Last Train to Clarksville

I’ve been cutting about the Ft Bill to Laggan stretch a few times recently, and it’s shuffled previous thoughts to the surface again. I love industrial stuff, the visit to the pipes on the recent Ben Vorlich trip was, oddly perhaps, a highlight. And the narrow gauge railway that ran from Loch Treig to the Ft Bill smelter has always caught my imagination as so much of the infrastructure still exists.
The film footage I’ve got of it in use showed the possibilities, the stories from locals about how it was sabotaged by deliberate neglect so that it wouldn’t pass into tourist use tells of a depressingly familiar attitude. So, if it can’t be a railway again without spending big bucks, couldn’t it be a proper path and cycleway? I passes through the Aonach Mor tracks anyway, but I suppose that would forever block the rail option though.
There’s a cracking collection of photies here, and an out-of-print book. I really fancy walking the route of the line from end to end, a train from Ft Bill to Fersit and then a walk back. I wonder how many fences you would have to climb and how many security men would chase you as you got further west? No summits to tick which is nice, instead there’s confrontations to collect, bridges to bag, sleepers to stockpile, rails to er, round up?
My to-do list is getting longer all the time.

6 thoughts on “Last Train to Clarksville

  1. Cycling from where I live in to Manchester is a really frightening experience and commuters who want to just won’t risk it and after doing it a few times myself I know why. I’ve said for years they should transform the Bridgewater Canal’s tow paths as it is a direct line into the city. Someone pointed out to me last week that they have seen some great sense and are spending millions on making a Bridgewater Way so we will soon be able to cycle into Manchester via a big wide tow path, can’t wait. Real shame more of these old routes aren’t used any more or transformed in some way, obviously they are ideal as they were built to be flat as possible and cleared a wide path. I too am fascinated by anything with an industrial past, especially relating to transport.

  2. Seems a grand trip idea to me :)

    Makes you realise you lucky we are down here that firstly someone was mad enough back in Victorian times to build Settle/Carlisle and then that it got saved…..

    I’d be a bit lost without it really.

  3. A lot of the cycle paths in Edinburgh seem to be covered in broken glass or local neds. i think it would work up there though. A few years ago we cycled the Great Glen Way – really enjoyed it while it would have a been a boring walk.

  4. It’s amazing how many wee bits of industrial heritage or archaeolgy are hidden in the hills, the Kilpatricks behind me are covered in stuff which is almost invisible.

    Bike routes are good if thye’re done right, cycle lanes on roads don’t do it for me. Canal tow paths, old railways are ideal. But it does give the neds somewhere to waste their time and ours. But, the more folk that use them the harder it is for neds to make it their own, so we have to keep at it.

    Chris, you could cycle through here on the canal and get the train home, it’s a cracking ride,

  5. Aye the canal is usually good. We’ve been to the Falkirk Wheel and out to Linlithgow and back a few times.

    One year we did the big Glasgow / Edinburgh sponsored thing which was on road but the benefit of there being 2000 people doing it was that the cars kept away. We seemed to get across the country really fast – Strathclyde Country Park, Airdrie, then Linlithgow in no time. I’m not always a great fan of mass participation events but it was a good rid.

  6. We did a sponsored coast to coast as while back and it was fun, the bikes got spreda out enough that it was pressure free, no “having to keep up/slow down”.

    The tunnel after the Falkirk wheel is a highlight!

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