Sunday, November 16, 2014

Day 10 - Train from Oban to Fort William and parts in between

The train from Oban to Fort William takes us on a beautiful excursion though and over the Highlands of Scotland.

First Stop - Connel Ferry
Connel (Gaelic: A' Chonghail) is a village in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It is situated on the southern shore of Loch Etive. The Lusragan Burn flows through the village and into the Loch.

The most noticeable feature in the village is Connel Bridge, a large cantilever bridge that spans Loch Etive at the Falls of Lora. It was built to carry the Callander and Oban Railway's branch line to Ballachulish that opened in 1903.

Next Stop - Taynuilt
Taynuilt ([tɛinəlt]; Scottish Gaelic: Taigh an Uillt, [t̪ʰɤj ə n̪ˠɯiʎtʲ], meaning 'the house by the stream') is a large village in Argyll and Bute, Scotland located at the western entrance to the narrow Pass of Brander.

Then on to Loch Awe
Loch Awe (Scottish Gaelic: Loch Obha) is a large body of water in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It has also given its name to a village on its banks, variously known as Loch Awe, or Lochawe. There are islands within the loch such as Innis Chonnell and Inishail.

Arrive at Dalmally
Dalmally (Scottish Gaelic: Clachan an Dìseirt or Dail Mhàilidh) is a village in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It is located near the A85 road and is served by Dalmally railway station.

Former Labour Party leader John Smith was born in Dalmally in 1938.

The village is the location of the Craig Lodge Community Family House of Prayer, a Roman Catholic retreat house. The charity Scottish International Relief, also known as Mary's Meals, is based in Dalmally. Glenorchy Camanachd, a shinty team, play their home games in the village at Mart Park.

Now at Tyndrum Lower
Tyndrum Lower railway station is one of two railway stations serving the small village of Tyndrum in Scotland. This station is on the Oban branch of the West Highland Line, originally part of the Callander and Oban Railway. Most trains currently serving Fort William and Oban split or join at Crianlarich, with the result that separate trains both heading in the same direction generally call at Tyndrum's two stations at about the same time.

Split the train at CrainLarich to Fort William
Crianlarich ( i/ˌkriːənˈlærɨx/; Scottish Gaelic: A' Chrìon Làraich) is a village in Stirling council area and the registration county of Perthshire, Scotland, about six miles north-east of the head of Loch Lomond. The village's name derives from the Gaelic for "low pass", relating to its geographical location.

The village is served by Crianlarich railway station.

Crianlarich has been a major crossroads for north and westbound journeys in Scotland since mediaeval times. In the 1750s, two military roads met in the village; in the 19th century, it became a railway junction on what is now the West Highland Line; in the 20th century it became the meeting point of the major A82 and A85 roads. As such, it is designated a primary destination in Scotland, signposted from as far as Glasgow in the south, Perth in the east, Oban in the west and Fort William in the north.

The village bills itself "the gateway to the Highlands", a not uncommon claim - for example, Callander, Dunoon and Pitlochry also do so.

The village lies in the glen of Strath Fillan at the north western extent of the Trossachs, lying in the shadow of several Munro peaks, notably Ben More, but also Stob Binnein and Cruach Ardrain. Thus Crianlarich is very popular with hillwalkers. Also the village lies halfway along the long distance footpath, the West Highland Way.

Its location makes Crianlarich a popular stop for tourists and there are a variety of types of overnight accommodation including guesthouses, B&Bs a SYHA Youth Hostel and a Best Western hotel.

In 2001, the village had a population of 185.

Next Stop - Upper Tyndrum
Upper Tyndrum railway station is one of two railway stations serving the small village of Tyndrum in Scotland. It is on the Fort William route of the highly scenic West Highland Line. In 2005/06 it was the least used station on the West Highland Line, probably because of its position up a hill above the village, as opposed to Tyndrum Lower on the Oban branch, which also offers services to and from Crianlarich and destinations to the south (usually at about the same time, as the trains tend to connect at Crianlarich).

We Reach the Bridge of Orchy
Bridge of Orchy (Drochaid Urchaidhin Gaelic) is a village in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. Often referred to as a hamlet, the settlement meets a definition of village because it has a church.

Dating back to 1751, it includes a notable tourist hotel. Located at the head of Glen Orchy, it is on the A82 road, has a railway station and is on the West Highland Way long distance path. Nearby prominent peaks include the munros Beinn Dorain and Beinn an Dòthaidh. The village itself is in the central highlands.

The eponymous bridge was constructed by Government forces as part of a programme of pacification of the Highland Clans which involved the construction of military roads from the Lowlands into the much wilder upland areas of Scotland. It crosses the River Orchy, one of the finest white-water rivers in the United Kingdom.

Next - Rannock
Rannoch Moor (Scottish Gaelic: Mòinteach Raineach/Raithneach) is a large expanse of around 50 square miles (130 km²) of boggy moorland to the west of Loch Rannoch in Scotland, where it extends into Perth and Kinross, Lochaber in Highland, and northern Argyll and Bute. Rannoch Moor is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation.

It is notable for its wildlife, particularly famous for the sole British location for the Rannoch-rush, named after the moor. It was frequently visited by Horace Donisthorpe, who collected many unusual species of ants on the moor and surrounding hilly ground. Today it is still one of the few remaining habitats for Formica exsecta, the "narrow-headed ant", although recent surveys have failed to produce any sign of Formica pratensis, which Donisthorpe recorded in the area in the early part of the 20th century.

Peat deposits pose major difficulties to builders of roads and railways. When the West Highland Line was built across Rannoch Moor, its builders had to float the tracks on a mattress of tree roots, brushwood and thousands of tons of earth and ashes.

The A82 road crosses through Rannoch Moor on its way to Glen Coe and Fort William. Additionally, the West Highland Railway line crosses the moor. The railway rises to over 1300 feet and travels over 23 miles of moorland.

We Arrive at Corrour
Corrour railway station is on the West Highland Line, Scotland. It is situated near Loch Ossian and Loch Treig, on the Corrour Estate. It is the highest mainline railway station in the United Kingdom.

The railway station is one of the most remote stations in the United Kingdom, at an isolated location on Rannoch Moor. The station is not accessible by any public roads – the nearest road is 10 miles (16 km) away. After the failure of previous ventures in this location, the Station House was opened as a restaurant in August 2012. The restaurant is one of the UK's most remote. There are also three en suite letting bedrooms.

At 408 m (1,339 ft) above sea level the station provides a convenient starting point for hill-walkers and Munro-baggers. The station was the starting point for the "Man with no Name" whose body was found in 1996 on Ben Alder and only identified some years later.

Ossian Hostel, one of the most remote youth hostels in Britain, is about one mile from the railway station.

Then on to Tulloch
Tulloch railway station is a rural railway station in the remote Tulloch area of the Highland region of Scotland. This station is on the West Highland Line, 105 miles (169 km) north of Glasgow Queen Street.

The station was laid out with two platforms, one on either side of a crossing loop. There are sidings on the north side of the station. When the railway opened in 1894 the station was named Inverlair, after the nearby Inverlair Lodge. The station buildings are now used as a hostel.

Now at Roy Bridge
Roybridge (Scottish Gaelic: Drochaid Ruaidh, "the bridge over the Roy") is a small village, that lies at the confluence of the rivers River Roy and River Spean, located 3 miles east of Spean Bridge, in Kilmonivaig Parish,Inverness-shire, Scottish Highlands and is in the Highland administrative area.

Roybridge is on the A86 between Spean Bridge and Newtonmore and on the (former West Highland Railway) line served by trains passing between Crianlarich and Fort William.

Both of the parents of Australia's only recognised saint Mary MacKillop, lived in Roybridge, prior to emigrating to Australia. MacKillop visited Roybridge in the 1870s where the local Catholic church, St Margaret's, now has a shrine to her.

Getting Closer to Fort William we reach Spean Bridge
Spean Bridge (Scottish Gaelic: Drochaid Aonachain) is a village in the parish of Kilmonivaig, in the Highland region of Scotland.

The village takes its name from the Highbridge over the River Spean on General Wade's military road between Fort William and Fort Augustus, and not from Telford's bridge of 1819 which carries the A82 over the river at the heart of the village.

Lying in the Great Glen, Spean Bridge has transport links north towards Inverness and south to Fort William, provided by the A82, and the A86 heads east to join the A9 at Kingussie. The village is served by the Spean Bridge railway station providing links to Glasgow, London, and Mallaig and between 1903 and 1933 it offered a branch line service to Fort Augustus.

The Highbridge Skirmish on 16 August 1745 was the first engagement of the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

The Commando Memorial, dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces raised during Second World War, is located approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) north-west of Spean Bridge, at the junction of the A82 and the B8004. It overlooks the training areas of the Commando Training Depot established in 1942 at Achnacarry Castle.

Lochaber Camanachd is the shinty club based in the village of Spean Bridge.

We Arrive at Our Destination - Fort William
Fort William (Scottish Gaelic: An Gearasdan [ən ˈkʲɛrəs̪t̪ən] "The Garrison") is the second largest settlement in the highlands of Scotland and the largest town, with around 10,000 inhabitants - only the city of Inverness is larger.

Fort William is a major tourist centre with Glen Coe just to the south, Aonach Mòr to the north and Glennfinnan to the west, on the Road to the Isles. It is a centre for hillwalking and climbing due to its proximity to Ben Nevis and many other Munro mountains. It is also known for its nearby downhill mountain bike track. It is the start/end of both the West Highland Way (Milngavie/Fort William) and the Great Glen Way; a walk/cycle way (Fort William/Inverness).

Around 726 people (7.33% of the population) can speak Gaelic.

Historically, this area of Lochaber was strongly Clan Cameron country, and there were a number of mainly Cameron settlements in the area (such as Blarmacfoldach). The nearby settlement of Inverlochy was the main settlement in the area before the building of the fort, and was also site of the Battle of Inverlochy.

The town grew in size as a settlement when the fort was constructed to control the population after Oliver Cromwell's invasion during the English Civil War, and then to suppress the Jacobite uprisings of the 18th century.

In the Jacobite rising known as the Forty-Five, Fort William was besieged for two weeks by the Jacobites, from 20 March to 3 April 1746. However, although the Jacobites had captured both of the other forts in the chain of three Great Glen fortifications (Fort Augustus and the original Fort George) they failed to take Fort William.

During the Second World War, Fort William was the home of HMS St Christopher which was a training base for Royal Navy Coastal Forces.

More on the history of the town and the region can be found in the West Highland Museum on the High Street, Fort William is the northern end of the West Highland Way, a long distance route which runs 95 miles (153 km) through the Scottish Highlands to Milngavie, on the outskirts of Glasgow, and the start/end point of the Great Glen Way, which runs between Fort William and Inverness.

We check into the Alexandra Hotel ( after picking up our rental car from Fort William Car hire (

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