driving London to Scotland

Sep 13th, 2007, 05:43 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 68
driving London to Scotland

We are planning 3 weeks in the UK next June. After the first week around London, we want to make our way to Scotland for a week. In Scotland we will stay a week in Arisaig (west of Fort William). We have driven in the UK once before, but not quite that far. Is it at all realistic to plan an itinerary to drive from London to Carlisle in one day and then from Carlisle to Arisaig the next? We would leave London on a Friday morning. I have checked the mileage and estimated time according to the RAC route planner, but I am not sure if it is trustworthy. (I have heard stories of how terrible the traffic is even on the major roads on weekends.)

Any suggestions or warnings?
rosslang is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 06:01 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,146
I'm not sure words like "trustworthy" really come into it.

On the fastest (M40, M42, M6 Toll, M6 from most of the parts of London tourists would start from)) route, what any route planner predicts will be more or less what happens - oh, about 80% of the time. 19.999% of the time you'll hit something, which might delay you 5 mins or three hours. Three weeks ago, though, some people were stranded for up to 18 hours on a stretch of this road when it had to be closed. Probably happens for a few hours every year.

Take more "adventurous" route and your chances of delay grow.

The real time-wasters, though, are getting out to the motorway and deciding to take a detour - say to Stratford - not realising how long it takes to get into towns, find anywhere to park, then get out again.

Which said, on a June Friday you should get to Carlisle in 6 hours relatively easily. And you've 18 hours of daylight to do it in.
flanneruk is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 08:41 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,576
I've driven the length of the country many times and yes it is doable. But I wouldn't do it in this case. If you were taking 3 or 4 days for the journey and stopping for sightseeing - it would be great.

But renting a car and getting out of London can be a real pain/time waster. I would take the train (or fly) to Glasgow and pick up a rental car there for the short-ish drive to Arisaig. The train would be much faster and since you don't have time to see anything on the way up anyway, that is what I'd do.

The reason I don't advise taking the train all the way to Ft William is your choice of rental agencies is much better in Glasgow, and the scenery on the drive up (Loch Lomond, Glencoe) is magnificent
janisj is online now  
Sep 13th, 2007, 08:43 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,576
oh - to clairify -- Glasgow to Arisaig is not a short drive - but its a LOT shorter than London to Arisaig . . . . .
janisj is online now  
Sep 13th, 2007, 08:51 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
Personally I'd take the sleeper train - www.firstscotrail.com - all the way to Fort William if I could get enough bargain berths

You are intending to do successive days where you'll be driving for 6 hours per day by the most direct route. Any detours or stops will add to that.

The direct route to Glasgow isn't one of the great scenic journeys of the world except for a few miles around the Lake District.

At the very least I'd take the train (sleeper or day train) to Glasgow which puts you 2 hours nearer to Arisaig compared to Carlisle.

BTW how are you intending to get back - another 2 day drive?
alanRow is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 08:53 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
Sleeper to Glasgow then car to Arisaig means you save a day of travel - and a night of accommodation as well as cutting by two thirds the amount of driving you'd do just getting to Arisaig
alanRow is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 10:49 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 68
There are 5 in our family (my husband and I, our son who is 20, and daughters 17 and 8), so I assumed that getting train tickets would be costly since we will also need a car after the time in Scotland. We will have 5 days for the trip back to London, including a visit with friends in Lincolnshire overnight. Hopefully the extra time will make the return much more enjoyable.

Those two long days on the road going north will be the hardest part of the trip, I'm sure. I guess if we are resigned to a long, boring trip on the main roads with no stopping along the way, we might end up being pleasantly surprised if it isn't too bad.

Thanks for all the help so far. I'm sure I will have more questions as my planning progresses.

rosslang is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 11:19 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 8,351
If you do decide to drive up consider stopping around Hexham so you can have a quick look at Hadrians Wall as well. We drove from Strachur, on Loch Fyne, to Kent this week and stopped at the Wall for a night. We stayed at a B&B not far from Housesteads fort. We also chose to travel on A roads rather than motorway for a good part of the journey, as you get to see more that way, but that was because we were in no great hurry.
If you go the M6 route take the toll section of the motorway as it is much quicker and quieter.
hetismij is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 12:01 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
<<< I assumed that getting train tickets would be costly >>>

From about £16 per adult on a day train to Glasgow & from £29 per adult on a sleeper train - you might even be able to get to Fort William for £39 per adult from London

<<< There are 5 in our family >>>

You'll need a people carrier for 5 people = bigger hire bills, more petrol

If you are really insistent on driving north why not do it over 3 days & have 4 days to return to London. You'll get to see more of England without losing out on Scotland
alanRow is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 12:07 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 589
I second the vote for a sleeper train. You 8-year-old might think it quite the adventure! And it will certainly be a more efficient use of time than driving all the way north only to drive south again.
bobludlow is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 12:12 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 63,576
I agree w/ alanRow -- either take the sleeper or a day train up. Ifyou book far enough ahead you can get very inexpensive tickets. You can rent a vehicle in Scotland and drop it in England w/o a drop off fee so there is no need to rent/return it at the same place. You will need a very large (expensive) vehicle - so save a day's rental (and a night's accomodation if you take the sleeper) and have a comfortable trip up. Needing a people mover makes it even more important to rent in Glasgow over Ft William to give you a choice of agencies.
janisj is online now  
Sep 13th, 2007, 12:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,156
Let me disagree slightly. I would do exactly what you're trying to do, although, were it me I'd leave Lonodn before the sparrows farted and stop when I'd had enough, which might be a long way north of Carlisle. Unless I had reason to stop in Carlisle.

And, if there were 5 of me, I'd work out, about 3 in the afternoon, where we were going to pitch up, and I'd phone and book rooms then.

OTOH, I'd also take the sleeper to Fort William for peace and sleep. But only if I could get a car in Fort William when I got there.

Arisaig, BTW is a great choice.
sheila is offline  
Sep 14th, 2007, 09:31 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 68
I am looking into taking the sleeper train to Glagow option. It could be a great option since it would cover the expense of overnight accommodations as well as the time and gas.

Does anyone know the area around Arisaig? How difficult it is to get in and out due to construction going on there to widen the A830 from a single track road at that point?

rosslang is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:48 AM.