We are 2 60-somethings travelingin Scotland in July. Is it possible to get from Glasgow to Orkney by train? We were thinking of staying overnight for 1 night in Orkney and then taking the overnight ferry to Inverness, where we'd pick up a car. Does this sound practical or should we spend a 2nd night in Orkney?
I don't think there is a ferry from Inverness, Aberdeen yes and Scrabster in the very north of the mainland.
best bet from Glasgow is to fly, i think Flybe has the route but it is operated by Loganair.
I do think Orkney deserves more than one night.It has been a few years since I was there and flew from Edinburgh,not cheap but only takes an hour.
No trains to Orkney. We flew. Flybe/Loganair. We actually flew from Stornoway but our flight went to Inverness first, we changed planes there and then went to Kirkwall. Not super cheap but not expensive either. Pretty sure you can fly from Glasgow, too.
I would strongly suggest 2 nights minimum on Orkney. With just one night, you never have a whole day there.
As you've been made aware, there is no ferry, overnight or otherwise, from Orkney to Inverness. The NorthLink ferries serve the Kirkwall to Aberdeen route only. If you're definitely set on going to Inverness after Orkney, there are two ways to do so:
1) Ferry from Stromness to Scrabster. Bus or taxi from Scrabster to Thurso. Train from Thurso to Inverness.
2) Ferry from Kirkwall to Aberdeen. Train from Aberdeen to Inverness. (You can also hire your car in Aberdeen. It's about three hours drive to Inverness.)
And to answer your first question, yes, you can take the train from Glasgow. Your train terminus is Thurso. You can take a bus or taxi from Thurso to Scrabster for the ferry to Stromness. You can take public transportation (buses) on Orkney; however, all of the car hire companies are in Kirkwall, not Stromness. So if you were planning to hire a car while you're on Orkney, you'd need to make arrangements to be met at the Stromness ferry terminal.
You definitely need to spend two nights on Orkney.
p.s.: If you're amenable to flying, FlyBe (Loganair) has direct flights from Glasgow to Kirkwall, and also from Kirkwall to Inverness. It's obviously going to be more expensive than the train/ferry route, but not by much. It would give you lots of extra time to explore Orkney, and you could then get to have (at least) your two nights. Plus, you'd be right at Inverness airport to be able to hire your car upon your return, and to save the bus/taxi fare from central Inverness out to Dalcross.
There is a railway station in Thurso, but the journey up from Inverness, let alone to Inverness can be a long drag. The overnight ferry is Aberdeen rather than Inverness.
One night is probably not enough, two not enough really, given how far you need to travel to get to Orkney,