Lochaber musician Ingrid explores iconic rail line in BBC Alba documentary

One of the unearthed photographs taken during the construction of the line and which feature in this week's BBC Alba programme. NO F53 Song of the Track 1
One of the unearthed photographs taken during the construction of the line and which feature in this week's BBC Alba programme. Photograph: Glenfinnan Station Museum. NO F53 Song of the Track 1

Want to read more?

At the start of the pandemic in March we took the decision to make online access to our news free of charge by taking down our paywall. At a time where accurate information about Covid-19 was vital to our community, this was the right decision – even though it meant a drop in our income. In order to help safeguard the future of our journalism, the time has now come to reinstate our paywall, However, rest assured that access to all Covid related news will still remain free.

To access all other news will require a subscription, as it did pre-pandemic. The good news is that for the whole of December we will be running a special discounted offer to get 3 months access for the price of one month. Thank you for supporting us during this incredibly challenging time.

We value our content and access to our full site is only available with a  subscription. Your subscription entitles you to 7-day-a-week access to our website, plus a full digital copy of that week’s paper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device.  In addition, your subscription includes access to digital archive copies from 2006 onwards.

Just want to read one issue? No problem you can subscribe for just one week (or longer if you wish).

Already a subscriber?


Subscribe Now

The line between Fort William and Mallaig is arguably the most spectacular railway in the world.

Earlier this month, we reported on a new book, Hege Hernæs, Building the Mallaig Railway – a photographer’s story – compiled by Hege Hernaes of Glenfinnan Station, containing many examples from an amazing collection of 100 photographs capturing the railway’s construction and which were unearthed recently in Cornwall.

NO F51 Building the Mllg Rlw cover
The cover of the new book featuring many of the recently unearthed and previously unseen photographs of the building of the line.

Now, in a BBC Alba documentary, Ceol na Loidhne/Song of the Track, which is due to be broadcast tomorrow night (December 31) at 9pm, well known Glenfinnan musician Ingrid Henderson takes up the story of how the railway came to be built.

Glenfinnan musician Ingrid Henderson working on the score for the documentary.

She follows the route of the West Highland Line, construction of which started in 1897, in an attempt to discover what the photographs reveal about the lives and people in Lochaber at the time of the line’s construction, and attempts to discover the artist behind the lens.

At the same time she will create new music to pay tribute to the railway and the people who built it.

For Ingrid, born in Mallaig, brought up in Fort William and now living and working in Glenfinnan, the railway has always been present in her life.

Through this programme she travels the line stopping at stations along the route to find the places in the photographs – and look for inspiration to compose a new album.

Ingrid Henderson waits beside the line to join the maintenance crew.

Ingrid told the Lochaber Times: ‘It’s been fascinating to find out more about the building of the West Highland Line not only from this new photo collection which has come to light but also from the descendants of those who lived and worked beside the line all their lives.

‘It’s allowed me to see my home area, of which I’m very proud anyway, through new eyes and inspired me to create new music in reaction to the images and personal stories from the line’s construction.’