Location type


Name and dates

Helmsdale (1871-)

Station code: HMS National Rail ScotRail
Where: Highland, Scotland
Opened on the Duke of Sutherland's Railway.
Opened on the Sutherland and Caithness Railway.
Open on the Far North 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. This has similarities to that at Golspie, by the same architect William Fowler. Platforms are linked by a typical Highland Railway lattice footbridge.

This was the terminus of the line, replacing the temporary terminus at West Helmsdale, until extension to Thurso and Wick in 1874.

North of the station there was a goods yard on the east side and the two road Helmsdale Shed on the west side of the line. Both were originally approached via their respective reversing spurs from the south, but on extension the shed's reversing spur was converted into a loop and so became accessible from both north and south. The shed's turntable was on the west side of its approach.

Water columns were provided on both platforms. The water tank was above the northbound platform.

The original signal box,opened on extension, was replaced with two boxes. The north box was on the west side at the north end of the loop alongside the shed's northern exit. The south box still stands. It is on the platform just north of the station building. Both boxes closed in 1985 on replacement by RETB and control from Dingwall.

The station building has been converted to provide accommodation. Helmsdale Station


The name Helmsdale is an anglicisation of the norse 'Hjalmundal' ie helm(et) dale.

Helmsdale was a planned village, laid out in 1814 at the mouth of the River Helmsdale ostensibly as a settlement for those displaced during Highland Clearances carried out for George Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland, and Elizabeth Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland.

Their grandson, George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 3rd Duke of Sutherland, was heavily involved in the Highland Railway, Sutherland Railway, Duke of Sutherland's Railway and Sutherland and Caithness Railway.

Timespan Museum


Station Terminus Highland Clearances

External links

Canmore site record
NLS Collection OS map of 1892-1914
NLS Collection OS map of 1944-67


Gaelic name: Bun Ilidh

Nearby stations
West Helmsdale
Dunrobin Castle
The Mound
Helmsdale Shed
Kileanan Railway Cottage
Craggie Burn Bridge
Kildonan Gold Rush
Brora Viaduct
Sutherland Mills
Carbuie Railway Cottage
Brora Mine
Timespan Museum
Portgower Station Level Crossing
Salscraggie Lodge
Kilearnan Hill
Clynelish Distillery
Brora Harbour
Borrobol Lodge
Location names in dark blue are on the same original line.

Restaurant Cars

Restaurant cars were added to southbound trains at The Mound and were detached from northbound trains. Another location this took place was Helmsdale.

Chronology Dates

20/06/1870Duke of Sutherlands Railway
Duke of Sutherland's Railway receives Act to build from Golspie to Brora and Brora to Helmsdale. Construction began before the Act was passed.
01/11/1870Duke of Sutherlands Railway
Opened from Dunrobin to West Helmsdale (at Gartymore near Helmsdale).
19/06/1871Duke of Sutherland's Railway
Golspie (Sutherland Railway) to Dunrobin opened, Dunrobin becomes private station for the Duke of Sutherland. West Helmsdale to Helmsdale opened. Highland Railway works line.
28/07/1874Sutherland and Caithness Railway
Line opened from Helmsdale (Duke of Sutherland's Railway) to Wick with stations at Salzcraggie (Private), Kildonan, Kinbrace, Forsinard, Altnabreac, Scotscalder, Halkirk, Georgemas Junction, Hoy, Thurso, Bower, Watten, Bilbster and Wick.
  /10/2006Inverness and Ross-shire Railway Dingwall and Skye Railway Sutherland Railway Duke of Sutherland's Railway Sutherland and Caithness Railway
Landslips and flood damage close the Far North and Kyle lines between Dingwall and Garve, at Helmsdale, at Ardgay and Watten .

News items

02/11/2023Rail chaos between Inverness and Wick to stretch into next week [John O Groat Journal]
01/11/2023Repairs on Far North Line set to cause major disruption on trains between Inverness and Wick [John O Groat Journal]
01/11/2023Network Rail to undertake urgent seawall repairs on Far North Line [Network Rail]
31/10/2023Passengers hit by rail chaos between Wick and Inverness [Inverness Courier]
25/10/2023Trains between Inverness and Wick facing cancellations today after almost a week of disruption [Inverness Courier]
30/09/2023Network Rail engineering works to hit Highland train services in October [Inverness Courier]
30/06/2022The Railway Duke: Celebrating 150 years of the Golspie to Helmsdale line [Press and Journal]
10/06/2022Helmsdale 100th anniversary railway celebrations will include official launch of Far North Line Community Rail Partnership [Northern Times]
09/08/2021Dunrobin Castle Station: Prince Charles visits unique Scottish railway station [Scotsman]
17/02/2021Battle to clear railway snow drifts could be won today, ScotRail hopes [Inverness Courier]


Highland Survivor

Highland Survivor