… train departs Oban, calling at Connell Ferry, Taynuilt, Falls of Cruachan, Loch Awe, Dalmally, Tyndrum Lower, Crianlarich, Ardlui, Arrochar and Tarbet, Garelochhead, Helensburgh Upper, Dumbarton Central, Dalmuir…
Extracts from subsequent correspondence:
1130 arriving Glasgow QS 1600, Ed after that. Currently drinking second cup of coffee in Oban.
1133 Hope they make good coffee in Oban. We shall see you this evening.
1201 they sell good hot-smoked salmon on the pier. I bring some.
1506 trees on line S of Crianlarich, train stopped, engineers coming to rescue us. I reserve right to eat the salmon.
1543 [message not sent; no signal] reversing to Crianlarich; main line S blocked
1615 now going forward but will be late
1653 … currently at Ardlui and about three hours late. The gales have brought trees down along the line. But we’re going forwards now when we do go, which is an improvement. There was a time when we were going to reverse to Crianlarich, and there was a time after that when we couldn’t go either backwards or forwards, or sideways, or on the roads because they’re blocked too, and we were all going to have to stay in Crianlarich for the night in one of those situations that happen in detective novels. But now we have heroic engineers who keep clearing the way for us. If we reach Glasgow by nightfall we’ll have done well.
For iron rations I have smoked salmon from Oban pier and honey from Colonsay.
… The West Highlands are impressively wet. So are the engineers, I would imagine. The train is about to inch forwards…
1746 Arrochar & Tarbet. We’ve stopped for the engineer to cut down some more trees…
1848 Looks as though they are aiming to restart trains from Glasgow QS to Edinburgh on a reduced service shortly. Are you on the move again yet?
1932 Still working our way down Loch Lomond… The line is covered in wet leaves so sometimes it’s difficult to get any traction. However, there is heat and light, and the guard makes announcements diligently, and the catering staff give us packets of muffins. Salmon and wet leaf salad with honey dressing remains in the future.
The guard says we’re the only train running, quite possibly in the whole of Scotland – everything else has closed down, including the Forth Bridge. At the moment, assuming we get to Glasgow tonight, it looks as if we might need to stay there.
– we have stopped for tree 14 –
Now we’re under way again, and that was the head of the loch. Over the hills to Helensburgh and the Clyde.
2008 …tree 17, but I can see Helensburgh through the swirling rain. And I found a packet of little cheesy biscuits. I am washing them down with free Scotrail water.
We are four hours behind schedule. More than that. Once this happened to me crossing the channel the day after a hurricane. It was four hours late (and all the schoolchildren were sick), so the connecting train made it to Paris about two a.m., and then the SNCF gave us a blanket each and sent us off to sleep in a train they happened to have handy.
Helensburgh. By the time we get to Queen Street they might have started running trains to Edinburgh again.
2013 Not the worst weather here but electricity went off an hour ago
2100 nearly at QS. There seems to be a 2130 to Edinburgh: aiming for that.
2101 My fingers are crossed for a happy issue out of all your afflictions. I hope ScotRail are better than SNCF.
2102 nearly at Queen Street! 5 hours late. No electricity in Orkney.
2110 Dear me, have watched news, seems you are travelling through worst area. Power came back at 20.47… Hope you get safely to Auld Reekie.
2130 On 2130 from Queen Street, due to arrive 2225 or thereabouts (or five hours later).
2131 Now on Edinburgh train with beef burger. Probably safe to uncross fingers.
2133 There is spaghetti bolognese here, if you are peckish again by the time you get here.
2142 This train goes! we haven’t stopped for ten whole minutes. Please continue to defend spaghetti from predators.
2207 Predator heading for bed. He has an exam tomorrow morning. The spaghetti is safe.
2321 Made it.
R: I go to Oban by rail from Greenock in August to join a boat. I hope my train ride is less dramatic!