Not many railway stations owe their existence to the determination of just one man, but Corrour Station on Rannoch Moor simply wouldn’t be where it is today if it hadn’t been for Sir John Stirling-Maxwell, 10th Baronet of Pollok.
Back in 1891, Sir John purchased the Corrour Estate with the intention of using it very much as a “playground” for himself and his friends, with a particular focus on deer stalking and grouse shooting. However, while part of the estate’s attraction was its “middle of nowhere” remoteness, that also presented the problem of how to get there. When the West Highland Railway Company was looking to build a route across his property, he readily agreed – on condition that they built a station for him on his estate.
Corrour Station was officially opened on 7th August 1894. For many years afterwards, Sir John’s visitors would be transported from the station by horse-drawn carriage to the head of Loch Ossian where they would then board the small steamer which carried them to the shooting lodge at the far end of the loch.
More than a century on, Corrour still remains in use today, though it’s chiefly now used by hill-walkers and those determined to “bag” a Munro or two – Carn Dearg and Sgor Gaibhre are both accessible from the station. For those looking for a slightly less strenuous walk, there’s the popular option to complete a circuit of nearby Loch Ossian, starting and finishing at the station. While a relatively long walk – roughly 14.5km (9 miles) in length – it is relatively level and offers some excellent forestry and mountain views.
Corrour has several claims to fame: not least the fact that, at 408m (1,339 feet) above sea level, it is the highest mainland railway station in the United Kingdom. Corrour Station is also one of the most remote; dirt-tracks notwithstanding, the station is some 16km (10 miles) from the nearest public road. So obviously, there are no connecting taxi or bus services here to carry you on to your final destination!
By rail, however, Corrour Station is surprisingly well connected, with at least three trains most day linking it to Glasgow to the south (journey-time 3 hours) or Fort William to the west (50 minutes) – and beyond to Mallaig. The station can also boast about having a direct service to and from London Euston courtesy of the Caledonian Sleeper – though if you wish to disembark at Corrour, you should have a word with the train staff before you turn in the previous evening – it’s a request stop only! The journey from London to Corrour takes just under 12 hours.
The station, and nearby mountain Leum Uilleim, gained some cinematic fame when they featured in a scene from Danny Boyle’s 1996 film, Trainspotting. Other film and television appearances have included a brief scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, BBC series Secret Britain (in which presenters Julia Bradbury and Matt Baker explored some of the UK’s hidden corners), and Young Guns video for “Weight of the World”.
A new station house was built in 1997 and this operates as a provision shop and restaurant – again, arguably the UK’s remotest restaurant – during the summer months. The old signal box and adjacent building were renovated in 2015.
First published in Nocturne #2 (Summer 2016).