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Thread: The Great Britain II - 6: Fort William - Glasgow (50 p.)

  1. #1

    Default The Great Britain II - 6: Fort William - Glasgow (50 p.)


    Our itinerary for this part:
    Fr, 4/10/2009
    Inverness arr 17:05
    Inverness Bus Station Farraline Park dep 17:35 Bus 919 -> Fort William
    Fort William arr 19:25
    Sa, 4/11
    Fort William dep 8:30 First ScotRail 156 -> Mallaig
    Glenfinnan arr 9:02
    Glenfinnan dep 12:46 First ScotRail 156 -> Mallaig
    Beasdale arr 13:10
    Beasdale dep 16:27 First ScotRail 156 -> Glasgow Queen Street
    Glasgow Queen Street arr 21:29
    Glasgow Queen Street dep 22:00 First ScotRail 170 -> Edinburgh
    Edinburgh arr 22:51
    The video for this part:

    Arrival at Inverness, a terminal on limited space. The line further north already leaves the station in a narrow curve as part of a triangular junction.

    Next, we had the longest overland bus trip ahead of us. I had booked the tickets in advance via internet, but it wouldn't have been necessary. From Inverness we were following the Great Glen, an almost dead straight tectonic fault splitting Scotland in half. Part of it is Loch Ness, the shores of which we would explore completely from northeast to soutwest. On one of my UK trips in the mid-90s I got as far as Urquhart Castle, now I experienced the whole ride until the sea is reached again at Fort William. Also interesting is the Caledonian Canal connecting both shores with a system of many locks. More from the busride can be watched on the video.
    Of course there was only one real highlight: the landscape, intensified by insane weather moods. Near Loch Ness there still was mainly good weather, consistent with the lovelier landscape, but further west heavy rainshowers changed with evening sun within minutes. No wonder, our destination was Fort William, located at two extremes: the seashore, but also at the foot of Ben Nevis, with 4,409 ft the highest mountain of Great Britain. It doesn't sound that much, but from sealevel it's quite impressive.
    By mere "coincidence" the last two trains by daylight should be running right after our arrival. So we kept lookout from the bus and found a spot near the junction to Mallaig. There was a bus stop right next to it, so we told the driver we wanted to get out. It was still raining heavily, but when we reached the spot, an old railway bridge now used as footpath by the locals (the old station of Mallaig was situated at the seashore, the new one further inland sadly is more than ugly), it stopped and the sunset came though.
    Result: a rainbow! View towards Ben Nevis summit, not visible today

    A class 156 from Mallaig arrived at 19:33

    A complete rainbow across Ben Nevis

    The 180-panorama

    Completed to 360 by the 19:50 ScotRail Caledonian Sleeper to London, pulled by DB Schenker 67007

    The large version of both panoramas, please click on the image link:

    You should keep in mind that the environment is not as pretty here by day, because all the industry of the area is located here (as only town of the region), but at sunset you can cover it in darkness.

    For the following scenes neutral white balance was used, no colours were altered!

    Leaving on the southbound line

    The scenery became more and more surreal!

    Now we walked to the booked Bed&Breakfast

    Passing Fort William church

    After we replenished our provisions we spent a comfortable night at the shores of the sea fjord Loch Linnhe (so, Loch can be used to name different kinds of waters). In the morning I took a quick peak in front of the house door, the sky looked like it was painted

    Since we had to catch the 8:30, breakfast was cooked a little earlier for us. View out of the breakfast room of the 4****-Bed&Breakfast

    Along the shore and through the centre to the station

    There was already a class 156 waiting to take us towards Mallaig. During the departure we already spotted our special for today, the railtour "The West Highlander", planned diesels were DB Schenker 37401 and 37670. But as we passed the train, one of the locos was a class 66.
    Shortly after leaving Fort William we crossed the Caledonian Canal on a swing bridge, then we followed the shore of the fjord. Gaining distance from the mountainside, Ben Nevis could be seen better now, again in excellent weather moods

    The highest summit lies on the mountain back to the left, on a plateau in the background. Now we were riding along Loch Eil, still the sea

    Our first stop: Glenfinnan, the viaduct of which has even made it into pop culture via Harry Potter

    Another passenger was stepping off the train, also a photographer but with a more risky plan, he wanted to take a photo at the viaduct and then get on the train here. He showed us the timetable, with 40 minutes planned stop it should be possible. In front of the station a railway museum consisting of several old coaches could be found. First, we asked if we could leave our backpacks, which was no problem. Second, we asked for the best footpath to the bridge, which was answered by a counterquestion: do we want the hard and short route, or the one for softies? Of course we took the hard one...
    The "paths" of the Highlands look like the following that time of year: the actual paths are creeks, so you have to walk next to them. Here the swards of the moor are waiting for you, walking across them is similar to constant stair climbing. And every single one is like a surprise egg, fitting for Easter: everything is covered in the same parched grass, but when you step into it you can either find yourself standing on solid ground or in ankledeep water.
    A Royal Navy helicopter wouldn't be bad right now...

    On the way our British colleague, incidentially from southwest England where we just had come from, told us the rumour that one of the class 37s scheduled for today had to haul the Caledonian Sleeper to Fort William because of a faulty 67.

    Finally we reached the beautiful viaduct view. From there you could also see the Glenfinnan Monument on the shore of freshwater lake Loch Shiel, errected to remember the 18th century Jacobite Rising

    After one hour of waiting, during which we refreshed ourselves at the Highland creek gurgling next to us, the special came around the corner punctually with two class 37s top and tail

    The whole panorama, please click the image link. A little refined with "Harry Potter"... the car, by the way, we saw at Goathland, it is almost identical to the one in the film, just the police version of the Ford Anglia. Who manages to discover Hogwarts Castle?

    With supposedly 40 minutes time we wanted to catch the departure, but it was better to take the road in the valley. On the way downhill the train from Mallaig came by, having crossed the special at the station

    The viaduct is one of the first large concrete bridges in the world, finished 1898

    Through a lot of mud we reached the road. There, walking was much easier and we got to a lineside spot behind the station in time. But there was nothing to be seen or heard of the train. Obviously it had left much earlier than scheduled - we would have heard the class 37 armageddon-like sound, no doubt even from a greater distance - , or, more probably, never stopped, as it would have had to reverse back into the station. We didn't find out exactly what happened to our friend, but probably he had found another ride.

    Back at the station, old BR posters

    Sleeping car accommodation can be found here

    At 12:45 this class 156 double took us further towards Mallaig

    We got out at the request stop Beasdale. Shortly before (not thaaaat shortly) we had crossed a viaduct at a beach, but we wanted something else, bridge with tunnel portal. Where that was, no idea. After following the road a while we found a valley with a bridge which could be it. There was also a footpath indicated on a map near the station. The start of the path was nice, a road and an arrow pointing towards it. After a few metres we reached a house, and the road became a path, after a few more metres the path became a swamp. So what, we came here to catch the train, on we went!
    Ckimbing with full backpack through the Highland-forest

    We found the bridge, but it was not perfect as most of the viewing possibilities were overgrown. While my friend waited there in case the train would come early, I checked the other side of the tunnel and found a nice landscape view. Alternately we brought the luggage over there, but then he decided he wanted to get a shot of the train coming out of the tunnel. That was an error, because of course even in this solitude, where a few sheep maximum pass by very seldom, there are fences! After a few minutes I heard the train, but he didn't even get close to the tracks. I got my photos, he didn't...

    After the train there was only one thing to do: straight back to the road! With backpack the swards were even more hellish, it was just constant thigh training. Quite exhausted we returned to the station where we could sit down to wring out our socks. Luckily, I did bring a second pair of shoes, this one wouldn't get dry again until the end of the journey.
    Punctually, the class 156 double returning from Mallaig picked us up. After the strange procedure at request stops where the conductor has to unlock a door extra for you in the middle of the train, we could stretch out and enjoy the landscape the full 5 hours direct ride to Glasgow.
    That's how to experience the Highlands in style

    After Fort William the landscape became even more spectacular, as did the lighting moods!

    The beautiful mood highlight was reached at 19:15 shortly after Upper Tyndrum. A little later, at Crianlarich, our train was joined by more 156s coming from Oban.

    Arrived at Glasgow Queen Street - who remembers Manchester?

    Impressions of the nice train shed

    After twenty minutes our class 170, which was about to get us to Edinburgh, pulled into the station

    More about the night at Edinburgh and the morning after in the next part!

    Up-to-date on Twitter: https://twitter.com/raildata_info @raildata_info
    Roni's trip reports and videos:


  2. #2


    Ha! I need to visit Manchester. Sounds like my type of place

    Incredible series as always!
    Brian Bundridge
    Puyallup, Washington
    Check out my photos on Smugmug!
    Want the latest news and information on Seattle Transit? Check out Seattle Transit Blog!
    Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad Conductor/Student Engineer

  3. #3


    Thanks, Brian!

    Up-to-date on Twitter: https://twitter.com/raildata_info @raildata_info
    Roni's trip reports and videos:


  4. Wink Great Britain

    Hello All,
    I really enjoyed the photos of the Scottish Rail trip the unmistakable beauty of Scotland is a beauty which cannot be captured even with the best cameras...yet the author has done his best to give rail fans around the world a preview of the magnificent collage of the Landscape.

    Happy Rail fanning

    Binu George

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