A visitor from London says hello

Published on 20 October 2009 in , , , , , ,

It was just after 8am on a rather chilly morning in June. Having had a restless nights sleep thanks to midges in the hostel, they’d risen early, packed up their things, popped to get some early morning food and they’d got on their way. It would be 18 miles to White Corries, in Glen Coe, and once there, there was a bus to catch.

So it was that Catherine and myself found ourselves surrounded by mountains, walking on the West Highland Way on a valley floor shared with a road and the Fort William train line. Even on the rather dull, cloudy morning, the view was fantastic.

The Caledonian Sleeper heading to Fort William

Then, as we ambled along, a mighty TOOOT TOOOT! filled the valley.

A train was coming. I wasn’t entirely sure why. I’d realised the day before that a photograph of a train on this mighty valley might be a worthwhile shot so before leaving Tyndrum I’d checked the timetable. There wasn’t a train due for another hour. Oh hang on… of course! It’s the Caledonian Sleeper from London!

But why had it had whistled. This was surprising. There was no need for it to do. It’s a single track line with no passing places, and besides, there’s only about four trains a day in each direction. There were no staff on the line wearing high visability jackets. Indeed there was nothing around. Oh well, besides ourselves.

As the train came alongside, we saw a wave from the cab. We waved back. Passengers in the lounge car, eating their breakfasts and supping their tea, saw us waving, and then waved back. It was a wave-tastic scene. The driver’s wave is even just about visible on the photograph I took.

The Caledonian sleeper insignificant in the landscape

Then the train made its way past us, taking its slow route to Fort William. It had been on its way for eleven hours and wouldn’t arrive at its destination for another two hours. Its passengers had probably gone to bed somewhere in the urban landscape of the English Midlands, and had awoken to the stunning scenery of the Scottish Highlands. Could there be a better way to start the day than soak up these fantastic views? Could there be a better train journey to do?

An hour later we saw another train – a daytime service going to Glasgow. The driver didn’t whistle or wave. It wasn’t quite the same.

Tomorrow in the final part of this sleeper train series, we travel back on the Fort William Sleeper – which if it isn’t the best train journey in Britain, I don’t know what is…