Sutherland and Caithness Railway

Introduction

This line is open. This is one of the most beautiful and wild railway lines in Britain.

Passenger services are provided by ScotRail between Wick, Thurso, Helmsdale and Inverness. Stations remain in use at Helmsdale, Kildonan, Kinbrace, Forsinard, Altnabreac, Scotscalder, Georgemas Junction, Thurso and Wick.

The line is supported and promoted by the Friends of the Far North Line .






Dates

  /  /1871[Sutherland and Caithness Railway]
Act receives Royal assent.
28/07/1874[Sutherland and Caithness Railway]
Line opened from Helmsdale ([Duke of Sutherlands Railway]) to Wick with stations at Salzcraggie (Private), Kildonan, Kinbrace, Forsinard, Altnabreac, Scotscalder, Halkirk, Georgemas Junction, Hoy, Thurso, Bower, Watten, Bilbster and Wick.
  /  /1878[Sutherland and Caithness Railway]
Borrobol Platform opened.
28/07/1884[Sutherland and Caithness Railway]
[Highland Railway]
Sutherland and Caithness Railway absorbed by Highland Railway.
24/05/1907[Sutherland and Caithness Railway]
Salzcraggie Platform opened to public.
  /  /1955[Sutherland and Caithness Railway]
Dounreay Nuclear Power Station site opened. Traffic goes by rail.
13/06/1960[Sutherland and Caithness Railway]
Halkirk, Bower, Watten and Bilbster closed.
  /  /1962[Sutherland and Caithness Railway]
Helmsdale and Wick locomotive sheds closed.
10/09/1962[Sutherland and Caithness Railway]
Borrobol Platform renamed Borrobol.
25/11/1965[Sutherland and Caithness Railway]
Salzcraggie Platform, Borrobol and Hoy closed.

Locations along the line

These locations are along the line.

This is a two platform station with a passing loop on the Far North line. The southbound platform building still stands as does the southern signal box ('B' listed), out of use.
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This new plaque was unveiled today at Helmsdale by Geordie Adams, who was a fireman on the Jellicoe Express during the Second World War. ...
John Yellowlees 30/09/2017
A new plaque and poster were unveiled today at Helmsdale by Geordie Adams, who was a fireman on the Jellicoe Express during the Second World War. ...
John Yellowlees 30/09/2017
WRVS poster at Helmsdale. This poster has a quote from Geordie Adams, the fireman from the Jellicoe Express who today unveiled the plaque. ...
John Yellowlees 29/09/2017
Helmsdale viewed from the approach road, Summer 1994. ...
John Gray //

This two road shed was located just west / north of Helmsdale station to the south side of the line.
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This was a single platform halt on the Far North line. ...

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This is a single platform station on the Far North line. It was formerly a two platform station but the northbound line and platform are out of use. The timber building on the disused northbound platform remains standing. There is a level crossing to the immediate south of the station.
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Black 5 No.44871 leads The Great Britain IX through the Strath of Kildonan and begins to accelerate away from the bridge over the River Helmsdale up ...
John Gray 01/05/2016
Level crossing at Kildonan - 27 August 2007. ...
John Furnevel 27/8/2007
The disused, but tidy, redundant waiting shelter on the former down platform at Kildonan station in June 2013. [See image 43610] ...
David Pesterfield 23/06/2013
Southbound 158 service stops at Kildonan in 2006. ...
Bill Roberton //2006

This was a single platform halt on the Far North line. The station was equipped with a request stop signal. ...

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This timber loading point is south of Kinbrace station, access by a dirt road from the west. ...

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This is a single platform station, formerly with two platforms and a loop. The station building still stands, in use as a house. To the north is a level crossing. To the south of the station, on the east side of the line, was the goods yard. This was equipped with a chute for loading deer carcasses onto trains (the product of the shooting season). ...

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Kinbrace looking south from the former northbound platform, now disused since the loop was lifted. ...
Ewan Crawford 29/12/1994
Mountain, moorland and big skies on 27th August 2015, as the 14.00 Inverness-Thurso/Wick coasts into Kinbrace. ...
David Spaven 27/08/2015
Token exchange apparatus in use at the south end of Kinbrace station in the summer of 1962. [With thanks to all who responded to this query] ...
R Sillitto/A Renfrew Collection (Courtesy Bruce McCartney) /07/1962
The Great Britain IV south of Kinbrace on 18 April with Black 5s 44871 and 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier having just crossed the River ...
John Gray 18/04/2011

This is a two platform station with a passing loop. It is separated from the goods yard, now a permanent way siding, by a level crossing. The station building (now an RSPB centre Forsinard Flows Visitor Centre ) still stands on the northbound platform. A timber waiting shelter still stands on the southbound platform. Also ...

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Forsinard looking south from the north, timber end of the platform, in 1994. The timber portions are where the line crosses a stream north of the ...
Ewan Crawford 29/12/1994
Forsinard's wooden platforms July 2013. The extensions of the platforms at the north end of the station are built in timber and cross over a burn and ...
Ian Dinmore /07/2013
Interior of the southbound platform shelter at Forsinard station in 1996 ...
Ewan Crawford //1996
Northbound Sprinter pauses at Forsinard viewed from the north end of the station at night in 1994. ...
Ewan Crawford 29/12/1994

This is a summit of the Far North line located on the Sutherland / Caithness boundary between Forsinard and Altnabreac. ...

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This is a one platform station on the Far North line with a permanent way siding to the south on the east side of the line, the former goods yard.
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The unused watertank at Altnabreac, on the disused down platform, is a remarkable survivor. ...
John Yellowlees 03/07/2016
Tablet catcher lying on the ground at Altnabreac station in 1994. ...
Ewan Crawford 30/12/1994
Water column at the south end of Altnabreac in 1994. ...
Ewan Crawford 30/12/1994
Hard to believe this is the same viewpoint as the shot taken 41 years ago [see image 29053]. A 'Friends of the Far North Line' outing is about to ...
David Spaven 26/08/2015

This is a one platform, the former northbound platform, station on the Far North line. This was a two platform station was a passing loop. The southbound line is lifted and the platform is out of use. The station building remains, in use as a house.
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A passenger train approaches Scotscalder from the south, the old loading bank is in the foreground. ...
Ewan Crawford //
Scotscalder looking to Georgemas Junction. ...
Ewan Crawford //1994
Plaque at Scotscalder station. August 2007. ...
John Furnevel 28/08/2007
Safeway train rushes south through Scotscalder heading for the moss. ...
Ewan Crawford //2002

This was a single platform station on the Far North line. to the immediate west is a level crossing from which remains of the platform maybe seen. There was a goods siding and shed on the north side of the line, east of the station. ...

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Looking north at the closed Halkirk station. ...
Ewan Crawford //
View south along the River Thurso south west of the village of Halkirk, Caithness, on 28 August 2007, showing the lattice girder bridge that carries ...
John Furnevel 28/08/2007
Lattice girder bridge over the River Thurso just to the south west of Halkirk in August 2007. View is south. ...
John Furnevel 28/08/2007
Maintenance and testing of warning lights and audible alarm being carried out at Bridge Street open level crossing, Halkirk, on 28 August 2007. View ...
John Furnevel 28/08/2007

This trolley shed was located on the line running south from Georgemas, on the south side of the line.
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'The Georgemas' is the furthest north junction in Britain and is also a station. Here the lines to Wick and Thurso (accessed by reversal for a train from the south) divide. The station building remains standing, the ground floor formerly having been the offices and upper floor staff accommodation.
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Trolley at Georgemas Junction in December 1994. ...
Ewan Crawford 30/12/1994
A 37 buffers up to the Thurso portion of the train from Inverness late on the 3rd of January 1989. ...
Ewan Crawford 03/01/1989
Pipes at Georgemas. ...
John Yellowlees 30/06/2016
Georgemas Junction looking towards Wick. 26035 shunts the Thurso portion of a northbound service. 5th October 1981. ...
Graeme Blair 05/10/1981

This single platform station is closed. To the immediate south is a level crossing from which the site can be seen - the platform was on the east side of the track. ...

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Not much left here! The site of Hoy station (closed 1965), photographed on 28 August 2007 looking towards Thurso from the open level crossing. ...
John Furnevel 28/08/2007

This is a two platform station and is the furthest north station in Britain. One platform is partly covered by the all-over timber roof of the station, a remarkable survivor, all the more remarkable that Wick has also survived.
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Jamie Stone MP unveiling the latest Jellicoe Express plaque at Thurso Station on 5th October 2017. ...
John Yellowlees 05/10/2017
New cycle hoops installed at Thurso. ...
First ScotRail //2006
Dounreay Nuclear Powerstation to the west of Thurso. ...
Ewan Crawford //
Highland Railway No 55 at Thurso. Postcard in my collection.

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Ewan Crawford Collection //

This was a single platform station located on the south side of the line. The station building remains in use as a house. Bower itself is quite distant to the north. ...

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The former Bower station viewed from the east. ...
Ewan Crawford //
First stop east from Georgemas Junction on the line to Wick was the station at Bower, seen here on 28 August looking northeast. ...
John Furnevel 28/08/2007

This was a two platform station on the Far North line. The former westbound track remains, the eastbound one having been lifted. Both platforms remain, out of use. The station building is similar to that at Georgemas Junction and is now a house. A level crossing exists to the west of the former station. ...

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Looking east at the former Watten station. ...
Ewan Crawford //
A speeding along passenger train passes Watten on the way to Georgemas from Wick. ...
Ewan Crawford //
The former station at Watten between Georgemas Junction and Wick on 28 August. View looking towards Wick from the level crossing. ...
John Furnevel 28/08/2007
Standing on the open level crossing at the former Watten station in August 2007 looking towards Wick. ...
John Furnevel 28/08/2007

This was a single platform station, located on the south side of the line, just east of a level crossing. The station house remains as a private house. ...

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Bilbster station viewed from the east. ...
Ewan Crawford //
Remains at Bilbster, once the first station west from Wick. Seen from the private crossing on 28 August looking southeast towards the end of the line. ...
John Furnevel 28/08/2007

This is the end of the Far North line from Inverness, the most distant station from the rest of the network. The furthest north station is Thurso.
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First ScotRail 158722, snug in its little house, waits to depart with the first afternoon train to Inverness. ...
Colin McDonald 24/05/2013
New cycle hoops at Wick. ...
First ScotRail //2006
0802 leaving Wick for Inverness. ...
John Yellowlees 01/07/2016
Wick station, actually located in Pulteney, seen from the approach road which crosses the river Wick from the main part of the Burgh of Wick. ...
Colin McDonald 24/05/2013