Spirit of Scotland Travelpass
In order to make getting around the country easier and not have to rent or, “hire a car” we opted to get a couple of Spirit of Scotland Travelpasses. The passes give you access to unlimited travel for four out of eight, or eight out of fifteen consecutive days. Since we were going to be in Scotland for exactly fifteen days it perfectly fit the timeline of our trip.
No need to drive, fuel up, or park a car
Even if you’re anxious to try out your left side of the road driving skills, there’s something nice about not having to deal with car issues. It was also nice to use a longer train or ferry ride to catch up on some reading and relax.
Trains, buses, and ferrys are covered
Most of our east coast travel was by train. But as we made our way to the west coast we needed to use buses and ferrys to get to Campeltown and Islay. Almost all of our city to city travel was covered by the pass.
The passes cost about ~$250 each (pre-Brexit) and we did a solid eight days of travel out of them. We did a full loop of Scotland and only occasionally needed cabs or buses outside of the network.
The passes aren’t commonly used and confuse different service providers
We started, “using” our passes on the first day with a ride from Glasgow to Edinburgh. The ScotRail staff at Queen Street simply checked the end date on the pass and let us through the gates. As we traveled north the ScotRail staff began to note that WE need to mark date of travel on the passes before boarding the train. As we traveled from Inverness to Oban, West Coast Motors / Citylink buses simply noted the passes when boarding a bus and let us onboard. When traveling to from Oban to Inverary, the bus drivers asked us to wait until all other reserved travel had already boarded. From Inverary to Campbeltown… the bus drivers were completly unfamiliar with the passes. The driver who took us to Campbeltown shrugged it off at the end of the journey and said, “Well you’re already here anyway, have a good day.” When trying to get out of Campbeltown and take the same bus route north to Kennacraig, the driver refused the passes and charged us for the ride. From Kennacraig to Islay the Caledonian MacBrayne staff was convinced THEY were the ones that needed to mark the date of travel on the passes. When finishing our loop back from Islay to Glasgow, that bus route isn’t covered by the pass. So rather than try to use the pass or go back to Oban for a train trip to Glasgow, we bought bus tickets.
So this is a term we weren’t familiar with when we landed. It’s only worth mentioning because ScotRail workers were on strike on specific routes and on days during our trip. That meant that our planned rail travel from Aberdeen to Forres and from Oban to our nearby hotel changed to bus and cab arrangements instead. The former being covered by the ScotRail pass and the latter was not covered. It also meant that our travel on those particular legs of the trip was a bit slower and less comfortable than expected.
Bus travel is tiring
Would we do it again?
Probably not. While we enjoyed the experien