Tim's One Photograph a Day

Dunrobin Castle Station on the Far North Line.

Main Building, Dunrobin Castle Station.

Dunrobin Castle Station: Swiss Chalet Style Luxury.

Swiss Chalet Style Luxury.

As stations go, this one is something rather different from the norm. Dunrobin Castle Station was the private facillity for the Duke of Sutherland.

Various companies were involved in the building of the Far North Line. The Inverness and Rothshire Railway took the line as far as Ardgay. The Sutherland Railway extended the line to Golspie. The Duke of Sutherland then extended it to Helmsdale, thus providing a service to his home, albeit at his expense. The Sutherland and Caithness Railway then completed the line to Thurso and Wick. The whole became absorbed one way or another into the Highland Railway, and subsequently grouped into the London, Midland and Scottish in 1923.

Dunrobin Castle Station is unique in many respects. As private stations go, it has an unusually long platform. The Duke used to hold grand parties, with guest numbers in the region of 300! Thus, long trains and an appropriately sized station were required.

The construction of the rather ornate building, now a Category B listed structure, was to the Duke’s specifications. Designed to fit in to the surrounding, it is made, rather patriotically, of Scottish Pine. This also gives it great strength, which is useful to endure the ravages of the snow and wind the area endures.

The station has been closed permanently twice. It was opened for the third time on 30 June 1985.

Dunrobin Castle Station is one of several on the line that are “request” stops. Passengers on the train inform the guard that they wish to alight. The train slows sufficiently on approach that it can stop if there is anyone on the platform that hails the train. In fact, we stopped today, as two people wished to board. This was handy, as it gave me a good opportunity to line up the shot! The shot is all the more pleasing, as it was taken through the train window. Not the cleanest of glass, but it does explain that rather odd bluey patch at the bottom!

Its final unique characteristic is that it is only open in the summer months. It is only open when the adjacent castle is open to the general public.

The station has featured in Michael Portillo’s Great Railway Journeys, when he covered the Far North Line, and the Duke of Sutherland’s contribution to its construction.

Thankfully, the line defied Beeching’s attempts to close it. It is now seeing increased popularity, and provides a vital link to many remote communities. One wonders how many other lines should never have been closed…

Photograph Details:

  • Taken: 15 August 2017
  • Camera: Canon 5D MkIII
  • Lens: Canon EF 24-70mm 1:2.8 L II USM
  • Focal Length 24mm
  • F/4.5
  • 1/50 Sec
  • ISO 100

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