London / Scotland Travel Tips

Old Dec 4, 19, 12:47 pm
  #1  
mhy
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London / Scotland Travel Tips

(Mods: I wasn't sure whether to put this in BA or UK forum as it contains questions about both, please move if necessary)

I am going to do a 3-day Scottish Highlands tour next March. I have already booked flights (in BA F ) thanks to BA mistake fare / flash sale in October to London but I need some help planning. Here is the itinerary:

Thursday: Land at LHR at 9AM, flight to GLA in the evening. Having brunch / dinner at the CCR then taking a late evening flight to GLA sounds rather enticing

Fri/Sat/Sun: Tour, ending 8:30pm on Sunday.

Monday: Head back to London, overnight likely at T5 Sofitel.
Tuesday: Depart LHR at 11:20am

Here are my questions which I could use some input on:
  • My understanding is I can use the CCR at LHR upon arrival in F, until departure to GLA which will likely be in Economy (on a separate ticket). Is this correct?
  • Any recommendations for what to do on Sunday evening ~ Monday.
    • I could stay in Glasgow on Sunday evening, do some touring on Monday and then head back to London in the evening.
    • I've really wanted to try the Caledonian Sleeper train, which would time nicely with the end of my tour on Sunday. However I've read reports recently that it is unreliable, delayed by 7 hours, broken down etc. How is it really?
  • Any other suggestions?
Thanks very much as always.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 12:50 pm
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I agree the sleeper is unreliable. If you do not mind gettingbto London a few hours late then its fine
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Old Dec 4, 19, 12:59 pm
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No no no no! Don't spend all day in the CCR on a short trip! By all means linger there for a shower and decent breakfast but get up to GLA earlier and enjoy the city for all those hours.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 1:13 pm
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Agreeing with window*. Living in Scotland, and having access to the CCR, I strongly recommend you get a shower at T5 (they are next to the CCR), nip into the CCR for some breakfast, and then get up to Scotland. EDI is my base, not GLA, but I still think you'll have "finished" with the CCR in an hour You can then get up to Scotland. There's no rail link into Glasgow from the airport but plenty of other options, and once actually in Glasgow you obviously have multiple options.

CCR is nice, but not a destination in itself.

The Caley sleeper can be unreliable, especially at the moment as new rolling stock is being implemented. The west coast line also tends to suffer more than the east coast line, IMHO. So you could consider a train from Glasgow Queen Street across to Edinburgh Waverley and get the LNER train down through York and Doncaster into Kings Cross, and from there it's easy to get back to LHR. Just a suggestion.

I rate EDI more than GLA as a city, but there will be enough people on here to say the other way around.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 1:16 pm
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I'd go to CCR for a shower and decent breakfast then head up to GLA, probably on a late morning/lunchtime flight, that means you have time to look round Glasgow in the afternoon or settle into the hotel and use any facilities there, plenty of good spots for dinner in Glasgow.

Depending on where you're headng in the highlands I'd be tempted to take the Sleeper from Inverness on the Sunday, it can be unreliable but if you're not flying til Tuesday you have a whole lot of buffer there and, assuming all goes to plan a bit of time in London before heading to the Sofitel.

I often wish with my business travel I had more time to take the train.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 1:25 pm
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Would OP get access to CCR as according to him, he will be travelling on a separate economy ticket for LHR>GLA after his F transatlantic?
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Old Dec 4, 19, 1:28 pm
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Originally Posted by Keystone View Post
Would OP get access to CCR as according to him, he will be travelling on a separate economy ticket for LHR>GLA after his F transatlantic?
I thought that was fine if you still have the F boarding card but wait to be corrected, if all else fails the arrivals lounge should work.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 1:28 pm
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Originally Posted by Keystone View Post
Would OP get access to CCR as according to him, he will be travelling on a separate economy ticket for LHR>GLA after his F transatlantic?
Yes. If arriving in F you can get CCR access on a separate ticket. Just keep the F boarding pass to show the lounge agent.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 1:37 pm
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I just returned from a week in GLA and EDI so happy to offer my thoughts! First, do NOT leave too much time at LHR simply because of the CCR. I had initially left a 5.5 hour layover since I was flying on separate tickets and wanted to be safe and figured I'd check out the CCR, wander around the shops, etc. but honestly it was way too much time. Luckily the very nice lounge lady changed me to an earlier GLA flight 2 hours earlier at no cost.

If you have time, I'd definitely try and check out Edinburgh - it's one of my fave cities. It's only 40 minute by train from Glasgow so maybe you could train over Sunday evening after your tour, spend Monday exploring, and then head down to London?

Enjoy your tour! The highlands are gorgeous (and even better if your tour makes it up to Isle of Skye!)
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Old Dec 4, 19, 1:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Keystone View Post
Would OP get access to CCR as according to him, he will be travelling on a separate economy ticket for LHR>GLA after his F transatlantic?
Column 2 would apply:

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/28247202-post2.html
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Old Dec 4, 19, 1:49 pm
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Originally Posted by scottishpoet View Post
I agree the sleeper is unreliable. If you do not mind gettingbto London a few hours late then its fine
Thanks. Yes I have a full day buffer in London as I would leave Sunday night and my flight back is Tuesday. So should be OK.

Originally Posted by HighwayToHEL View Post
Agreeing with window*. Living in Scotland, and having access to the CCR, I strongly recommend you get a shower at T5 (they are next to the CCR), nip into the CCR for some breakfast, and then get up to Scotland. EDI is my base, not GLA, but I still think you'll have "finished" with the CCR in an hour You can then get up to Scotland. There's no rail link into Glasgow from the airport but plenty of other options, and once actually in Glasgow you obviously have multiple options.

CCR is nice, but not a destination in itself.

The Caley sleeper can be unreliable, especially at the moment as new rolling stock is being implemented. The west coast line also tends to suffer more than the east coast line, IMHO. So you could consider a train from Glasgow Queen Street across to Edinburgh Waverley and get the LNER train down through York and Doncaster into Kings Cross, and from there it's easy to get back to LHR. Just a suggestion.

I rate EDI more than GLA as a city, but there will be enough people on here to say the other way around.
Thanks - EDI would be an option as the tour company does tours from both EDI/GLA (it's the same tour actually, which starts in EDI then picks up more passengers at GLA), but I've been to Edinburgh before so Glasgow would be interesting from a travel perspective.

Will take a look at the LNER option - I've got a full day buffer in London so thinking Sleeper for now but thank you for the tip.

Originally Posted by tuonopepper View Post
I'd go to CCR for a shower and decent breakfast then head up to GLA, probably on a late morning/lunchtime flight, that means you have time to look round Glasgow in the afternoon or settle into the hotel and use any facilities there, plenty of good spots for dinner in Glasgow.

Depending on where you're headng in the highlands I'd be tempted to take the Sleeper from Inverness on the Sunday, it can be unreliable but if you're not flying til Tuesday you have a whole lot of buffer there and, assuming all goes to plan a bit of time in London before heading to the Sofitel.

I often wish with my business travel I had more time to take the train.
At least the train is an option at all in the UK/Europe. Here in the US it is almost never considered, outside of the Northeast Corridor I just came back from Germany where the ICE system worked very well for my trip.

I have read that the Inverness or Fort William - Euston route is the most scenic, but unfortunately the tour returns to Glasgow (maybe I can convince them to drop me at Inverness). Though I've also read the best time to do this is actually at the end of June / early July when there are 17+ hours of daylight in Scotland.

Originally Posted by mrow View Post
Yes. If arriving in F you can get CCR access on a separate ticket. Just keep the F boarding pass to show the lounge agent.
Thanks!
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Old Dec 4, 19, 1:54 pm
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Originally Posted by lily23 View Post
I just returned from a week in GLA and EDI so happy to offer my thoughts! First, do NOT leave too much time at LHR simply because of the CCR. I had initially left a 5.5 hour layover since I was flying on separate tickets and wanted to be safe and figured I'd check out the CCR, wander around the shops, etc. but honestly it was way too much time. Luckily the very nice lounge lady changed me to an earlier GLA flight 2 hours earlier at no cost.

If you have time, I'd definitely try and check out Edinburgh - it's one of my fave cities. It's only 40 minute by train from Glasgow so maybe you could train over Sunday evening after your tour, spend Monday exploring, and then head down to London?

Enjoy your tour! The highlands are gorgeous (and even better if your tour makes it up to Isle of Skye!)
Thanks! I guess I love the ambience of the CCR, it's like an oasis for me. But everyone seems to be suggesting only a couple of hours there, so I think I'm going to go by that suggestion!

I've been to EDI before but it was almost a decade ago. So perhaps I will take this opportunity to return.

Luckily the tour does go to the Isle of Skye
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Old Dec 4, 19, 2:03 pm
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I agree with the other sentiments regarding the CCR. It's worth a brief visit but I wouldn't spend a whole day there. I'd be heading north to Glasgow on the first available flight.

In terms of trains south, LNER also operates from Inverness and Aberdeen to London King's Cross. The lines from Aberdeen and Inverness both have spectacular scenery, and the trip down the coast from Edinburgh to Newcastle is also stunning. Once you get south of York it's all a bit meh in my opinion. On the West Coast the trip from Edinburgh / Glasgow via Carlisle and Preston and on to London Euston passes through some fine countryside too although, in my opinion, once you get south of Preston it's time for a snooze...

Certainly the sleeper would also be an option - Fort William would be my preferred starting point - but most of the journey is at night and you'd miss a lot of the scenery. The new sleeper trains have had some teething problems but they are significantly better in terms of bedroom comfort and amenities (including en-suite bathrooms and double beds) than the previous Mk 3 coaching stock.

As for Amtrak in the US, I just travelled Chicago - Portland on the Empire Builder and it was a really enjoyable trip with a good crew, decent food, and an on-time arrival into PDX. Amtrak does a pretty good job all things considered.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 2:33 pm
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Originally Posted by Geordie405 View Post
I agree with the other sentiments regarding the CCR. It's worth a brief visit but I wouldn't spend a whole day there. I'd be heading north to Glasgow on the first available flight.

In terms of trains south, LNER also operates from Inverness and Aberdeen to London King's Cross. The lines from Aberdeen and Inverness both have spectacular scenery, and the trip down the coast from Edinburgh to Newcastle is also stunning. Once you get south of York it's all a bit meh in my opinion. On the West Coast the trip from Edinburgh / Glasgow via Carlisle and Preston and on to London Euston passes through some fine countryside too although, in my opinion, once you get south of Preston it's time for a snooze...

Certainly the sleeper would also be an option - Fort William would be my preferred starting point - but most of the journey is at night and you'd miss a lot of the scenery. The new sleeper trains have had some teething problems but they are significantly better in terms of bedroom comfort and amenities (including en-suite bathrooms and double beds) than the previous Mk 3 coaching stock.

As for Amtrak in the US, I just travelled Chicago - Portland on the Empire Builder and it was a really enjoyable trip with a good crew, decent food, and an on-time arrival into PDX. Amtrak does a pretty good job all things considered.
I really love the ambience of the CCR. However, I guess I can go there early on my day back and enjoy an extended stay.

I would love to do the Inverness - King's Cross but since my tour ends in GLA it does not look very easy. Suppose I could position myself at INV on an early train from GLA then head down to King's Cross but that means I'd just be going down the same rails I just came up on

Amtrak long-distance is nice, but seems like a very niche thing which not many people do. I guess the US is huge and high-speed rail just doesn't make sense outside of major urban areas, but people here are truly obsessed with automobiles.
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Old Dec 4, 19, 2:50 pm
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Sadly no, you can't go to Inverness from Glasgow, unless you go via Perth. Perth is the "hub" for trains from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness, and Dundee is the "hub" for trains going up to Aberdeen. Google "Scotrail map" for the map; once you leave the central belt of Scotland there are not many routes.
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