Corrour, at a height of 1,338 feet above sea level, is the highest station on the British railway network and one of the most remote. Located in the vast wilderness of Rannoch Moor and not accessible by public road, the station offers access and adventure for walkers and climbers to a challenging part of Scotland. In winter it can be very demanding and dangerous for all but the most experienced of walkers who are competent and properly equipped to navigate and survive in extreme arctic conditions. The station also provides access to a remote youth hostel located on the western shore of Loch Ossian.
There is a bar/restaurant also providing accommodation beside the station, though due to the isolation of this location, it is essential to check on availability before relying on this facility.
Corrour Station and surrounds, March 2014
Corrour Station, February 2009. The restaurant is on the left.
The above aerial view gives a splendid idea of this the highest and most remote mainline station in Britain
The 08.51 Glasgow Queen Street-Fort William/Mallaig summer service passes 'The Loch of the Sword', Lochan a' Chlaidheimh, between Rannoch and Corrour Stations. Contrary to popular belief it is often bright and sunny on Rannoch Moor. Below is a winter view of the Corrour area.
A Fort William-bound freight train has just passed through Corrour station and is starting the long descent to Tulloch. Loch Ossian and the Ben Alder massif is in the background right and Beinn Eibhinn is on the left. The high pass is the Beallach Dubh (Dark Pass) which eventually leads to Loch Ericht and Dalwhinnie.
LNER K4 No. 61994 'The Great Marquess' passes the summit, 500m NW of Corrour Station on 2nd September 2007, with a charter train bound for Fort William.
Rannoch station (Raineach) is on the famous Rannoch Moor, an area of peat bog and lochs which is the remnant of the glaciation from the last Ice Age. There is a hotel, and the station has a tearoom open in summer.
Rannoch is at the end of the single track road from Pitlochry which runs through Kinloch Rannoch. Rannoch station is the next stop after Bridge of Orchy, 16 miles and over 20 minutes travel time, away. Over this distance it passes through no habitation, except for a former lines man's cottage above Achallader farm and a passing loop at Gorton.
Busy October Sunday at Rannoch Station. A ScotRail Service Train crosses a steam charter special.
The 06.03am ex Mallaig service to Glasgow passes over the Rannoch Viaduct at 08.40am on a cold January morning in 2010. The sun has still to rise and the picture has been captured in the pre dawn glow. Rannoch station appears on the extreme left of the picture.
|The north bound Caledonian Sleeper from London to Fort William has just crossed the Rannoch Viaduct on a warm May morning. Passengers awake to the contrast of crossing the UK's largest wilderness of Rannoch Moor.|
Oban (An t-Oban), the terminus of the Oban line, is the major tourist resort in Argyll with every facility including hotels, guesthouses, bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants, bars, shops and supermarkets. There is a busy tourist office and a distillery.
Oban Bay is surrounded by hills, dominated by McCaig's Folly, a circular tower which was never completed. The waterfront promenade gives views to the isles of Kerrera and Mull.The above picture provides a view over the bay with the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry terminal in the foreground and the Oban rail terminus immediately to the right. McCaigs Folly can be seen centre top.
The railway descends very steeply down from Glen Cruiten to Oban and the climb out, from a standing start, and over the Glen Cruiten summit was a challenging task in the days of steam. The picture on the left is of a service train just at the Glen Cruiten summit.
Oban is the gateway to the islands, with CalMac ferries to the beautiful islands of Mull, Lismore, Coll, Tiree, Barra, South Uist and Colonsay leaving from a new terminal building on the railway pier beside the station. See picture below which shows the busy scene with the 'Lord of the Isles' ferry at Oban Pier which is right beside the Oban station terminus. McCaig's Folly can be seen floodlit above the town.
Oban is therefore a delightful gateway to the sea. Because of this, and its many other attractions, Oban is very crowded in the summer months and travel by road and parking is, at times, challenging. The railway provides a relaxing means of getting to Oban from the south.
MV 'Clansman' bound for Castlebay on Barra just out of Oban on a warm summer afternoon.
Caledonian MacBrayne offer a wide choice of superb day cruises from Oban. Click here for more information.
Bridge of Orchy
Bridge of Orchy Station is a stereotypical West Highland Line 'Swiss chalet' style building located on a central platform with pedestrian access under the railway and up a flight of steps to the platform. In the picture below the building is finished attractively in the typical West Highland green and cream scheme. The building is currently in use as a successful bunkhouse and has a smart well kept appearance.
Bridge of Orchy Station, 23rd December 2009.
|Southbound 10.10 ex Mallaig train enters Bridge of Orchy Station (1303hrs) on 11th October 2014.||Just south of Bridge of Orchy is Auch Glen. In this winter scene a southbound train has just left Bridge of Orchy. It can be seen in the distance passing the foot of Ben Dorain.|
Bridge of Orchy (Drochaid Urchaidh) is a small settlement with notable hotel, bar/restaurant and bunkhouse at the head of Glen Orchy. It is on the West Highland Way long distance footpath, and is the starting point for climbing the Munros Beinn an Dothaidh and Beinn Dorain.
The picture above shows Ben Dorain with a north bound service train passing into the great Auch Horseshoe Bend with its two lattice girder viaducts. Bridge of Orchy sits close to the foot of Ben Dorain just beside its southern flank (left side as picture is viewed.)
|The Two Viaducts; Great Horse Shoe Curve at Auch, with Black 5, 45407 heading a special charter, October 2013. Click to enlarge.|
The picture below shows a Fort William & Mallaig train passing Loch Tulla, 1 mile from Bridge of Orchy Station. The mountains behind form what is named the 'Black Mount' and on the right, the Clachlet (Clach Leathad which means stoney slope) which is close to the Glen Coe Skiing development on Meall a' Bhuiridh - Hill of the roaring - which is named after the roaring of the red deer stags in the autumn rut.
Shortly after the line passes the end of Loch Tulla it branches away from all public roads. For the next 30 miles, with the exception of the long single track road from Pitlochry which terminates at Rannoch Station, and the unsurfaced private estate road at Corrour, the line crosses the wilderness of Rannoch Moor far from human habitation. Half way between Bridge of Orchy and Rannoch Stations there is a passing loop at Gorton. Although not unusual in other parts of the world, there is nowhere in Britain where train travellers can experience a true sense of passing through an uninhabited wilderness. The sense of wildness is maintained until the line reaches the end of Loch Treig at Fersit and Tulloch Station. The crossing excites those with an adventuress spirit whether on a sunny summer day, a day of hanging grey mist, or a brilliant snow covered winter day.
Glasgow - Fort William & Mallaig 156 DMU passing near Milepost 56 between Achallader Wood and Gorton.
|21.50, 9th July 2013, as the setting sun makes for a glowing backdrop to Ben Dorain, the Fort William to London Caledonian Sleeper nears the County March summit on the long climb from Bridge of Orchy.||27th October 2012, the Scottish Railway Preservation Society charter charges up the long 1:50 gradient to County March summit, powered by Black 5s 44871 & 45407.|
Connel (A'Chonghail) is a substantial village on the Oban line. It lies on Loch Etive beside the impressive Falls of Lora, which is a strong tidal cascade where Loch Etive joins the Firth of Lorn.
There are hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, village shops and restaurants.
The station (picture above) is named Connel Ferry, though the ferry was replaced by a large cantilever bridge across Loch Etive in 1903 when the branch line from Connel to Ballachulish was opened by the Caledonian Railway. The branch closed in 1966 but the bridge is still used by road traffic. See picture below.