Day Trip to Inverness? Why Not?

"I've found a good deal on first class sleeper tickets, we should go," said my 16 year old nephew.

I mean, why wouldn't you consider a day trip to Inverness when you live the other end of the country?

After checking out the details, and the current state of my bank account, we booked tickets. Why not? 'Tomorrow's never promised' is my mantra, and anyway the trip promised to be fun.

Travelling light, carrying a small backpack complete with a change of underwear, deodorant and lippy, off we went. My nephew had a backpack full of camera gear and promised me he'd also included a clean pair of pants or two.

The Caledonian Sleeper ready to depart at Euston Station, London.

Thankfully we didn't take a suitcase as we would have had difficulty in navigating the carriage's narrow corridor. My nephew is nearly 6 foot tall and skinny as a rake ~ see how much space he had!

The adjoining cabins were small but adequate. I would have loved an ensuite ~ sharing a public loo isn't fun. I believe the Sleeper service is having a makeover with new (train) stock in the autumn. A sink in the cabin was useful, along with free Sleep Over Kit (a nice touch), complete with soap, ear plugs, lavender pillow spray (smelt divine) and a sleep mask. I didn't use the earplugs though I can imagine for some people they would be useful.

I found the rocking of the carriage and background noise quite soporific. That is until the fire alarm sounded at 2am! Flinging on clothes over jammies, banging on next doors cabin (my nephew can, and did, sleep through anything), concerned fellow passengers poking heads around cabin doors asking, "Is this for real?" Not long before the night crew made an appearance, fear in their eyes, rushing down the carriage to see what was what. Turned out to be a sheepish, pesky smoker in a toilet. Relief all round for the false alarm. This I might add was before I saw the first episode of the BBC series, 'Bodyguard.'

Was the trip worth a day trip to Inverness? Yes, we packed a lot in:

* A walk around town to get our bearings

* A bus tour

* Inverness Castle and Museum

The Swaying Bridge ~ wobbles as people pass each other on the walkway.

Inverness from the Castle. Look at that sky!

We also squeezed in a boat trip on Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle.

You'd think those black clouds would have given a clue as to what might happen next wouldn't you? Mid Loch and halfway to the Castle the heavens opened with torrential rain and freezing hailstones that felt the size of golf balls. They hurt! People screamed and children huddled against their parents, crying, as the crew handed out delightful purple poncho's. I have to say we found it hilarious (not the children being upset), I mean what's the point of getting angry?

Loch Ness

The return journey on Loch Ness wasn't without drama for the ferry become central to the Coastguard's 'Man over Board' drill. I'm sure the captain would have known what was about to happen but I think the crew had been kept in the dark. Startled by the circling helicopter they soon sprang into efficient action, shepherding us away from the railings and seating area.

It was extraordinary to watch how skilful the Coastguard crew were in landing a winch man on deck while keeping the helicopter steady (and us safe no doubt). Unfortunately perhaps, as I don't record everything that happens in life, this is the only photo I have of the incident. I'm sure that some of the tourists on the boat thought that this was a spectacle for the price of the ticket, just to entertain them! Loud cheers and applause as the helicopter veered off, the winch man still hanging below and waving goodbye.

Lastly, I didn't sleep much on the return journey and as it turned out, it was a blessing. At sunrise we sped through the stunning landscape of the Lake District. An area of the country I've yet to visit, the scenery just breathtaking.

An eventful 36 hours ~ it's amazing what you can pack in a day or so ~ would recommend the Sleeper

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