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    The Royal Scotsman Stops at Rannoch Station in a Luxury Tour across the Highlands

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    Rannoch Station Scotiana 2007

    Hi everybody ! Are you ready to embark with us on a new Scottish adventure? You won’t regret it! You’re going to travel through breathtaking scenery in a most funny way. Tchouk-tchouk! Let’s go on… here begins the first episode of a new Scotiana series : Scottish railways.

     Rannoch Station Scotiana 2007
    I do love trains and the steam locomotives of my childhood are still running in my memories spitting out big volutes of grey smoke so, today, I’m particularly happy to welcome you at Rannoch Station which is situated in one the most spectacular wildernesses in the United Kingdom. With its timber buildings and its flower pots, Rannoch Station is one of the nicest railway stations I ever went to!

    Iron Road to the Isles Michael Pearson ScotRail 2005

    Arguably RANNOCH is one of the most romantic railway destinations in the world. It stands in splendid isolation, eighty seven miles from Glasgow, thirty five miles from Fort William, and a little matter of sixteen from Kinloch Rannoch, the nearest settlement of any size. Panic sets in as the train rumbles away into the distance: “What am I doing here, I must have been mad to get off the train,” then slowly but surely your confidence returns, stress evaporates and a sense of well-being takes over. There’s no signal for your mobile phone, you cannot be got at, an invigorating feeling of optimism and potential manifests itself in your mind. However long you are here for, it is not time to be killed, but time to be treasured. (Iron Road to the Isles – Michael Pearson 2005)

    Rannoch Station Scotiana 2007

    Do you remember, Janice, our visit to this enchanting place in July 2007?

    Rannoch Station Scotiana 2007

    We arrived there at the end of a wet and cloudy day but the red, pink, yellow and green colours of the place looked still more vivid, as it is often the case in Scotland with that kind of atmosphere.

    Rannoch Station Scotiana 2007

    Rannoch Station is situated on the 99-mile-long West Highland Line which runs from Glasgow to Fort William and then turns west to Mallaig, crossing over the famous viaduct of Glenfinnan. It is one of the greatest railway journeys in the world, famous for its spectacular scenery.
    The West Highland Line was opened in August 1894.  It had needed the work of more than 5,000 navvies and taken nearly five years to complete it. The section across Rannoch Moor must have been a big challenge  for the contractors, Lucas & Aird, and the engineers, Formans & McCall who were lodging at the nearby Moor of Rannoch Hotel. I’ve learned on reading the noticeboards that the first stationmaster here had had to live in a wooden hut to begin with and that his wife had fallen ill and died. In winter, with the snow,  life must be particularly difficult here and the railway traffic too.

    Rannoch Station Scotiana 2007

    When we arrived at Rannoch Station a train was about to stop, emerging from the solitary landscape of Rannoch Moor.True wilderness and quite a feat to walk across that land, I suppose. I remember quite well our first glimpse of it in 2006. We had stopped on a little car park, on the A86, on the western side of Rannoch Moor, not far from Glencoe, and the sight of the vast and lonely stretches of heathery and boggy moor studded with small lochs and lochans reflecting the colours of the sky had made us feel like walking there immediately. But easier said than done.

     Rannoch Moor A86 Glencoe road  Scotiana 2006
    In my next post, I’ll try to get a clearer idea of Rannoch Moor to see what kind of walking paths we can expect to find there and how far it is safe to venture into such desolate country. A good alternative, of course, is to take the train…

    Rannoch Station The Royal Scotsman train Scotiana 2007

    The one which had stopped in front of us was sumptuous.The Orient Express class!

    Rannoch Station Scotiana 2007

    We rushed up the steps of the footbridge which crosses over the first track and down onto the island platform of the station to take pictures of this beautiful train before it disappeared into the wilderness.

    Rannoch Station The Royal Scotsman Scotiana 2007

    Our Scottish ‘Orient Express’ happened to be the Royal Scotsman, one of the Great Scottish & Western Railway trains.

    Rannoch Station The Royal Scotsman train Scotiana 2007

    Just imagine yourself travelling across the breathtaking Highlands scenery while savouring some of the refined meals served at the table of this luxury train, sheltered from the rain, the scorching heat or the midges which are, more often than not,  waiting for you outside. Each means of travelling however, be it on foot or by train,  is worth the price to pay and has its adepts. Happy are those who can try both of them …

    GPS Rannoch Station Road B846 Loch Eigheach Scotiana 2007

    After running along loch Tummel, loch Rannoch and loch Eigheach, the B846 road which meets the A9 between Pitlochry and Blair Atholl, about 55 kilometres eastward, ends at Rannoch station. It is not the most isolate station in the area. There is another one which can only be reached by train or foot. Lost as it is, Corrour station, as this remote little station is called, has become a very famous place thanks to a scene of the film Trainspotting,  which was turned there, after Irvin Welsh’s well-known novel.

    Trainspotting Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, and Kevin McKidd (DVD – 2004)

    If you’re waiting for the train at Rannoch Station, and if the weather is fine, you can always roam about the place. There are some interesting curiosities to discover in the neighbourhood.

    At the north end of the island platform, Janice came across the low-relief sculpture of the financier J H Renton, who was a backer of Lucas & Aird, the contractors for the construction of the West Highland Line. We got some details from one of the notice boards we found on site :

    Rannoch Station John Renton memorial Scotiana 2007

    Rannoch Station John Renton memorial Scotiana 2007

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    The Renton Stone has been designated under the Railway Heritage Act as “historically significant” and something that should be permanently preserved. The challenges posed by Rannoch Moor meant that progress was slow and money became tight. To save the situation, one of the railway’s directors, a Mr Renton, gave part of his private fortune to bail the project out (this was in effect a bridging loan). To commemorate his act, navvies sculpted a likeness of his head out of a large boulder. Take a look at the end of the platform and you will see where they placed it!

    Not far from the Moor of Rannoch Hotel Jean-Claude, whose French nickname ‘Harfang’ means snow owl discovered, not far from the Hotel, a stone sculpted owl, ready to take its flight …

    Rannoch Station Moor of Rannoch Hotel stone sculpted owl Scotiana 2007

    And if the weather is not fine, as it is often the case in this area,  why not have a good cup of tea at the station tearoom and then visit the shop which offers to the customer, among other things, local pastries and jam…

    Rannoch Station tearoom shop Scotiana 2007

    Rannoch Station Tearoom Scotiana 2007

    Rannoch Station Scotiana 2007

    Tchouk-tchouk! Meet you at the next station! A bientôt. Mairiuna.

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    2 comments to The Royal Scotsman Stops at Rannoch Station in a Luxury Tour across the Highlands

    • I love the Royal Scotsman train. It has to be one of the most exclusive and luxurious trains in operation today. With only 36 passengers on board at any time and all food and beverages included in the price it really is a great way to see the Scottish Highlands in style.

      • It was something to be there when this luxury train suddenly emerged from the wilderness. We would not have been so surprised to see Hercules Poirot having his dinner at one of its tables. Many thanks for your comment Mr Paulett! If we can only dream to get aboard such a train we’ve learned quite a lot about it on your site. So, the Royal Scotsman belongs to the Orient Express family, we should have guessed 🙂 Long live to these beautiful trains!

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