While it is possible to go direct from Bristol to Edinburgh, and from Bristol to Glasgow with one change, it is a long route and involves spending a long time on Cross Country trains (which I prefer to avoid). So when the need arose this week for me to work in Glasgow for the day, I experimented with a different route: via London and the Caledonian Sleeper

Going from Bristol to London and then up to Scotland is taking two sides of the triangle. But if I can sleep for a decent chunk of the journey then it is very appealing. 

I leave Bristol at 9pm for London. The GWR train is fast, quiet and comfortable. From Paddington I am on to Euston via Euston Square in a flash on the Circle line. 

Because night trains tend to leave so late, their passengers are usually the last ones hanging around in the station. After the shutter have been pulled down on the station shops, I am boarding Caledonian Sleeper. 

This train is the longest on the UK passenger network. A gentle drizzle is falling as I walk way out beyond the extent of the station canopy to coach J. The attendant checks my name off the list, and asks if I’m any relation to Jim Broadbent. I give one of my standard responses to this question and climb aboard. 

I check in to my room, a narrow cabin with two comfortable fold down beds and several ingenious shelves and cubicles for my things. I find it satisfying to unpack and use all these conveniences. The train departs so smoothly I don’t even realise we are moving.

The restaurant car is the next one from my carriage, and I slip in for a late-night drink and a sandwich. Ten years ago I had a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh. Over my two-year tenure I regularly took the night train and each time would order a different whiskey from the menu each time. Since then the trains have been upgraded, and there are many improvements but I am not sure the whiskey menu is better.

At midnight I return to my cabin and drift off to sleep. I’ve got to be honest that sleep on a night train is never the best. Being an inch taller than the bunk is long doesn’t help. But I’m still so enamoured by the whole concept that I don’t mind. A trick I have learnt is to put the do-not-disturb sign out so that I can avoid the complementary 6am coffee and sleep instead straight through until 7am. 

During the night I dream that the train is in fact a long intestine, that I entered last night, and that all the jolting of the journey is to shuffle me along the pipe, and that I will be ejected in the morning. 

As it turns out the morning was more pleasant than that. I woke up in time to have a passable coffee in the restaurant car. I stepped off the train at 7:30am ready to run my workshop. Having conducted my experiment, this is definitely my preferred route up from Bristol to Glasgow.