Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Railways on Skye
On holiday on Skye a few years ago, I was convinced that there had never been a railway on the island. Except that when I got the map out to plan a walk in Trotternish (the island's North-East peninsula) I came across what look remarkably like the track of a disused line.
And it was. For when I got off the bus and went walking I came across the remains of the Lealt Valley Diatomite Railway. This narrow gauge line ran from Loch Cuithir to the coast at Invertote and was open between 1890 and 1920. Diatomite is a mineral used in everything from dynamite to toothpaste.
It turns out that it was not the only railway on Skye. It turns out that there have been six at various times, including one that used to take supplies to the Talisker distillery.
And one of the lines is still open. The Storr Lochs Hydroelectric power station was built in 1952 and includes a standard gauge electric cable railway which still carries spares and supplies down a 1 in 2 gradient. It is shown in the picture above.