Travel Between Central Belt and Inverness/Aberdeen/Elgin

Tornik Posts: 15
First Anniversary Combo Breaker
edited 24 June 2014 at 8:17PM in Scotland
Hi folks, I'm looking for some travel advice for the above destinations, and the Scotland forum seemed a logical place to start.

I'm moving to Elgin for work shortly, renting a room there, with my girlfriend staying at home in Falkirk for the next three months at least. Obviously, I'm keen to get home for as many weekends as possible, and I'm trying to work out the easiest/most cost effective way of doing so.

I'm looking at a combination of options - Megabus, trains or simply travelling by car, but I can;t help but wondering if I'm missing some painfully simple option that someone else might be able to point out to me.

As I say, I'm working in Elgin, so I have the option of travelling either to or from Aberdeen or Inverness and as I'm going to/from Falkirk, that means Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling are also valid options.

Can anyone help me with this?


  • bluebeary
    bluebeary Posts: 7,904 Forumite
    city link from inverness are really good and flexible if you have issues with making the departure bus you booked

    i went from glasgow to inverness and it wasnt notified on the board at the buchanan bus station so they let me take a later bus which included breakfast and a wee snack

    it is a long journey and quite tiring but the driver and assistant were quite entertaining

    if you book an open return, make sure you book your seat on the return bus you want to take at the bus station otherwise they might not have enough room for you and you might have to wait for the next one, i was lucky and they did have enough room but it was good advice the bus driver gave me

    i would imagine a train to be more comfortable for space and access to the loo

    fyi !!!

    if you do drive, be aware they have implemented a new speed camera system along the a9 which doesnt monitor your speed at various locations, the new cameras are bright yellow and monitor your average speed along the entire journey so if you go over 60 mph you will get into trouble

    the a9 is a treacherous with many accident recorded, long hold ups due to this so this is their way of solving this, just a heads up, happy days in elgin to you both
  • Nebulous2
    Nebulous2 Posts: 5,065
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Travelling Aberdeen to Glasgow/ Edinburgh - megabus is cheapest train is much more comfortable.

    If you use the train book well in advance and you can really knock the price down. I've seen Edinburgh to Aberdeen for £7.50 single with a railcard for instance.

    For one person train / bus will almost always be cheaper than driving.

    Driving A97 to Aberdeen is grim with the A9 definitely being better, though the driving on it is quite wild. The average speed cameras are not going live until October.
  • Tornik
    Tornik Posts: 15
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Thanks guys.

    For some reason, despite spending hours looking at the options, going direct to Citylink had never crossed my mind. Turns out they're probably the best option.

    As is rather typical in these situations, getting to/from the large cities (Aberdeen or Inverness) will be a doddle, it's getting to them from Elgin that'll be the annoying bit.
  • pogofish
    pogofish Posts: 10,852
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    edited 25 June 2014 at 9:59PM
    Bus to Aberdeen and judicious pre-booking of discount train fares would be my suggestion. Particularly when East Coast are doing their discount sales - Which can often see you in first class very cheaply.

    You could drive from Elgin to Aberdeen with reasonable economy if you are a fairly careful and moderate driver - An ex was in Lossie for a while and I went the other way on a regular basis. However any advantage in driving will be eaten-up by parking at Aberdeen. APCOA by the ferry terminal is probably the cheapest secure parking in the city centre and its handy for the bus/train.
  • OP, have you tried any of the car share sites?
  • Nebulous2
    Nebulous2 Posts: 5,065
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    I can't get this journey out of my head. It's like a logic puzzle that I can't find the answer for, but I'm pretty sure there must be one!

    First of all I drove to Elgin yesterday and its the A96, no idea why I said A97. Secondly even in a weekend outside of the busy period it isn't a pleasant road to drive.

    A few more thoughts. Train from Elgin to Edinburgh, is likely to be the best way of making the journey. It would be worth pricing it as two journeys to see if that was cheaper.

    If driving to Aberdeen then I think there is free parking at Dyce station. It would be easier leaving a car there and taking a train into Aberdeen than trying to leave a car in the centre of town.

    Much of that will depend on the comparative price of trains and buses. I'd be willing to pay a bit more for a train over a bus, but it would depend for me how much more I was being charged!
  • k1nky
    k1nky Posts: 7
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Have you looked at driving to Aviemore and catching the bus or train from there?

    Its almost the same distance from Elgin to Inverness or Aberdeen - also as Aviemore is south you are heading in the right direction when driving there which cuts your time on public transport.
    The mega/gold bus stops there as do the trains and parking is free.

    I've used this route many a time, one other thing the bus/train fares will be cheaper from Aviemore.

    Bets of luck.

  • Tornik
    Tornik Posts: 15
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Hi folks. There's a lot of good suggestions here, and I'm sorry for not answering any of them - getting settled has taken longer than I expected.

    At the moment, my plan will be to get a local bus from Elgin to Aberdeen and get the train to Stirling from Aberdeen.

    There's a few reasons behind this. Although the travel time to Aberdeen is longer, there are more travel options for heading South from there than there are from Inverness.

    Getting the bus from Elgin to Aberdeen offers more flexibility as well, as there are limited services to and from Elgin.

    There will be little price difference between taking the train down and the bus, as I'll likely be booking far enough in advance, and at off-peak times, that the train fare won't be sitting at its usual extortionate levels.

    I hadn't actually thought of travelling to Aviemore, but going anywhere by car at the moment isn't a possibility, as my car is back home for the foreseeable future.
  • PurpleSkies
    PurpleSkies Posts: 270 Forumite
    I'm originally from the north-east but now live in Edinburgh so I'm a regular Edinburgh-Elgin traveller to go visit my family.

    I usually get the train and have been quite lucky in getting the advanced single tickets for £15.70 each way.

    I have used the megabus a few times but it's extremely rare to get a fare for less than £8 each way. I've never been able to get anything cheaper! Also you still have the onward travel to consider. An advanced single train ticket from Aberdeen to Elgin is £8.50.
    It's been years since I got the local bus from Aberdeen so I have no idea what it costs these days but I don't think it's cheap!

    I hope you're enjoying Elgin. Don't spend all your weekends in Joanna's & Downtown! :p
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