Taynuilt

Taynuilt (Taigh-an-Uillt) is a large village near Loch Etive which is a sea loch extending into the mountains of Argyll. The village has hotel/ restaurants and some local shops. Summer cruises are available on the loch from a pier a few minutes walk from the station.

Taynuilt Station with the 14.41 ex Oban - Glasgow Queen Street Station train on the loop (LH side) crossing the 12.21 Glasgow Queen Street - Oban train on the down line on 5th September 2014.

The original 1880 timber built station building, which stood on the LH side was an impressive listed building structure. Unfortunately it burnt down some years ago just as it was in the process of receiving grant funding to preserve it. The signal box, although timber, was not the original. It ceased to be used with the introduction of RETB train control in 1988. Although disused and having the external steps and balcony removed it has recently been refurbished. It is now located at the east end of the platform on the up loop. It is hidden by the trees in this picture but is clearly seen in the lower picture.

 

Creative floral decoration on Platform I.

 

  The picture below shows an Oban - Glasgow summer service train approaching Taynuilt. The Bonawe quarry is on the left on the other side of Loch Etive. Behind, the most southerly of the Etive Mountains, Beinn nan Aighenan (Hill of the Hinds).

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 The Bonawe Iron Furnace, opened in 1753 and closed in 1876. It is a tourist attraction maintained by Historic Scotland and is situated just to the north of the village. Iron ore was shipped to the Loch Etive based furnace all the way from Cumbria. This may seem surprising but it was the large reservoir of available timber throughout Argyll which attracted the English owners. Wood was required in great quantity for conversion to the charcoal which the furnace required. The iron produced was then shipped all the way back to England.

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4 Coach Glasgow - Oban summer service train passes Rubha nan Carn on Loch Etive Side half way between Taynuilt and Connel.

 

Falls of Cruachan

Falls of Cruachan is a summer-only request stop on Loch Awe (Loch Obha) at the foot of Ben Cruachan. It is located close to the entrance to Scottish Power's Cruachan Power station which is built deep inside the mountain. Cruachan Power Station is a hydro pump storage power station where surplus electrical energy is used to pump water, using reversable turbines, from Loch Awe to a reservoir high up on Ben Cruachan. At times of high electrical demand this water flows back through the turbines to generate electricity. Visitors can alight at this station and enjoy an organised tour to the turbine hall and an interesting lecture about the Power Station.

The picture shows an Oban train passing through the narrow Pass of Brander just beyond the Falls of Cruachan station. The semaphore signals are unusual. There are 17 in total connected to trip wires which extends along this stretch of line. The signals are held in the 'up' position and fall to the horizontal position if there is a rock fall which is detected by the tensioned trip wires. The safety feature is referred to as Anderson's Piano after the inventor, John Anderson, a director of the original Calllander & Oban Railway which opened to Oban in 1880.

 

 

Dalmally

Dalmally ( Dhail Mailaidh ) is a large village on the Oban line near the mountain Ben Cruachan. Near the station, there is a hotel (Glen Orchy Hotel) with restaurant, plus a general store, post office and pharmacy.  As well as many local forest walks, there is a nearby monument dedicated to Duncan Ban MacIntyre - a celebrated 18th Century Gaelic poet - which can be reached via the old military road.

The village was the birthplace of the Rt Hon John Smith, leader of the Opposition in the Westminster Parliament from 1992 to 1994. A plaque marks his former house, Baddarroch, which is near the station.  11 02 09damally 156 02a web.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

(Above) Dalmally station with a Glasgow-Oban train about to depart on a February morning. The station and canopy are the original Caledonian architecture dating back to when the line was opened as far as Dalmally in 1877. The mountains in the background form the eastern end of Ben Cruachan.

 

 

 

Loch Awe

Loch Awe station is a wayside halt on the Oban line beside Loch Awe (Loch Obha), which is the longest freshwater loch in Scotland at 25.5 miles (41 km). The ruined Kilchurn Castle can be seen across the loch. 11 02 09loch awe 156 web copy 2.jpg

Oban to Glasgow train at Loch Awe station withLoch Awe to the right and Ben Lui extreme right. In the middle distance the ruins of Kilchurn Castle. 

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A loch side view of Loch Awe Station with the Hotel above.

 

The station footbridge painted in Caledonian Railway blue and white colours is the only obvious sign that the station is there. A coach can just be spotted to the right of the footbridge. This coach will be available for letting as a camping coach from Spring 2009.

Crianlarich

Crianlarich (A'Chrion Laraich) is the junction of the Oban and Fort William lines. Most daytime train services have Oban and Fort William portions, which join or split at Crianlarich. The small village has hotels, guest houses, a local shop and bar/restaurant.

There is a popular tearoom, open during the summer, on the platform at Crianlarich station.


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The old engine shed is now used by the Permanent Way engineers. Rising immediately behind, with its snowy top hidden in the clouds, is Cruach Ardrain and on the left the flank of Ben More, the highest mountain in Britain south of Strath Tay. The picture of two 'Black 5s' being prepared for the journey south on a Scottish Railway Preservation Society charter, was taken from outside the old engine shed. Click to enlarge.

 

 

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Crianlarich main street, A85, Perth Road looking west. The Class 156 DMU is crossing the recently refurbished Fillan Viaduct and entering Crianlarich station which is situated to the right (south) of the main road.

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 Fort William-Glasgow train in Glen Falloch, 1/2 mile south of Crianlarich station.

 


 

Crianlarich station opened concurrently with the West Highland Railway in 1894, doubling the number of railway stations in the village. In 1953, British Rail added the suffix "Upper" to the station's name, in order to distinguish it from the nearby station (only about 300 metres' walk along the north east access road) on the Callander and Oban Line which then became known as Crianlarich Lower.

 

(Above) 37 404 "Ben Cruachan" hauls the evening Glasgow-bound train across Crianlarich Viaduct in June 1988. This is the smaller of the two trussed bridges on the Fort William line to the north of the station and the Callander & Oban Railway originally passed beneath it. By this time, Crianlarich Lower was just used as a timber-loading  yard.

Crianlarich Upper was laid out with a crossing loop around an island platform and sidings on both sides. On the east side were was an engine shed and a turntable. At the north end of the station, there was a junction with a link line - typically known as the 'Chord' - to the Callander and Oban Railway. Originally, the junction incorporated a scissors crossover, allowing simultaneous movements.

Since closure of the Callander and Oban Line east of Crianlarich in 1965 (during the Beeching cuts), all trains to Oban have been routed up the West Highland Line as far as Crianlarich Upper station. They then join the remaining part of the Oban line by means of the Chord, which had formerly been infrequently used. Crianlarich Lower station also closed in 1965. Some years later, the Upper station's name reverted to "Crianlarich". Crianlarich lower yard was retained for loading timber onto trains until the early-1990s. For many years, a daily freight ran between there and Corpach pulp mill, where the timber was processed into paper. Such workings had to reverse and use the Chord from Upper station. Much of the trackbed and former yard has remained derelict since closure and there were even plans revealed in the railway media during the 2000s for the track to be relaid for a timber 'super yard' but this project was quickly shelved. This was a sign of things to come as all West highland timber traffic ceased soon after once the market changed.

 

(Above) The start of the former 'Chord' to Oban, as 37 423 "Sir Murray Morrison" in Trainload Metals livery hauls the evening train from Glasgow in June 1988. It has just passed the junction to the north of the station and is curving sharply left down the hill, whereas the Fort William lline runs level and across the valley.


The goods yard alongside the down line at Crianlarich (Upper) station was also used for loading timber for many years. Trains operated mostly during daytime hours, with locos often stabled while loading took place.  English Welsh and Scottish Rly (EWS) recast the timetable around 2002/2003 and instead operated at night (see Arrochar's History section for more info) until traffic ended in 2006. AMEC-Spie railfreight also had a stint using the sidings in 2007/08. In the present day, the yard still continues in use, along with the Up sidings, where road-rail vehicles use the ex-North British Rly engine shed. A turntable was located adjacent and this continued to be used for local workings until the end of steam.

 

Reading list: 

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)

 

 

 

 

Additional information