The Train to Inverness: Begin Your Search for the Loch Ness Monster

River Ness looking upstream from Glebe Street Inverness Scotland © Dave Conner http://www.flickr.com/photos/conner395/4970879359/

As the season continues to grow colder, darker, and stormier, it seems appropriate to talk about one of Britain’s eeriest, most mysterious destinations: the Scottish Highlands. Inverness is the main hub of the region, servicing travelers with eight rail stations and plenty of shopping. If you’re setting off with a Loch Ness monster search party, Inverness will probably be your first stop.

The Loch Ness monster draws travelers to this region of Scotland just as Bigfoot, UFOs, and other mysterious phenomena draw curious wanderers to other corners of the world. But while many may come for the monster, they’ll usually stay for the views: the Scottish highlands almost look like they come straight from the illustrated pages of a fairytale. Dark green hills, dark blue lochs (which is the Scottish term for “lakes”), and a thick, dark mist that never really seems to go away.

From Inverness to Loch Ness

It isn’t possible to take a train all the way to Loch Ness, and so the closest station will be in the town of Inverness about 13 miles north. Buses leave from Inverness three times daily Monday through Friday, and twice per day on Saturdays. These buses will take you to Foyer, a town on the east side of the Loch, where you’ll find trails to explore and accommodations if you’d like to stay the night. Alternatively, you could sign up for a guided bus tour from Inverness to the Loch, or many travelers will even rent a car and travel along the A82 highway at their own leisure.

Inverness Castle from the Crown area of Inverness Scotland © Dave Conner http://www.flickr.com/photos/conner395/5057753023/

London to Inverness with a Rail Pass

Your train will depart from Kings Cross Station in London and the ride is about 8 hours and 15 minutes long. Your pass covers the ticket price of the train, and you’re able to purchase an optional seat reservation supplement to guarantee a spot before you board. Even though we recommend that you purchase one, seat reservations aren’t required for this particular route since seating is generally not an issue.

Travel Tip: This train stops in Edinburgh along the way, and if you’re carrying a rail pass, you can hop off the train and spend an hour or so stretching your legs before hopping back on and continuing to Inverness – and you’ll only use one day on the pass! Just make sure to complete the entire trip within a 24 hour period from midnight to midnight. Seat reservations for each train can be purchased separately at the ticket counter in the train station.

London to Inverness with a Rail Ticket

There are significantly discounted fares available for travelers who purchase them more than a day in advance, and it is strongly recommended to do so. Since reservations are not required, your ticket will not come with a specific seat assignment, but you can purchase an optional one at the ticket counter in the train station once you arrive.

Edinburgh to Inverness with a Rail Ticket

If you’re starting out from Edinburgh instead of London, you’ll only have a three and a half hour train ride on to Inverness.  These tickets work the same way as those mentioned above: the earlier you purchase them, the better the price you’ll get.

Glasgow to Inverness with a Rail Ticket

Glasgow is another popular starting point in Scotland, and the trip is very similar to that from Edinburgh. The ride is just over three hours long with optional seat reservation supplements, and discounted advance-purchase tickets are a great deal. If you’re traveling with a BritRail Pass, this trip will be covered.

You can purchase any of these tickets 60-90 days in advance on Rail Europe’s website. We have live access to the same pricing that’s available locally at the train station, except we’re able to offer it in USD or CAD for your convenience. Point to point rail tickets are issued electronically, and rail passes will be shipped to you via UPS.

Join the thousands of curious explorers that have traveled up into the mysterious highlands to catch a glimpse of Nessie. And when you’re up there, don’t forget to take a look at the scenery surrounding the infamous loch. In addition to having the same mythical quality that gives Nessie her edge, it sure is pretty to look at.

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