Geo-Trips :: Day Return to Kyle of Lochalsh from Dingwall

NW Highlands

A train ride from Dingwall, Sat, 2 Feb 2019 by Julian Paren

The railway line from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh is famed for its beauty. Together with the more publicised “Harry Potter” line that includes the Glenfinnon viaduct on its way from Fort William to Mallaig, and the wilderness route to Fort William over Rannoch Moor, the majority of the passengers who use the lines are tourists out for the ride and experience.

Each year my wife and I plan a winter journey from the Inverness area on one of the North Highland lines. The choice is either the run to Kyle of Lochalsh or the longer journey to either Wick or Thurso. In the winter the timetables make a day return to Kyle of Lochalsh a great option as all the route at least from Dingwall, our natural starting point, is seen in daylight.

The crucial aspect is the weather. Living in the Highlands we can choose the day the weather promises to be at its best and even buy a cheap Advance ticket the day before. Dingwall to Kyle return with a Senior Railcard can be bought for £13.70. The morning train leaves Inverness at 0855 and arrives at Kyle at 1130. In winter we usually stay at Kyle for two and a quarter hours and catch the 1346 train back, which reaches Inverness at 1626.

Two and a quarter hours in Kyle is always enjoyable. First or last stop, Buth Bheag the small seafood shack opposite the town’s coach stop in the centre of town. Cullen Skink or sea food salads are quite superb and you can get a drink and sit outdoors in the sun. Then our usual walk - an exploration of the Plock of Kyle. This is very close with many footpaths, narrow and wide, to the coves of this promontory. Away from the shore there are orchids in summer and it is difficult to reconcile this conservation area with its former role as a golf course. The small bays have have been used as a major study area for seaweeds, and if you are an ultimate planner, see if you can choose a day with low tide for your time at Kyle. The high point of the Plock is a purpose-made viewpoint which provides a wide panorama of Skye and shows the Skye Bridge to good effect.

In winter the trains are empty, so you can easily move around from side to side of the train for the best views. In summer I would be frustrated if I was “locked” in just one seat, as could potentially happen. For the most scenic part of the journey from Strathcarron Station to Kyle along Loch Carron you must be on the right-hand, loch-side of the train. An absolute must!!! So, if you are on a full train choose your seat for this section alone.

My approach is to only take images at 90 degrees to the train, by “anchoring” the camera to the glass, so the lens cannot catch reflections, and if you have a clean window, whatever imperfections there are on the glass will be invisible. The trip illustrated here used a Ricoh GXR with M mount and Leica 21 mm lens (equivalent to a 30 mm lens) for the outward journey, and a Huawei P20 Pro Smartphone with its equivalent 27 mm lens for the return. The Huawei in a protective case was flat against the window, an easier option than keeping the Ricoh’s lens hood against the glass.

This year our usual January trip was postponed until a perfect “weather window” for both Dingwall and Kyle on February 2 got us ordering rail tickets. It was a surprise to find that within 15 minutes of leaving Dingwall station we were in a blizzard that continued for thirty minutes. From Achnasheen to Kyle and back to Dingwall the weather could not have been bettered. Interestingly the Ullapool road followed to beyond Garve on the train had had little snow clearing, providing extra reason to enjoy the train rather than take a winter car journey

There are many images of the Plock of Kyle at NG7527 which will complement the ones here, and perhaps persuade others who find themselves in Kyle to take a walk on the Plock. For those who don’t like to part with their car for a day, and are on the west coast, you could enjoy the highlights of the train ride by taking a day return from Strathcarron to Kyle. A study of the map will show you that from Stromeferry to Kyle no car can replicate what you can see from the train. You are right at the water edge with a grandstand view.

I apologise that my Garmin GPS was set to record at 30 second intervals. For a moving train it should have been 5 seconds. So, the GPS track is a quite segmented and not a smooth curve, and this will also mean that the GPS location of my images (interpolated from the Garmin) will be correspondingly out. I will know next time. However I have adjusted where necessary the camera position to be on the railway line.

On the map below, the grey line is the GPS track from this trip. Click the blue circles to see a photograph taken from that spot and read further information about the location. The blue lines indicate the direction of view. There is also a slideshow of this trip. ( )

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NH5558 : The Mallard at Dingwall Railway Station by Julian Paren
The Mallard at Dingwall Railway Station
A good name for a pub that also serves food on the station platform. Another part... more

NH4660 : Approaching the defile of Raven Rock on the Dingwall to Garve rail line by Julian Paren
Approaching the defile of Raven Rock on the Dingwall to Garve rail line
Viewed from the 0929 Dingwall to Kyle of Lochalsh train as the train approaches... more

NH1858 : The ruins of Camashie seen from the railway by Julian Paren
The ruins of Camashie seen from the railway
A very isolated building in Strath Bran seen in clearing weather. The Monar... more

NH1758 : River Bran near Achnasheen by Julian Paren
River Bran near Achnasheen
Tantalising for residents of Achnasheen, the weather looks sunnier further west... more

NH1658 : Shed by Achnasheen Station by Julian Paren
Shed by Achnasheen Station
Looking towards the sun in the west on the final approach to Achnasheen Station.

NH1455 : Towards Inver Croft House Mountaineering Hut by Julian Paren
Towards Inver Croft House Mountaineering Hut
One of the few traditional buildings between Achnasheen and Achnashellach that... more

NH0851 : Winter snow in Glen Carron by Julian Paren
Winter snow in Glen Carron
It is a wonder that the Inverness to Kyle railway is cleared of snow so promptly... more

NG9947 : Loch Dùghaill from the railway line by Julian Paren
Loch Dùghaill from the railway line
There is a stretch of hillside above the road alongside Loch Dùghaill that... more

NG9543 : Croft house at Blackwood by Julian Paren
Croft house at Blackwood
One of the first houses the train passes as it enters the community at... more

NG9239 : Saltmarsh at Attadale by Julian Paren
Saltmarsh at Attadale
A crisp landscape with excellent visibility.

NG9239 : Saltmarsh at Attadale by Julian Paren
Saltmarsh at Attadale
A managed environment at Attadale.

NG9239 : Saltmarsh at Attadale by Julian Paren
Saltmarsh at Attadale
Tidal pools, saltings and man-made banks all feature here. One Geographer has... more

NG8835 : The Stromeferry Narrows from Ardnarff by Julian Paren
The Stromeferry Narrows from Ardnarff
View from the train heading for Kyle with a first view of a snow-covered mountain... more

NG8635 : Loch Carron from near Stromeferry by Julian Paren
Loch Carron from near Stromeferry
On the far shore of Loch Carron are the buildings marking the northern pier of the... more

NG8133 : Loch Carron by Duncraig Station by Julian Paren
Loch Carron by Duncraig Station
The train stopped to take on a passenger, so the train travelled even more slowly... more

NG7731 : Looking across Port Cam, Duirinish by Julian Paren
Looking across Port Cam, Duirinish
A view from the train bound for Kyle of Lochalsh.

NG7631 : Coast near Portnacloich by Julian Paren
Coast near Portnacloich
From here south to Kyle of Lochalsh is a fine coastline with magnificent views to... more

NG7630 : Coast near Portnacloich by Julian Paren
Coast near Portnacloich
Straight out of the window of the Kyle-bound train the mountains of Skye dominate... more

NG7629 : Erbusaig Bay near Kyle of Lochalsh by Julian Paren
Erbusaig Bay near Kyle of Lochalsh
The mountains of Skye provide a fitting backcloth to the view over Erbusaig Bay

NG7528 : Coast at Badicaul by Julian Paren
Coast at Badicaul
Mountains in Skye loom over the islets off the coast near Kyle of Lochalsh. As... more

NG7528 : Islets near Kyle of Lochalsh by Julian Paren
Islets near Kyle of Lochalsh
As seen from the train heading to Kyle of Lochalsh.

NG7527 : View to the west from The Plock of Kyle viewpoint by Julian Paren
View to the west from The Plock of Kyle viewpoint
A fine viewpoint that encompasses the mountains of Skye and the Skye Bridge. An... more

NG7426 : Kyelakin and the Skye Bridge from the Plock of Kyle by Julian Paren
Kyelakin and the Skye Bridge from the Plock of Kyle
A fine view to the west and north.

NG7527 : Wide view to the NW from the Plock of Kyle by Julian Paren
Wide view to the NW from the Plock of Kyle
This is a stitch of three images each with 27 mm focal length on 35 mm. The width... more

NG7527 : Stony beach on the Plock of Kyle by Julian Paren
Stony beach on the Plock of Kyle
Reached by one of the myriad of footpaths that are to be found on the Plock of... more

NG7527 : Stony beach on the Plock of Kyle by Julian Paren
Stony beach on the Plock of Kyle
The second beach visited on an unstructured exploration of the Plock of Kyle.

NG7527 : Coast of the Plock of Kyle by Julian Paren
Coast of the Plock of Kyle
Small footpaths abound by the coast, so there is plenty of opportunity to explore... more

NG7527 : Sand and seaweed at a coastal cove on the Plock of Kyle by Julian Paren
Sand and seaweed at a coastal cove on the Plock of Kyle
The largest bay on the Plock of Kyle appears to be unnamed. It has an enormous... more

NG7529 : Coast at Badicaul by Julian Paren
Coast at Badicaul
The train hugs the coast giving unparalleled views of the seashore.

NG7630 : Coast near Portnacloich by Julian Paren
Coast near Portnacloich
The scenery changes at each turn as the train heads slowly on beside the sea.

NG7731 : Looking across Port Cam, Duirinish by Julian Paren
Looking across Port Cam, Duirinish
A view that always surprises. Two and a half hours earlier a near identical view... more

NG7731 : Croft land near Duirinish Station by Julian Paren
Croft land near Duirinish Station
The rail line cuts away from the coast to access Duirinish Station revealing rough... more

NG7932 : Bàgh an t-Strathaidh at low tide by Julian Paren
Bàgh an t-Strathaidh at low tide
Snow and frost have exposed the area not covered by the sea recently. A summer... more

NG8033 : Plockton seen from the train between Plockton and Duncraig by Julian Paren
Plockton seen from the train between Plockton and Duncraig
An uninterrupted view of the surroundings of Plockton.

NG8133 : Coastal island by Duncraig Station by Julian Paren
Coastal island by Duncraig Station
The train was slowing to allow a passenger to alight.

NG8233 : Eilean na Creige Duibhe, Loch Carron by Julian Paren
Eilean na Creige Duibhe, Loch Carron
A distinctive island by the shore of Loch Carron near Craig.

NG8335 : Ardaneaskan seen across Loch Carron by Julian Paren
Ardaneaskan seen across Loch Carron
A view from the train.

NG8835 : Loch Carron shoreline near Ardnaff by Julian Paren
Loch Carron shoreline near Ardnaff
Snow right to the rising tide line

NG9239 : Saltings at Attadale by Julian Paren
Saltings at Attadale
Shaded from the afternoon sun.

NG9043 : Glas Bheinn across Loch Carron by Julian Paren
Glas Bheinn across Loch Carron
A mountain with much snow seen to advantage from he south side of Loch Carron.

NG9644 : Strathcarron near Coulags by Julian Paren
Strathcarron near Coulags
Beyond the glen are the mountains of the Ben-damph Forest. Seen from the train... more

NG9644 : View from the train of Coulags in Strath Carron by Julian Paren
View from the train of Coulags in Strath Carron
A path heads over the hills to Torridon from Coulags. The mountains visible lie... more

NG9846 : Roofless buildings by Balnacra by Julian Paren
Roofless buildings by Balnacra
The railway crosses the road at Balnacra close to the buildings.

NG9846 : Strath Carron at Balnacra by Julian Paren
Strath Carron at Balnacra
Seen from the train close to the level crossing at Balnacra. Loch Dùghaill... more

NH0248 : Coire a' Bhàinidh and Sgurr na Feartaig by Julian Paren
Coire a' Bhàinidh and Sgurr na Feartaig
A distant view to the hill and coire from the Inverness-bound train passing... more

NH0651 : High in Glen Carron with Moruisg beyond by Julian Paren
High in Glen Carron with Moruisg beyond
Leaving the tree-covered lower slopes of Glen Carron heading for Achnasheen on the train.

NH0851 : By the railway line in Glen Carron by Julian Paren
By the railway line in Glen Carron
The hillside stretches up to Moruisg in the Glencarron and Glenuig Forest.

NH0952 : Islands in frozen Loch Sgamhain by Julian Paren
Islands in frozen Loch Sgamhain
Two islands with trees and an outlier by the near shore.

NH1253 : View to the turbine shed of the Allt Gharagain Hydro-Electric scheme by Julian Paren
View to the turbine shed of the Allt Gharagain Hydro-Electric scheme
Deer are hardly visible on the image, but a lot of movement, evidently deer, was... more

NH1455 : Frozen Loch Gowan by Julian Paren
Frozen Loch Gowan
There are patches of surface melting. I would not trust the surface for skating.... more

NH1455 : Invercroft, Jacobites Mountaineering Club hut by Julian Paren
Invercroft, Jacobites Mountaineering Club hut
Available at £7 a night for eligible mountain club members or free to... more

NH1657 : Approaching Achnasheen Station from Kyle by Julian Paren
Approaching Achnasheen Station from Kyle
Achnasheen is a small village with a hotel and the Munro Fionn Bheinn rising... more

NH2360 : Bridge across the River Bran by Julian Paren
Bridge across the River Bran
One of the few bridges across the Bran with Sgurr a' Ghlas Leathaid beyond. Seen... more

NH3061 : River Bran and Chullin by Julian Paren
River Bran and Chullin
Seen from the train in the sector dominated by the structural requirements of the... more

NH3363 : Red boat on Loch Luichart by Julian Paren
Red boat on Loch Luichart
Obviously a permanent mooring for the small boat near Lochluichart Lodge. See... more

NH4460 : By the railway line, Rogie Forest by Julian Paren
By the railway line, Rogie Forest
On the long ascent to the highest point on this section of the railway line below... more

NH5059 : Blairninich and Knock Farril by Julian Paren
Blairninich and Knock Farril
As seen across Strath Peffer on the descent from Raven Rock on the Inverness-bound train.

NH5159 : Sun setting over Knockfarril from above Fodderty by Julian Paren
Sun setting over Knockfarril from above Fodderty
Sunset over Strath Peffer viewed through the window of the train after the descent... more

All images © Julian Paren and available under a Creative Commons licence external link.

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