Caledonian Sleeper celebrates Highlands with North Coast 500 event

Overnight rail service Caledonian Sleeper is offering guests a glimpse of the Highlands before they even reach their destination this Wednesday (21 November).

Inspired by Lonely Planet naming the Scottish Highlands and Islands as one of the top regions in the world for travellers in 2019, the event on the London to Inverness service will provide guests with an insight into what makes the area so unique.

Hosted by the North Coast 500 – the ultimate road trip around the north of Scotland – guests in the Lounge Car will be able hear why the area was heralded ‘as one of the wildest, least inhabited and most scenic parts of Europe’. A taste of whiskies local to the region can also be enjoyed with guests served a dram of single malt from Glen Ord and Clynelish distilleries, both of which are owned by Diageo and located on the North Coast 500 route.

Gabbi Armstrong, Business Relationship Adviser at North Coast 500, who will lead the event on board, commented: “The Highlands and Islands is famed for its dramatic scenery, wild landscapes, rich history and mouth-watering food and drink and we couldn’t think of a better time to showcase the very best of the area to Caledonian Sleeper guests.

“Just a few miles outside of London guests will be able to hear why this corner of the world is so unique and popular, learning how the North Coast 500 is one of the best ways to experience it. With a dram of a local whisky in hand, this will be a great opportunity for guests to find out what makes the Highlands and Islands so special. We’ll even be providing a complimentary map of the route so that they can plan their own Highland adventure.”

The North Coast 500 event forms part of a calendar of on board events organised by Caledonian Sleeper to offer guests a series of Scottish-inspired experiences.

Graham Kelly, Serco’s Guest Experience Director at Caledonian Sleeper, added: “There’s something really magical about leaving London in the evening and waking up the next morning in the beauty of the Highlands and with this event we’re bringing that magic to life even earlier.

“We’re really proud to transport guests to this great part of Scotland six nights a week and hope that the event in partnership with North Coast 500 inspires even more people to enjoy an area with global recognition.”

To find out more about the Caledonian Sleeper, visit

Caledonian Sleeper guests treated to bedtime stories of Edinburgh’s dark past

Guests of Caledonian Sleeper were treated to a social history extravaganza as a storyteller from The Real Mary King’s Close climbed on board to tell tales of Edinburgh’s dark past yesterday evening (Thursday 1 November).

Themed for Halloween and hosted on board the London to Edinburgh service, the event offered guests a unique insight into the city’s rich history and some of Edinburgh’s most notable characters through a series of short stories told by Robert Fergusson – a well-known 18th century poet who had a great influence on Robert Burns.

Played by Mark Hannah, a character tour guide from The Real Mary King’s Close, Mr Fergusson regaled passengers with stories of his time in Edinburgh, as well as the people that followed him, including the infamous gruesome twosome Burke and Hare.

Speaking of the event, Mark commented: “There’s no better time than Halloween to bring history to life. At the Close, we invite guests to step down into Edinburgh’s hidden history. We tell the intriguing real stories of the city’s past residents, and offer an immersive walk-through of the city’s uniquely preserved streets and spaces; all located underneath Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile. To be asked to bring a small selection of some of our favourite stories to guests travelling on the Caledonian Sleeper has been thrilling.”

The Halloween event forms a calendar of on board events organised by Caledonian Sleeper to offer guests a series of Scottish-inspired experiences and follows a similar storytelling event with The Real Mary King’s Close last year.

Graham Kelly, Serco’s Guest Experience Director at Caledonian Sleeper, added: “We were very excited to welcome The Real Mary King’s Close back for a second Halloween.

“Travelling through the night on board Caledonian Sleeper is magical in itself but by adding these truly Scottish events, including the historical tales from Edinburgh’s most famous street, we’re able to make the journey even more enchanting and memorable. We hope guests enjoyed the event and weren’t too spooked before bed.”

To find out more about The Real Mary King’s Close, visit

To find out more about the Caledonian Sleeper, visit

Discover Adventurous Aberdeenshire with Caledonian Sleeper

Dramatic coastlines framed by long rolling beaches, peaked mountains standing tall between fast flowing rivers, an abundance of distilleries, castles and history, as well as countless adventure sports regardless of the season, the North East 250 offers it all for those seeking an authentic yet adventurous Scottish experience.

Start your journey in Aberdeen, a vibrant modern city entwined with an intriguing historic past.  Just a short walk from the bustling industrial harbour in the heart of the city, you will be immersed in the city’s historic fishing past as you wander through old cobbled streets and small cottages in Footdee (known locally as Fittie).  Enjoy a stroll along the beach esplanade, or take a boat trip and watch the local dolphins play in the surf on the fringes of the city.

As you move along the route to the west, you can be sure of a royal welcome in Deeside, home to Balmoral and Braemar castles, steeped in history and surrounded by mountainous scenery, fast-flowing rivers, moody moors and enchanting forests.  Wildlife is in abundance and the River Dee provides plentiful salmon fishing opportunities with a chance to take in the stunning scenery at leisure.  Visit Aberdeenshire Highland Cattle Farm where you can get up close with Scotland’s own much loved hairy coos!

For the energetic, Deeside and the Cairngorms is the perfect location for cycling, hillwalking and climbing, with 15 Munroes nearby to conquer (maybe not all in one day!).  Glen Tanar offers a variety of country sports and activities including horse riding, fishing and wildlife photography, while the Braemar Highland Experience allows visitors to get close to the natural beauty and culture of Deeside through guided walks and off road tours. Glenshee Ski Centre is open all year, offering skiing when the snow descends, as well as trips on the chair lift throughout summer showcasing stunning mountaintop views.

Home to over half of Scotland’s distilleries, Speyside offers a range of distillery experiences and whiskies to savour.  Visit The Glenlivet Distillery near Tomintoul for a sensory introduction to the whisk-making process, and enjoy the coffee shop and on-site gift shop too.  A few miles along the road, the Ballindalloch Distillery will share the art of making whisky their way, which can be complemented by a visit to nearby Ballindalloch Castle and Gardens.  The Spey River which flows nearby offers opportunities for fishing, canoeing and kayaking, with Craggan Outdoors on hand to provide adventurous activities on both land and water.

The stunning Moray Firth Coastline was voted one of the best in the world by National Geographic.  Abundant with wildlife including birds, seals, dolphins and whales, it’s a wildlife lover’s dream.  Take a boat trip, or get close to and learn more about the Moray Firth sealife at Macduff Marine Aquarium.  For those who want to spend more time on the water, open water swimming, paddle boarding and surfing are popular along the coast with many locations offering lessons to get you started.  If you’re more at ease on land, there are golf courses galore, with each offering unique yet incredible views of the coast.

A fine fare of Scottish culinary delights await you along the route too.  Be sure to stop at the Cullen Bay Hotel to try delicious local fish soup known as ‘Cullen Skink’, followed by a tempting ice cream from Portsoy Ice Cream Shop just a few miles along the road!  The route is dotted with quaint former fishing villages and towns waiting to be explored, including Portsoy, which hosts the annual Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, and Pennan, made famous by the phonebox used in hit film Local Hero.

The Museum of Lighthouses and Kinnaird Head Castle in Fraserburgh will teach you everything about the world of lighthouse engineering, and also offers the chance to enjoy a super view across Fraserburgh and beyond – just the matter of a few steps to climb first!  Nature is abundant around the East Coast, with the Loch of Strathbeg, Bullers of Buchan and Ythan Estuary all worth a stop to admire the local wildlife.

The final stretch of the North East 250 takes you along the East Coast towards Aberdeen.  Nearby Forvie National Nature Reserve boasts some of the largest sand dunes in Britain, where the moving sands constantly change the landscape.  Fans of Gothic novel Dracula will be thrilled by a stop at Old Slains Castle and New Slains Castle, as author Bram Stoker is thought to have found inspiration for the story from the New Castle. Find out what life was like behind bars at Peterhead Prison Museum, which only closed as a working prison in December 2013 – take care not to get locked in for longer than expected!

Whether a laid back sightseer, an avid wildlife spotter or an adrenalin fuelled adventure seeker, there is something to suit everyone on this trip through the heart of Scotland, come and experience the ultimate road trip and the very best Scotland has to offer.

This is a guest blog by North East 250. To find out more about the North East 250 and to start planning your journey, visit

Uncover Scotland’s hidden past and archaeological treasures

Along with its epic landscapes, Scotland is covered in impressive structures and places drenched in mesmerising stories and fascinating histories.

Scotland celebrates the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology in 2017, showcasing the very best of Scotland’s rich history and past. Caledonian Sleeper has rounded up some of the country’s historical hidden gems for the whole family to uncover this year.

While exploring some of Edinburgh’s most iconic sites, why not venture off the main trail and discover the Royal Mile’s Hidden Gardens. Nestled behind the city’s high tenements, these gardens are the ultimate hidden gem with many locals unaware of their existence. Dating back to the 17th century the gardens are the perfect, quiet oasis to enjoy a picnic while taking in the capital’s towering dwellings and cobbled streets.

Uncover Glasgow Cathedral, one of Scotland’s most magnificent medieval buildings located in the city centre. This impressive structure was built during the 13th and 15th centuries and is thought to be on the burial site of Mungo, the Patron Saint of Glasgow. Marvel at the building’s carved stone bosses on the ceiling and the post-war collections of stained glass windows on a guided tour.


Capture a glimpse into 18th century military life at Fort George near Inverness. One of the largest artillery forts in Britain, Fort George is home to a vast collection of garrison buildings, military attire and arms. With a full programme of activities and trails, the fort is the ideal place for children to enjoy.

Visit one of Scotland’s most significant castles, Lochleven Castle, in Kinross near Perth. Take a boat trip over to the loch to this 16th century Glassin Tower, where Mary Queen of Scots was once imprisoned. Take a leisurely wander around the peaceful island and soak up its tranquil setting in stunning surroundings.

Complete the journey with a trip to Stirling’s National Wallace Monument, which overlooks one of Scotland’s most famous battle sites. Climb the landmark’s 246 steps to reveal the captivating stories of heroes such as William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. From the Crown of the tower, enjoy panoramic views stretching across to Loch Lomond, the Pentland Hills, Fife, and the Firth of Forth.

Be part of this landmark cultural year and discover Scotland’s many wonders and archaeological treasures with Caledonian Sleeper.

Discover Scotland’s Winter Wildlife with Caledonian Sleeper

More than half a million people across the UK are expected to watch their garden birds this weekend (28 – 30 January) as part of RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. There’s no better time to enjoy Scotland’s wildlife.

From mountain hares to red grouse, Caledonian Sleeper has highlighted some of the top winter wildlife spots to help families make the most of Scotland’s frost-tinted outdoor scenes.

Red Deer
Often seen roaming the hills, the majestic red deer is one of Scotland’s largest terrestrial mammals and one of the most impressive. Stags measure up to 120cm at the shoulder and can weigh between 60kg and 130kg, with antlers as long as 140cm and weighing 6kg each. As selective grazers of grass, heather and woody species, the fox-red coloured deer can be found in woodland as well as on moorland so are frequently spotted in groups during the colder months by walkers on mountain climbs or forest trails.

Alight at Fort William Railway Station to climb nearby Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, where red deer are plentiful and the most common land-dwelling animals in the area.

Mountain Hare
As Britain’s only Arctic animal, the mountain hare is perfectly built for racing down snowy slopes and coping with cold weather. With long, powerful legs and thick fur that turns white during the winter, the hare is often difficult to spot in crisp white snow. With some species reaching a top speed of 45mph – the equivalent of the average speed of an Olympic downhill skier – these impressive creatures can sometimes been seen on winter walks as they leap three metres in a single bound.

Look out for the mountain hare as you enjoy snowy views from the popular Cairn Gorm funicular railway, which is the UK’s highest, reaching 3,500ft.

A plump gamebird resembling a slightly larger grey partridge, the ptarmigan transforms its grey, brown and black feathers completely white, except for its tail and eye patch, during the winter. Breeding in the highest peaks of the Cairngorm Mountains, the birds are usually spotted in Arctic-like landscapes. However in severe cold weather they can also been seen on the edge of forests as they seek shelter.

Visitors can often catch a glimpse of these tough birds whilst dining at the Ptarmigan Restaurant, which is located at the top station of the Cairn Gorm Mountain and offers panoramic views down to Loch Morlich.

Red Squirrel
Cairngorms National Park is a refuge for Scotland’s native red squirrels, with the population now large enough for the small mammals to have found a home in other parts of the country. Often seen climbing on tree bark or chewing pine cones on the ground, the red squirrel can frequently be spotted on woodland walks. Look up amongst pine tree branches in the Caledonian Forest to spot the squirrels’ soft, bushy, red tails as they spring through the air or listen out for the skittering of claws as they dance among the tree tops.

With a superb collection of wildlife on its doorstep, visit Scotland on Caledonian Sleeper to discover these fascinating native species.