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.
01/07/1903[Wick and Lybster Light Railway]
Line opened from Wick ([Sutherland and Caithness Railway]) to Lybster.
24/05/1907[Sutherland and Caithness Railway]
Salzcraggie Platform opened to public.
  /  /1912Wick Quarries
Wick Quarries close. Many families emigrate using the [Sutherland and Caithness Railway].
  /  /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 main station building, of two storeys, is on the southbound platform.
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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 north of Helmsdale station to the west side of the line. Its turntable was to the west alongside the approach lines. A pait of short siding were a little further north alongside the turntsable 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. The platform is on the east side of the line. 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 platform was on the west side. 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 cottage style station building still stands, in use as a house. To the north is a level crossing. There is no car park.
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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 to the south, which is now a permanent way siding, by a level crossing.
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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
Interior of the southbound platform shelter at Forsinard station in 1996 ...
Ewan Crawford //1996
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
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. The summit is at 708 ft above sea level. ...

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The special train run to commemorate the centenary of the 28th July 1874 opening of the final phase of the Far North Line powers up the gradient from ...
David Spaven 28/07/1974
Taking a quick break from the 100th anniversary special train on the Far North line in 1974, this official party includes the BR Area Manager Thurso ...
David Spaven //1974
The Safeway container train approaching County March Summit on its way north in February 2002 behind an EWS Class 66 locomotive. ...
Ewan Crawford /02/2002
Class 37 approaching County March summit with its train in a chilly January 1988. ...
Ian Dinmore /01/1988

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
Water column at the south end of Altnabreac in 1994. ...
Ewan Crawford 30/12/1994
Tablet catcher lying on the ground at Altnabreac station 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. The main station building still stands on the platform and there is a small car park.
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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
Safeway train rushes south through Scotscalder heading for the moss. ...
Ewan Crawford //2002
Plaque at Scotscalder station. August 2007. ...
John Furnevel 28/08/2007

This station was between Scotscalder, to the west, and Georgemas Junction. It was located at a level crossing to the south of the village of Halkirk. It is a curious situation: Halkirk with the only real population nearby is closed but Georgemas Junction and Scotscalder remain open.
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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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Georgemas Junction station building, the UK's most northerly junction, where the Wick and Thurso lines divide, seen in heavy rain from 158717 ...
David Bosher 17/06/2019
Pipes at Georgemas. ...
John Yellowlees 30/06/2016
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
Trolley at Georgemas Junction in December 1994. ...
Ewan Crawford 30/12/1994

This single platform station is closed. It was located between Georgemas Junction (to the south) and Thurso. The platform was on the east side of the line immediately north of a level crosing. There was a signal box at the south end of the platform by the crossing.
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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. The main platform, on the west side of the station's loop, is partly covered by the all-over timber roof of the station, a remarkable survivor, all the more remarkable that Wick has also survived. The other and shorter platform, without a loop, is on the west side of the island platform.
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158717 from Inverness arriving in pouring rain at Thurso station at 14.21 on 17th June 2019. The train waited here for only six minutes before ...
David Bosher 17/06/2019
158720 just arrived at Thurso station from Inverness at 10.58 (this photo was taken three minutes later) on 17th June 2019. Trains no longer pull up ...
David Bosher 17/06/2019
Having reversed at Georgemas Junction, 158 720 from Inverness has just arrived at Thurso station at 10.58 on Monday, 17th June 2019. The most ...
David Bosher 17/06/2019
New cycle hoops installed at Thurso. ...
First ScotRail //2006

This was a single platform station located on the south side of the line.
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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 in the summer of 2007 looking north east. ...
John Furnevel 28/08/2007

This was a two platform station on the Far North Line with a passing loop. The former westbound track remains, the eastbound one having been lifted. Both platforms remain, out of use. The former 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. Bilbster House was a little to the south.
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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. The station is to the south of the River Wick, in the west of the town. The town has a considerable harbour, built for the once large fishing fleet.
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Wick station opened 145 years ago on 28th July 1874 and was almost Beechinged, along with Thurso and the entire line back to Inverness, as well as the ...
David Bosher 17/06/2019
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
Unlike at Thurso, trains still pull up beneath the train shed at Wick station where 158717 rests after its long journey from Inverness (via Thurso) at ...
David Bosher 17/06/2019