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Author Topic: Hebridean Light Railway, and highland proposals and short-lives  (Read 827 times)
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« on: May 10, 2020, 07:55:46 am »

Good morning.

Every so often, I come across something I think may be of (casual or sideshoot) interest to members, but there's no one logical place to post it - or perhaps no place at all.   And this is one of them ...

The Hebridean Light Railway was proposed:
* across Skye from Isle Oronsay to Uig via Broadford and Portree, with a branch to Dunvegan
and then
* on the Isle of Lewis and Harris from Stornoway to Carloway with a branch to Breasclete

and has just been brought up again - some 120 years later - in The Scotsman:

Imaginary Highland rail routes create lockdown escape

A fantasy rail network across the Highlands has been conjured up by an author whose forthcoming book chronicles a failed Victorian scheme to build a line to Ullapool.

Andrew Drummond said it would enable would-be travellers to break out of the Covid-19 lockdown for imaginary journeys across the north west.

He has created a ScotRail-style map on his website which includes other fictional rail routes to the north west coast settlements of Lochinver, Laxford and Aultbea, with ferry connections to Stornoway.

Virtual passengers are also able to travel over lines extending across Harris and Lewis, and to Dunvegan on Skye.

The whole history of light railway proposals and late lines in the Highlands and Far North is interesting ...  Lines to Fort Augustus (opened 1903), Lybster (opened 1903) and Dornoch (opened 1902) were built and lost.  Yet Mallaig (Opened 1901) and Kyle of Lochalsh (opened 1897).   At least one of Andrew Drummond's fantasy lines is based on what at the time were serious proposals too.

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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2020, 10:09:56 am »

I first discovered the remains of an actual light railway on Skye back in 1979 while undertaking geological mapping an area west of Broadford as part of my undergraduate fieldwork: the Skye Marble Railway. The marble quarries served by this short-lived line were in the centre of the mapping area. Look out for 'Dismantled Tramway' and the quarries to the south.

I also remember the rain oh, how it rained! And the large langoustines bought at Kyleakin Pier fresh off the boat that tried to claw their way though the plastic shopping bags before their tasty demise at the youth hostel in Broadford. At that time the rails embedded in the roadway of Broadford Pier were still clearly exposed.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2020, 10:16:15 am by Oxonhutch » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2020, 10:19:54 am »

Now a public path
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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2020, 12:06:29 pm »

Continuing publicity .... for a book launch ... more interest in rails in the highlands - Garve to Ullapool

From The Herald Scotland

... It is 130 years ago this year since an Act of Parliament paved the way for the construction of an ambitious but achievable rail link that could have transformed Ullapool and brought a host of potential economic and social benefits.

Devised by Fowler, his son Arthur and a group of well-heeled companions including Lady Mary Matheson of the Lews, widow of James Matheson, co-founder of Hong Kong-based conglomerate Jardine Matheson & Co and owner of the Isle of Lewis and much of Ullapool, the railway could have solved a longstanding problem: how to transport massive quantities of herring being landed by local fishermen to market as fast as possible.

Steamships took too long. Railways were new and fast. A railway, they believed, could have brought prosperity to desperately poor crofters and cotters, opened up the Isle of Lewis to new trade, and helped extinguish troublesome land raids and civil disobedience which had become an all too familiar element of island life.

Branching off the Dingwall-to-Skye line slightly east of Garve station, the proposed track would have powered steam trains upland, following the road past the Black Water river, through the Glascarnoch glen and rising to 900ft towards Braemore Lodge and the estate owned by Fowler, already celebrated as one of Britainís most acclaimed engineers.

If the scenery didnít take the breath away from railway passengers, surely the prospect of a steep descent towards the head of Loch Broom would have.

Or, the engineersí preferred option, a tunnel carved through the hillside which would bring them, blinking, into glorious sight of the mouth of the River Broom sprawling before them. ...

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« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2020, 03:24:28 pm »

That would have ben a great route!

 In similar vein, and in GWR territory, the planned but never built Liskeard to Launceston line, using the Liskeard- Caradon mineral line and then extending across Bodmin Moor would have  been a great ride too.
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