Invergarry and Fort Augustus Railway
This line is closed. The railway ran
from Spean Bridge on the West
Highland Railway to Fort Augustus. The photograph below shows
a section of the disused trackbed near Loch Lochy.
This line runs through an area of sparse population
in the Great Glen by Loch Lochy and Loch Oich to Fort Augustus. The only prospect
for survival of the line was its later extension north to Inverness and for
it to become part of a trunk route - this didn't happen. Fort Augustus has a
monastry (now closed?). The Caledonian Canal runs parallel to the former line
but further as it runs from Banavie, by Fort William, to Inverness using Loch
Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness.
Description of route
The railway ran from Spean Bridge on the West
Highland Railway to Fort Augustus. The line was a financial disaster;
it had been expected to be part of a scheme linking Fort William and the Lowlands
with Inverness by a West Highland route but the section from Fort Augustus to
Inverness was never built following arguments between the West
Highland Railway, North
British Railway (both on one side) and the Highland
Railway. Expected to be a through line, rather than a branch to a small
town, the line was built to a high standard with substancial bridges and tunnels.
The line was connected to the West
Highland Railway at Spean Bridge. The North
British Railway operated the West
Highland Railway but did not operate the branch for financial reasons.
The Highland Railway operated the
branch at first. The North British
Railway took over operation, in 1908, after the Highland
Railway withdraw. The railway was found to make a smaller loss during intervening
periods when trains were not run by leasing out buildings.
Passenger traffic ceased in 1933. Traffic increased
during the Second World War to one freight train per day to carry timber cut
by Canadian soldiers. The line closed in 1946.
This is a station on the West
Highland Railway and the former junction for Fort Augustus. The junction
faced east. A locomotive shed was supplied here but never brought into use,
the one at Fort Augustus being used instead.
The station at Gairlochy had a broad island
platform and buildings similar to structures found on the West
Highland Railway. The photograph looks from the remains of the pedestrian
access bridge south over the station site. The platform was to the right (now
a roadbed and static caravan park). To the left the remains of the cattle loading
bank is edged by a hedge.
This platform served the nearby Invergloy house.
This facilities consisted of a single platform and waiting room shed.
The platform was located somewhere in the distance
of this photograph. On my several visits I have never found any remains at this
site. Nearby a group of Railwaymen cottages remain which must have been near
This crossing was never brought into use although
signaling equipment was installed. The passing place was designed to break the
long single track section from Gairlochy to Invergarry.
Today the trackbed has been eroded and, being
on a steep slope, the width has reduced. The exact location of the signal box
is difficult to determine on the ground. To the North of this location a fine
footbridge remains over the trackbed. This was the summit of the line. Today
the trackbed forms a road.
This station was built in the style of West
Highland Railway island platform stations. The station was entered
by a subway at the South end. Goods facilities, including a loading bank, were
to the west of the station the approach being from the north end. The station
was not very conveniently located for the town of Invergarry.
The building differed from West Highland Railway buildings by having a large porch on the west side of the station which probably formed a private entrance - perhaps for the owner of Invergarry Castle. (St. Andrews University Library Special Collections Photographic Collection photograph of the station.)
Today the Station is a Forestry Commision car-park.
Small bushes which were planted on the platform are now large trees - these
can be seen in the photograph. The photograph looks North, from the trackbed,
by the Down platform. The trackbed of the Up platform is very choked with trees
North of the station the Loch Oich tunnel can
This station consisted of a single platform
with a loop.
Today the station is fairly overgrown and sports
a number of abandoned cars, as seen in the photograph. The original station
building has been demolished and replaced by a structure which is now also in
need of demolition. The station is now part of an estate and no parking is available
nearby. The site is not very well drained.
To the South of the station, by Loch Oich an
expensive tunnel was required to be cut.
The station at Fort Augustus had three platforms.
To some it was known as Fort Augustus (Central) Two platforms (to the east)
were terminal platforms for trains running from Spean Bridge. These were generally
used. At first these lacked a switch for running round trains but this was later
added. Another platform (to the west) served the short branch to Fort Augustus
Pier. The short branch was only used for a short period. Goods facilities were
to the East of the station (I think).
Today the station has been demolished. The
site is now occupied by a school. A number of short sections of rail can be
found being used as re-inforcing for the Caledonian Canal. A short section of
platform (the throught platform) appears to remain. This is shown in the photograph
to the right. This track led over the Caledonian Canal on a swing bridge. The
location of the swing bridge is shown in the photograph to the left. This view
looks from the other side of the canal towards the site of the station. At the
time when the photograph was taken the Canal was undergoing maintenance (spring
1996) and the water is drained from the canal. A number of box vans remain in
the fields nearby. To the south of the fortmer station sleeper imprints can
be found in the moss of the former trackbed. bout quarter of a mile south there
is an old loading bank which probably saw military use.
Fort Augustus Pier
A short branch continued from Fort Augustus
to Fort Augustus Pier. The station was also known as "Pier" and was
signposted thus. This short branch was a very expensive and pointless undertaking.
Had the railway been extended to Inverness
the expenditure might have been sensible.
The station was built next to a Pier on Loch
Ness. The station consisted of a single platform with a loop. The site is now
a private house. No photographs of a steamer at Fort Augustus Pier meeting a
train appear to exist. G.E. Langmuir investigated this for many years but bever
found one. Many photographs exist of vessels using the pier after closure of
the Railway from Fort Augustus.
This section led from Fort Augustus station,
over the Caledonian Canal on a swing bridge, over a river, then through the
town on a raised embankment, over the main road, alongside Loch Ness is a deep
cutting in solid rock and on to the Pier station
The nature of this short section can
be seen in these two photographs. The left photograph shows the piers of the
viaduct over the river (looking South) and the right photograph shows the cutting
by Loch Ness (looking North). The dirt road is approximately the same width
as the Railway would have been. The trackbed can be used as a short walk out
from the town (before a gate is reached). The trackbed gives a view of the Fort
Augustus Monastery and the entry point of the Canal into Loch Ness. The remains
of a paddle steamer lie in the shallow water by the canal. The steamer was destoyed
Page created on 14/03/1997
Page last edited on: 11/03/2012
Contact: Ewan Crawford