Day 1


A typical Autumnal morning found my travelling companion and me waiting at Manchester Piccadilly to catch the 09:58 Virgin Cross Country train to Glasgow Central. Yes I know this is more straight up than across and strictly speaking it means crossing two countries (if the Scots have there own way)! But I don’t make up the names.


Our Virgin Voyager train at Manchester Piccadilly & Glasgow Central


The Virgin Voyager’s travel between Manchester and Glasgow or Edinburgh every couple of hours but the particular reason for catching the 09:58 is tickets for the service can be purchased through the website,

 Now some of you might already be familiar with this web site but for the uninitiated please read the next sentence very carefully! If you book approximately fourteen days in advance two people can travel on this service for …… £6.50 No it’s not a typo that really is 2 adults Manchester to Glasgow for six pounds and fifty pence in total.


Our final destination however is not Glasgow but the highland city of Inverness. Our train arrives at Glasgow Central bang on time after an uneventful journey at 13:26. The next and final leg of the journey to Inverness is on First Scotrail with a departure from Glasgow’s other mainline station Queen Street at 16:12 which gives almost three hours to kill in Glasgow. One could do much worse than to spend some or all of this time in the Good Beer Guide listed Horseshoe Bar tucked away on Dury Street about 100 metres from Central Station.


The Horseshoe Bar and Lunch Menu


The Horseshoe Bar  is reputed to have the longest bar counter in the uk! The counter is in the shape of a horseshoe, and the horseshoe motif is repeated over and over again in the classic unspoilt interior. The wonderful interior and real ales kept on top form should be enough to woo the discerning traveller but if that isn’t enough why not call in and partake in the three course lunch offer for the princely some of £3.45 for three courses!! I kid you not. Whilst it’s hardly going to be a recipient of a Michelin Star for the grub at this price it is excellent value and a much better proposition that the ‘fast food’ outlets that seemingly occupy every street corner.




 Glasgow has many excellent real ale pubs and bars but as time was short we only had time for one more establishment before heading off to the station for our train to Inverness. The bar of our choice was The Pot Still on Hope Street. This again is an entry in the 2007 Good Beer guide and usually has 6 real ales available. However the real draw is the Whisky menu! The Pot Still boasts over four hundred whisky's from Scotland and further a field. 


The Pot Still, Hope St. Glasgow



Cockles suitably warmed we boarded the train for Inverness. The highland line to Inverness is ruggedly beautiful, however as this was Autumn the journey north was sadly under the cover of darkness. This did however allow time to confirm our food and drink arrangements for the evening.


Welcome to Inverness



After checking in at the Royal Highland Hotel, built by the Highland Railway Company in 1854 and immediately adjacent to the station we headed of to Good Beer Guide listed Blackfriars. Turning right out of the station the Blackfriars is approximately 150 metres along this road. Offering up to 8 real ales and hosting regular real ale festivals this is probably the City centre's premier real ale emporium. Feeling flushed with the success of over four hundred miles travelled and bargains galore we decided to go a little up market for dinner. Rocpool was our chosen location, a smart, chic restaurant sitting beside the river Ness. Cool and stylish but friendly Rocpool offers commendable modern European cooking. Suitably impressed we headed back to our hotel to look forward to our first night in one of Scotland's famous station hotels and the excitement of another days rail travel to come.