We rent a car every time we go to the UK. My in-laws live in the countryside and having a car is essential for everyday life. Otherwise, we get stuck in the house! We also go on short getaways around the country and we usually drive to those destinations. This time, we decided to take the train to Edinburgh. We didn’t have much time, we wouldn’t need a car in the city and traffic can get so bad in the UK that getting there would have been a nightmare. Flying was also out of the equation. So, the railway it was.
When we bought the tickets online, the system automatically designed and itinerary from our starting point, Haslemere in Surrey, all the way to Edinburgh Waverley via Clapham Junction, Vauxhall, and finally King’s Cross. No, our train did not depart from Platform 9 ¾, in case you were wondering.
Just as I thought it would be, our first train was delayed, which caused a domino effect on the rest of our travel plans. We got to King’s Cross with, I kid you not, five minutes to spare and barely made it to our train. It started moving before we even found our seats!
The seats are rather uncomfortable in standard class, almost like flying coach. There isn’t a lot of legroom. My husband had to find an empty double seat to be able to sit in some comfort (he’s very tall, as you may have gathered).
Thankfully, he knows I suffer from motion sickness and must face the direction of travel, so he chose seats that do. Otherwise, I would have been miserable (and sick).
We packed a picnic of sandwiches, water, and some chocolate. We could have bought snacks and drinks from the tea trolley or from The Food Bar car if we hadn’t.
The train stopped at York -which brought back lovely memories of our visit-, Darlington, Newcastle -which still shows the marks of its Victorian industrial past-, and Berwick-upon-Tweed. This one had the prettiest views, of the River Tweed flowing into the North Sea. From then northwards, we ran more or less parallel to the steel grey sea.
The landscape changed from central London to suburbs to fields. We went past farms, travellers’ camps, mountains in the background, sheep, cliffs, a castle or two, rivers, more sheep.
After over four hours, we arrived in Edinburgh Waverley. What a stunning work of Victorian engineering!
A member of staff goes up and down the train with a bin liner collecting rubbish. I loved that!
The toilets are decently clean, even more so than on many long-haul flights I’ve taken!
We upgraded our return journey tickets. We asked a member of staff on the platform which seats were available, we got on the First-Class car and paid the conductor for the difference (£25 each at the time of writing, October 2017). It was worth every penny: the seats are more comfortable and bigger and we enjoyed complimentary snacks and drinks.
The conductor checked tickets after every stop. We had to show them only once.
There are power outlets along the side walls.
Internet is available for a fee or if you book directly with Virgin Trains.