Far North Line

Introduction

The Far North line runs north from Inverness to Thurso and Wick.

Why built

The route was formed by the Inverness and Ross-shire Railway, Sutherland Railway, Duke of Sutherland's Railway and Sutherland and Caithness Railway. It serves towns on the east coast of Scotland north of Inverness.

The lines came to be owned by the Highland Railway which ran to Perth in the south, Keith in the east, Inverness in the centre, Kyle of Lochalsh in the west and Thurso and Wick in the north.



Route described

The Far North line runs north from Inverness to Thurso and Wick via Dingwall, Invergordon, Tain, Lairg, Brora and Helmsdale. Much of the route runs by the sea on the east coast of the Far North of Scotland.

Portions of line and locations

This line is divided into a number of portions.


Inverness to Wick

This is a terminus for services to and from locations to the south such as Glasgow Queen Street High Level, Edinburgh Waverley and London, and locations north and west such as Kyle of Lochalsh, Thurso and Wick.
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A barrel train on the platform at Inverness station with two much larger friends on either side. ...
John Yellowlees 18/08/2017
158 719 arrives at Inverness with the 1209 ex Dyce bang on time at 1409. Every station on route showed it formed of 2 coaches but when it appeared 719 ...
Caleb Abbott 27/06/2018
158706 rolls into Inverness Platform 3 with the 2000 arrival from Dyce on 17th August 2018. ...
Caleb Abbott 17/08/2018
On the eve of the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Sutherland Railway let's look back to 1999. Councillor Alison Magee with Alastair McPherson ...
John Yellowlees 28/07/1999

This station is in the south of the town of Beauly. It has a very short platform. It was formerly a two platform station. The new platform uses a short section of the former northbound platform.
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A stone thistle atop a gable of Beauly old station. 16/10/06 ...
John Gray 16/10/2006
A Kyle of Lochalsh - Inverness train approaching Beauly from the north in November 2003. ...
John Furnevel 22/11/2003
37685 Loch Arkaig and 37516 Loch Laidon bring The Royal Scotsman round the curve at the west side of Beauly on 8 May on ...
John Gray 08/05/2014
The old Beauly station buildings seen from a train on 22 September. Looking towards Inverness. ...
Brian Forbes 22/09/2007

Conon was a single platform station until the line was doubled in 1911 and closed in 1960.
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158722 arrives at Conon Bridge with the 16:19 to Inverness (12.36 ex-Wick) on 18 February 2013. View north showing the station entrance, bicycle ...
John Gray 18/02/2013
The now completed station at Conon Bridge, photographed from the station entrance on 18 February 2013. ...
John Gray 18/02/2013
Closed 13 June 1960, reopened 8 February 2013. [See news item] ...
John Yellowlees 08/02/2013
158715 runs into Conon Bridge on 23 June with the return Sunday afternoon 16.20 Invergordon to Inverness service. ...
David Pesterfield 23/06/2013

This is a two platform station. The main station building was on the down (northbound) platform.
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Persistent rain continues to batter the platforms at Muir of Ord on a cold and miserable morning in October 2009, as passengers reluctantly leave the ...
John Furnevel 03/10/2009
EE Type 3 37418, stranded by the Ness Viaduct collapse, sits outside the temporary Muir of Ord shed in 1990. After a long mainline career this loco ...
Bill Roberton //1990
Approaching Muir of Ord from the south. ...
Ewan Crawford //
The 0812 service from Wick to Inverness, formed by 158716, stops at Muir of Ord on 19 May, a few minutes ahead of its scheduled 1155 arrival time. ...
Mark Bartlett 19/05/2010

This is a two platform station on the Far North Lines. A café operates in the station building and under the glass canopied platform. Tina's Tearoom
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158708 at Dingwall forming the 14 10 Scotrail service to Inverness on 15th March 2017. ...
Brian Smith 15/03/2017
Dingwall Station frontage in November 2003. ...
John Furnevel 23/11/2003
Dingwall was built in...... ...
John Gray 16/10/2006
Each crossing point on the old HR had two cabins. This is the south box at Dingwall which was removed when RETB signalling replaced all the cabins ...
Brian Forbes /05/1983

This is a single platform station.
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The 1236 service from Wick (and Thurso) departs from Alness and heads for Dingwall. This photograph of unit 158709 was taken from the academy ...
Mark Bartlett 29/06/2011
Gleaming refurbished 158701 at Alness. September 2007.
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Brian Forbes /09/2007
The 1236 from Wick calls at Alness on time at 1603 heading for Inverness. A couple of passengers join 158709 which will arrive in Inverness in 45 ...
Mark Bartlett 29/06/2011
DRS 37218 and 37605 top and tail the nuclear flask train southwards between Invergordon and Alness on 1 May 2015. In the background the Cromarty ...
John Gray 01/05/2015

This is a two platform station with a passing loop. The goods yard, at the west end of the station, south of the line, has been lifted. The station building remains standing. ...

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It seems that there are no Sprinters trapped south of Ayr to operate a Stranraer-Maybole service while the Ayr station blockade is in place. The ...
Ewan Crawford //1989
Part of Tracey Shough's The Long Goodbye mural for the 4th battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders at Invergordon station. ...
Ewan Crawford 29/09/2009
Ready for the road. The driver of an Inverness-bound freight gets set to depart from Invergordon goods yard in the summer of 1973.
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David Spaven //1973
A Class 24 without a headcode panel - an unusual sight in the Highlands - shunts Invergordon Goods Yard in summer 1973. The harbour branch trails off ...
David Spaven //1973

This is a one platform station, the former southbound platform. The loop line is lifted and northbound platform out of use.
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Northbound at Fearn. ...
Ewan Crawford //
The attractive 1864 station at Fearn, seen from the B9165 road bridge in the summer of 2007. Looking south west along the platform in the general ...
John Furnevel 30/08/2007
Looking through the remains of the redundant station footbridge at Fearn as a Class 26 hauled northbound freight approaches in the summer of 1974. ...
David Spaven //1974
Looking north along the platform at Fearn towards Tain on 19 April 2011. The substantial main station building here is now a private house - with its ...
John Gray 19/04/2011

This is a two platform station with a passing loop and two platforms on the Far North line. The original station building remains, as does a footbridge, and there are goods yards to the north end, on the west side of the line, accessed from the north.
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The old station at Tain is now a restaurant. This interior view shows the old station plate from Golspie. ...
John Robin 24/05/2018
158704, working from Wick to Inverness, calls at Tain on 22nd July 2016. Through the gap in the trees the Dornoch Firth can be seen. ...
Mark Bartlett 22/07/2016
Tain station looking south showing the rennovated station building and new waiting shelter. ...
John Morton /07/2006
Informative plaque at Tain. ...
John Yellowlees 17/06/2016

This is a two platform station with a passing loop on the Far North line. The northbound platform retains its station building, now a house, and a goods yard exists to the south, west side of the line, currently in permanent way maintenance use. The station was known, until 1977, by the name of the nearby bridge (and town) which was on the road north but is now named for the village where the ...

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The main station building at Ardgay in August 2007. ...
John Furnevel 30/08/2007
Looking north through Ardgay station on 14 September 2001. ...
John Furnevel 14/09/2001
Stanier 8F 48151 coasts through Ardgay with The Great Britain railtour on 12 April. ...
John Gray 12/04/2007
158725 calls at Ardgay in April 2007. ...
John Gray 12/04/2007

This is a single platform station south of the Oykel Viaduct. Originally a single platform station a passing loop and second platform were added to increase capacity but the added southbound platform and loop have since been lifted.
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The lonely outpost of Culrain on the Far North line in September 2001. A quarter of a mile off to the right is the Oykel Viaduct spanning the Kyle of ...
John Furnevel 14/09/2001
All quiet at Culrain in 1976. ...
Ian Dinmore //1976

This is a single platform station, immediately to the north of the Oykel Viaduct with a short timber portion at the south end. The station building is in a state of ruin. ...

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The fenced off wooden platform extension at the south end of Invershin station, looking out onto the Oykel Viaduct in September 2001. Below left is ...
John Furnevel 14/09/2001
One of the original lamp brackets still adorns the derelict station building at Invershin in July 2008. ...
John Gray 21/07/2008
Invershin station in September 2001, looking north towards Lairg. ...
John Furnevel 14/09/2001
Invershin with provision for bicycles, but not cars. The building belongs to the nearby house. ...
Ewan Crawford 13/03/2006

This is a two platform station on the Far North Line.
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A northbound 37418 'An Comunn Galdhealach' in the loop at Lairg seen from a the southbound working hauled by 37419. The level crossing can be seen in ...
Ewan Crawford 04/01/1989
The guard of a morning service on the far north line reboards his train at Lairg on 6 September 2001 before recommencing the onward journey to ...
John Furnevel 06/09/2001
Waiting shelter, Lairg. 16/10/06 ...
John Gray 16/10/2006
Derelict goods shed, Lairg, 16 October 2006. ...
John Gray 16/10/2006

This is a two platform station with a loop on the Far North line. Station buildings remain standing on the northbound platform. In the former goods yard there are camping coaches, on relaid sidings. The south signal box ('C' listed), now out of use and relocated further north to the northbound platform, survived until the introduction of RETB. The north box was east of the level crossing and has ...

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The new plaque at Rogart reads 'This plaque was unveiled by Lord Strathnaver to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Sutherland Railway ...
John Yellowlees 13/04/2018
Golden rod at Rogart - a harbinger of Autumn. ...
John Yellowlees 17/08/2017
A plaque was unveiled today at Rogart to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Sutherland Railway. Seen here after the unveiling are ...
John Yellowlees 13/04/2018
Rogart looking south. 16/10/06 ...
John Gray 16/10/2006

This is a single platform station which retains its station building, now a house after spending several years derelict and at risk. There was a passing loop here but the northbound platform and line have been removed. The platforms were slightly staggered. Adjacent, and to the south, of the station was Golspie Shed. A goods yard was to the east of the station. A skew arch viaduct crossed the ...

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Approaching the station at Golspie, Sutherland, in August 2007. ...
John Furnevel 27/08/2007
Golspie goods shed still in use by the local coal merchant.16/10/06 ...
John Gray 16/10/2006
The station building at Golspie, seen from the forecourt on 27 August 2007. The date on the stone is 1868. The road bridge on the right carries the A9 ...
John Furnevel 27/08/2007
158722 is twenty minutes down arriving at Golspie from the north.16/10/06 ...
John Gray 16/10/2006

This is a single platform station close to Dunrobin Castle. It is noted for its station building (really a private waiting room). The station was briefly the southern station of the Duke of Sutherland's Private Railway to Helmsdale. Following incorporation of that line into the Highland Railway this became a private station until closure in 1965. The station building is the second, the earlier ...

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In failing light, unfortunately, the Countess of Sutherland, with John Boyle, is seen unveiling a new station sign at Dunrobin on the 28th of July ...
John Yellowlees 28/07/1999
Looking north at Dunrobin Castle. ...
Ewan Crawford //2002
A fine lamp at Dunrobin Castle station with the statue of George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, 2nd Duke and 20th Earl of Sutherland. He was the father of ...
John Yellowlees 13/04/2018
Dunrobin Castle Halt looking north. The building is now a railway museum. 16/10/06 ...
John Gray 16/10/2006

This is a two platform station on the Far North line with a passing loop. The station building stands on the northbound platform. A goods shed, in poor condition, remains to the north. There is a goods yard siding, now used for permanent way trains, to the north on the west side of the line. The line crosses a viaduct to the immediate south of the station. ...

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Brora build date. ...
John Gray 16/10/2006
The surviving Highland Railway goods shed at Brora seen from a northbound train. ...
John Yellowlees 30/06/2016
Brora station frontage. 16/10/06 ...
John Gray 16/10/2006
Brora goods shed with the passenger station beyond. The shed still stands, a little more decrepit. Taken on 31 March 1989 when the Far North Line was ...
Bill Roberton //1989

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 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 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 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

'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 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




Georgemas to Thurso

'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 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 //