Seasonal Area October 2013

The October 2013 Seasonal Area page, which has been online for the usual dubiously lengthy period of time before being mentioned here, is the most northerly to feature on the website to date. (Until August this year the page had never even been to Scotland.)

There’s a bit of scope left for going further north in next October’s picture without leaving the British mainland.

Forsinard Bog is an oddly pleasant place. There’s not much there, especially now the trees are coming out, and on a good day the result is a feeling of peace and solitude. On a wet day the result is of course liable to be exceedingly bleak and unpleasant. In winter snows the area is notoriously remote; trains get stuck up there from time to time, with the odd particularly dire occasion requiring passengers to be airlifted by helicopter. The single-line block section from Helmsdale to Forsinard, at some 48 miles, is the longest section of single line (and the longest individual signalling section) in the country – which has the upshot that in the time between a snow-clearing locomotive reaching Forsinard and the passenger train getting there after being cleared to leave Helmsdale it is entirely possible for the snow to block the line again.

The road, meanwhile, just goes on and on and on through the landscape, rolling idly over dips and hillocks in a pretty straight line overall, though on the ground it turns out to mix the rolling gradient with twists and bends. Like the railway, it is mostly single track.

The fact that there is only one surfaced road for miles means that the South side of OE449, the Ordnance Survey Explorer map for the area, has the possibly unique accolade of featuring almost the same mileage of railway as road.

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