Here's my hope - that I can travel from Southampton to Cairnryan, Scotland quickly (sorry if I butchered that city's name) by train, and then take the ferry over to Belfast. Is that doable? Then we'll take the ferry back and travel from Cairnryan to Edinburgh two days later. I can't find a train schedule that makes sense, can't seem to figure out the times and if this will even work. And, how long will it all take? Does anyone out there in SteveLand know? By the way, this will be in July 2014.
The problem might be the absence of train tracks at Cairnryan. There's a station down at the south end of the loch at Stranraer where the ferry used to dock. There's undoubtedly a bus between the two.
The whole process is going to be a long hike in one day even if you can hook it together. Easyjet runs from Bristol to Belfast in about an hour for a hundred bucks or so.
Go to Rome2rio.com and plug in S'hampton & Cairnryan.
Flybe flies non-stop from Southampton to Belfast City airport. Flying time is 90 minutes.
Flybe flies non-stop from Belfast City airport to Edinburgh. EasyJet flies non-stop from Belfast International to Edinburgh. Flying time is 50 minutes.
I thought I read it was about a 5 hour train ride to Edinburgh from London on the express trains. I should have known it couldn't be that easy. Thanks everyone for your input. We thought we'd get a Brit rail pass and just take the trains around to sight see in england, maybe have two or three cities as bases on the journey so we can leave the luggage there. I always get greedy - thought I could slip Ireland in without a hassle. The ferry from Liverpool takes 7 or 8 hours so I thought we could make a quick trip up to Scotland then slip on over in a couple of hours by ferry to Ireland. Obviously, I have no concept.
Times are not available at this point for July but I would take a look at a site called seat61.com to help you understand what's more realistic. I would consider going from Holyhead to Dublin and then take the Enterprise train up from Dublin rather than going via Carinryan as you have to change to a coach at Ayr from the train network. To leave Southampton you would have to go via London and would have to change train stations from Waterloo to Euston as well. You would need to get the absolute earliest train that would be feasible out of Southampton as you would need to be to Euston by 0900 for the 0910 train that would go direct to Holyhead. This would get you to Holyhead in time to catch the 1410 sailing on Irish Ferries to Dublin. From Dublin's ferry port you would need to get to Connolly Station for a 1900 train to Belfast and arrive at Belfast Central at 2110. Train timetable in the UK will change in May but things are relatively stable.
For tickets I would look into rail and sail tickets with Irish Ferries for the Holyhead Dublin leg and Stena Line for the Belfast to Carinryan leg