Looking for Forums that cover short away trips starting with the Calendonian night sleeper.

BML

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My wife has long expressed the with to take a journey on the Caledonian Sleeper possible to Fort William to stay for two to three days before returning to London. Can anyone offer information on a forum covering that subject?
 
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BRX

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My wife has long expressed the with to take a journey on the Caledonian Sleeper possible to Fort William to stay for two to three days before returning to London. Can anyone offer information on a forum covering that subject?
Well, this forum can tell you about the rail travel aspects.
What is it that you want to find out?
 

BML

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We have travelled Scotland a good few years ago when my wife and I took our Camper round the coast of the UK writing a guide to camping sites with a view of the sea. Were now rather older and would like to take a short break using the Caledonian Sleeper as a start and possible staying at Fort William for three days. I have looked on the Internet but it’s like a sweet shop with so much choice. We would hope that there would be folk on this forum who could offer us advice as to what to aim for.
 

High Dyke

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A few years ago the wife and I used the sleeper to travel from London to Fort William. We then stayed in the Travelodge in town for a couple of nights and then used the sleeper to return south. During our stay we did a bit of walking, but also took a trip to Mallaig and back on that route.
 

Iskra

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There are many members on here who will have used the service including myself, what is it you are wanting to know? If you use the search function, you maybe able to find posts and topics with the information you desire. Also there are plenty of Youtube reviews.
 

arbeia

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I would get off the sleeper, have a look around Fort William, then carry on to Mallaig and stay my nights their and utilise the Small Isles ferries to Islands of Rhum, Eigg, Canna and Muck. Beautiful scenery all the way with the experience of Inner Hebridean Islands. Beautiful. Enjoy whatever you choose.
 

BML

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The following two posts interest me and I wonder if there are any packages built round such experiences?

A few years ago the wife and I used the sleeper to travel from London to Fort William. We then stayed in the Travelodge in town for a couple of nights and then used the sleeper to return south. During our stay we did a bit of walking, but also took a trip to Mallaig and back on that route.

I would get off the sleeper, have a look around Fort William, then carry on to Mallaig and stay my nights their and utilise the Small Isles ferries to Islands of Rhum, Eigg, Canna and Muck. Beautiful scenery all the way with the experience of Inner Hebridean Islands. Beautiful. Enjoy whatever you choose.
 

BRX

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You don't need a package. Book the sleeper. Book a hotel or a B&B. If you fancy a trip to the small isles, you can just buy a foot passenger ticket from the CalMac offices in Mallaig.

If you look at the ferry timetables you'll see that most days the boat goes out, stops at various islands and comes back again. You can just do this as a day trip without getting off the boat at all if you want.


I would agree with others that Mallaig is a nicer place to stay than Fort William. There are also various small villages and towns along the rail line between Fort William and Mallaig some of which have hotels and many have B&Bs (but double check how far they are for the station). Places like Arisaig or Morar.

In the summer there's the steam train between Fort William and Mallaig of course. Does a couple of return trips a day.
 

Techniquest

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I don't have a lot of experience of the area, I haven't been that far up the West Highlands since the mid-2000s. I would however agree that continuing beyond Fort William to Mallaig would be better, if only for the scenery. The little islands I've never done, but they are certainly something I'd like to do, and I'd also recommend researching those.

My main reason for posting is to comment from my experience in October on the sleeper. As you'll have found out by now, it is vastly different to the MK3 sleeper trains, which is fantastic. I'll not go on too much about the sleeper, but I will mention the bouncing the MK5s do. Don't get me wrong, it's not like a Pacer over jointed track was, but it's still not great. By the time I'd boarded the sleeper I had been awake for well over 20 hours, so when I finally hit the hay I slept really well. I doubt I would have otherwise.

However it's also worth adding that the bedding is incredible. So much so I'd have been very happy to take it home with me, so comfortable! I definitely didn't want to get up and out from under the quilt.

Also worth noting was the light shining through the gap around the doorway, and a really annoying light above the head which I couldn't find an easy way to block out. Oh and the walls between cabins aren't terribly thick...

Personally, based on my experience of the sleeper, I'd go by day train and stay in proper accommodation next time. The price I paid, £145 even some months in advance, was not good value for money. I'd prefer to buy a sensibly priced Advance to travel during the day and stay in a modest hotel upon arrival.
 

BRX

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It's a long journey to do by day train, especially if you want to get to Mallaig.
 

BML

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I would get off the sleeper, have a look around Fort William, then carry on to Mallaig and stay my nights their and utilise the Small Isles ferries to Islands of Rhum, Eigg, Canna and Muck. Beautiful scenery all the way with the experience of Inner Hebridean Islands. Beautiful. Enjoy whatever you choose.
Thanks for the Mallaig tip which I will follow up looking for accommodation and the best way for foot passengers to travel from Fort William to Mallaig.
 

BML

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You don't need a package. Book the sleeper. Book a hotel or a B&B. If you fancy a trip to the small isles, you can just buy a foot passenger ticket from the CalMac offices in Mallaig.

If you look at the ferry timetables you'll see that most days the boat goes out, stops at various islands and comes back again. You can just do this as a day trip without getting off the boat at all if you want.


I would agree with others that Mallaig is a nicer place to stay than Fort William. There are also various small villages and towns along the rail line between Fort William and Mallaig some of which have hotels and many have B&Bs (but double check how far they are for the station). Places like Arisaig or Morar.

In the summer there's the steam train between Fort William and Mallaig of course. Does a couple of return trips a day.
Thanks for the advice. I can see that we will have to book an open return train ticket home.
 

BML

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You don't need a package. Book the sleeper. Book a hotel or a B&B. If you fancy a trip to the small isles, you can just buy a foot passenger ticket from the CalMac offices in Mallaig.

If you look at the ferry timetables you'll see that most days the boat goes out, stops at various islands and comes back again. You can just do this as a day trip without getting off the boat at all if you want.


I would agree with others that Mallaig is a nicer place to stay than Fort William. There are also various small villages and towns along the rail line between Fort William and Mallaig some of which have hotels and many have B&Bs (but double check how far they are for the station). Places like Arisaig or Morar.

In the summer there's the steam train between Fort William and Mallaig of course. Does a couple of return trips a day.
Many thanks. This looks good and its on the list to go through with my wife.
 

BML

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I don't have a lot of experience of the area, I haven't been that far up the West Highlands since the mid-2000s. I would however agree that continuing beyond Fort William to Mallaig would be better, if only for the scenery. The little islands I've never done, but they are certainly something I'd like to do, and I'd also recommend researching those.

My main reason for posting is to comment from my experience in October on the sleeper. As you'll have found out by now, it is vastly different to the MK3 sleeper trains, which is fantastic. I'll not go on too much about the sleeper, but I will mention the bouncing the MK5s do. Don't get me wrong, it's not like a Pacer over jointed track was, but it's still not great. By the time I'd boarded the sleeper I had been awake for well over 20 hours, so when I finally hit the hay I slept really well. I doubt I would have otherwise.

However it's also worth adding that the bedding is incredible. So much so I'd have been very happy to take it home with me, so comfortable! I definitely didn't want to get up and out from under the quilt.

Also worth noting was the light shining through the gap around the doorway, and a really annoying light above the head which I couldn't find an easy way to block out. Oh and the walls between cabins aren't terribly thick...

Personally, based on my experience of the sleeper, I'd go by day train and stay in proper accommodation next time. The price I paid, £145 even some months in advance, was not good value for money. I'd prefer to buy a sensibly priced Advance to travel during the day and stay in a modest hotel upon arrival.
Many thanks for the advice. I had a quick look for MK3 sleeper trains and could find no mention other than historical. Are there sleepers other than the Caledonian?
 

BRX

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The caledonian sleeper was operated using mk3 stock until a couple of years ago, when it changed to the current mk5 carriages.

The only other sleeper operation in the UK is the one from Paddington to Cornwall which still uses mk3 stock.
 

30907

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Thanks for the Mallaig tip which I will follow up looking for accommodation and the best way for foot passengers to travel from Fort William to Mallaig.
Use the regular train - if you go north on the sleeper you will have a couple of hours to wait in Fort William.
In normal times, Advance - specific train only - tickets may be available, or simply buy on the day. You can, of course, book through from London.

There is also the Jacobite steam train (aka Hogwarts Express) - this normally gets very busy and they only advertise day return fares, so not much use if you stay in Mallaig/Arisaig.
 

BRX

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Sometimes you can buy a one-way ticket on the steam train, just before departure. I've done this a couple of times straight off the sleeper. Not wise to rely on an onward journey with the Jacobite though as it won't be held if the sleeper is late.
 

Techniquest

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Many thanks for the advice. I had a quick look for MK3 sleeper trains and could find no mention other than historical. Are there sleepers other than the Caledonian?

Sorry I should have explained that better. The perils of rushing!

As someone else has already pointed out, the other sleeper service runs from London to Cornwall.

My advice remains the same though. I would personally choose a morning departure from London Euston to Glasgow Central then continue from Glasgow Queen Street to Fort William or Mallaig with Scotrail. It is a long day of travel, admittedly, and I am a little biased because I don't sleep well on buses/coaches/trains/planes. I've spent much time trying though, including the long-haul flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi overnight. It's not fun trying to endure such a flight when you're awake most of the night...I like my creature comforts, and a sleeper train does not provide that for me.

Equally, it is one of those things that's worth doing once just for the stories. If there's a reasonably priced First Class Advance to Scotland though, in conjunction with a sensibly priced hotel, that would be the best way to go.
 

BRX

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Nothing quite like getting on the train at Euston and then waking up on the west highland line, even after a ropey night's sleep. And having dinner in the lounge car and all that (whenever that's allowed again).

To do the whole trip from London to Fort william in one day, you have to leave London pretty early. I think a lot of people would be feeling pretty knackered by the time you get to the nicest bit of the journey and then you dont get the most of it. Evening train to Glasgow, overnight there and then carry on the next day would be better, I'd suggest, id someone is not keen on the sleeper.
 

Gloster

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Do the whole journey in daylight, preferably in both directions: it’s not just the Fort William-Mallaig section that is worth seeing. I would overnight in Glasgow and then consider going right through to Mallaig on the next day. From then on, including your return, it all depends what you want to do: travel through impressive scenery, go for walks in said scenery, wander around the local towns, visit tourist spots, etc.
 

BML

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I'm in my middle eighties and my wife is in her middle seventies and neither of use fancy sitting in an armchair for a nine hour or so rail journey. I simply wish to give my wife what she has wanted for a long time which is an adventure on a Scottish Sleeper going up and returning but I still have no idea as to the cost for a double sleeper run. For simplicity Fort William with its Travelodge and Premier Inn look an easy option to book.
 

Hadders

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I'll try and assist from a sleeper point of view. This is what normally operates in 'normal' non-covid times.

Firstly sleeper accommodation. There are four types of accommodation on the Caledonian Sleeper:

- Caledonian Double - superior double en-suite room
- Club - twin en-suite room (bunk beds)
- Classic - room with optional interconnecting door (bunk beds)
- Seats (guessing this isn't an option for you)

Secondly, let's look at fares. This is where it becomes a bit more confusing. You can normally book tickets up to a year ahead either through Caledonian Sleeper's website or through their contact centre. In theory any station ticket office can sell sleeper tickets as well but it is often hard to find a member of staff who knows how to sell them as so few are sold. I bet most ticket office clerks have never, ever sold a ticket for a sleeper train! Tickets are sold as singles.

Fares are sold on a 'per room' basis, and are either flexible (amendments permitted up to two days before departure) or non-flexible (no changes). At present I believe only flexible fares are being sold due to covid but I think flexible fares generally cost about £20 more. The price ovaries according to the time of year and day of the week. To get an idea I've chosen Wednesday 15th September, London to Fort William and the current fare showing are:

Caledonian Double £470 per room
Club £300 per room
Classic £175 per room
Seats not available

It really depends how much you want, or can afford, to spend. I'm sure you'd like to go Caledonian Double but Classic might suit your budget better. If you go for Club or Classic then one of you will need to use the top bunk.

A railcard could see you make a saving on some of these fares. Unfortunately railcards cannot be used on Caledonian Double fares, so I cannot think of a way to reduce the price. If you qualify for a Disabled Railcard (if either you or your wife use a hearing aid then you should meet the criteria, costs £20 for a year) then the price of the Club room and Classic room on the date I checked is reduced by 34% to:

Club £198 per room
Classic £115.50 per room

Only one of you needs to have a Disabled Railcard as a companion is able to accompany the holder and also qualify for the discount. This still leaves you with the potential issue of bunk beds.

If neither of you qualify for a Disabled Railcard then you could both get a Senior Railcard. A Senior Railcard costs £30 for a year and also gives a 34% discount on Club and Classic rooms but bizarrely only when solo occupied, so you would have to book two separate rooms. It is worth noting that Classic rooms have an option of an interconnecting door so this could potentially be a way round having to use the top bunk (if that is a problem for you). Solo occupied rooms with a Senior Railcard on the date I checked are:

Club £161.70 per room
Classic £95.70 per room

For completeness there is another way to obtain tickets and that is if you are using a 'normal' Off-Peak or Super Off-Peak rail ticket then you can purchase a berth supplement which allows you to use a room. There are some other ticket types that can be used with berth supplements but they're probably not really relevant here. Using a 'normal' ticket and a berth supplement appears to be more expensive so I won't go into any more detail here.
 

30907

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To add to Hadders' reply: the one time the Offpeak plus supplement might be worth considering is if you decide to do one direction by day trains - but you have said not.

In terms of the journey: if you are travelling in the autumn, check the hours of daylight (even in Scotland!), particularly for the evening. The mountain-and-loch scenery begins around Garelochhead at 0645 (2315 southbound), while the moorland stretch which is the unique feature of the Fort William route is a good hour further north.
 

BML

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Brilliant, what a helpful amount of information. I only wish that your reply's could have come to me automatically. One question, Is it worth getting a senior Railcard in that does if activate any form of discount?
 

Hadders

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Brilliant, what a helpful amount of information. I only wish that your reply's could have come to me automatically. One question, Is it worth getting a senior Railcard in that does if activate any form of discount?
Almost certainly worth you getting a Senior Railcard, if you qualify for one a Disabled Persons Railcard would be even better (having a hearing aid meets the criteria).
 

30907

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Brilliant, what a helpful amount of information. I only wish that your reply's could have come to me automatically. One question, Is it worth getting a senior Railcard in that does if activate any form of discount?
You would get discount on "normal" trains (such as Ft Wm-Mallaig) and any other rail journeys within the year/3 years, and it might swing the balance WRT using Offpeak tickets.

You can get alerts on new posts by clicking on the bell icon (Alerts) at the top then Preferences and Content Optionsand, setting them to suit (don't worry, I've been here for years and only just realised).
 

BML

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Almost certainly worth you getting a Senior Railcard, if you qualify for one a Disabled Persons Railcard would be even better (having a hearing aid meets the criteria).
I have just read through my potential booking on the Caledonion
I'll try and assist from a sleeper point of view. This is what normally operates in 'normal' non-covid times.

Firstly sleeper accommodation. There are four types of accommodation on the Caledonian Sleeper:

- Caledonian Double - superior double en-suite room
- Club - twin en-suite room (bunk beds)
- Classic - room with optional interconnecting door (bunk beds)
- Seats (guessing this isn't an option for you)

Secondly, let's look at fares. This is where it becomes a bit more confusing. You can normally book tickets up to a year ahead either through Caledonian Sleeper's website or through their contact centre. In theory any station ticket office can sell sleeper tickets as well but it is often hard to find a member of staff who knows how to sell them as so few are sold. I bet most ticket office clerks have never, ever sold a ticket for a sleeper train! Tickets are sold as singles.

Fares are sold on a 'per room' basis, and are either flexible (amendments permitted up to two days before departure) or non-flexible (no changes). At present I believe only flexible fares are being sold due to covid but I think flexible fares generally cost about £20 more. The price ovaries according to the time of year and day of the week. To get an idea I've chosen Wednesday 15th September, London to Fort William and the current fare showing are:

Caledonian Double £470 per room
Club £300 per room
Classic £175 per room
Seats not available

It really depends how much you want, or can afford, to spend. I'm sure you'd like to go Caledonian Double but Classic might suit your budget better. If you go for Club or Classic then one of you will need to use the top bunk.

A railcard could see you make a saving on some of these fares. Unfortunately railcards cannot be used on Caledonian Double fares, so I cannot think of a way to reduce the price. If you qualify for a Disabled Railcard (if either you or your wife use a hearing aid then you should meet the criteria, costs £20 for a year) then the price of the Club room and Classic room on the date I checked is reduced by 34% to:

Club £198 per room
Classic £115.50 per room

Only one of you needs to have a Disabled Railcard as a companion is able to accompany the holder and also qualify for the discount. This still leaves you with the potential issue of bunk beds.

If neither of you qualify for a Disabled Railcard then you could both get a Senior Railcard. A Senior Railcard costs £30 for a year and also gives a 34% discount on Club and Classic rooms but bizarrely only when solo occupied, so you would have to book two separate rooms. It is worth noting that Classic rooms have an option of an interconnecting door so this could potentially be a way round having to use the top bunk (if that is a problem for you). Solo occupied rooms with a Senior Railcard on the date I checked are:

Club £161.70 per room
Classic £95.70 per room

For completeness there is another way to obtain tickets and that is if you are using a 'normal' Off-Peak or Super Off-Peak rail ticket then you can purchase a berth supplement which allows you to use a room. There are some other ticket types that can be used with berth supplements but they're probably not really relevant here. Using a 'normal' ticket and a berth supplement appears to be more expensive so I won't go into any more detail here.
I am at the stage of deciding whether to go any further with our journey on the Caledonian Sleeper when I found that the two Rail Cards I bought at a cost of £60.00 are a waste of space on the Caledonian Sleeper but coincedentally
I'll try and assist from a sleeper point of view. This is what normally operates in 'normal' non-covid times.

Firstly sleeper accommodation. There are four types of accommodation on the Caledonian Sleeper:

- Caledonian Double - superior double en-suite room
- Club - twin en-suite room (bunk beds)
- Classic - room with optional interconnecting door (bunk beds)
- Seats (guessing this isn't an option for you)

Secondly, let's look at fares. This is where it becomes a bit more confusing. You can normally book tickets up to a year ahead either through Caledonian Sleeper's website or through their contact centre. In theory any station ticket office can sell sleeper tickets as well but it is often hard to find a member of staff who knows how to sell them as so few are sold. I bet most ticket office clerks have never, ever sold a ticket for a sleeper train! Tickets are sold as singles.

Fares are sold on a 'per room' basis, and are either flexible (amendments permitted up to two days before departure) or non-flexible (no changes). At present I believe only flexible fares are being sold due to covid but I think flexible fares generally cost about £20 more. The price ovaries according to the time of year and day of the week. To get an idea I've chosen Wednesday 15th September, London to Fort William and the current fare showing are:

Caledonian Double £470 per room
Club £300 per room
Classic £175 per room
Seats not available

It really depends how much you want, or can afford, to spend. I'm sure you'd like to go Caledonian Double but Classic might suit your budget better. If you go for Club or Classic then one of you will need to use the top bunk.

A railcard could see you make a saving on some of these fares. Unfortunately railcards cannot be used on Caledonian Double fares, so I cannot think of a way to reduce the price. If you qualify for a Disabled Railcard (if either you or your wife use a hearing aid then you should meet the criteria, costs £20 for a year) then the price of the Club room and Classic room on the date I checked is reduced by 34% to:

Club £198 per room
Classic £115.50 per room

Only one of you needs to have a Disabled Railcard as a companion is able to accompany the holder and also qualify for the discount. This still leaves you with the potential issue of bunk beds.

If neither of you qualify for a Disabled Railcard then you could both get a Senior Railcard. A Senior Railcard costs £30 for a year and also gives a 34% discount on Club and Classic rooms but bizarrely only when solo occupied, so you would have to book two separate rooms. It is worth noting that Classic rooms have an option of an interconnecting door so this could potentially be a way round having to use the top bunk (if that is a problem for you). Solo occupied rooms with a Senior Railcard on the date I checked are:

Club £161.70 per room
Classic £95.70 per room

For completeness there is another way to obtain tickets and that is if you are using a 'normal' Off-Peak or Super Off-Peak rail ticket then you can purchase a berth supplement which allows you to use a room. There are some other ticket types that can be used with berth supplements but they're probably not really relevant here. Using a 'normal' ticket and a berth supplement appears to be more expensive so I won't go into any more detail here.
I am at the stage of deciding whether to go any further with our journey on the Caledonian Sleeper when I found that the two Rail Cards I bought at a cost of £60.00 are a waste of space on the Caledonian Sleeper and I nearly cancelled and then I read your mention of the disability matter. I am registered disabled by loss of hearing drawing a War Disability Pension as a result I will check to see where that takes me. Many thanks.
 

BML

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Well, many thanks for the help from RailUKforums and the help of Caledonian Sleeper staff. As a result I was finally able to work out how to book a disabled fare for a berth with an on suite which my type 2 Diabetes necesitates as it forces me to get up a number of times during the night.

Now all I need to do is book two nights’ accommodation. I have just looked at the two major suppliers of this service which I'm not naming as I’m not impressed by the way they duck and dive in order to maximise their charges, the charge at least one of them makes for cancelations and another one for being so money grabbing as to charge 13 pence a minute if one wishes to ask questions by telephone. Even worse is their obsession at keeping a distance between themselves and their customers by declining to offer Email communication. I looked at small hotels but found them a trifle expensive so I’m wondering about B & Bs
 
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Have you used booking.com? I always find something for good value via them and many are with no cancellation fee.
 

Techniquest

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Very glad to hear you've got the sleeper trip booked, I think you will both enjoy the experience from the sounds of things.

Booking.com and Hotels.com are my two favourites for finding accommodation, fingers crossed you find something suitable at a reasonable cost!
 

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