A railway journey and holiday to remember

January 26, 2013

No.1 hubbie has been watching Michael Portillo’s Great British Rail Journey’s on BBC 2 satisfying his fascination with such programmes. Last week, my attention was grabbed by the sign Garve in the opening shot. Britain’s smallest train station. The journey being featured  was the railway journey from Garve to the Kyle of Lochalsh. My memory worm set to work and uncovered a wealth of treasured memories of our last family holiday with my mother.

We had driven from Yorkshire to Scotland in our Hillman Husky, taking three days. We stayed in Garve with a delightful lady,  Mrs McKenzie and her family. Our hostess not just a super cook but also a font of all knowledge of where to go, what to see and, most importantly, who to contact. Fisherman or ghillie, her contacts all helped us to have a memorable holiday.

We discovered Rogie falls, supposedly the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s waterfall mentioned his classic novel ‘Kidnapped’. A scary rope bridge needed to be crossed before  scrambling down to the water’s edge.  Here, beneath the waterfall, my father tried his luck dry fly fishing, to no avail! Salmon rose all around his fly but never  succumbed to its lure. Leaping in the pool next to the my father’s fly floating downstream. Frustration for my father.

We watched the salmon on their journey to their spawning grounds as they tried jumping up the falls. only to be unsuccessful most of the time. It had been a dry summer and water levels were low. It was only when there were two or three exceedingly wet days that water levels improved and the salmon began to be successful and head onwards.

One day, on Mrs McKenzie’s recommendation, we took the train to The Kyle of Lochalsh. To go where no road followed or led, here we had to meet a fisherman who was to take us out on his boat. Here my memory lets me down! I think that the weather was very windy and we went for a shortened version of the usual trip. However, I do remember that before catching the train back  to Garve, we had to collect a parcel, wrapped in newspaper. Fresh haddock for supper that night! Thank you Mrs McKenzie.


Mrs McKenzie had Cairn terriers, one called Rogie. After my mother’s death my father contacted Mrs McKenzie and asked to find us a little dog like Rogie. Mission accomplished, Cafaig, aged 12months, was put on the train in Garve. Travelling in a tea chest, in the guard’s van of each train he travelled on. Finally arriving down to Knaresborough, Cafaig became a much loved member of our household and scourge of our neighbour’s cat or indeed any cat who dared to venture into our garden.


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