Friday, 23 April 2010

Planes, Trains & Automobiles

A thread about car-sharing on the LFTO forum got me thinking about the various ways I travel to Scotland. It's six hundred miles from Sussex, and I have three options: the plane, the train, and the automobile. (There's also the coach, but a never-to-be-repeated 24h from Melbourne to Brisbane cured me of that mode of transport.)

The Plane
The cheapest option (from £26 each way, or free with Airmiles!), and, on paper, the quickest (1.5) - but let's not forget all that mucking about at the airport. In addition, Gatwick is one of the most inhuman places on the planet, and when I last flew in after a week on the hills I felt like a rabbit in the headlights. In reality, it takes about 6.5 hours, and involves an appalling assault on the soul. Flying is not for me, even if the take-off is fun.

The Train
Following a 1976 ride on the Motorail (the most civilised form of transport ever invented), I developed a bit of a taste for overnight rail-travel. The Caledonian sleeper takes 7-9 hours from Euston, depending on which train I catch, and gets me to within a few miles of my destination by breakfast time. The hours travelling are spent being rocked in sleep, rather than staring at six lanes of traffic or a departures board. It's not the cheapest option (£60 for my last berth - though bargains are available); but it's my favourite.

The Automobile
The most expensive (£100, one way), but obviously the best in terms of door-to-door convenience. However, it is also the most irksome is some ways - including the fact that I pay two hundred quid, and have to drive the damn thing too. On the plus side, I get to breathe only my own germs, the kids have no rampaging opportunities, I can take any amount of stuff important equipment, and I already have transport when I'm there.

How do you get to where you want to be? Do you have options, or are you stuck with a single form of transport?


womagwriter said...

We drive. We usually go for a week in the Lakes, so need a car for getting around once we are there.

In my long-ago student days I had many mountain weekends, usually north Wales or the Lakes, all reached by either minibus or coach from Brighton. We'd leave 6pm Friday, arrive in the wee small hours to put our tents up, come home 3pm Sunday arriving midnight.

But I much prefer train to coach travel. I get sick on roads but not on trains.

Leigh said...

I can remember student minibuses too! In particular, one terrifying trip up to the North York Moors with some bloke who did a lot of unnecessary steering... I think that's partly why I won't go by coach; I hate being driven (on the roads) by other people.

Shamus said...

I used to drive to the lakes once a month from south Devon. The cost of fuel is making that fairly prohibitive now. The last two trips to Scotland were in the car too. Having a dog makes driving the car the only real way to get about over long distance. If it werent for the dog I would probably fly and use the train, but if it werent for the dog, I probably wouldnt bother going in the first place :-))

Daniel said...

Taking the train from Glasgow to Fort William is great. You can just sit back and watch the wonderful scenery.

Leigh said...

It's worth carrying on to Mallaig too!

J.J. said...

We generally drive to Scotland (where we have most of our holidays) from the New Forest, because we usually have camping gear, dog and all the walking paraphernalia with which you are familiar!

Neither of us are keen on flying, I hate the stress of it and am a nervous lander (the bit in the air is fine!).

Have not tried the train yet, but I intend to take a train ride to Ayr to visit Mr H., particularly as I won't be able to drive for a while with this broken leg. I would take a daytime train though, as half the pleasure would be to see the varied countryside (and cityscapes perhaps) on the way.


Caine99 said...

Train would be my best bet as im from east anglia and a coach from here hahaha laughable. I thaught it may have been a little more than that to get there, pricewise. I will try to get up there this year as that train price is very resonable

Leigh said...

Ooh, JJ. Sorry missed your comment - yes, driving is easiest with lots of stuff. Horrors of flying (landing - me too), I agree. Hope you took that train journey!

Caine - Hello! Thanks for coming by. If you can get down to London, the sleeper is a seriously worth-while option. If you book three months ahead, there are bargain berths available, released every friday for the week 12-weeks ahead (if that makes sense). Prices start at £19 for a one-way berth. But you have to be quick! Check by the Friday lunchtime at the latest!

Maz said...

We flew up to Edinburgh then drove to the Cairngorms in February for some winter mountaineering. However, we want to do Ben Lui (and friends) later this year and the Sleeper seems the best way forward. Each time we hired a car - it's the best of both worlds but not cheap.