Day 1 (Tuesday)
- I arrived at London Heathrow airport at around 11:30 AM. Immigration was quick, using e-gates that only people with passports from select countries can use. The distance between the arrival gate, immigration, and the train station was immense. Much longer than even the new, longer distance at SLC. I took the Heathrow Express to Paddington (paid for via contactless credit card), and then took Underground lines to King’s Cross (again, paid via contactless).
- At King’s Cross (KGX) I bought a ticket on LNER Azuma service to Edinburgh Waverley, which was leaving in 20 minutes. The train passes through countryside but “calls” at York, Durham, and Berwick-upon-Tweed; nearing Edinburgh the East Coast Main Line hugs the North Sea coast.
- After arriving at Waverley I walked up the stairs to High Street and then over to my hotel. I dropped things off in the room and headed over to the base of Arthur’s Seat and hiked up to the peak before sunset.
- Once back down at city level, I walked around the city and then got a pie and pint at Halfway House (which I had seen on the walk up the stairs several hours prior).
Day 2 (Wednesday)
- I checked out of the hotel at 11 AM and walked over the to Left Luggage business at Waverley station to store my big backpack for the day. After that I walked over to the platform where a ScotRail DMU train was waiting to depart for Cowdenbeath. (I bought tickets at a machine.)
- I alighted (disembarked) the train at North Queensferry and walked down the hill to the riverside to get a better view of the Forth Bridge (the first one, that carries two railway tracks). I also used a public toilet at a little car park here. (I placed all of my Forth Bridge photos below.)
- The hill back up to North Queensferry station was pretty steep and I hoofed it to make the next train in the return direction so I could get to the other side of the River Forth to Dalmeny. (Trains are only ever 30 minutes on this line.)
- Once in Dalmeny on the south side of the Firth of Forth (a river estuary) I walked down the hill to the riverside, which is in (South) Queensferry, and over to a pier where I bought a ticket for the day’s final sailing of the 90-minutes-long Maid of the Forth river cruise – I didn’t plan ahead for this, it was something I spotted and the schedule worked. When you’re traveling solo, you don’t have a hotel, and your train leaving the city isn’t for another nine hours you need stuff to do to fill the time – but the river cruise turned out to be a pretty awesome way to spend the time and £17.
- Back at the dock I walked over to the town of (South) Queensferry. Both towns are named such because former Queen Margaret of Scotland used both points to cross the river. Queensferry has some great urbanism: being set in a hill, there are shops on the flat part at the bottom of the hill, then a large sidewalk above them and entrances to shops and row houses next to this sidewalk – the hill is completely disguised.
- Next to Queensferry are two road bridges over the River Forth. The old one was found to have structural issues and is used only for taxis, pedestrians, cyclists, and transit. Adjacent to it is the bridges’ maintenance and monitoring facility and a public viewing deck that offers views of all three bridges. There’s another public toilet here, and a kiosk.
- I walked back over to Dalmeny (the town under the Forth Railway Bridge) and had my dinner early at The Rail Bridge Café. I ate a plate of haggis, neeps, and tatties (haggis is “savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver, and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock”, and neeps are mashed turnips, and tatties are mashed potatoes). It was delicious and I would like to have it again.
- After four hours in the towns around the Forth Bridge, it was time to head back to Edinburgh. I boarded ScotRail back to the city and alighted at Edinburgh Gateway, a station to transfer to trams to the airport or city center. I took the tram to the city center and alighted at Princes Street, the main shopping street.
- From Princes Street I walked to the Leith River and on to Leith and Newhaven. I walked around Leith to a bus route that would take me back to Waverley station.
- Once at Waverley station I retrieved my left luggage and paid £15 (which is a convenience for not having to spend half an hour to return to the hotel up the hill to get it if I had left it for free and less secure at the hotel).
- I bought some snacks at M&S Food and ate them in the station waiting room until I found out at which platform the Caledonian Sleeper would be waiting. (I used the National Rail website to find out because its late departure meant it would be a while before it showed up on the overhead departure screens.)
- I boarded the train, found my room, and immediately started changing into pajamas and brushed my teeth. I was in bed by the time the train departed at 23:40. The sleeper train has a lounge car, but I don’t think the timing of this train allows it to be used conveniently.
- [overnight train, waking up on Day 3] The train arrived at London’s Euston Station at 6:30 AM, about 37 minutes earlier than the Caledonian Sleeper’s “tips and tricks” webpage indicated. This is also when the attendant brought everyone in my carriage their coffee and breakfast snack.
- Passengers must disembark by 7:30 AM, and that’s about when I did. I exited the station and walked two blocks to my hotel for the next three nights in London. Continue to day 3…
Forth Bridge photos
Transportation so far
- Heathrow Express (non-stop service from Heathrow Airport to London Paddington station)
- Jubilee Line
- Victoria Line
- LNER Azuma service on the East Coast Main Line (top speed is said to be 125 MPH)
- ScotRail (provides intercity and regional services but I took it only to towns 25 minutes away from Edinburgh)
- Edinburgh Trams
- Lothian Buses
- Caledonian Sleeper