London to Edinburgh by Train

We're traveling to a friend's wedding in Scotland and are considering rail from London to Edinburgh. We have always taken a plane in the past, but have a little more time and thought it might be a nice change of pace. If anyone has any suggestions or thoughts on this option, would be most appreciated.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3300 posts

The trip is okay. Once you get up toward York it gets scenic. I've done the trip a few times and it was pleasant. The more scenic train rides are north of Edinburgh. ; ) If you're already in London and headed to Scotland then it's a great idea. If you're flying into London, and then taking the Heathrow Express to London and then catching the train, I think I'd just fly. ; ) Pam

Posted by Tim
Minneapolis, MN, USA
8641 posts

Full fare tickets for long distance trains in the UK are very expensive. Fortunately, by booking tickets ASAP (up to 12 weeks in advance) on the East Coast site you can get cheap discount fares. However, those tickets are for a specific departure date and time and are non-exchangeable and non-refundable. If you plan to go on to Edinburgh on the same day as your flight arrives in London, you need to build in plenty of connection time (at least four hours) so you don't miss your train. Since you say you'll have lots of time, play it safe and allow five or six hours so you won't have to worry about getting thrown off schedule if your plane arrives late. Or bite the bullet and buy tickets when you get to the King's Cross station and jump on the next train. Take the Tube (Piccadilly Line) from Heathrow to King's Cross/St Pancras. The ride takes about one hour.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8743 posts

Just to elaborate on Tim's answer - the Underground from Heathrow takes about an hour to Kings Cross - St Pancras. The train from London to Edinburgh takes a while longer. If arriving at Gatwick instead of Heathrow you have choices there too. Gatwick Express or Southern from the airport rail station straight into London Victoria (Gatwick Express nonstop, Southern will stop at least at East Croydon, maybe one or two more), then Victoria Line Underground to Kings Cross - St Pancras; or a different train company called First Capital Connect is somewhat slower and stops frequently but goes direct to Kings Cross - St Pancras without changing. Euston is one stop less on the Victoria Line but less convenient from the First Capital Connect. From London to Edinburgh by train there are 3 usual choices. Fastest is the East Coast train referred to in the previous answers. Fastest (up to 125 or 140 mph in places), can be very cheap, and as you go north quite scenic - sit on the right if you can.
Slower are the Virgin trains up the West Coast Main Line from London Euston which, like both of the other two, end the journey at Edinburgh Waverley. The route is more winding, mostly at 125 mph, goes generally along the route of the Grand Union Canal until the Midlands, then through Staffordshire and Cheshire to Crewe, then through the gorgeous scenery of the Lake District to Carlisle, turns right to and through Glasgow and into Edinburgh. Slowest of all is the First Caledonian Sleeper which leaves Euston 6 days a week before midnight using the West Coast Main Line and arrives in Edinburgh for breakfast.

Posted by Laurel
Arlington, WA
829 posts

Laurita, I love England and I love riding train. If you have the time and now the more practical information Nigel, has given you, I say give it a go. Waverly station in Edinburgh is very central so getting from there to your hotel is a piece of cake.

Posted by Christopher
25 posts

If it were me I would take the Heathrow express to Paddington and take a Taxi to Kings Cross, baggage on the tube can be no fun what so ever. Oh, and sit on the Right side of the Train, great view of the coast line after Newcastle.

Posted by Patty
Steilacoom, WA, USA
304 posts

I have to agree with Christopher about sitting on the right side and the scenery is better past Newcastle. We did this trip after arriving from the West Coast and my husband wasn't thrilled with the tight seats in 2nd class. I agree about building in plenty of time, but we discovered they were quite strict about not changing us to an earlier train unless we chose to buy new tickets. Very nice, but no changes. So, have a plan B for extra time.

Posted by Beth
Annapolis, MD
15 posts

We love trains and that trip is one of our favorites. ALWAYS plan whatever else we are doing around taking that train. If you can, stop over in York. (See associated thread.) Expensive but fun, relaxing, scenic, and a "must do".