Keith & Dufftown Railway
The Whisky Line
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© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2023
Geoff’s Rail Diaries
30 September 2023
Dufftown - ready to depart Delightful Dufftown! Driver's eye view (almost) Glenfiddich! Keith Town - we've arrived Keith x 3 Rarity! 140001, the prototype 2-car Pacer The Wee Mac (Clayton, 1979) Drive me for a tenner! English Electric D1193 of 1967 Spending 10 3-car Pacer 144022
Almost the first thing one sees, as the 60-year-old DMU pulls away from the ‘Malt Whisky capital of the World’ (Dufftown station) is the Glenfiddich distillery. There are dozens within a 15-mile radius. It was the distillery traffic that kept the line in business after the Keith to Elgin via Craigellachie line closed to passengers in 1968. When freight finished, the line saw railtours (notably the ‘Northern Belle’) until 1991 when the line finally closed. The Keith and Dufftown Railway Association soon began work to relaunch the line as a heritage railway, with full reopening in 2001. Services on the line are provided by a small fleet of first generation DMUs (class 108); the railway also possesses a couple of small diesel shunters. I’d found myself staying with an old friend in Huntly, just a few miles further east – “we must have a ride on the Keith and Dufftown”. A couple of first class returns meant we could sit in the comfortable armchair-type seats on the right behind the driver, with a clear view of the line ahead. Immediately past the distillery, the train crosses a stone
viaduct over the river Fiddich, then follows a route away from roads, past a small loch and through green and increasingly open rolling countryside as it leaves the hills behind. The 45-minute journey seems to be over much more quickly. There’s time to admire the magnificent wooden structure that is Keith Town (rebuilt from scratch by the preservationists), take a few photos and a visit to the bookshop before we’re on our way back to Dufftown, forgoing our first class entitlement for seats at the other end of the train, for another good view of the line ahead. Back at Dufftown, the Sidings Café provides an excellent lunch. It seems to be a popular venue for the locals – it’s open six days per week. It makes good use of the space provided by a couple of MkI coaches, one partially fitted with kitchen and serving area. We’d had a most enjoyable visit to a friendly railway with a comfortably uncommercial atmosphere. Well worth a visit! Link: The Whisky Line