Glenclachan Road

The transition from Rae Bridge to Inverlochan Moor on the upper level takes place in Glenclachan gorge, where the railway shares the available space rather uncomfortably with a series of rapids and waterfalls tumbling down from the rear. The railway from Rae Bridge first traverses this area on an intermediate level about 10cms above the river, running between two tunnel entrances. Largely hidden behind the backscenes it then circles the railway room in order to gain height. It re-enters the scene on the top level of Rae Bridge and continues to run on the skyline in front of the backscene, past the halt and across Glenclachan Viaduct 15cms higher, before entering the Inverlochan section.

The idea when designing this area was to create an illusion of space in a very tight spot. Using reverse curves in the lower level railway makes the valley seem much deeper than it really is. The view from the left is blocked by the high level Inverlochan area of the layout which does help as it limits your view. The high level viaduct blocks a direct view of the backscene and indeed casts a shadow over the transition from the 3-D scenery to the backscene itself.

Plan of Glenclachan Road

It can be argued whether the massive engineering in this scene is appropriate for a narrow gauge railway in a sparsely populated stretch of country. There are enough examples however that featured heavy engineering - the Lynton & Barnstaple, the Tralee & Dingle and the Ffestiniog spring to mind. The lower viaduct has two Peco N scale plate girder spans and a stripwood deck. Using a jig, the upper viaduct was built from over a thousand pieces of stripwood. It vaguely resembles the Brunel viaducts, or the Welsh Slate Company's viaduct at Blaenau, and although a stone or concrete structure would have been more appropriate for Scotland, I like timber viaducts better. The cast iron bridge (shades of Tan-y-Bwlch!) has Plasticard arches and etched brass lattice guardrails.

The tiny platform on the edge of the ravine has a water tank, a grounded carriage body and a nameboard and a seat. A single oil lantern casts a yellow glow after dark - if they remember to light it! The grounded carriage body is the result of a failed attempt to build a four-wheel third/brake carriage with a birdcage lookout. The roof started to warp after I applied too much solvent, and the lack of an internal support of the roof made it sag. So I decided to spray it muddy grey, add a stovepipe and put it on blocks in this lonely spot.

The Dunalistair Mail crosses the viaduct on its way from Inverlochan to Rae Bridge (photo by Jan van Mourik).

After a while the train has arrived on the lower level bridge. It has run for about 16 meters around the layout to descend 6 inches (photo by Jan van Mourik).

Glenclachan Road Halt (photo by Jan van Mourik).

Fishing for trout below the railway bridges (photo by Jan van Mourik).

A cottage in the wilderness (photo by Jan van Mourik).

The cast iron bridge across the road to Rae Bridge, with a travellers' caravan on its way to who knows where.

The small section of the layout between Glenclachan Gorge and Rae Bridge contains a siding and a steep approach path, with a cottage somewhat down the slope. The landscape rises towards the railway and seems to fall again in the view shown in the backscene. In this area the backscene is a freelance design, again showing a lochan in the distance, and the trains run on the skyline right in front of it. The siding is equipped with a small sheep dock and loading ramp. The grounded van body is a cut down and heavily weathered Egger original that used to serve as a mail van on the railway until it was scrapped. The cottage is a leftover of an early C&DR layout. The model is not quite correct as a typical crofter's cottage has the door in the middle of the long wall and a window to either side, and certainly does not sport luxuries like bay windows! Let us suppose the former General Manager of the railway had it rebuilt to retire there and keep an eye on passing trains while growing cucumbers in his greenhouse.

A short passenger train on the lower bridge.

The view block on the left makes the Gorge look much larger than it really is.

This scene is only 2 feet deep.

A goods train passing the loading dock.

The other end of Creag Dhubh Tunnel.

The fixed distant requires all trains to reduce speed for the Rae Bridge home signal just beyond the tunnel.

Just imagine…

If you take a train from Rae Bridge to Craigcorrie you'd better close the windows, as the train pulls directly from the station into Creag Dhubh Tunnel, a narrow and smoky bore under the ridge separating Rae Bridge from Glenclachan Gorge. The tunnel is on a rise and a sharp curve - no wonder the crews prefer to work the C&D's Garratt upgrade bunker first! After a while your train emerges into a deep ravine, crosses a mountain stream on a two-span girder bridge and continues beside the rapids, the engine's exhaust mixing with the roar of the water below.

Continuing the climb through another tunnel, a few miles uphill the gradient eases. The train passes a dilapidated winding house and a siding leading to a sheep dock. After crossing the mountain road on a cast iron bridge the train comes to a rest on an embankment high on the hillside, where a water tank and a grounded carriage body on a low platform mark Glenclachan Road halt. This is a windswept outpost in the wilderness where the unfortunate passenger is left miles from the hamlet it is supposed to serve. The halt is mainly a watering point, and Inverlochan-bound trains pull straight on to Glenclachan Viaduct before continuing across the expanse of the Moor and beyond to Inverlochan and Craigcorrie.

Classic view of Maid of the Loch and the NWNGR-style six-wheeler in the Gorge, as published in the Peco Modeller Book of Narrow Gauge in 1985.

Close-up of the grounded carriage body on the platform of Glenclachan Road.