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Kinlochleven

On our way back home we stopped briefly to walk on to the bridge over the mouth of Loch Leven at Ballachulish. The good lady bagged these two photos first.

Looking back towards Loch Linnhe from Ballachulish bridge:-

Loch Leven from Ballachulish bridge:-

Having time to spare and it being a lovely evening we decided to take the long way round the loch through Kinlochleven.

There used to be an aluminium smelter at Kinlochleven for which its own (hydroelectric) power station was required. As a result Kinlochleven became the first village in the world to have every house connected to electricity, coining the phrase “The Electric Village.” The smelter shut down in 1996. The photo below is of the power station outflow.

Hills (and bridge over the River Leven) at Kinlochleven:-

From the bridge above I could see a chippy with an Art Deco style frontage. The photo was taken from a distance so it was difficult to tell if the business is still going.

Situated on the outskirts of the village on the southern edge is the War Memorial; a simple Celtic cross on a stepped pyramidal base. Dedicated to the men of Kinlochleven who gave their lives in the Great Wars, 1914-18, 1939-45:-

Fort William Memorials

Fort William’s War Memorial is situated in a green space just off the north end of the High Street.

The reverse of the memorial includes a name for the 1990-91 Gulf War.

A bit further south is a Peace Memorial. “Erected to celebrate the bond of friendship between Dudley, Hiroshima and Fort William and to commemorate the International Peace Cairn on the summit of Ben Nevis raised by the youth of these three communities.”

The other side reads, “A memorial from the youth of Hiroshima in the hope that the experience of 6th August 1945 will strengthen our search for a peaceful world.” January 1st 1968.

Still further south is St Andrew’s Episcopal Church on whose wall a sign says “Commonwealth War Graves here.”

The (one) grave is of Second Lieutenant H M Stapleton, Royal Tank Regiment, 1942.

In the West Highland Museum, off High Street, Fort William – which also has a fine exhibition on the Commandos (whose training ground was in the Lochaber area) along with Jacobite memorabilia – is a memorial mainly to the men of the Fort William Post Office staff who fell in the Great War. The wreath covers the wording for the Second World War.

Commando Memorial

From Glenfinnan we motored back then on up to Spean Bridge where the memorial to the commandos is located. It was is this area, Achnacarry to be precise, where the first commandos did their training. The inscription on the top of the plinth reads “United We Conquer” and on the plaque “In memory of the men of the Commandos who died in the Second World War 1939-45. This country was their training ground.”

The setting is stunning, with magnificent views of the Nevis range of mountains. Note the snow patches still – even in the middle of June.

Hard by the Memorial is a poignant circular area where relatives, friends, old soldiers may leave mementoes, photographs and tributes to the fallen, some of whom are very recent.

Glenfinnan (Gleann Fhionghain)

The day after our train journey we made the trip to Glenfinnan (or Gleann Fhionghain) by road. It was there, at the head of Loch Shiel, that the standard of Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart (aka The Young Pretender or, more commonly, Bonnie Prince Charlie) was raised in 1745 to start the doomed enterprise that was the Jacobite Rebellion which became known as the ’45 and ended at Culloden, the last battle to be fought on British soil.

In 1815 a monument was erected in memory of the clansmen who fought and died. It is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. Being members, we took in the Visitor Centre and climbed the monument. That’s a bit scary. The stairs are steep, headroom is limited and the space at the top isn’t large. The views from the top are brilliant though.

The good lady nicked some of these photos before I got to them.

This is the monument from the approach path:-

Loch Shiel from the top of the monument:-

Glenfinnan Viaduct from the monument:-

The vilage of Glenfinnan’s War Memorial is situated in a recess by the road on the way up to the village from the monument to the station.

It’s a dignified figure of a soldier with bowed head. His rifle is apparently wooden. The names are on the rear for some obscure reason.

Ben Nevis (Beinn Neibhis) and Neptune’s Staircase

Fort William is of course the nearst town to Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.

We never saw it – or not all of it anyway. There were always clouds surrounding the higher slopes as in this photo taken out of the train window somewhere around Banavie.

It must be great on a sunny day.

Banavie lies at the top of Loch Linnhe and is at the southern end of the Caledonian Canal where the so-called Neptune’s Staircase, a series of eight locks, raises the level of the water by sixty feet. It is the longest series of staircase locks in Britain.

Mallaig (Malaig)

There isn’t much to do at Mallaig – or Malaig as the signs have it. (It seems a bit pointless to have the name repeated only without an “l” but bilinguality seems to be important once you get to Crianlarich – or A’ Chrìon Làraich if you prefer.)

Mallaig’s raison d’être was herring fishing. That’s why the railway was run into there in the first place. I can remember the fish trains rumbling past my boyhood home in the wee hours. Now the herring fishing has gone but I believe prawns have taken their place, shipped all over Europe – by lorry.

Mind you I did buy a book. There’s a building directly opposite the station which among other things houses a second hand bookshop. There is a “first hand” bookshop further into the town but it had mostly touristy books.

There were the expected tourist outlets and several cafes and restaurants, some of which doubled up as chippies, plus a Co-op.

We had nearly two hours to kill though.

The Marine Hotel is just across the access road to the station. I leave you to decide if it’s Deco or not:-

We wandered round the coast road a bit. This is a panorama of the harbour from the other side of the bay. (To get to the larger version on my flickr click on the picture):-

Walking back into the village I saw this intriguing building on the harbour entrance. This side is a fishselling business:-

The building is quite big. The other side is/was a cafe and a ship chandler’s. The cafe bit was closed so may be defunct.

Not content with three business premises the side facing the harbour provides shipping services:-

This is a panorama of the other side of the bay from the harbour entrance:-

The harbour mouth:-

You can just see a fisherman’s statue in the above. Beyond where I took the next one was permitted personnel only so I took this long shot:-

That was Mallaig.

More From the West Highland Line

I forgot to include this photo of an old North British Railway Signboard at Glenfinnan Station in my previous post. The posters are modern of course.

Glenfinnan was the only long stop between Fort William and Mallaig.

This is the sea loch, Loch Ailort (Loch Ailleart) after which the next town and station up the line, Lochailort, are named:-

First proper sea view. I think this is Loch nan Uamh – looking towards the Sound of Arisaig:-

The next station, Arisaig, has a unique claim to fame as the sign on the station wall attests. The stop was a short one but handy for me to take the photo.

Glenfinnan Viaduct from Train

The most iconic piece of railway scenery on the West Highland Line between Fort William and Mallaig is the Glenfinnan Viaduct which was apparently the first entirely built of concrete – by Robert McAlpine, thereafter known as “Concrete Bob.”

Here it is as viewed as from the Hogwarts Express on the outward leg.

There are great views of Loch Shiel from the viaduct. This photo was taken just after crossing it:-

The train stopped at Glenfinnan Station for about fifteen minutes to exchange tokens for the single track with a Scotrail train. If you had time you could have a meal in the restaurant car in the Station precincts.

Return journey – shows viaduct and locomotive. Someone is ignoring the “Do not lean out of the window” signs!

View down into Glenfinnan from train:-

Hills at Glenfinnan:-

Loch Shiel from viaduct:-

The Jacobite Steam Train (aka The Hogwarts Express)

This was the reason we went to Fort William.

My work colleagues had given me a voucher for two tickets on an excursion from Fort William to Mallaig on the Jacobite Steam train run by West Coast Railways. This is the train that features as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films.

We hadn’t been on a steam train since we took the boys on the one at Bo’ness in the long ago.

That British Railways logo is a cracker.

It’s reminiscent of the one used for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924-25.

Wembley Lion

See more images of the Wembley Lion here.

When we debarked at Mallaig Station the footplatemen were hard at work shovelling coal on the Jacobite’s coal tender.

The end of the line at Mallaig:-

Fort William Art Deco

The town is cut off from Loch Linnhe by a dual carriageway. We walked along it the first evening and saw the Imperial Hotel. Lovely curved area with balcony above. Nice stepping on the roof line.

There are other decoish buildings on the High Street.

Could this once have been a Woolworths?:-

The next one looks flat-roofed. Windows have been altered:-

Mountain Warehouse. Minor Deco at best:-

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