Mallaig Extension (West Highland Railway)

Introduction

This 40 mile long railway line runs through some of the most scenic mountainous and seaside terrain crossed by a railway in Britain. A measure of this is that there are 11 tunnels and 6 viaducts. The railway provides a service between Fort William and Mallaig. ScotRail provides a service on this line. The line is open to passengers. Ferries run by Caledonian MacBrayne operate between Mallaig and Armadale Pier in Skye. A number of smaller concerns also operate other services out of the port.

For much of the year the line is traversed by the superb steam hauled 'The Jacobite ' train, operating from Fort William to Mallaig.

The 21 arch Glenfinnan Viaduct has been made famous by the Harry Potter films. (The line passes over several viaducts and through many tunnels on its way to the western seaboard.) Nearby this is the Glenfinnan Monument and visitor's centre, close to where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his Jacobite Standard.

Glenfinnan station is host to a station museum, which can be visited during the pause in the journey of the westbound 'Jacobite'.

The line is supported by the Friends of the West Highland Lines who were formed in 1983 and have promoted the line ever since. The society publishes the excellent West Highland News Plus.

The line is single track with passing places at Glenfinnan and Arisaig.



Locations along the line

These locations are along the line.

The signal box here controlled the junction between the Banavie [1st] branch and the West Highland's extension west to Mallaig. Both lines were single track.
...

More details
Banavie Junction looking to Fort William with the Mallaig line through the trees on the right and the former Banavie Pier branch in the foreground ...
Ewan Crawford 27/04/2013

This is a single platform station. At the north end of the platform is Banavie Swing Bridge and the modern signalling centre, built in the style of a signal box. Unfortunately the West Highland extension style station building (similar to those at Glenfinnan and Arisaig has been demolished.
...

More details
The plaque on Banavie Signalling Centre, celebrating its opening in 1988. ...
John Yellowlees 02/04/2017
Banavie signal box, later replaced by an RETB control centre built in sympathetic style. ...
Bill Roberton //1985
Heritage Railway Association visit to Banavie: view towards Fort William and Ben Nevis with the signalling centre to the left and swing bridge behind ...
John Yellowlees 02/04/2017
Looking west along the platform at Banavie to the signal box and swing bridge. By this date the West Highland Extension style station building was ...
Bill Roberton //1985

This single track railway swing bridge is immediately north of Banavie station. It carries the Fort William to Mallaig line at the foot of Neptune's Staircase, a series of interconnected locks on the Caledonian Canal.
...

More details
Black 5 Alderman A.E Draper 5305 crossing Banavie swing bridge on its way to Mallaig in August 1987. Thirty years later this loco is still on the main ...
Gordon Steel 16/08/1987
Classic view of Ben Nevis from the afternoon Jacobite to Mallaig at Banavie on 3rd June 2016. ...
David Spaven 03/06/2016
The midday service to Mallaig crosses Banavie Swing Bridge over the Caledonian Canal in 2013. ...
Ewan Crawford 27/04/2013
Banavie swing bridge viewed from the north. ...
Ewan Crawford //

This signal box was north west from Banavie Swing Bridge the approach to which it protected. To its west was Corpach station. It worked in conjunction with Banavie Canal Bridge Signal Box, located at Banavie station and which guarded its southern approach.
...

More details

This is a single platform station. It is close to the basin of the Caledonian Canal and its sea lock. Corpach retains its small timber station building, not typical of the line. The platform is on the north side of the line and there is a barrier protected level crossing to its west.
...

More details
The Jacobite approaches Corpach seen over the Caledonian Canal's sea lock in 1990. The tower is Corpach Lighthouse. ...
Ewan Crawford //1990
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of The Glasgow Highlanders being
...
John Gray 01/04/2018
K1 No.62005 races away from Corpach with The Jacobite on a sunny
...
John Gray 21/10/2016
Corpach station viewed from the west. ...
Ewan Crawford //

During the Second World War two loops were installed on the south side of the line in the east of Annat Point. From the loops a siding ran from the east end to serve a jetty.
...

More details

This signal box opened in 1964, replacing that at Camus-na-ha Sidings to the west. The box controlled Annat West and Annat East level crossings and the entry into Corpach Pulp Mill which had led to its opening. It was located on the north side of the line.
...

More details

This railway served pulp and paper mill was important to the survival of the West Highland Railway giving rise to much purely Scottish rail traffic. Timber, paper, and oil were carried by rail.
...

More details

This was a Second World War loop, on the south side of the line, controlled by a signal box at its east end. The box was a single storey structure with a sloping back roof. There was a siding from the loop curving back towards Annat narrows.
...

More details
Camus-Na-Ha signal box, situated beyond Banavie on the Mallaig extension, was a World War 2 signal box along with Helensburgh Upper, Faslane Junction ...
PR&PO British Railways (Douglas Blades Collection) 05/08/1946
A view of Camus-na-ha signal box and siding north of Banavie on the Mallaig extension of the West Highland line. Photograph taken by the LNER on 5th ...
Douglas Blades Collection 05/08/1946

This is a relatively modern station with a short platform built to serve the nearby Outward Bound Centre, just to the north.
...

More details
Photograph taken with a 200mm zoom lens of Black 5 44871 on the afternoon Jacobite from opposite side of Loch Eil. ...
Gordon Steel 05/07/2012
156445 and 156492 form the 08.21 from Glasgow Queen Street to Mallaig approaching Locheil Outward Bound. ...
Bill Roberton 19/10/2017
156445 and 156492 form the 08.21 from Glasgow Queen Street leaving Loch Eil Outward Bound for Mallaig on 19th October 2017. ...
Bill Roberton 19/10/2017
Black 5 No.45407 makes a slow approach to the station at Loch Eil
...
John Gray 02/08/2016

This is a single platform station. It originally had a typical Mallaig Extension building such as that at Glenfinnan or Arisaig, but this has been lost. There is a shelter. The platform is on the north side of the line with Loch Eil just across the track.
...

More details
Black 5 45407, running as 45157 The Glasgow Highlander, hurries the morning Jacobite service through Locheilside on its way to the ...
Mark Bartlett 02/08/2018
The wayside platform at Lochielside, midway between Fort William and Glenfinnan. View east on 27 September 2005, with Loch Eil itself off picture to ...
John Furnevel 27/09/2005
Locheilside station viewed from the west. ...
Ewan Crawford //
Gauges in the guards van on the Jacobite. ...
Ewan Crawford 28/05/2006

This is a single track tunnel east of the Glenfinnan Viaduct. It is 33 yards long. ...

More details
Minus a headboard, Black 5 No.45212 races along the straight at Drumsallie with the afternoon Jacobite steam service to Mallaig on 7th June 2019. In ...
John Gray 07/06/2019

This viaduct is one of the highlights of the Mallaig Extension. It is much photographed both from the train and the surrounding land.
...

More details
K1 62005 crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct with The Jacobite on 19 October. ...
Bill Roberton 19/10/2017
5305 crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct in 1990, in the days before Harry Potter films when the hillsides were relatively photographer free (and there was no ...
Ewan Crawford //1990
K1 62005 crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct with The Jacobite on 19 October. ...
Bill Roberton 19/10/2017
Glenfinnan Viaduct's west end in December 2018, showing over 100 years worth of the effects of water on concrete. ...
Ewan Crawford 17/12/2018

Glenfinnan is one of the great railway destinations in Scotland. The station itself is superbly preserved and has a museum, to the east is the world famous 21 arch Glenfinnan Viaduct (both famous in its own right and through the Harry Potter books and films) and to the south east is where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard at the start of the second Jacobite uprising, celebrated with ...

More details
Climbing away from Glenfinnan, a little to the west. ...
Bill Roberton 19/10/2017
Climbing away from Glenfinnan, a little to the west. ...
Bill Roberton 19/10/2017
Climbing away from Glenfinnan, a little to the west. This was the K1's last run to Mallaig of the season. ...
Bill Roberton 19/10/2017
Drivers view at Glenfinnan looking to Mallaig. ...
Alan Hardie 08/08/2017

This halt was west of Glenfinnan station, east of Lochailort. It was a private halt used, initially, for shooting parties on the large Lochailort Estate. During the Second World War it was used in connection with the extensive training grounds for soldiers.
...

More details
With the speed dropping fast the driver tries to keep things going without stalling ... it was a close run thing. ...
Ewan Crawford 28/05/2006
How to get sopping wet in under a minute. (1) take up an interest in railway photography (2) slip-slide uphill through a bog to photograph the ...
Ewan Crawford 28/09/2009

This is a single track tunnel, the eastern of two tunnels just west of Lech-a-vuie Platform and east of Loch Eilt. It is 88 yards long.
...

More details

This is a single track tunnel, the western of two tunnels just west of Lech-a-vuie Platform and east of Loch Eilt. It is 66 yards long.
...

More details

This is a single platform station. It was a two platform station similar to both Glenfinnan and Arisaig.
...

More details
By Loch Eilt. ...
Ewan Crawford //
Under an angry looking sky,Black 5 No.45212 hauls the afternoon Jacobite
...
John Gray 05/08/2017
K1 No.62005 has the steam heating on and the steam sanders working as
...
John Gray 20/10/2016
Under a blazing sun the Jacobite rounds the west end of Loch Eilt not far east of Lochailort station. ...
Ewan Crawford 02/05/2017

This is a single track 176 yard tunnel just west of Lochailort station. ...

More details

This is a single track 38 yard tunnel between Lochailort and Beasdale. To the immediate west is Polnish No 107 Tunnel and to the east Lochailort Tunnel. ...

More details
Black 5 No.44871 on the climb up to Polnish with 'The Jacobite' for
...
John Gray 01/08/2016
Black 5 No.45407 running through Polnish cutting with the return working of * The Jacobite * to Fort William. ...
John Gray 03/08/2016
Black 5 No.45407 on the climb up from Lochailort approaching the first of the tunnels at Polnish on the way to Mallaig. ...
John Gray 03/08/2016

This is a single track 44 yard tunnel between Lochailort and Beasdale. To the immediate east is Polnish No 106 Tunnel and to the west Arnabol Viaduct. ...

More details

This is a six arch single track mass concrete viaduct on the Mallaig line between Polnish No 107 Tunnel (to the east) and Loch nan Uamh Viaduct. The viaduct is on a gentle curve and crosses the Arnabol burn. ...

More details
Black five no 44871 crossing Arnabol Viaduct near Loch nan Uamh with The Jacobite on its way to Mallaig on 12 October. Arnabol Viaduct is ...
John Gray 12/10/2010
62005 crosses Arnabol Viaduct with The Jacobite on 1 October. This viaduct is not so well known as Loch nan Uamh about half a mile away. The ...
John Gray 01/10/2013

This is an eight arch single track mass concrete viaduct between Arnabol Viaduct (to the east) and Loch nan Uamh No 116 Tunnel]] to the immediate north of the viaduct. The viaduct is at the east end of Loch nan Uamh (loch of the caves). It is also known as Gleann Mama Viaduct, for the glen to the east.
...

More details
Black 5 No.44871 with the return working of * The Jacobite * from Mallaig to Fort William,pictured crossing the viaduct at Loch nan Uamh. ...
John Gray //2017
Black 5 No.44871 hauls the morning * Jacobite* across Loch nan Uamh
...
John Gray //2017
After days of heavy rain, today dawned fine and clear, with light winds. I deployed the drone for this shot of K1 No.62005 crossing the viaduct at ...
John Gray 07/06/2019
Loch Nan Uamh viaduct looking east, 0905. ...
John Furnevel /09/2005

This single track tunnel of 66 yards is immediately north of the Loch nan Uamh Viaduct.
...

More details

This single track tunnel of 99 yards is immediately north of the Loch nan Uamh No 116 Tunnel.
...

More details

This is a single track 192 yard long tunnel. It is west of Loch nan Uamh No 117 Tunnel and just south of Beasdale No 119 Tunnel. ...

More details

This is a single track 154 yard long tunnel. It is north of Beasdale No 118 Tunnel and east of Beasdale station. ...

More details

This is a single platform station. The building adjoining the station is a railwayman's house, in a style typical of such buildings on the line. There is a timber waiting room on the platform.
...

More details
K1 No.62005 is going well as it approaches the summit at Beasdale with *The
...
John Gray 21/10/2016
Beasdale station viewed from the west. ...
Ewan Crawford //
Suitably decorated Black 5 No.45407 hauling The Jacobite Christmas Express up the gradient at Polnish on 30 December 2016 heading for Mallaig. ...
John Gray 30/12/2016
Crossing Beasdale Burn (looking East) ...
Paul D Kerr 04/09/2006

This is a single track 350 yard tunnel. It is immediately east of Borrodale Viaduct and west of Beasdale station.
...

More details
Black 5 No.44871 powers up the gradient from Beasdale to Borrodale Tunnel with the afternoon steam service for Mallaig. ...
John Gray 03/08/2016

This is a broad single arch mass concrete viaduct. It is 127.5 ft long, probably the longest such bridge when built. The bridge is has dressed stone additions and parapets, added for the benefit of the landowners at Arisaig House and Borrodale House (which are to the south). The bridge crosses the very deep chasm of the Borrodale Burn.
...

More details
The, very late running, Glasgow Queen St. to Mallaig service crossing Borrodale Viaduct consisting of a four car multiple unit led by 156458. ...
John Gray 02/08/2017
The northbound afternoon Jacobite hauled by Black 5,No.45212,with the nameboard carried on its distinctive offset lamp iron,exits Borrodale ...
John Gray 02/08/2017
The longest mass concrete span in the world when built,Borrodale Viaduct is now surrounded by trees and difficult to photograph. It spans the ...
John Gray 02/08/2017
The returning east Jacobite is crossing Borrodale Viaduct immediately before entering Borrowdale Tunnel. ...
Ewan Crawford 02/05/2017

This single track three arch viaduct crosses the Brunery Burn east of Arisaig. The central arch crosses the burn and has the widest span.
...

More details

This is a two platform station with a passing loop. The original station buildings still stand, the larger on the down (Mallaig bound) platform. The signal box (closed in 1983 and 'B' listed) still stands at the Fort William end of the station. There is a goods siding, now in use for permanent way, access from the down loop by reversal. There is no footbridge, crossing between the ...

More details
Arisaig looking to Fort William. The station has had some attention and is looking much better than a few years ago. ...
Ewan Crawford 13/12/2018
Mallaig-bound Jacobite crosses a ScotRail service at Arisaig on 3rd June 2016. ...
David Spaven 03/06/2016
On the penultimate day of the 2015 Jacobite steam service, K1 2-6-0 62005 makes a spirited start away from Arisaig heading for Mallaig. Arisaig is the ...
John Gray 23/10/2015
The abandoned box at Arisaig in September 2005, looking east from the Fort William platform. ...
John Furnevel 27/09/2005

This is a four arch single track mass concrete viaduct crossing the River Morar at the Falls of Morar. The viaduct is south of Morar station.
...

More details
Morar viaduct viewed from the west. ...
Ewan Crawford //
The River Morar is one of the shortest in Scotland but, despite the dry spell, there was plenty of water in it as it passed under the 1897 Morar ...
Mark Bartlett 26/07/2018
Black 5 No.45407 seen crossing the viaduct over the River Morar on 26 June with the morning Jacobite steam service from Fort William to ...
John Gray 26/06/2013
Mallaig train crossing Morar Viaduct in August 1985. ...
Ian Dinmore /08/1985

This is a single platform station which retains its single storey station building. To the immediate south is a level crossing.
...

More details
Sprinter heading north to Mallaig from Arisaig near Keppoch. ...
Ewan Crawford //
45212 heads away from Morar tender first with the evening Jacobite returning to Fort William. The train is approaching the viaduct over the River ...
Mark Bartlett 01/08/2018
Afternoon train from Mallaig drops down towards Loch Morar shortly after leaving Morar station in September 2005. ...
John Furnevel /09/2005
Black 5 45212 leaves Morar heading for Arisaig with the evening Jacobite service from Mallaig to Fort William on 1st August 2018. This view ...
Mark Bartlett 01/08/2018

This was a single road locomotive shed on the west (sea) side of Mallaig station. It was approached from the south and had a turntable on its west side. A line extended from the south to the pier, running between the station and the locomotive shed.
...

More details
B1 61197 on the turntable at Mallaig on 6 September 1961. ...
David Stewart 06/09/1961

This is a two faced island platform terminus on the western seaboard of Scotland. Nearby is the Caledonian MacBrayne pier for Armadale Pier in Skye. A number of locations are served from Mallaig Pier.
...

More details
Class 47 47237, at the head of the Royal Scotsman in Mallaig on 31st August 2012. At that time West Coast Railways had the contract and an ...
Gordon Steel 31/08/2012
37191, newly named International Youth Year 1985, waits at Mallaig after arrival from Glasgow Queen Street/Fort William. Complete with ...
Michael Green 26/05/1985
45407 climbs out of Mallaig with 'The Jacobite' viewed from the CalMac ferry 'Loch Fyne'. ...
Ewan Crawford 16/06/2017
The morning 'Jacobite' being prepared by 62005 ahead of the return journey to Fort William on 6th July 2012. ...
Gordon Steel 06/07/2012

Mallaig Pier is the port for Armadale Pier on Skye, Lochboisdale Pier on South Uist, Inverie in Knoydart and the Small Isles; Eigg, Muck, Rum and Canna. Caledonian MacBrayne ...

More details
Seen from a ferry departing for Armadale, Calmac MV Lord of the Isles arrives in Mallaig after crossing from Lochboisdale on South Uist in July ...
Mark Bartlett 27/07/2018
CalMac ferry MV Loch Nevis, seen moored at the inner harbour berth in Mallaig on 18th June 2013. This ferry serves the small islands of Eigg, ...
David Pesterfield 18/06/2013
Calmac ferry MV Loch Fyne arrives at the linkspan on Mallaig Pier after crossing from Armadale on Skye on 27th July 2018. This vessel was one ...
Mark Bartlett 27/07/2018
The other terminal building in Mallaig. These are the Calmac Ferry offices on the pier on the morning of 27th July 2018. Cars are beginning to queue ...
Mark Bartlett 27/07/2018