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Family half-term cycle holiday in the highlands

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  1. SRD

    October is probably not the best month to decide to take two under-fives on holiday. We had a lovely time in Kirkmichael – the weather was very nice for walking, the local community shop was great, we saw lots of deer and highland cows and birds. We did lots of exploring, enjoyed the fireplace, everyone ate well and we had quite a lot of fun. It _was_ cold, and it did snow, briefly. All of our clothes also ended up covered in mud….but the hot baths at the end of the day were much enjoyed.

    But, I honestly can’t recommend that other people try a similar trip, unless your kids are small enough to still be in babyseats in which case it becomes awfully difficult to carry enough clothes etc. This is because Scotrail won’t carry tandems or trailers. Our tandem fits fine in the ‘bike space’ but they still have right to refuse carriage*. We didn’t try to take the trailer, but wished we had (panniers were a pain, and made the bikes rather too prone to falling over).

    This was our route to/from Pitlochry – check out the elevation! It would have been lovely cycling if it hadn’t hailed.... There was a great rainbow, but I didn’t stop to take a picture. It was a hard cycle, but we did feel good for having done it.

    Really wish I could say that we’ll be doing this again – we’d love to, in slightly better weather – but probably not unless the Scotrail franchise terms are changed so that tandems can be carried and/or more than 2 bike spaces can be reserved. see more on this from Spokes here and please do lobby/contribute to the debate if you'ld like to be able to take train/bike trips with your family too!

    *We didn't know this when we booked the tickets and bike reservations!

    Posted 9 years ago #
  2. Dave

    It's all the more silly when you consider that there isn't a problem over the space taken up on the train, just the fact that there are two seats! At least a rule that said "we reserve the right not to carry anything (bikes, prams, fat folk) which would cause the aisle to be blocked" would be consistent.

    Have done the climb up from Pitlochry a couple of times - hard enough with nothing to carry!

    Good to hear there were some redeeming features at least :)

    Posted 9 years ago #
  3. Min

    It seems rather stupid to have such restrictions. It is not like to are trying to take something that can't actually be fitted. (Like that woman who wanted to drive her motor buggy onto a Lothian Bus.)

    Though really, trying to carry anything bigger than a handbag on trains in the last several years has become difficult and stressful. Train operators are more preoccupied with trying to squeeze more cattle people in than with actually providing a service. I went on one long distance train once (to Swansea) where the overhead luggage racks were so thin you couldn't even fit a small bag onto them. Everyone was sitting with their bags piled on their knees because there was literally nowhere to put anything. For four and a half hours.

    Glad you overall mostly enjoyed the trip though! The photos look lovely.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  4. DaveC

    Wow that looks like an exercise in organisation. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip. We cycled round Loch Rannoch in May and had to take cars as the train to Pitlochery only takes 2 cycles at a time!

    I echo the thoughts of others. Rail in this country is geared to commuters and not 'travelers'. There are a few trains which have a traditional baggage car, but their are not publised, or are available at all stops. I've been on the train at Inverkeithing where the platform is long enough and nearly got stuck on the train when the guard had locked the door so I couldn't get out.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  5. crowriver

    Looks like fun!

    Sorry to hear your Scotrail experience was a bit nerve wracking. I've had mostly positive train journeys so far, even with a trailer. It helps if your trailer either looks like a shopping trolley (the first I bought does), or is easy to disassemble and pack in a bag (eg. Carry Freedom Y-Frame).

    After all, the size of the luggage some travellers take on trains beggars belief on occasion! Yet to see anyone chucked off due to a massive suitcase or holdall mind.

    The tandem issue is a bit more tricky: they are a bit long even with front wheel removed - though I presume the Helios with its small wheels is not that much longer than a normal bike. Once the Ute arrives I'm going to test out the Scotrailability of the steed: will it fit? Only 10" longer than a normal bike but those spaces can be tight...

    Posted 9 years ago #
  6. SRD

    yes, our trailer folds down quite nicely too, but didn't want to give scotrail any further excuses for stopping us. the stress of getting on the train, and then getting home nearly ruined it all.

    the helios does fit in the haymarket lift though :)

    Posted 9 years ago #

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