This is Dunrobin Castle station. Ever since I found out that a castle has its own train station I wanted to make the journey here. I loved the idea of getting on a train at Edinburgh and travelling about six hours to the North Highlands to this station and then walking into the grounds of Dunrobin Castle.
Dunrobin Castle is the seat of the Duke of Sutherland and the family had this private station built. The station dates from 1902 and is in English Arts and Crafts style, an unusual choice of architecture for Scotland.
Anybody can get on or off at this station, but trains only service it during the summer season between April and October. It is also a request stop meaning that you must hold out your hand, as if stopping a bus, when the train approaches. If you are on the train you must tell the guard that you wish to get off. Opposite the station, across the main road, is the entrance driveway to the castle. It is about a five minute walk.
The station interior is now a museum crammed full of railway memorabilia. There are no set opening hours of the museum, but you can check at the castle when it is next open. If it is not open when you are there you can look through the windows and see the treasures inside.
The station was closed in 1965 as part of the Beeching cuts to Britain’s Railways. However, the station's value to tourism and encouraging visitors to Dunrobin Castle became obvious and in 1985 it opened on summer Sundays. By 1994 it ended up back on the timetable with a regular service.
The station got its 15 minutes of fame when it featured on the television series Great British Railway Journeys. The presenter Michael Portillo cut the ribbon to the station's newly refurbished toilet. The toilet had been derelict for years, but has now been restored with modern fittings in an Edwardian style, including a high level cistern. There is a plaque inside the cloakroom that marks the occasion.
My previous blog post was my top ten favourite train stations in Scotland. You might be wondering why on earth Dunrobin Castle station did not make this list.
For a cyclist it is not the most practical station because of the low platform. I had actually bought an advanced ticket to leave from Dunrobin with my bike, but when I saw the big yellow plastic step that I would have to use to haul my bike up to the train I changed my mind. I decided instead to board the train at Golspie station which is only 2 miles away and has a platform level with the train. The station only gives access to the busy A9 road which is not the most pleasant to cycle on, but you can access some quieter roads leading off from the A9.
However, if you want to visit Dunrobin Castle and are on foot then taking the train to the castle's own station is a must. Even if you don't take the train to Dunrobin Castle allow some time to walk up the driveway and cross the road to have a look at this unique station building.