hidden europe 10

"As waste as the sea": Rannoch's great moor

by Nicky Gardner


Think remote! Very remote. There are no roads to Corrour. Just the train that stops at this railway outpost in the Scottish highlands.

On an August morning, the night sleeper from London glides effortlessly across Scotland's Rannoch Moor. Some travellers still linger in their berths, but by eight in the morning the sun has roused most of us. Even seasoned veterans of the route, kilted Highlanders returning from the English capital to their homes in the glens, watch attentively as the landscape slides silently past the window. A tinted mosaic of purple black bog, heather clad hillocks and the glint of sun on distant lochs. At 8.51 am exactly the train pulls in to Corrour station. The train stops only on request, so a word with the sleeping car attendant before you turn in the previous evening is a must, but on these summer mornings it is more often than not that someone wants to alight at Corrour. Or perhaps a walker, scruffy from a week out in the hills, stands sentinel on Corrour platform anxious to flag down the morning train that will take him back to Fort William, a good bath and civilisation.

For those who climb down from the train at Corrour, there are no bus connections and no taxi drivers waiting to transfer passengers onward to their final destination. For Corrour is truly in the middle of nowhere. Think remote! Very remote! There are no roads to Corrour. Just the trains. The night sleeper from London takes about twelve hours for the 860 kilometre trip. And there are three daily trains which make the five hour journey between Glasgow and the west coast port of Mallaig.

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