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 seven platform 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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Emblem of the Highland Railway Company at Inverness station. ...
Crinan Dunbar 21/08/2018
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
Journey's end at Inverness for an LNER service from Kings Cross on 4th September 2019. The lead power-car was 43274 'Spirit of Sunderland'. It will ...
Crinan Dunbar 04/09/2019

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. There is a car park.
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The Steam Dreams railtour to Kyle of Lochalsh races past Beauly hauled by 61306 'Mayflower' on 12th May 2019.
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John Gray 12/05/2019
Beauly station, Far North of Scotland Line, on 18th June 2019. The original station, on the opposite side of the line and much bigger and grander and ...
David Bosher 18/06/2019
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

This is a single platform station in the south of the village of Conon Bridge. It has a short platform and a small car park.
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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 similar to that at Dalwhinnie but with a canopy with end screens. It was on the down (northbound) platform. It has been demolished.
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First ScotRail 158722 pulls away from Muir of Ord platform 2 and is about to pass below the bridge carrying Great North Road on a wet and windy 3 ...
John Furnevel 3/10/2009
Persistent rain continues to batter the platforms at Muir of Ord on a wet and miserable morning in October 2009, as passengers reluctantly leave the ...
John Furnevel 03/10/2009
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 which opened in 1862. It has a fine station building on the northbound platform with a large glazed canopy. There is a car park and a lattice footbridge over to the southbound platform.
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Plaque at Dingwall station, seen here on the afternoon of Tuesday, 18th June 2019. ...
David Bosher 18/06/2019
Dingwall was built in...... ...
John Gray 16/10/2006
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

This is a single platform station. There is a car park and platform shelter. It is in the south of Alness itself.
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The single platform Alness station, on the Far North of Scotland line, looking north on the evening of 17th June 2019. This was one of several ...
David Bosher 17/06/2019
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
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 and car park. The main station building remains standing on the southbound platform. It retains a platform canopy. The platform side features a mural 'The Long Goodbye', by Tracey Shough, commemorating the 4th battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders. The waiting shelter on the northbound platform still stands. Unfortunately the footbridge has been ...

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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
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
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
Part of the Tracey Shough commemorative mural at Invergordon station, 30 August 2007. ...
John Furnevel 30/08/2007

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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Road approach to Fearn station from the east in August 2007. The B9165 crosses the line off to the right [see image 37219].
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John Furnevel 30/08/2007
Northbound at Fearn. ...
Ewan Crawford //
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 on the Far North Line. The main station building, with an 'H' plan and located on the northbound platform, has been renovated and is now host to the restaurant 'Platform 1864 '. The lattice footbridge between the platforms remains.
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158717 with the ex-16.00 service from Wick via Thurso to Inverness calling at Tain station on 17th June 2019. My friend Paul and I were bound to our ...
David Bosher 17/06/2019
This Bob Barnes-Watts memorial plaque was at Tain unveiled today. It reads Remembering our friend Bob Barnes-Watts 1955-2018 who tirelessly ...
John Yellowlees 17/11/2018
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
The old station at Tain is now a restaurant. This interior view shows the old station plate from Golspie. ...
John Robin 24/05/2018

This is a two platform station with a passing loop on the Far North line. The northbound platform retains its two storey station building with a platform awning supported by pillars, now a house, and a goods yard exists to the south, west side of the line, currently in permanent way maintenance use. The station had refreshment rooms to the north of the station building. Platforms are linked by a ...

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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
158725 calls at Ardgay in April 2007. ...
John Gray 12/04/2007
Stanier 8F 48151 coasts through Ardgay with The Great Britain railtour on 12 April. ...
John Gray 12/04/2007

This is a single platform station with a small shelter south of the Oykel Viaduct. It is in an area of scattered houses, farmland and low population. Culrain Mains is to the immediate west. The Kyle of Sutherland, and the lower River Oykel, are to the east.
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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. Culrain station is to the south over the Oykel Viaduct. The station has no car park.
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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
Somewhere, over the rainbow... Invershin, January 1989. Carbisdale Castle stands in the left background. ...
Ian Dinmore /01/1989
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. Station buildings remain standing and there is an oil depot siding south of the station (Lairg Oil Depot).
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After a hard climb up from Invershin, 61306 'Mayflower', nears the summit of the gradient near Lairg with the Steam Dreams railtour from Inverness to ...
John Gray 11/05/2019
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
61306 'Mayflower,' on the climb from Invershin to Lairg, with the Steam Dreams railtour to Dunrobin and Brora on 11th May 2019. ...
John Gray 11/05/2019
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

This is a two platform station with a loop on the Far North line. A stone built cottage style station building remains standing on the northbound platform. The platforms were extended at their western ends in timber.
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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
The first train of the day from Inverness to Wick via Thurso, in the hands of 158720, arriving at Rogart station, dead on time at 09.06 on 17th June ...
David Bosher 27/06/2019
Former compartment of railway coach converted into bedroom for holiday accommodation at Rogart on the Far North of Scotland Line, on 16th June 2019. ...
David Bosher 16/06/2019
ScotRail 158740 leaves Rogart for Wick and Thurso on 28 August 2007. View north from the level crossing [see image 16448].
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John Furnevel 28/08/2007

This is a single platform station which retains its station building, 'B' listed, which is now a house after spending several years derelict and at risk. The building opened with the station, the architect was William Fowler. The building has a unique design, presumably with the Duke of Sutherland's patronage in mind.
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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
Golspie old station now a private house. 16/10/06 ...
John Gray 16/10/2006

This is a single platform station close to Dunrobin Castle [Castle]. It is noted for its station building (really a private waiting room).
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Looking north at Dunrobin Castle. ...
Ewan Crawford //2002
Dunrobin Castle Halt looking north. The building is now a railway museum. 16/10/06 ...
John Gray 16/10/2006
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
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

This is a two platform station on the Far North Line with a passing loop and a car park.
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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 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.
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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
Station building and parking area at Helmsdale in the summer of 2007. View west from the station approach road. ...
John Furnevel 27/08/2007

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 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 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

'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 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 on Wick Bay, 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
0802 leaving Wick for Inverness. ...
John Yellowlees 01/07/2016




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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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 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
Passengers coming and going at Thurso in the summer of 2007 with a recently arrived service from Inverness at the platform. ...
John Furnevel 28/08/2007
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