Friday, December 22, 2017

The Road to Tyndrum Scotland

The revised plan for the day called for less driving than we’d originally laid out… As it turned out, we drove as far as if we’d followed our original route from Ballaculish to the Isle of Mull and back!  The good news is that we saw some fabulous scenery and sights along the way. 

What a terrific view and setting for that castle!  It’s too bad that those electrical transmission lines show up in the photo but it’s still a heck of a scene…  

Kilchurn Castle is a ruined structure that’s built on a peninsula at the northeastern end of Loch Awe in Argyll and Bute Scotland.

This is a view of Kilchurn Castle from a different angle.  This castle was first constructed in the mid-1400s as the base of the Campbells of Glenorchy.  The Campbells extended both the castle and their territory in the area over the next 150 years.  When the Campbells became the Earls of Breadalbane, they moved to Taymouth Castle.  Kilchurn was in ruins by 1770 and its now in the care of Historic Environment Scotland.

Kilchurn Castle is open to the public for much of the year but it is closed during the winter months.  Access is either by boat from Lochawe pier or on foot from Hwy A85 near Dalmally.

As we cruised along A85 east toward Tyndrum I spotted another railway depot sign for the Loch Awe station, so I had to stop and take photos.  Actually, that old rail car was the only real structure at this rail stop…

The old Mark 1 carriage painted in the green and cream “West Highland Line” livery sits on an isolated section of track across from the station.  It was installed in place back in 1988 and served as a tea room until 2008.

Even though this is a small and relatively isolated railroad station…really just a passenger platform…it was well maintained even including some decorative greenery and flowers.

The Loch Awe station was first opened on July 1, 1880.  There used to be a loop and sidings on both sides of the line.  However, in August of 1897, the depot was destroyed by fire.   You can still see the old platform on the right.  The ‘new’ platform was brought into use in May of 1902. 

This station was closed for 20 years from 1965 until 1895 and as you can see, only the new platform is in use.  On a sunny day, this wouldn’t be a bad place to relax while waiting for your train…what a view!

As Bill and I walked along the railroad platform, we looked up and were startled to see this huge and impressive old structure on the bluff above us!  This is the highly rated Loch Awe Hotel.  This Scottish Baronial style hotel was built in 1881 at a cost of 7,000 pounds sterling in order to accommodate a tourist boom in the Highlands.

Kirk Douglas was one famous visitor at Loch Awe Hotel.  He starred in the 1971 movie “To Catch A Spy”, part of which was filmed at the hotel.
For more information about the Loch Awe Hotel, you can visit their website at

…I just liked these little floral touches at the Loch Awe railway platform. 

There are 6 departures from Loch Awe in each direction Mondays through Saturdays…serving Oban to the west and Glasgow Queen Street to the east.  On Sundays, there are 3 departures each way… Passenger traffic at this little station has steadily increased from 2013 – 2016 with 4,804 passengers handled in 2016.  

The village of Lochawe exists due to the railway line.  During the last few years of the 19th century, a number of homes were built and the village was created.  The village became a Victorian hot-spot for the gentry as well and they built a number of mansions as well as hunting and fishing lodges.

The Lochawe Community has a website that includes places to stay, where to eat, what to do, etc.  Check it out at

Laurie took this photo from her window in our car.  This is just some of the amazing scenery along A85 between the villages of Lochawe and Dalmally…

What can I say!  I like railroads, railroad depots and railroad equipment.  It reminds me of a slower more evenly paced time in history…

This is a view from the Dalmally Railway Station on the Oban Branch of the West Highland Line.  You’re looking down the tracks toward the east to Tyndrum and eventually to Glasgow.

The Dalmally Railway Station opened on April 1, 1877.  For a while it was the western end of the Callander and Oban Railroad…until the line finally reached its ultimate destination, Oban, in July of 1880.  The station is laid out with 2 platforms, one on either side of a passing loop.  Dalmally once boasted a small engine shed and a turntable as well.  

In addition to great scenery in the area around Dalmally, there are ruins of at least 4 castles.  All of them are positioned on Loch Awe.  First there is Castle Kilchurn that I previously discussed.  Also there is Fraoch Eilean, a 13th century hall house with a defensive wall that was granted to the MacNachdan’s by King Alexander III in 1267.  Then there is Castle Innisconnel.  It was built by the Campbells of Argyll, taken by the MacDougalls and then finally granted again to the Campbells by Robert the Bruce, whom they’d assisted in his battles.  The last ruin is of 13th century Fincharn.  It was apparently burned down soon after it was built in a quarrel between rival families and it’s been deserted ever since.

Laurie and Bonnie explored the station platform while I took photos… This is looking west toward Lochawe and the end of the line at Oban.  This station served 6,802 passengers in 2016. 

For railroad buffs, if you’d like to see a video that talks about this station and includes the arrival of a couple of trains, you can go to

Yes indeed…one more railway station!  This one was a challenge just to get to it.  We drove up a significant hill on a narrow single lane road…not much wider than a cattle trail.  We would have had a problem if we’d encountered a vehicle on the way downhill!

To access the station platform, you have to enter the underpass and climb some stairs on the other side of the tracks…

This well maintained but lonely railway facility is called the Upper Tyndrum Station.  Why ‘upper’ Tyndrum?  That’s to differentiate it from the Lower Tyndrum Station!  The village of Tyndrum is served by 2 separate rail lines with the ‘Upper’ station handling passengers on the Fort William route on the highly scenic West Highland Line.  The “Lower” station serves passengers on the Oban branch of the West Highland Line… 

In this view, we are looking down the line toward Glasgow.

This view along the tracks is in the direction of Fort William and Mallaig.  This station was and may still be one of the least used station on the West Highland Line.  This may be due to its awkward position up the hill above the village.  In 2016, Upper Tyndrum handled 4,512 passengers… 

The two Tyndrum stations are only a few hundred yards apart by road but they are 10 miles apart by rail.


·         The village of Tyndrum is built on the battlefield where Chan MacDougall defeated Robert the Bruce in 1306, taking the Brooch of Lorn from him.  For information about the Brooch of Lorn, go to

The station is well maintained…far better than most depots in the USA that are still in use.  That’s remarkable because although trains come by here 8 times a day, the buildings aren’t in use! 

Originally named “Tyndrum, this station opened at the same time the West Highland Railroad began operation in 1894.  It was the second station on the village.  In 1956, British Rail added “Upper” to the stations name to distinguish it from the station down the hill on the Callander and Oban Line…which then became known as Tyndrum Lower.

Once again, for the benefit of train fanatics, you can check out a video about this station complete with a view of the access road and a train arrival and departure.  Just go to

That’s it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. I do believe you like RR's and I always enjoy them as well.

  2. Dear Dave, Such beautiful countryside. It is like something out of time.
    Wishing you and Laurie and your family a Merry Christmas. Catherine