By Hugh Dougherty
IT MAY not have been on the scale of the Great Central Railway bridging the gap at Loughborough. However, railway history was made high in the Lowther Hills on Thursday, August 17, when volunteers swept away the fence that has prevented them from extending the 2ft-gauge Leadhills & Wanlockhead Railway into Scotland’s highest village for over 20 years.
Breaking ground on the extension follows the successful conclusion of a lease for the quarter-mile trackbed with Buccleuch Estates.
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Lowthers Railway Society chairman Alan Mackie led the enthusiastic volunteers. They arrived at Glengonnar Halt, the lines’ current terminus, propelled up from Leadhills by diesel locomotive Luce with the line’s digger on a flat wagon, ready to start work.
The fence was removed shortly after 10am, and the excavator moved in to the cutting, as the first LWR vehicle to access the track bed towards Wanlockhead.
“We’re digging test pits at 50 metre intervals along the cess at both sides of the cutting to test what the soil conditions are,” said Alan. “That will allow us to work out where the rock base of the cutting lies and how much ballast we’ll need to level and line and keep it dry.”
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