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Glasgow to Fort William...what the better travel option?

Glasgow to Fort William...what the better travel option?

Old Sep 8th, 2010, 03:13 AM
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Glasgow to Fort William...what the better travel option?

We leave for our Europe trip next week and have just a few decisions left to make.

One of those is whether to catch the train or drive from Glasgow to Fort William. It will only be an overnight trip so we can catch the Jacobite train to Mallaig have a quick look around Fort William and then back to Glasgow to catch the Caledonian Sleeper back to London.

Even though I'm an experienced driver I'm concerned about the narrowness of some of the roads that I've read about (having never been there not sure how narrow they really are) and also thought it may be more relaxing and may see more being on the train rather than concentrating on the road with two adult children as passengers. Though I love the idea of being able to stop and have a look around when ever I feel like it.

Also Scotrail have a special offer for two adults for 25 pounds on their trains so its a bit cheaper than normal as well.

Has anyone made this journey?

Thanks in advance
Sandra
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Old Sep 8th, 2010, 03:29 AM
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I drove this route in 1998 and it was incredible, specially along the Loch Lommond Region, probably one of the most beautiful lake areas in Europe. The Western Highlands are spectacular. These is a 2-3 hour drive, very easily a daytrip with good planning. We bought an ATLAS in Scotland that depicted every castle on every road, so we took a couple of quick side trips to check some out. This drive remains one of the most beautiful rides I've ever been in.
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Old Sep 8th, 2010, 03:33 AM
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Just take the train, £25 for two people will be less than the cost of petrol for this drive let alone the hire of a car for a day or two.

If you want to save even more money then forget the Jacobite and just take the ordinary train to Mallaig which covers the same route at a fraction of the price. This train also connects with the ferry to Skye which is a far better place to stay than Fort William.

BTW why are you considering getting the sleeper from Glasgow as it also runs from Fort William
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Old Sep 8th, 2010, 03:40 AM
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I consider it foolish to forgo truly seeing a gorgeous area of Scotland to save a couple of bucks....why would you travel to begin with? Are you traveling to Scotland to see the sights and enjoy its beauty or to figure how to see less on a budget?
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Old Sep 8th, 2010, 04:08 AM
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Thanks so much for the replies. I didn't realise that the sleeper left from Fort William. I'll see if I can change my tickets.

My daughter (22yo) is a Harry Potter fan and really wants to go on the Jacobite so thats why we're going on that train.

I've heard that it is such a beautiful part of the world and the drive is so scenic. Its not about the money so much but enjoying it. If I'm doing the driving and usually refereeing between my kids and concentrating on the road how much will I see?

I wish I had more time to spend in this area but I'm hoping there will be a next time, maybe next year to see what ever I miss

Thanks again
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Old Sep 8th, 2010, 04:42 AM
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It's a very lovely train ride......one of my favourite
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Old Sep 8th, 2010, 06:19 AM
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The best part of driving is the chance to stop at leisure. NOTHING beats that; so glad I did it. Have fun in the train!
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Old Sep 8th, 2010, 07:07 AM
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>If I'm doing the driving and usually refereeing between my kids and concentrating on the road how much will I see?<

As a driver you wont see as much as you would on the train. The road is generally good but the section from Arrochar to Inverarnan is very narrow and extremely twisty. The fare you quoted is a very good deal.
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Old Sep 8th, 2010, 08:32 AM
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The best part of the train is that you get to see it all as you aren't concentrating on the road
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Old Sep 8th, 2010, 02:38 PM
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"The best part of driving is the chance to stop at leisure. NOTHING beats that;"

viajero2 is right about a lot of journeys - but not this specific one. The train from Glasgow to Ft William crosses Rannoch Moor - which you cannot see by road. No roads cross it. In fact - the train ride from Glasgow > Ft William is just as scenic as the leg from Ft William > Mallaig.

The train from Glasgow is timed to meet the Jacobite - so for a one-day train Glasgow > Mallaig - take the train all the way. Renting a car for just that day makes no sense. In fact - there is really no need to stay over night. Early morning train to Ft William, Jacobite to Mallaig, return to Ft William, train to Glasgow.

You wouldn't have any time to 'explore' Ft William - which is a good thing since it isn't such great shakes.

If you were going to spend a few days - my advice would be different . . .
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Old Sep 8th, 2010, 04:02 PM
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I did this train trip from Glasgow to Ft. William this past June. I stayed in Ft. William for 3 days. Ft. Wiliam was great especially having a B&B room right on the Loch.

As for the train ride; it was very beautiful but be advised that if you don't have a lot of time this train is very slow. Top speed is about 30 mph and it is a long trip. I enjoyed the ride but I would not do it again. Compared to rural Ireland I think the roads are not bad at all. Did not particularly care for Glasgow.

If there is anyway to do it I would strongly recommend a couple days in Edinburgh. I live in Paris 7 months of the year and have been to 24 European countries but after spending 3 days in Edinburgh I think Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen.

Larry J
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Old Sep 8th, 2010, 04:28 PM
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A B&B in Fort William right on the loch? And, what loch was that?

I certainly don't remember the train being "very slow", but if it is, isn't that a plus? More time to enjoy the scenery.
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Old Sep 8th, 2010, 04:37 PM
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Okay, I am aware thet Loch Linnhe lies next to Fort William. I just don't remember any B&B's "right on the loch". However, since I've tried to avoid Fort William for the last ten years or so ( numerous reasons to do so), I may not be aware of any B&B's located on the loch, so to speak.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 02:14 AM
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historytraveler,

In Ft. William nearly every house from the edge of town north out along the Loch is in fact a B&B. Google B&Bs in Ft.William and you will see. A slow train through scenic country is certainly a plus if you have the time for it. That's a no brainer; but the O.P. said they had very limited time. I find it strange that someone who admits not being in Ft. William in 10 years would doubt the word of someone having been there a few weeks previous. Not particularly helpful to those seeking good current information.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 04:21 AM
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Sounds like the train might be better, and since I'm hoping to go back next year with husband and explore the UK in more detail we can hire a car then. Also its looking like I'm not going to get to Edinburgh this trip so I'll put it on my "Scottish to do" list along with Iona and Skye - thanks Larry J.
There is just so many places to go!
"We bought an ATLAS in Scotland that depicted every castle on every road" Viajero2 I don't mean to sound dumb but is this just like a normal atlas but with the castles in it? I'll look out for it whilst I'm in Scotland, research material for the next time
Thank again all
Sandra
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 05:59 AM
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While I haven't stayed in Fort William in over ten years, I have passed through more recently. Little has changed in those ten years. The dual carriageway with its grubby pedestrian underpass still runs along the loch and B&B's are strewn along side. Too bad as the setting itself is wonderful but unfortunately has been spoiled by bad planning. However, I'm sure ther are those that have been going there for years staying in the same B&B while others including first time visitors that find it pleasant enough not having sought out other options.

It's fine with me if one enjoys staying in Fort William as it keeps them from booking up the more ineresting places. We all have our own opinions as to what we like and fortunately opinions differ.

Regarding slow trains, I believe that all train schedules and times are listed so one can easily decide whether a particular train is too slow for their purposes.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 08:27 AM
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staruby-- the undertone under the remark "every castle on every road" refers to the level of detail this ATLAS contained. In a country like Scotland, it is remarkable that even castles in ruins on very remote, rural country roads were accurately and clearly depicted. Any experienced ATLAS user would agree this particular ATLAS was above average. This was another wonderful reason I loved this road trip.

Quite strange you are skipping Edinburgh (?); agree that it is one of the most beautiful European cities; certainly Top Three in Scotland.
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 09:15 AM
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>>

It means that the UK is probably the best mapped country in the world and that most road atlases sold will contain more information than you thought possible (including the whereabouts of speed cameras).

I'm just looking at one now and even things miles from any road like spot heights and names of hills are included as well as major footpaths and battle sites as well as branches of Ikea! and all for £5 (I bought a posh one with spiral binding) but ity isn't hard to find one for as little as £2 that will be less than 6 months out of date
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Old Sep 9th, 2010, 09:55 AM
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Alan

Don't forget UK OS maps, best in the world.

Ever tried driving round The States whilst using the toilet paper they call maps. Got lost in Camp Lejuene using a motorist map that looked like a 5 year old had put together. Two Apache helicopters literally escorted off their land.

pd anyone wanting free access to OS maps for the UK can access them by using UK streetmap.com you can view but not print.
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