie are named (answers to both parts of this question in my next post).

Here is Chew-Seong Cheong’s published solution to the main problem:

As for my little addition: Carl is quite clearly from Carl Friedrich Gauss, Leonhard is equally obviously a tribute to Leonhard Euler, Emmy is Emmy Noether, a great German mathematician of the early 20th century and Sophie is Sophie Germain, who has a class of prime numbers named after her. Sophie Germain primes are those primes where if you multiply them by two and add one you also get a prime number.

PHOTOGRAPHS

These photos comprise one taken en route to King’s Lynn station, two taken on the Victoria line train between Tottenham Hale and Euston, a number taken between Stirling and Inverness on the overnight train, a number from the Inverness to Thurso train and a couple taken at the house where we are staying:

Scotland – Homeward Bound: Lochluichart to Inverness

Continuing the account of the homeward journey, taking the story up to Inverness (Inbhir Nis).

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the next post in my series about my holiday in Scotland. This post continues the story of the journey home picking up where it’s predecessor left off at Lochluichart.

LOCHLUICHART TO INVERNESS

This part of the journey is not as impressive as its predecessor, but I did still get some good pictures.

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Scotland – Getting There

Post 2 in my Scottish holiday series (there will be more later today). This post describes the journey there.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the second post in my series about my holiday in Scotland. This one focusses on the first day, when I travelled from King’s Lynn to Kyle of Lochalsh and then walked across the bridge to Isle of Skye, where I stayed the night at Saucy Mary’s Lodge. 

THE FIRST LEG OF THE JOURNEY-
KING’S LYNN TO PETERBOROUGH

With my envisaged train for the next leg of the journey leaving Peterborough at 9:46 and the bus journey reckoned at 1 hour 20 minutes or thereabouts I decided that prudence dictated being on the 7:34 rather than the 8:04. The journey ran fairly smoothly and I arrived at Peterborough Train Station at just after nine o’clock. 

PETERBOROUGH TO EDINBURGH 

The 0:946 to Edinburgh Waverley, scheduled to get there at 13:20 arrived in time and was not absolutely packed, although it is clearly a popular service. I got a window seat in a designated quiet coach (both parts of which represent significant bonuses to me – the latter even more than the former). This was the start of the portion of the journey that is not so familiar to me, and also therefore represented the point at which the camera got pressed into service…

Spire
Taking photos through the windows of moving vehicles can be frustrating (and all bar a few taken when the train was at rest were taken thus)

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York Model Railway
On the approach to York, the first stop after Peterborough

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Darlington1
At Darlington, one terminus of the world’s first passenger carrying railway, the Stockton & Darlington.

Darlington2Darlington3Stately homeVillage2Road BridgeBridge and riverViewfrombridge1Riverview1Riverview2Riverview3Newcastle buildingNewcastle1Newcastle2Newcastle4Church, NewcastleChurch, Newcastle2River TyneRiver Tyne4River Tyne 4

North Sea 1
A first glimpse of the sea just north of Newcastle

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Edinburgh Waverley
Edinburgh Waverley

EDINBURGH TO INVERNESS

A slightly late arrival at Edinburgh meant that I had to move fairly fast to make the change to the train to Inverness. A combination of the fact that some idiot at Scotrail (part of Abellio, the profit-making subsidiary of the Dutch state railway company) had deemed three carriages sufficient for this train and the heat of the day made this leg of the journey like travelling in an oven on wheels. However, neither of these factors kept me from taking photographs…

Edinburgh AirportEdinburgh Airport 2Bridge1Bridge2Bridge3Bridge4Bridge5Bridge6Bridge7Bridge8Scottish VillageScottish FactoryChurch - ScotlandCowsRenewable EnergyRenewable Energy2RiverRiver2River3River4River5PitlochryPitlochry PlaqueRiver through treesStony RiverRiver6River7River8River9River10River11River12River13River14River15River16River17River18River19River20River21CottagesRiver22Scottish TownScottish Town2

INVERNESS TO KYLE OF LOCHALSH

Arriving at Inverness over half an  hour late I then discovered that the train I had expected to catch to Kyle of Lochalsh was being replaced by a bus service. There were two different buses, and there was some confusion of who should go on which, but we set off at the appropriate time. I continued to ply my camera…

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My first sight of the Skye Bridge, and a by then very welcome sign that the journey was nearly complete. When I first travelled this way in 1994 there was no bridge, just a regular ferry crossing.

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The approach to Kyle of Lochalsh, with Kyleakin visible in the distance.

THE WALK TO SKYE

It was still pretty hot even at 8:45PM as I began the walk to Saucy Mary’s, which according to my instructions was 2.5 miles. The reason for this is that the bridge to Skye actually starts a good half-mile beyond Kyle of Lochalsh, is itself a longish crossing and then on the other side one has to go back along the Skye shore to Kyleakin which is directly opposite Kyle of Lochalsh. I arrived at Saucy Mary’s thoroughly exhausted and went straight to reception. There I was greeted with news that I had been relocated from my dorm bed to a room normally used only by staff. The reason for this was that the people who had booked the other four beds had revealed at the 11th hour, having not mentioned it while booking, that they were travelling with two babies, and the manager had decided that it was unacceptable to put me in the dorm room in that circumstance (absolutely right, and thankyou very much).