Part 3 saw us travel along what is possibly the most scenically spectacular section of railway line that has never been built, from Sligachan to Skeabost just North of Portree.
It is at Skeabost, having just reached 40 mile marker, that the line diverges. Railway One (as it’s referred to in the HLR documents) heads on for another 12 miles and 7 furlongs to a new pier at Uig. Railway Two curves to the West and continues for 21 miles, 4 furlongs and 2 chains to Dunvegan quay.
From leaving the junction at Skeabost the line descends at 1 in 92 to then cross the route of the A850 on the level.
After this point the line makes a short climb at 1 in 38, followed by the beginning of a two mile long descent on which the path of the B3036 is crossed. When the descent to sea level has been made the line crosses the River Haultin and progresses along the shore of Loch Snizort at Eyre. Unusually the HLR plans make no reference to what sort of bridge would have been used to cross the Haultin, therefore presumably it would have been single span.
Before progressing too far along Loch Snizort a halt would have appeared to serve the settlements around Eyre, perhaps one of more basic provision, as referred to in the Light Railways Act documents, consisting of a gravel ground level platform, a siding, and not much more.
Although not a match for the stretch of line between Sligachan and Skeabost for scenic value, it’s difficult to deny that the scenery improves the further along Loch Snizort you travel. The HLR would have hugged the coastline along this section remaining fairly level.
Just north of Kingsburgh the HLR turns inland and crosses the end of Glen Hinnisdal, and at it’s base the River Hinnisdal. Approaching the glen the line passes through a deep cutting and runs down a short, sharp 1 in 30 descent to cross the river (again no bridge details appear), on the other side a similarly short and sharp 1 in 30 climb is needed to regain height for the approach to Uig.
Having crossed the glen the HLR passed through some rather barren landscape continuously climbing until it reached a height of 457 feet above sea level.
Slightly further North the HLR reaches the crofting community of Earlish, here a halt, and perhaps a siding for dropping off and picking up of general crofting provisions, and cattle would have been needed. The photo below looks back towards Earlish from the North showing just how many crofts there are in this otherwise rather unpopulated area.
From Earlish the line hugs the cliff tops around South Cuil and is now beginning it’s final two and a half mile descent to Uig, where it will cross the present day route of the A87 another two times, and swing around a large 270 degree turn running on to the pier at Uig where today Caledonian Macbrayne ferries depart for Loch Maddy and Tarbert.
On the descent to Uig the HLR crosses another river, this time the River Connon which runs along Glen Uig. This was to be crossed by a bridge consisting of three 75 foot spans on a slope of 1 in 50, immediately after which the turn round to reach the pier begins.
Once the turn is made the run down to the pier begins with another river crossing, the River Rha which runs down to Uig from the slopes of Sron an Aighe, this would be made by three 30 foot spans, following the final road crossing before the pier is reached after a short run along the north shore of Uig Bay.
Journey’s end, the pier at Uig. From the point by the sign in the image above the HLR would curve out towards the pier on a cob like structure, with the terminus of the line unusually being half way along the pier. We’ve travelled 52 miles and 7 furlongs from Isle Ornsay which would have taken around 4 hours, it’s figures like this that make you realise just how monumental an undertaking building the HLR would have been.
Imagine coming into the port of Uig on board the S.S. Dunara Castle whilst watching the HLR train you’re about to catch negotiate the cliff tops at South Cuil, to then coast down and round the large curve at the end of Uig Bay to come and greet you on the pier ready for your onward transport! What fun.