The Jacobite at Mallaig Station
© John G. Fender 2011
The last event of the 2004 -2005 session was a trip to Mallaig from fort William on the "Jacobite" steam train operated by the West Coast Railway Company.
Meeting at Fort William station the party had a brief chance to inspect the locomotive before setting off on the 2 hour trip to Mallaig, through some of Scotland's most spectacular scenery. The line from Fort William to Mallaig was built between 1897 and 1901 by Robert McAlpine & Sons.
Leaving Fort William the train passes over the River Lochy and you can see the remains of Inverlochy Castle. Crossing the Caledonian Canal passengers can see the longest lock gate system in the UK, Neptune's Staircase, built during the Napoleonic Wars.
The railway runs along the northern bank of Loch Eil as far as Kinlocheil, before crossing the moors to approach Glenfinnan where the train crosses the 21 span Glenfinnan Viaduct, the first concrete viaduct in the world. With a height of 100 feet spectacular views of Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Monument, marking the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard signalling the start of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745. The monument was built in 1815. The viaduct has more recently gained fame from its appearance in the "Harry Potter" films.
Arriving at Glenfinnan station, where the train stops for short time, passengers can take the opportunity to visit the West Highland Railway Museum, with exhibits detailing the construction of the line and viaduct. Leaving Glenfinnan Station, the line crosses more moorland before running along the south side of Loch Eilt to Lochailort.
Lochailort was where, during the construction of the line, the first hospital for workers was established to cater for the 2,000 navvies who where based there. During World War II, Inverailort Castle was used by the Commandos before moving to the better known Achnacarry Castle. The first fish farm was also established here in 1969. Passing through Arisaig, the most westerly railway station on the mainland, the train continues on to Morar, where it crosses the River Morar, the shortest river in Britain at half a mile long. From there it is a short run into Mallaig, one of Britain's most important fishing ports.
Alighting at Mallaig, we adjourned for lunch in the nearby Steam Inn, where we were able to sample locally caught haddock and other culinary delights. Following lunch, returning to the station, the return journey departed promptly at 1410 for Fort William.
The Scottish Region would like to thank Mr. James Shuttleworth and the staff of the of the West Coast Railway Company for their hospitality and efforts to make the trip so enjoyable. For further information on the "Jacobite" and other activities of the West Coast Railway Company click here.
Report by John Fender.
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