Belfast to London. Boat. Coach. Train. Part two.

I left yesterday’s report somewhere on the SailRail coach from Cairnryan port to the railway station at Ayr.

The journey itself took about one hour and ten minutes alongside some beautiful scenery.  Sit on the left side of the bus if you want the best views.

At around 19.35 we arrived at Ayr railway station, just in time for the 19.45 Scotrail train to Glasgow Central.  If for whatever reason there had been traffic, then the next service would have been an hour later at 20.45, however still would have left ample time to get the Sleeper home.

Ayr station has clearly seen better times.  It’s a lovely bit of Victorian architecture and there clearly was a old railway hotel there.  Sadly quite a lot of it has fallen into disrepair, but Network Rail seem to be doing some of it up.

The journey from Ayr to Glasgow Central took about 50 minutes and we arrived on time at about 20.35.  The sleeper train doesn’t depart until 23.15 and there’s no first class lounge at Glasgow open that late (the last Virgin Trains services are long gone), so I went in search of dinner.  From a quick look at Opentable, I found a great place, the Urban Brasserie, a few minutes walk from the station.

After some really delicious duck confit and lemon tart it was already 22.00 and time to head back to the station.

Tonight, it was due to depart from platform 10 and the staff started to let people on the platform from about 22.15.  However there did appear to be an issue with the train so it was about another 30 minutes before they actually let us on.

The cabin attendant checked everyone’s names off the list and asked what people would like for breakfast.  On board itself, it is definitely cosy!

The cabins are getting on a bit – I think they were originally specified in the 1970s and have seen many, many miles.  New coaches are coming in 2018.

However it had everything that you’d need for an overnight, including a little amenity kit, a bottle of water and a couple of pillows.  There’s also a sink cleverly hidden.  However there are no plug sockets in the cabin at all. Thankfully there were four USB ports that had clearly been refitted relatively recently.

There are two toilets at the end of each carriage.

The first and standard class births are identical – the only difference is that in first class you get the entire cabin to yourself.  You can see in the photos where the upper bunk folds down.

There’s also a fully stocked lounge car serving a wide variety of drinks and food, which to be honest you’ll need if you’re going to get a decent nights sleep!  When I got there, it was actually full so simply retired back to my cabin to get some sleep.

I sort of slept. Ish.  I’m normally a pretty good and fall asleep anywhere, however didn’t really get a very good night’s rest.  I highly recommend either copious amounts of whisky or your sleeping pill of choice, zopiclone, ambien, vallium, whatever!

I think we arrived about 06.30 into Euston.  The cabin attendant brought me breakfast at 06.45 as I’d asked; it was smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, which wasn’t bad.  The coffee was instant.

Caledonian Sleeper First Class breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs

I managed to finish most of it and then groggily exited from platform 1 at Euston and made my way into the tube, and back home in search of espresso and a shower.

Overall, it can be a nice way to travel.  In terms of the value for money, if you’re not in a rush, it can’t be beaten.  I probably would do it again, but on one of the longer routes up to the highlands where there’s time for a longer sleep.

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