Thursday, 4 October 2018

Rail (or Coach?) Discoveries Day 4

But First, The Case Of The Missing Trousers
It was in the summer of 1962, when fbb was a shy lad of just 17 years, that he and his father set off on a Holiday (by car) to drive up the West Coast of Scotland, across the top and back down the East Coast. The trip began by taking the car sleeper (it wasn't called Motorail back then) from Sutton Coldfield's lavish terminal ...
... where cars were loaded into a string of CCTs (Covered Carriage Trucks).
Their first night in Scotland was spent at the Dornie Hotel.
After dinner, dad and lad toddled along a footpath to peer at Eilean Donan Castle. It looked very spooky in the gloaming and lacked the tourist grot that fbb experienced a week ago! It had first opened to the public in 1955.

But look at this old map ...
... and compare it with the present day.
Back on the oldmap, no bridge but a ferry ...
... and a car ferry no less! Later a bigger ferry took buses ...
... but only small ones! The ferry was replaced by a single track bridge in 1940 ...
... which dad'n'lad crossed after breakfast to take the quite small ferry across to Skye. Once chuntering round Skye, papa realised that he had left his trousers in the wardrobe in the Dornie Hotel; whither they retraced their steps to repossess that vital item of clothing. It was, fbb must stress, a spare pair!

The present bridge was opened in 1991 as part of a massive road improvement scheme that re-routed the A87 away from the wiggles through the village and along the shores of the loch as per the modern map above.
If your heart's desire is to cross to Skye in the traditional way, you can take the Kylerhea ferry.
This is privately owned and runs from almost nowhere on the mainland (a few miles south of Kyle of Lochalsh) to almost nowhere on Skye. The lavish facilities of the terminals are a pure delight ...
... and your car will be loaded onto to a pivoted platform, rotated by hand to point you in the right direction to get off ...
... just as the fbb car was handled between Kyle of Lochalsh and Kyleakin back in 1962.

And So To The Best Bit!

 Dateline Thursday 27th September 

But we must return to the last day of the Rail Coach Discoveries Tour, which was only the second rail journey of the Rail holiday, and would take fbb and Mrs fbb all the way back to Glasgow via the West Highland Line (and their sixth journey along the "Road to the Isles" as far a Fort William.

The best bit (it is all scenically spiffing) is between Fort William and Crianlarich ...
... crossing Rannoch Moor, largely uninhabited and mostly inaccessible by public roads.
The high point of the line is near Corrour Station ...
... which oft claims it has no road access at all. When you pass by there are usually cars parked outside the rentable buildings ...
... but access is by rough farm roads and tracks.

It is simply not possible to communicate the magnificence of the scenery and its remote wildness with a few snaps taken out of the train window. But here are a few:-
Nearer to Crianlarich, with a few signs of human activity ...
... it was still stupendous as far as the eye could see.
And the mountainous views ended appropriately with Loch Lomond and Ben.
And, harking back to the Jacobite steam trip on the Tuesday, fbb has just received some better photos from the tour manager Les.
It has taken your aged blogger 60 years of hankering to get round to copping this wonderful piece of Britain's railway network. If you have not already ridden the West Highland Line, you MUST do so.

If you have ...

 Next extra Glasgow day blog : Friday 5th October 


  1. Was fbb's father named Donald?!

    Hat . . . coat . . . door!

  2. My SWR refund for Saturday's shenanigans, submitted on Sunday, was approved and notified to me by email yesterday.

  3. Andrew Kleissner4 October 2018 at 17:29

    Sadly the tartan looks more like Royal Steward than McDonald!"