Visitors to the West Highland Line can step off the train and back in time thanks to a series of walks from stations based on an audio play.
‘Benighted on the Moor’ was commissioned by the West Highland Community Rail Partnership (CRP) to highlight how the coming of the railway to Fort William brought not only increased mobility and better commercial opportunities, but also a resounding cultural shock to all involved – as was the case with many Victorian endeavours.
The making of the play was a community project that involved local amateurs, as well as professional actors and creatives with a special connection to the West Highland Line. The project was led by the West Highland CRP, with support from ScotRail, Spirit of the Highlands, Creative Scotland, Caledonian Sleeper, and the Glenfinnan Station Museum.
On Saturday 28 October, Rannoch Station hosted the launch party for the new series of geolocated walks based on the play.
Guests included staff from Lochaber High School – Head of Drama Jacqueline Hume said: “Benighted on the Moor crosses several subjects, and with plans at the school to offer a qualification in Scottish Studies, we look forward to exploring its use as a learning activity set outdoors. We’re aware that the pandemic has had an impact on school trips for several of our year groups so we hope that it can provide young people at the school with a positive experience travelling by rail.”
Hege Hernæs, project coordinator for the West Highland CRP, said: “Despite its remote location, Rannoch Station was the obvious choice of venue for our launch party. Not only did it enable us to invite guests to join us from the east, the south and the north, it also gave our guests a chance to sample the immersive audio walk.
“The team at the beautiful Rannoch Station Tearoom welcomed us with open arms and lovely lunches for our guests, whilst catering for their regulars and other visitors, all taking an enjoyable break at this remarkable community hub on the moor.”
Caroline Thompson-Noble, Sustainable Travel Engagement Coordinator at Community Rail Network, said: “As an innovative project that has already engaged dozens of local people with their railway, West Highland CRP is successfully raising awareness of the different ways to use the train. Suitably promoted, it will encourage more people to make the switch from road to rail, helping to support rural economies and connect communities via rail.”
Alasdair Smart, Tourism Manager at ScotRail, said: “The geolocative walk at Rannoch really brings the radio play to life – it’s a great example of an outdoor experience that is easily accessible by rail. We’re grateful for all the work that West Highland CRP put into this project.”
The walks are designed to be as accessible as possible for all. Walkers should allow at least 75-90 minutes for the experience and the return to the station, and always wear suitable clothing and footwear.
Keep up to date with future news, projects, and events from the West Highland CRP via their website.