This was a bit of an expedition, having to book the sleeper weeks in advance. And as for Bargain Berths, forget it. I think only the psychic manage to get hold of them. I then spent weeks looking over the maps of Lochaber, deciding on a route. The Grey Corries and a bothy trip was without a doubt the front runner. Then, the weather dictated my plans. It seemed that storms would be heading into Scotland that weekend and i didn”t fancy sleeping outside in a bivy bag if the Lairig bothy was packed out on the Saturday. So, i booked into Loch Ossian YH for a few nights and decided to use it as a base to explore the area generally.
The journey underway found it”s first hitch at Crewe. Rather than sitting at the bar there until the sleeper rolled in, i was sat bored and thirsty. Bar shut and coffee machine took a quid (i had 85p). The negative out of the way, the sleeper arrived on time and i realised how narrow the corridors are. So i find my cabin, no doubt waking all others as i bang my pack against each and every door en route. I checked in and found i had the cabin to myself, result. So, i decide to go for a well deserved pint, walking crablike to the buffet car. They were serving food too, and it was all reasonably priced. They do close the bar at quarter to one though, or 12:30 as it”s called in Preston (grrrr!) Not that bothered as it”s a bit boring drinking on your own, and the outdoor camaraderie i”d imagine might be present, wasn”t. Still, the sets were very comfy and spacious – i”d imagine equivelent to 1st class.
So, robbed of a quarter hour”s drinking time, I return crablike to my cabin. Fortunately, the corridors alternate left and right, so you can lead with the left and right shoulders alternatively to stop you getting a crick. Sleep was difficult to achieve, but on the return trip you”d be tired and probably sleep well. I awoke every hour to start with, then when they were shunting the carriages about. Be warned, there”s barely any space in these cabins. I was fortunate to get it to myself, but i”d have been sleeping on my pack if i”d ended up sharing. Maybe they had a storage area? Who knows…
Still, what was there was comfortable and clean. The staff were also polite. The best bit about it was waking up in the mountains the next morning. The staff awake you with some coffee (i think it was anyway) and a breakfast box of cakes and a croissant half an hour before your station. Next time i”m getting up earlier, grabbing a lounge car seat and a bacon roll.
It was quite a surreal experience when i finally got off the sleeper in Corrour, half asleep and wondering where the hell i was!