A reminder why I stopped taking the bus years ago

As I outlined in a previous post, half term sees me heading up to Scotland to see my parents and I chose, in what I acknowledge now to be a fit of madness, to travel up overnight on the MegabusGold Sleeper bus.

I arrived at London’s Victoria Coach Station at around 2215 to give me time to change into shorts. At about 2245 the bus arrived and we were soon boarding.

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People complain about British Airway’s boarding protocols, but even at their worst, these were ordered compared to the Megabus.

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We were called forward and told to go to the rear door – there were two. The furthest one was for luggage, but by the time the people at the front had handed in their bags, there was another queue to get on.

Once on, I was show upstairs to my bunk and the reality of the journey sunk in. It was not the romantic notion of whizzing up north whilst dreaming of my upcoming holidays. As I was on a through-ticket to Inverness, changing at Glasgow, I had been assigned a lower bunk with no option to self-select or upgrade, which I would have had if I had just been going to Glasgow. The bunk above me was already occupied and it was clear that there was very little room. I simply had to take of my shoes and wiggle in.

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As you can see from the photo above, there is not much room. I was on the right hand side of the bus with one upper and one lower bunk. The left hand side has a double at the bottom and a single on the top. In my opinion, my bunk was the worst as there was no way to sit up. The upper bunk is more of a hammock, so the body above sinks down slightly, meaning that there was maximum 15cm between me and the bunk above. In other words, it was impossible for me to lie on my side and move my arm from behind to in front of me without hitting the bed above.

The lower bunk is made up of the folded down leather seats, covered with a bed sheet. I found mine didn’t stay on very well and resulted in me slipping all over the place as the bus moved. It also didn’t help that there was nothing to hang on to, and a gap between bunk and wall. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well at all. I think I maybe slept for 2 of the 7 hours it took.

We arrived into Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station 45 minutes early, so credit where it is due. I had a 75 minute lay-over, so I had time to change and nip out to a nearby Starbucks for a much-needed caffeine hit.

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The Inverness leg was on Citylink Gold, where refreshments are served en route. Except that the boiler was broken meaning that there were no hot drinks. Only in Scotland could Irn Bru, scones, shortbread and tablet be considered breakfast.

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This is a route that I have travelled many times, and I know the road very well. I did think that it was a pleasure to be able to look out the window and enjoy the amazing scenery. As a Geography, I couldn’t help thinking about the glacial processes that would have taken place to form the landscapes. We arrived into Inverness about 45 minutes late due to traffic on the way.

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The journey cost £50 one way and was £100 cheaper than the equivalent trip on the train. I am not sure if the experience was particularly bad because of my bunk, but I don’t think that it was worth the saving. It has been 10 years since I last took an overnight bus journey from London to Inverness, and I hope that it will be at least another 10 before I have to do it again!

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2 thoughts on “A reminder why I stopped taking the bus years ago

  1. […] Christmas travel is always tricky – busy roads, weather issues and lots of bags means that whatever method you choose it is always going to be a pain in the back side. Brothers both chose to fly up to Scotland this year and both were beset with delays and cancellations; we let the train take the strain this time. As I wrote here, there were lots of options, but the Caledonian Sleeper  won out, especially over the Sleeper bus! […]

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