Friday 15 September 2023
Fort William Sojourn (4)
On Wednesday 13th September, the trip out was for a cruise on Loch Ness. The cruise was very informative commentary-wise; but, frankly, there was little to see. We were told about the abundance of wildlife, but only saw three wild goats and two hairy Highland cows with their two calves.
Here are a very few items of note (?). The cruise ran from Fort Augustus.
The boat was posh ...
... and very modern.
There were screens which showed pictures of fish etc and sonar maps of the loch. For fbb and many of the passengers they were impossible to see - too small. Most of the views from the boat were of the tree-lined banks with an occasional burst of geological variety.
A scree slope!
It is called a crannog, which sounds a bit like a Scandinavian breakfast cereal.
Two pictures taken by fbb will appear as extras in the pre-prepared blog below.
So it was worth going!
Here beginneth the blog!
Canal Competitor Collapses?
In 1903 a branch line was opened from Spean Bridge on the West Highland Line to Fort Augustus at the southern end of Loch Ness.
It came after years of acrimonious dispute between the North British Railway and the Highland Railway; but its clear aim was to gain a large(r) share of the lucrative markets to and from Inverness.
The line was a failure and closed to passengers in 1933 and to all traffic (what little there was) in 1948. Much of the line is now invisible with a covering of undergrowth; but the tell-tale signs are still there. A scar of bushes ...
... curves away from today's line just west of Spean Bridge station. The station is now an unstaffed halt and the former buildings are ...
The next stop at Gairlochy ...
It was quite a reasonable stop, but not too close to the very small community which gave the station its name.Next is Invergloy. It was about as basic as you could get in 1903.
The English spent a huge amount of money trying to subdue the Scots! This was a model of Fort Augustus' fort!
The "town" station was where the light coloured buildings now sit, centre left.
There were two piers on the southern tip of Loch Ness; the old pier used by MacBraynes cruises et al ...
KLAXON - WRONG - BLUDNER - KLAXON
After a lengthy interchange of emails with Nick Catford, boss meister of the Disused Stations on-line pages, fbb has sorted it out, hopefully. The OS map on Nick's "Pier" page was this :-
But a modern picture of Old Pier House ...
A "live" snap taken from the cruise boat shows the "old pier" more clearly.
There only was one pier and, astoundingly, the Ordnance Survey maps are wrong. Here is a better (and later?) map showing the line all the way to the one and only "Old" Pier.
The pier branch seemed a good idea at the time.
And a better view taken by fbb's own fair hand ...
... so no second pier!
Which leaves one burning question. How did the line cross The Caledonian Canal before wiggling to the pier? The crossing was here ...
From the locks ...
It all began with a weirdness on the fbbs' coach. When a passenger uses the very tiny toilet down terrifyingly steep steps ...
.. a red light appears.
On several occasions the lights came on but no one was there.
Once or twice a weirdly green protoplasmic miasma would appear from the base of the door as the light came on.
So fbb started investigating.
It would appear that, some time ago, a passenger on the coach occupied by the fbbs had disappeared during a visit to Urquart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness. The Castle can be a difficult and ominous place.
The coach returned to the Highland Hotel with one passenger missing who "had left to go elsewhere".
In a way, that was true.
What happened was the subject of a Government D Notice forbidding publication of any details. But one picture appeared on-line and was quickly censored and removed. The cameraman was never found.
Here is that picture, sent anonymously and published by fbb in defiance of the D Notice.
She had no living relatives so no one needed to pursue her probable passing.
But fbb is adamant that those lights came on at the WC when no person was there ensconced. Was the green miasma the ghost of poor Maisie MacSporran, one time passenger on board the Lochs and Glens vehicle named "Loch Lochy"? It seems possible.
Surely the truth needs to be told?
Next Fort William blog : Saturday 16th September