Lochailort Station's modest presence and equally modest shelter which can just be seen in the distance. The original buildings were demolished many years ago.   The regular summer special Jacobite steam train passes tender first, through Lochailort station, on the return journey from Mallaig to Fort William.

Lochailort is a request stop serving the small village at the head of Loch Ailort. It sits at the junction of the road to Mallaig and the A861 to Salen and Strontian There is an Inn with accommodation close to the station. The whole area is very beautiful and steeped in history. The rugged terrain also provided an excellent training ground for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) Commandoes during the Second World War.

The Mallaig line passes behind this church which featured in the film 'Local Hero'. The church was paid for by the Chiefs of Clan Cameron on condition that it could be easily seen from their home. It stands out on the open and exposed hillside for this reason.

The whole area is very beautiful and the rugged terrain provided excellent training ground for the special operations executive (SOE) commandos in the Second World War.

An example of the scenery which travellers on the Mallaig extension of the West Highland can enjoy is shown below. Note the scenery is equally beautiful whether viewed from a steam train or a ScotRail service Diesel Multiple Unit.

K4, The Great Marquis heads a special October charter across the short causeway at the west end of Loch Eilt, 2km east of Lochailort Station. The landscape is seen in the russet hues of autumn.













Glenfinnan (Gleann Fhionnainn) is the stop for the iconic "Harry Potter" viaduct, and the Glenfinnan Monument to highlanders who followed Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1745 Jacobite campaign.

There are two hotels with restaurants in the village. The National Trust centre with the Glenfinnan Monument is at the head of Loch Shiel. gfinnanstn 01 copy.jpg  The station building contains a railway museum. A camping coach and the "Glenfinnan Diner", which serves refreshments and meals in summer. Both coaches are parked in the station sidings. The Museum is an award winning must visit site. You can visit the website here for more information.            gfinnanstn stag copy.jpg

  There is much to see and do at Glenfinnan and the ScotRail service timetable provides plenty options for a visit to the nearby Glenfinnan Monument, the associated National Trust for Scotland visitor centre and cafe, or to take longer walks up the glen, passing under the viaduct. There are great opportunities for hill walking and climbing for those with the appropriate knowledge and skills. The above mentioned camping coach is particularly popular with hill walkers and makes an exciting alternative which children reallly appreciate.The Jacobite steam train calls at Glenfinnan in summer and enough time is provided for passengers to visit the museum and purchase souvenirs and literature about the West Highland Lines and their history.. 

 As mentioned above, perhaps the most outstanding attraction, much heightened by the Harry Potter films and the Hogwarts Express, is the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct. Built in 1898 by Sir Robert McAlpine, as a mass concrete structure comprising 21 arches, it was an innovative civil engineering achievement when built. The Museum, with the aid of volunteers and grant funding has created a magnificent path which leads from the station up the hillside and provides excellent views across the viaduct and the surrounding spectacular scenery. Note that the terrain is wild and rocky so the path does require stout shoes or boots and care. Click on the pictures below to appreciate the scale and spectacular surroundings.



   Not only are the views at Glenfinnan spectacular. The scenery all along the 'Mallaig Extension' never fails to impress, whether in sunshine, rain, or snow. 

Jacobite Steam train West of Glenfinnan Station   Glenfinnan bound Special Steam Charter passes Loch Dubh between Beasdale and Lochailort Stations.


 A winter view down Loch Shiel from near the railway. The Glenfinnan monument, standing at the head of the loch, commemorates the raising of the Jacobite Standard by Charles Edward Stuart at the start of the 1745 rebellion, the last civil war on British soil. Travellers on the ScotRail service trains can enjoy this view as they cross the Glenfinnan viaduct shown on the above pictures. Or you can add to the thrill of passing through this dramatic scenery and its associated poignent history, by travelling on the 'Jacobite' steam train from Fort William.

(Above) Steam passing at Glenfinnan, an everyday sight in the days of the North British and LNER when fish specials and 'mixed' trains were the order of the day. There are stories of days when up to a dozen trains full of herring could leave Mallaig harbour, sometimes with wet fish even leaking through the floorboards of the wagons and causing the trains to slip and slide! This is 2013, with preserved 'Black Five' No. 44871 waiting for sister loco 45407 to clear the road, both hauling the 'Jacobite'.


Glenfinnan was one of several stations on the West Highland Extension line to have a camping coach situated in its yard as overnight holiday accomodation, during the days of the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) and British Railways (BR). The tradition was revived after Glenfinnan Station Museum was established in the early-1990s and two redundant BR Mark 1 coaches were relocated here. On the photo on the left, the Glenfinnan Diner coach can be seen and just visible to the right of it is the present Sleeping Car. The sidings formerly stretched beyond the yellow buffer stop. The rails are still there however and a preserved independent snowplough also now sits upon the disused section of track.

Glenfinnan has an excellent preserved example of the style of signal boxes built on the Mallaig Extension, a design by the Railway Signal Company, though the line itself was operated by the North British Rly. The box still has its original fifteen levers housed in a Stevens & Sons frame, now being restored for regular public demonstrations by museum volunteers. The token apparatus was always housed in the station building (still there today), inside the stationmaster's office. Brass tablets were issued as authority for drivers to proceed along the single line sections, handed to train crews by hand, carried in a leather pouch with a large hoop for ease of handling. 

Originally, the Glenfinnan signalman was responsible for the sections west to Lochailort box and east to Tomonie, near Corpach. Tomonie box closed in 1912 and the section extended to Banavie Canal Bridge. After Annat box opened in 1964, the token section east was Annat-Glenfinnan, but Lochailort box would close in 1966, meaning the token west  now covered Glenfinnan-Arisaig.  The introduction of RETB signalling in 1988 saw Glenfinnan box close and preservation on the horizon not long after. Semaphore signals were still extant until 1986 and the lattice post for the Down Home even survived in-situ until 2015. It has now been painstakingly restored - complete with an arm once again - by the station museum and re-erected in the yard, with a view to it being lever-operated from the frame again for future signalling demonstrations.

Towards Mallaig, the railway climbs out of Glenfinnan towards a summit 361 feet above sea level at Lech-a-Vuie, at a fierce gradient of between 1 in 45 and 1 in 50. There was once a private halt at
 Lech-a-Vuie; a small platform for the wealthy landowners, the Cameron-Heads of Inverailort and associated visitors to their estate. The station was request-only, with those wanting to use it being required to inform the Lochailort stationmaster, who would in turn have to pass this on to Glenfinnan for those heading from Fort William, or to the driver and guard of the train if it was heading towards the Fort. Lech-a-Vuie platform was used for military exercises in the Second World War, but abandoned thereafter. Its remains can still be seen today.                                                               





Reading list: 

Frater, Alexander: 
"Stopping-Train Britain" (Hodder and Stoughton, 1983)

McGregor, John: "The New Railway: Earliest Years of the West Highland Line" (Amberley Publishing, 2015); "Great Railway Journeys through time: West Highland Line" (Amberley, 2013); "West Highland Railway: Plans, Politics and People" (John Donald Publishers, 2005) 

Thomas, John: "The West Highland Railway" (David & Charles, 1986)

Webster, Gordon D.: "The West Highland Lines: Post-Beeching" (The History Press, 2014); "Signal Boxes & Semaphores: The Decline" (Amberley, 2016)










































Loch Eil Outward Bound

Loch Eil (Loch Iall) Outward Bound station opened in 1985 to serve the adjacent outward bound centre.



 Looking towards Fort William (Up direction).    Plenty of passenger information!

Locheilside is a request stop serving scattered houses in the Loch Eil area. The area is very attractive with great views across Loch Eil. Unfortunately obscured by the lineside trees. Because of the small local population and limited opportunities for tourists this station has a low passenger footfall (An average of one passenger every alternate day).

 loch eil in winter.jpg

Winter is a great time to travel the West Highland Lines as this picture of Loch Eil demonstrates.





corpach basin.jpgCorpach (A' Chorpaich) is a large village near Fort William. The village lies at the western end of the Caledonian Canal which crosses Scotland from the North Sea to Atlantic. There is a hotel, restaurant, local shops, and a geological museum, Treasures of the Earth.  Picture shows the Corpach Basin at the entrance to Loch Linnhe and the open sea. The sea lock can just be seen in the extreme left of the picture.


The track exit from Corpach Station crosses the access road to the Corpach dock basin.

 08.45am in February the Mallaig service accelerates away from Corpach as the sun rises above Ben Nevis. Click for larger view.








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