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Oban to Inverness, have a day between to see Glenfinnan Viaduct hike or Jacobite Train??

Hello again,
As always Thank You to everyone for taking time to read and possibly provide me with some advice. I am getting my Scotland Itinerary fine tuned thanks to reading the travel forum.
My husband and I are going to be in Oban departing June 5 to Inverness. We have a day to play with and I was told the Jacobite train was a must do. I have reasearched and found the Glenfinnan Viaduct hike that provides amazing views of the train crossing the viaduct.

We are traveling by public transit so train/bus whichever is quickest as my husband is reluctant to drive. I know there are advanctages by car however such as life.
If we were to partake in either of these I am not sure where to stay, is Fort William the best place (train departs from there).
Or go from Oban to Glencoe (sleep there) then catch the train or do the hike then go on to Inverness?

Once again thank you for your time.
Cheers,
Kerry

Posted by
556 posts

Hi, Kerry,

There are only two buses per day from Oban to Fort William, so you'd need to reserve seats on the 9:50 a.m. bus to best arrange your schedule. From Fort William, you could take the regular Scotrail train to Glenfinnan, get off there and wait for the Jacobite to steam by. However, you'd need to check the schedule carefully so that you don't miss seeing the Jacobite. It's best seen westbound, so you could catch the Scotrail train that leaves prior to the Jacobite, hike up to the viewpoint, and wait for the Jacobite to come by.

This could leave you with a lot of time in Glenfinnan, but you could visit the museum and monument while you're waiting for a return train. If the Jacobite isn't full on the return journey, you could ride it back to Fort William on its way back from Mallaig. You could also take a Shiel bus back to Fort William from Glenfinnan. They run frequently.

You can leave your luggage at the Fort William train station, or you could inquire at your lodging whether you can drop your luggage early in the day. Most hotels and B&Bs will allow you to do that.

Better still, try to talk hubby in to driving!

Best wishes,

Mike (Auchterless)

p.s.: If you haven't already seen this from the WalkHighlands website:

www.walkhighlands.co.uk/fortwilliam/glenfinnan.shtml

p.p.s: Unfortunately, there is no direct train service from Fort William to Inverness. You'd have to go all the way back to Glasgow to do that. But fortunately, there are more frequent buses from Fort William to Inverness than there are from Oban to Fort William. Also, there is no train service from Oban to Glencoe, so you'd need to take the bus. For a complete traverse of the glen by bus, you'd need to switch to the southbound Glasgow bus at Ballachulish or Glencoe Village. Crainlarich or Tyndrum are the closest train stations to the south end of Glencoe. You can catch a Fort William bound train from there. There is also no direct train service from Oban to Inverness. Once again, you'd have to go all the way back to Glasgow. Bus (or taxi) is the only way to go, but it's a pleasant ride.

Posted by
21 posts

Hi Mike,

Thank you so much for the great information. Yes the link (WalkHighlands) you provided is the site I found the Glenfinnan Viaduct Hike on....Great site.

I will work on the car rental. I was hoping I could rent from Oban to Inverness (country driving) leg of our trip that way not need to worry about driving in Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Thanks again for your time and advice.

Cheers,

Kerry

Posted by
2010 posts

I can just add to Mike's excellent info by assuring you that the CityLink buses are reliable and very much used by local residents as well as visitors. Driving our rental car, we always experienced the bus drivers as very courteous and quite impressively skillful in driving those large buses along narrow, winding roads.

Posted by
556 posts

Hi again, Kerry,

Oban's a pretty small town. There appears to be only one car rental agency there, so you'd most likely have to return the car to the same location. There are several in Fort William, so you'd be better off renting there. There are a couple of major rental companies, and you'd stand a better chance of getting a one way rental from Fort William to Inverness. Actually, you could go directly to Fort William, hire the car there, and drive down to Oban. It's about a one hour drive.

The majority of rental cars in Scotland are standard transmission, so if neither of you is comfortable with driving a stick shift, request an automatic. Also, if it makes things any easier, both Glasgow and Edinburgh airports are outside the city, so it's possible to pick up and go without ever having to drive in the city. Inverness, although well signposted, can be a bit confusing to drive in. I've been there many times, and still somehow end up southbound on the A9 without meaning to. :( If it gets confusing, just park on the outskirts of town and take a bus in.

Best wishes once again!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
21 posts

Thanks for the information/advice. I am getting very excited about our upcoming trip.

Cheers,
Kerry

Posted by
5218 posts

I'm going to pile on for renting a car. It's not as scary as your husband fears. First of all, there are two of you, so he does not have to navigate, but instead can focus on driving or you can be the driver. I find that once you are out of the central belt, the traffic is not really bad. I pointed out to someone that Inverness is less than 50,000 people and that is the big city of the north. So, you don't need or want a car in Glasgow or Edinburgh, but everywhere else, it can come in handy. If you are traveling up to Oban, the easiest place to pick up a car would be the Glasgow airport. You can use the major carriers or the particularly Scottish ones and drop it off elsewhere in Scotland.

I really do think that the trickiest bit of traveling in the UK can be navigating. Say you are driving from Inverness to Ullapool. In US Speak you take the A9 north to the A835 where you head west. But in UK Speak, you take the A9 toward Thurso, or it might say a closer town, like Connan Bridge, or the Black Isle. And your turn is through a roundabout and you want and the direction may be to Fort William! I don't want to go to Fort William! So, a little planning and navigator resolves all these questions.

The second thing people worry about is single track roads. I always have a small car, and with a bit of practice, you get used to looking for the passing places. And, you enjoy the sense of community as you nod or lift your hand to the oncoming traffic. Here's a link that I have recommended about driving on single track roads in Scotland. And here's another which I just found which is also good as it points out that Single Track roads are not unique to Scotland. The first link is from Undiscovered Scotland which you should explore if you haven't already found it. It's terrific.

Pam

Posted by
21 posts

Thanks Pam, I will look into a car for sure.

Once again great information from everyone. I really don’t think we can go wrong as being my first trip anything is going to be great.
Thanks again

Posted by
43 posts

I rented a car in 2016 as a solo traveler and had a great time (it was late August). I did get the GPS since I didn't have a passenger to help me out. I don't like driving in big cities but from the rental place near the Glasgow airport it was not too hard to get on the highway to Oban. I loved having a car because of all the out-of-way places I wanted to see and not wanting to worry about missing buses or trains. I dropped it off in Inverness after driving around Mull and Skye and visiting sites near Inverness (Culloden and Clava Cairns and going to the cute town of Avoch for a dolphin boat trip). I used Celtic Legend for the car rental and they were so wonderful in responding to emails and I had no issues whatsoever (nice newer car). Plus, the cost was very good even with dropping it off in a different location and having the GPS. To help prepare, I looked at roads using Google Maps where you can drop the person onto the road to really see what it's like and also watched some videos on driving in Britain (on the left and roundabouts) that I found by just searching on the web and this person's website was helpful: http://orcutt.net/weblog/2013/03/15/driving-in-the-uk-a-survival-guide-for-americans/
So, you have my vote for car rental, too. Have fun - Scotland is awesome.