West Highland railway




In the beginning …


[1] We set off from East Midlands Parkway near Nottingham, England, with the Statesman heritage train company early one fine Spring day to travel up to Fort William via Glasgow and then on to Mallaig. The train provided excellent on-board meals on our journey North to ease our passage. 



Travelling the West Highland line


The scenery became more mountainous [3] as we left Glasgow, passing along the banks of the River Clyde before joining the scenic West Highland line. Initially the railway line climbed alongside [4]  Loch Long and Loch Lomond before really engaging with the mountains, [6] crossing features such as the Horseshoe Curve until we gained the wild expanse of Rannoch Moor [7]. Here we saw Red Deer in the mist near the train as we slid through a desolate Rannoch Moor station. 


We arrived in Fort William [9] in fine weather in mid-evening. From the station we had a short walk to the Nevis Bank Hotel where we were staying. This was [10] at the entrance to glen Nevis near an old distillery [11]. It gave us a warm and friendly welcome and a very comfortable room. We greatly enjoyed its restaurant on our second night there, especially as it had Isle of Harris gin, a local whisky and clootie dumpling on the menu. 



By train to Mallaig


The next day we took the road to the Isles by train. Leaving Fort William [12] we crossed the locks at the end of the Great Glen canal then got a view of snow-capped Ben Nevis [12a], before travelling along the shore of Loch Eil. We entered a wilderness [14] with few buildings or people [15] 



Eventually we arrived at the remarkable Glenfinnan viaduct [16], the first bridge built entirely of concrete. From here we had magnificent views of Loch Shiel [17] and the Highlander memorial, raised to honour the failed invasion of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. 


From there the train rolled slowly and carefully along the twisty railway [18] line high in the mountains passing other peaceful and scarcely inhabited lochs before coming down to the coast [19] near Mallaig. 



Near Mallaig the land became flatter with small farms [20] and villages dotted about. Mallaig itself is a pretty little town [21] tucked under the mountains behind it [22], looking out over its fishing port [23] which also serves as a ferry port to the Isle of Skye [24] and the other islands of the inner Hebrides.


Going home via  Glasgow



The next morning we left Fort William, [24a] travelling up the Great Glen with its isolated sheep farms [26] and stunning views of the Nevis Range and Mamore Mountains, before climbing through the Monessie Gorge to travel alongside Loch Trieg [27]. We had fabulous views of wild moors and distant snow-capped peaks [27a], especially as we approached the isolated station [28] at Rannoch Moor where we stopped briefly [30]. 



Then we made our way gently down hill [31] to the more inhabited lands near Tyndrum and Crianlarich [32], and so back passed Loch Long [33] to Glasgow and the central lowlands of Scotland. Much later that evening we disembarked at East Midlands Parkway [34], under the cooling towers we had left three days earlier. 

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