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3 nights in Inverness, north highland line

Hello,

I will be in Inverness in middle of June (after a few nights each in Oban and Portree.) Trying to sort out my itinerary using public transportation.
One of the days we might spend around Inverness -- Culloden battlefield and/or Loch Ness.
Another day, I was thinking of doing the North Highland Line. From what I gather this ride to Wick is a very scenic.
The only issue here is needing to set out by 7am for a well spaced out trip -- that is, a longer stay at Wick. I will be traveling with my 11 yr old son, hope he will be up for that early start. So the two questions I have are:

1) Is this ride worth it?
2) I suppose this is partly a question that we have to answer for ourselves. But starting at 10:41am (which means an hour in Wick before we have to turn around) -- would that be too much? I assume the train would be comfortable, would it have a dining car?

Thanks!!
Vishal

Posted by
906 posts

Hello once again, Vishal,

In answer to your question, you should definitely make that journey on the Far North Line. It's not quite as spectacular as the West Highland Line or the Kyle Line, but you get great views of the North Sea coast, and castles along the way. The train crosses the Flow Country, which is the largest peat bog in Europe.

Unless you have a particular reason for visiting Wick, Thurso is a much prettier town, and you'd have more time on the ground there to possibly have lunch. As the train service is operated by a two car Sprinter, there is no dining car. A snack trolley comes around. You may be able to get cold sandwiches and soft drinks/juice. There might be hot tea and coffee, as well. I'd recommend packing some food to be on the safe side, just in case the trolley is running low by the time it gets to you.

The only thing that I'd be concerned about would be keeping your son's interest during the four hour (to Thurso) or 4 1/2 hour (to Wick) journey. The train goes from Inverness to Thurso first, then takes an eastbound spur track to stop at Wick. Then after stopping at Wick, the train returns to Thurso, then back to Inverness.

Hope that helps!

Slainte!

Mike (Auchterless)

p.s.: www.scotrail.co.uk/scotland-by-rail/great-scenic-rail-journeys/far-north-line-inverness-thurso-wick

Posted by
64 posts

Oh, that helps so much. Thanks once again Mike for the actionable intelligence, haha!

I have decided to book this trip. I will have 2 full days in Inverness. Considering that the frequency of the train isn't that high and I will be catching the last return trip from Thurso (16:32), I assume it would be best for me to make this same day round-trip on the first full day in Inverness so as not to risk my departure from Inverness should something happen with the return trip? (Although I doubt the schedule is given to random interruption/cancellation, haha.)

Thanks!

Posted by
906 posts

Hi once again, Vishal,

Don't let me discourage you from visiting Wick instead of Thurso. I've been to both, and just from personal experience, Thurso is the nicer town. But both have their positive qualities. Granted, you'd have more time in Thurso, because the train goes there first and last on each journey.

Best thing to do would be to check both towns out on the internet. Thurso has a good beach, riverside walks, and the Caithness Horizons museum (free); Wick has a good harbor, the nearby Old Wick Castle, and the Wick Heritage Center museum (not free).

If you take the 7:00 a.m. train to Thurso, you'd have time to take a taxi out to Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the British mainland.

Once again, best wishes for your travels!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
5461 posts

Are you taking the train from Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness? If not, that is a gorgeous train ride. You can visit Plockton as a potential day trip.

See if you can figure out if there is a bus over to Fort George from Culloden. I did it by car. But the Fort is great with wonderful views of the Moray Firth and some interesting history.

There are also a lot of day tours offered out of Inverness. Check with the TI.