A quick trip north

South of Golspie

Scenery on the way up

My first little trip in a while and another UK-based one. Laurie is working as a schoolteacher up in Thurso, about as far north as you can go without your feet getting wet, and invited me up any time I wanted. Partly as it’s a nice place to show people around and partly as it’s always nice to have visitors to remind you that there are places with such futuristic inventions as cinemas. Thurso’s apparently shut down some years ago and the nearest is now in Inverness – about 3 hours’ or so drive.

I was tempted to drive up. It’s about 8-10 hours depending on the roads from Glasgow, but I would likely add at least an hour to that stopping and taking pictures. Add the cost of fuel these days and the train was the best option. I drove to Perth and caught the train from there – the saving on ticket price (and one less connection to risk missing) more than compensated for the cost of fuel to get there. £16.50 each way for around 6½ hours of travel isn’t too bad.

Still a fair bit of snow up here...

Passing through the Cairngorms

Of course, there are always problems. About two weeks ago a train was derailed south of Inverness in the recent harsh weather. They are still working to repair damage done, so there is an “emergency timetable” in effect. I did check thoroughly and this was having no real effect on the train I was booked on *phew*. Said train was about ten minutes late leaving Perth with my connection at Inverness departing at 13:59.

As I settled into my seat, I was informed that we were currently due to arrive in Inverness at 13:47 – over 20 minutes behind schedule. Oh dear. Still in time for my connection, but you never know…

Well, not to worry about something I can do nothing about I relaxed in the wrong seat (some open-mouth-chewing, ignorant old git had taken my reserved seat and didn’t seem keen on giving it up), popped some Fear Factory on and buried my head in back issues of 2000AD.

Once in a while I raised my head to admire the passing scenery, and it wss gorgeous. As we spent an hour or so going through the Cairngorms, it was obvious that not quite all the snow in Scotland had melted as it seemed to have in Perth and Glasgow. Hills, fields, and mountains were coated in the stuff. As we passed out of this cold zone, streams could be seen and rocky areas looked more like snow had been splattered on them and left to congeal.

The main town square by night, Thurso

View from the window

Fortunately, we made it to Inverness at the newly-advertised time and I swapped onto my new train where I’m currently sat, listening to Megadeth and typing this lot up. We’ve just had an announcement that we’re waiting for a southbound train to clear a single-track section before we can leave Muir of Ord, but hopefully I shouldn’t be too much past the 17:45 scheduled time into Thurso.

[update]

Pulled into Thurso pretty much on time where Laurie met me. Spag bol for dinner, a great chat and basic plans laid out for tomorrow.

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