Notices

Freedom of Scotland rail pass

Reply

Aug 15th, 2011, 12:43 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 4
Freedom of Scotland rail pass

My husband and I are planning on going to scotland mid sept. We are looking into taking the rail pass and traveling up through Scotland. We are giving ourselves approx. 12 days of travel time after we have stayed in Glasgow for a few days.
Could anyone recommend an itinerary?
jinty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 15th, 2011, 01:58 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,678
Glasgow to Fort William - jumping off point from which to visit the Western Highland and also the totally unique Ranloch (sp?) Moor, thru which the tremendously scenic glasgow to Maillag railway slices thru - as there are very few roads in the Moor the train is a good way to see this bizarre IMO site - then go onto to Maillag - take the ferry to the Isle of Skye (railpass I think is valid for most ferries as well) - take a bus around Skye and then over the bridge to Kyle of Lochlash

at Kyle pick up another of Britain's most awesomely scenic railways to Inverness - base here to see Loch Ness and a lovely area - then train to Edinburgh - spend a few days in one of the world's prettiest cities and do day trips by train to such places as St Andrews - home of golf and the Old Course but also a lively university town in a smashing seaside location

(Train to Leuchars, 5 miles out of St Andrews and buses meet trains to whisk you into town - about an hour all told from Edinburgh and en route you train trundles across one of the world's most famous and impressive rail bridges - the First of Forth cantilevered bridge - wowing views from the span over the wide first back to Edinburgh

and another day perhaps do a day trip by train to nearby Sterling, a sweeet regional town and home to Sterling Casle, one of the most famous in Scotland - home of the character Braveheart was based on I believe - a Wallace monument commemorates some big bloody battle just out of town I believe.

take train back to Edinburgh.

for more on Scottish and British trains and the pass (which demands several days training or boating to be cost effective perhaps) check out these fantastic IMO sites - www.seat61.com; www.rickstefves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com. Passes I believe are not sold in Britain. To check normal fares bought there - www.natioalrail.co.uk - and you will find often several fares with various conditions and cheaper ones may be sold in allotments and have to be booked early, etc. Beauty of the pass is you can just hop on any train anytime (or boats that are covered) - just show up. I often advise first class for any trains in Europe but in Scotland some trains will be only 2nd class and those that have first class may have only a few seats marked so.
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 15th, 2011, 04:16 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,940
Without knowing your itinerary, it's impossible to determine whether the pass will be cost effective or not. I don't know the cost of the pass, but I do know that tickets for most train routes within Scotland are fairly reasonable. Price will be most affected by when and what kind of ticket you purchase.

I suggest you go to www.nationalrail.co.uk and plug in your routes to get some idea of current ticket prices and then compare those costs with the rail pass.

If you can provide an itinerary along with the cost of the Freedom of Scotland Pass, I might be able to give you a better idea as to value of the F of S.pass.

Regarding Pal's post. It is Rannoch Moor, the town of Stirling and Stirling Castle. And, yes the character of Braveheart was based on the life of William Wallace, but Stirling was not his home.
historytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 15th, 2011, 04:21 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,940
Sorry, just reread your post and realize you're actually looking for an itinerary. It's difficult to come up with an itineray without having some idea as to what interetsts you. Please let us know and then we can make better suggestions.
historytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 15th, 2011, 07:47 PM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 4
Thank you for your help. The freedom of scotland rail pass I can get from scotrail.co.uk at a cost of 153 pounds. this is for unlimited 8 day travel within 15 days. I am not sure what the price is for a day travel but this sounded good to me. Saying that, I have never done anything like this before so don't know what to expect. I have been to scotland once about 30 yrs.ago but never experienced the highlands. My husband has never been. so, as far as itinerary we are just excited to be going to visit the beautiful lochs and bens. Any other tips on relatively cheap accommodations would be appreciated. We are both seniors. thanks
jinty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 15th, 2011, 08:36 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 14
When my parents purchased the Freedom of Scotland travelpasses last year in Glasgow they were advised to purchase senior railcards in order to get a nice discount on the passes.
reddun is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 15th, 2011, 09:14 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,940
I think 153 GBPs seems a bit high. I would not add a senior railcard to that. In my train travel through Scotland, the senior card really doesn't save much at all. It is worth the extra if you are in UK for more than 3/4 weeks and travel a great deal by train. As an add on to a pass, it's not likely to be worth the extra. At least that's what I've found in my calculations.

You have any number of options but for 12 days, I'd look at traveling from Glasgow to Oban. Spend a couple of days there... you can take the Calmac ferries over to Mull and Iona. CalMac along with Bowman Coach Tours offer several day trips. For example, you can take the ferry from Oban to Craignure, then bus tour over to Iona and back to Oban. It's a full day trip. Or take the ferry to Craignure and then the bus to Duart Castle. Have a look at www.calmac.co.uk for several tours via ferry/bus from Oban.

I'd also plan on some time in Edinburgh. By staying in Edinburgh, you'll have the option of several day trips to places such as St. Andrews, Stirling and Stirling Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Rosslyn Chapel, Loch Lomond and more. Aberdeen will also have several day trips via coach. Plockton ( scenic and unique spot along the Kyle Lochalsh-Inverness train route) and Pitlochry ( probably a bit touristy but many seem to like it) and Blair Atholl are all reachable via train.


Is your trip scheduled for this September or for 2012? If it's coming up in the next several weeks, you're really working with a tight time frame.
historytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 15th, 2011, 09:55 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,053
Scotland has a very restricted railway network. Though its largest towns are reasonably well connected with each other, most of the surface area of Scotland is tens of miles from a station.

Getting to most of "the beautiful lochs and bens" will require further transport: constructing an itinerary based almost entirely on trains means mostly limiting yourselves to the more populous areas of the county. If "the beautiful lochs and bens" are your main reason for visiting Scotland, trains may not be your best prime form of transport, and your apparent bargain may be a false economy. Even though the pass offers free travel on inter city buses, it still won't get you to many lochs and hills, and a car's essential for any proper walking or fishing.

PalQ is - as always - churning out uninformed nonsense when he claims Freedom of Scotland passes (whttp://www.scotrail.co.uk/content/freedom-scotland-travelpass)can't be bought in Britain. Indeed, because you're eligible to buy a Senior Railcard (£25, but it then gives you 34% discount on the Scotland Pass), the practicalities mean a Freedom of Scotland pass gives best value if bought in Britain after buying a Senior Railcard.

But the Freedom of Scotland Pass has its limits, and you should familiarise yourselves with other options at the Seat 61 site. Do not trust the information at the Budget Europe site, which is owned by an American travel agency that specialises in providing misleading information to sell its own overpriced rail passes.

No-one can suggest you a sensible itinerary without some information about what you're looking to do (suggest for me an itinerary for visiting your country. Now think how pissed off you'll be if you go to the trouble of writing one and I only then get round to telling you I'm allergic to Las Vegas, uninterested in your colonial history, and can't stand Broadway shows).

Look at the map of Scotland's railways at http://NationalRailmaplarge.pdf Then tell the nice people here what you wnt to do.

And only then commit yourselves to this pass. As far as I can see, there's no advantage in buying it ahead of time.
flanneruk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 01:10 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,053
"I think 153 GBPs seems a bit high. I would not add a senior railcard to that. In my train travel through Scotland, the senior card really doesn't save much at all."

Just untrue.

A Senior Railcard costs £28 and gives at least 33% off virtually any railfare (including the cost of a Freedom of Scotland Pass). So it reduces the £163 cost of an "8 in 15" pass (rack rate: £163) by roughly £55, or twice the cost of the Railcard. And that's before taking into account any extra reduction on the railfare TO Scotland from London, or on local travel around London (including to and from Heathrow).

Only the poster can work out whether the Freedom of Scotland pass is a sensible investment for the poster,or whether buying separate tickets works out cheaper or easier But anyone checking their facts before posting downright nonsense would discover that:
- a Senior Railcard ALWAYS shows a positive return on ALL versions of the Free of Scotland passes.
- a Senior Railcard will show a positive return for anyone 60 or over intending to spend £84 or more (gross) on eligible rail fares (which means outside SE England practically all fares) in a year.
flanneruk is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 05:15 AM
  #10
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,678
jinty - sorry for my mistake - I thought you were referring to a BritRail Scotland Pass and thus my comments about not buying that in Scotland - I suggest you do price out that BritRail product as if it still exists as I thought it could be cheaper than 153 quid.

That said 20 pounds a day for unlimited fully flexible rail travel seems to me like a good deal if traveling on trains and ferries (I am not sure that pass covers ferries) for 8 days, which at least in the itinerary I outlined and have done could well be the case. Depends whether you want fully flexible travel or not perhaps.

sorry for the mistake and thanks to flanner for setting me straight!
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 05:16 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,678
I also note that the pass with the Senior thingy pass would cost considerably less so even a better deal.
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 05:52 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 4
Thanks again everyone. We are still at the researching stage. Everything looks so great. We just decided to do this trip at the last minute and yes, we are going Sept. 2011.
We still have 3 weeks to get it all together. We definitely want to go up through Rannoch Moor, fort william inverness, skye, oban, stirling, st. andrews edinburgh. We leave here from Toronto Sept. 10 will be spending 4 days in Glasgow and travelling for approx. 12 days and back in Glasgow for a few days. I have an aunt I will be staying with in Glasgow I haven't sen for over 20 yrs.
jinty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 06:51 AM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 4
By the way the Britrail freedom pass works out to about 191 pounds. That's about 30 pounds more than the scotrail pass.
Now I hope that the scot rail pass can be purchased by non uk residents.
jinty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 07:51 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,940
I was unaware that one received an additional 33% of the actual cost of the Scotland Freedom Pass and admitted my ignorance of the pass and it's cost in my earlier post.

Whether it still saves any money will depend on how far and how often one travels in order to pay for the pass. It may well work out as a savings but, as I clearly stated in an earlier post, only the OP can determine its value for her particular itinerary. The 84 GBPs as the indicator for savings or not is a good idea. But one still needs to price out tickets to see how the value of the SFP compares with individual tickets and with/without a Senior Railcard. Or just take someone's word for it and purchase the pass because it's easy and saves one all the trouble of checking routes/ticket prices etc. I still stand by my statement that I have been on several trips where the Senior Railcard did not offer much in savings for the routes I took.

jinty, I'm sure (flanneruk will let us know otherwise) that non UK residents can purchase the Scotland Freedom Pass.
historytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 08:38 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,083
I looked at the pass. The CalMac ferries are covered as well as coaches (long-distance buses). Given all that, it sounds like a good deal. But, in less than a month, you have to lay out your own itinerary and do all the background research.

The alternative is a bus tour with a tour guide. Actually a number of separate small bus tours. The recommended companies are Rabbies and Timberbush. Given your short timeline, this latter might work better for you.
Mimar is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 08:53 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,678
We definitely want to go up through Rannoch Moor>

if you want just to ride the train thru the Moor that's easy but if you want the weird experience of trekking thru the Moor on footpaths - about the only way to explore it as there are nearly no regular roads - then base in some place with rail service like Fort William and take the train into the Moor - get off at a train station in the heart of the Moor and do some exploring - the one station I remember actually had a hotel next to it - how unusual staying right in the midst of a desolate Moor - ooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh!
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 12:18 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,678
Rannoch railway station - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rannoch_railway_station -

Rannoch railway station, on the West Highland Line, serves the area of Rannoch in Perth and Kinross. Its remote location on Rannoch Moor is picturesque and ...

Rannoch Station
www.visitrannoch.com/rannoch-station.htm
Rannoch Station has an atmosphere all of its own. The immense empty Rannoch Moor stretches as far as the eye can see, with very few signs of man's hand, ...
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 03:35 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,940
I willingly admit that I did not research the Freeedom of Scotland Pass before I made my comments. I'm afraid I just assumed it was similar to the BritRail Pass. Thank you flanneruk for pointing our the importance of checking one's sources and facts before posting. What can I say except I made an assumption and was trying to quickly post between tasks.

That said, I have since checked the Freedom of Scotland Pass and can say that it does not always offer a savings. I rechecked my notes on tickets prices for upcoming trip. My itinerary is as follows:

Edinburgh to Oban Two day trips via CalMac to Mull

Oban to Rannoch Moor (Station)

Rannoch Moor to Mallaig, then ferry to Armadale Isle of Skye where we pick up a rental car.

Kyle of Lochalsh ( across from Skye ) to Pitlochry

Pitlochry to Edinburgh.

The total price paid for tickets ( advanced fare purchase ) was 69.10 GBP.s, add to that three ferry trips (CalMac) at 15 GBP.s the total becomes 84.10 GBP.s. The senior railcard would, of course, bring the cost down further and not having done the math can't say for sure, but with the F.S.P. at 153 GBP.s, I don't think I'd save any with this particular itinerary.

The place I recommended for Rannoch Moor is the Moor of Rannoch Hotel www.moorofrannoch.co.uk

Skye can be a bit problematic without a car. There are buses but they are not always convenient as they are mostly for locals. The best option is to hire a driver to tour Skye or rent a car there for a few days. I think there is a company that does organized tours but can't remember their name or if they're still in business. From Skye you can catch the train either from Plockton or Kyle of Lochalsh. Both places will require a car/driver/taxi to get there from Skye.

From there you could stop at Inverness and take a couple of day trips or continue to Pitlochry for a few days. Inverness is not my favorite town, but the area has a lot to offer. Not been to Pitlochry yet. Many find it touristy, others seem to really like it. I'm reserving judgement.

Remember that you can do a number of day trips from both Glasgow ( Loch Lomond ) and Edinburgh ( Stirling, St. Andrews) in addition to the many sights in the cities themselves. I'd probably plan on several days in Edinburgh and do the Stirling, St. Andrews trips from there. I've just included the places you've mentioned. You do have a couple of other options even if traveling by rail.

Hope this helps.
historytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 16th, 2011, 03:56 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,940
jinty, I just located in my notes the Skye Tour company I mentioned in my last post.

www.isle-of-skye-tour-guide.co.uk

I have no personal experience with them, but without a car it might work for you. Their tours start at 140 GBP.s 6-8 hours
historytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 17th, 2011, 09:40 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,678
There is however a good bus system on Skye that will take you all over as I did - and really cheap - buses also to Kyle of Lochlash, terminus and starting point of the dramatically scenic rail line to Inverness and Loch Ness areas.
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
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



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:09 AM.