- Took the West Highland Line from ScotRail 3 1/2 hoursde Glasgow a Oban, and my ticket is only $31.
- The train passed through lakes, a national park, historic castles, waterfalls and small Scottish towns.
- It was a lovely and affordable way to see the west coast of Scotland, and I'd love to do it again.
My father and I took ScotRail's West Highland Line on a scenic day trip along the west coast of Scotland.
ScotRail'sLinha West Highlandthere are two routes from Glasgow: the 3.5 hour route goes to Oban and the 5.5 hour route goes to Mallaig, stopping at Fort William around four hours away.
Both routes head north throughLoch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, passing through mountains, valleys and lakes before forking into a town calledCrianlarich. The line is known asone of the most beautiful train ridesnot world.
My father and Itook the short wayto Oban, an impressive fishing and ferry port, and bought the tickets throughTrain line. Daily returns were just £25 each way, or around $31 per person, and would probably have cost even less if you'd bought them in advance.
See how our trip was.
Our day started on Glasgow Queen Street, one of the main transport hubs in the city.
glasgow queen streetit is located in the center of the city, surrounded by a metro station, a bus station and a civic square.
As we entered the station, we passed carts selling coffee, tea, and sweets. We decided not to stock up for the trip as most Scottish trains have tea trolleys on board.
I didn't have to worry about buying the tickets at the station as I had already bought them online. Fortunately I was able to choose our seats, select if we wanted to go in a quiet or normal car, and decide if we wanted places with plugs.
We studied the departure board until the platform number of our train appeared on the screen.
To go from the main concourse to the platform, we had to scan our tickets online at electronic turnstiles. There was a staff member to help people who had questions.
Once we were done, we walked across the platform until we found our car.
Only half the train was going to Oban so we made sure we were in the correct seats.
When we board the train, we find our reserved seats, marked with our departure station, Glasgow Queen Street, and our last stop, Oban.
There was plenty of room on the train, and wewe are happy with our points.
During the reservation process, I chose two forward-facing seats with a table in the front. The two seats in front of us were empty.
The carriage was quite cold so we were relieved to have coats and scarves.
It was very cold on the train. Uswe put our coats awayand they were glad to see the sun streaming in through the window as the train pulled out of the station.
Leavesthere was no tea cart on boardthis time, and the collector explained that the employee in charge did not show up for work that morning.
The train left Glasgow, my hometown, and continued along the River Clyde.
The train followed the River Clyde, which runs through Glasgow, after leaving the station. Stopped to pick up passengers atDalmuir, a station in West Dunbartonshire, before leaving the town behind.
Then we passed through Dumbarton, a city thatit was the capital of an ancient kingdomcalled Strathclyde.
Dumbarton Rock, a volcanic plug that looms over the city, was visible on the left side of the train. We could also clearly seedumbarton castle, former fortress and royal residence, on top of the rock.
The journey of about 45 minutes takes you past Helensburgh, where the River Clyde empties into Gare Loch.
Less than an hour after leaving Glasgow, we arrive in Helensburgh, an elegant seaside town on Gare Loch known for its interesting architecture.
The train was coming along the north shore of Gare Loch, and my father and I watched it shine through the window. The railroad tracks were thick with ferns, ivy, and rhododendrons.
We had hoped to catch a glimpse of a gray seal, porpoise or bottlenose whale, although technically our trip did not coincide with whale watching season, which isjune to september.
Waterfalls fell from the mountains as the train passed over Loch Long.
Arrochar and Tarbet are only 1 1/2 miles apart, but the two towns are on different lakes. Arrochar is on Loch Long and Tarbet is on Loch Lomond.
We continue on the shores of Loch Lomond. I have always liked this lake as it starts 14 miles north of where I grew up. My family and I used to swim and have picnics there often. The views on our way to Ardlui, a village at the head of Loch Lomond, were some of the most beautiful on the trip.
The train continued north and passedLoch Lomond and the Trossachs National ParkScotlandfirst national park.
When we got to Crianlarich, the front half of the train took a different path than the rear half.
When we reached Crianlarich, a bustling town popular with hikers and climbers, a few people got off.
The building between the north and south railway tracks is alovely tea roomserving hearty breakfasts, bacon rolls, cups of strong tea and Tunnock's pies, aScottish biscuit with marshmallow and chocolate.
It was also time for the front of the train to continue towards Oban and the rear of the train to head towards Fort William and Mallaig.
The longer route goes north to Mallaig via theViaduct of Glenfinnan, a bridge famous for its appearances in the Harry Potter movies. It also crosses theGreat Paradise of Rannochand moves throughGlencoe.
I visited Tyndrum as a child so it was a delight to stop by on my way to Oban.
From Crianlarich the trainhead headed northwest to Tyndrum via Strath Fillan, a valley with impressive mountains rising from the valley floor.
I spent much of my childhood in the small town of Tyndrum, so my father and I glued to the windows, pointing out every familiar river bend and river bend.Western Highlands Trail, ahiking trail that runs 96 milesfrom Milngavie, a suburb of Glasgow, to Fort William.
As the train left Tyndrum, we saw Ben Lui, a distinctive round-topped mountain, on the left.
Dalmally is the most interesting station on the line, in my opinion, as it is also a quaint inn.
Dalmally is a working railway station with a proper platform, butit is also a guest house.
The Victorian-era structure has guest rooms, which used to be animal pens, waiting rooms and mail rooms, right on the train platform.
We were delighted to see Kilchurn Castle at the eastern end of Loch Awe.
Loch Awe is another beautiful, sparkling freshwater loch in the Highlands. Known for trout fishing, it is Scotlandlongest lake.
Falls of Cruachan is a station at the foot of a large mountain called Ben Cruachan.
The train only stops at Cruachan Falls in the summer on request, and the platform is in a clearing among the trees.
The Cruachan Power Stationgenerate electricityfrom within Ben Cruachan. You can get information about the Cruachan Dam and Power Station atVisitors Center, which is just past the Falls of Cruachan stop.
The train followed Loch Etive to Connel Ferry, which is only five miles from Oban.
The station is named after a ferry that is no longer in service, and the area is known for dramatic tides where the Atlantic Ocean meets the lake.
About 3 and a half hours after leaving Glasgow we arrived in Oban.
The train entered Oban less than four hours after leaving Glasgow.
My dad and I were lucky enough to arrive on a beautiful sunny day and we got off the train to explore.
Oban has beautiful bays, coves and beaches.
Oban is charming, compact and easy to get around. Between walking along the pier, going throughOban Distillery, and wolfing down fish and chips, we saw a lot in the three hours between our trains.
We stock up on tea and snacks for the return journey and return to the station 25 minutes before departure.
The doors of the train opened 20 minutes before our departure, but we had a delay of 30 minutes.
The trainthere was a little delay, as he had to wait 30 minutes for a northbound train to clear a section of the single track.
Fortunately, the train had a tea cart this time, and he would have a cup of tea every time he passed our seats. We sat again on the left side of the train so we could see the sights we missed on the way.
It got dark during the last hour of our return trip. My father fell asleep and I leafed through a magazine.
We got back to Glasgow just 10 hours after we left.
We would definitely do this trip again. Wasmuch easier than facing trafficnext to Loch Lomond, and it didn't take much longer than it would have taken by car.
On our next trips, we'll either go down and explore a few stations along the way, or spend the night in Dalmally. And in case the person in charge of the tram does not appear again, we bring our own tea.