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Neptune’s Staircase

Neptune’s Staircase is a series of canal locks at Banavie near Fort William at the Loch Linnhe end of the Caledonian Canal which raise the canal to a level 20 metres higher.

Bottom Lock:-

Bottom of Neptune's Staircase

Canalside path and second lock:-

Neptune's Staircase 6

Third lock – full and overflowing:-

Neptune's Staircase 7

Top of Neptune’s Staircase:-

Top of Neptune's Staircase

Opposite angle of top of Neptune’s Staircase:-

Neptune's Staircase 4

Second top lock:-

Neptune's Staircase 3

Third top lock:-

Neptune's Staircase 2

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.

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.

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:-

Fort William (An Garasdean)

Our destination was Fort William (or, as the signposts have it, An Garasdean. No prizes for working out it’s Gaelic for garrison.) The first thing I noticed on entering Fort William proper was the rounded extension to the hotel here.

The Bank of Scotland building on the High Street:-

A shop called Aroma – more likely 60s or 70s than deco:-

Rear extension to Edinburgh Woollen Mill, off High Street:-

Connel Bridge

The good lady and I took a short trip over to the west coast early in August. We travelled via the A 84 through Callander and past Loch Lubnaig up to the A 85.

Suddenly, on reaching Crianlarich, we had entered Gaeldom. The green background A-road signs displayed the English names of destinations in the usual white but in yellow there was in addition the Gaelic.* Glaschu and An t-Òban, for example for Glasgow and Oban. Fort William was easy to decipher being An Gearasdan – the garrison – how literal; as was stèisean for station.

Now, it’s years since I’ve been that far over but I don’t remember any Gaelic* road signs in Argyll and Bute back then. Up north, round Inverness and the like, yes; but not over in the west. Or had I just forgotten?

Anyway we passed through Connel. When I were a lad I’m sure it was called Connel Ferry. (Or was that just the railway station?) There’s no ferry now, of course. But there is a striking modern bridge. The photo is a stitch to get it all in.

Loch Etive, a sea loch, was running into the Firth of Lorne like a river tumbling down a slope.

The water was roiling and churning under the bridge quite fiercely.Though the water wasn’t very deep I wouldn’t have liked to be a ferrymaster dealing with that lot.

*This should, of course, be Gàidhlig.

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