Dava Line: Recreating one of Britain's lost railways

18 March, 2022

Built to connect Inverness to the south, the Dava Line served as the main route south until 1892 when the current Highland Mainline was built via Carrbridge. From Aviemore in the south the route passes through the wide and gentle Strathspey with glorious views of the Cairngorm mountains on the right until arriving at Grantown-on-Spey. From here the hard graft begins as the line climbs to the Dava summit, some 1046 ft high.

Grantown West Station Grantown West Station within Train Simulator Grantown West Station 19 Grantown West Station shortly before closure

The moorland here is epic with vast swathes of heather that bloom brilliant purple in the later months of summer. During winter these exposed landscapes change dramatically, with deep snowdrifts notorious for stranding unfortunate locomotives. Dava Station, the highest on the line, sits above this moor and provides respite before the long decent to Forres.

Dava Moor Looking towards Grantown over the Dava Moor

By the time the line has crossed over the impressive Dunphail Viaduct and it’s accompanied station the moorland has faded into green fields and farmland. Steep gradients continue as the line drops down past the Dallas Dhu distillery (now a visitor attraction) and into Forres at just 39 feet above sea level.

Tackling the long uphill gradient from Forres to Dunphail Climbing away from Forres towards Dunphaill Station

The route certainly provides a challenge for the driver who is rewarded for their efforts by some of Scotland’s most picturesque scenery. Much effort has been made to capture the routes look and feel as accurately as possible. From track, turntables and bridges to buildings and vegetation – much of the scenery has been custom built.

BroomHill Station Broomhill station, now the terminus of the Strathspay Steam Railway and Glenbogle on Monarch of the Glen

It has been greatly satisfying to see the route come together over the last few months and, although cosmetically close to completion, there are still some important details to implement such as accurate signalling and scenarios.

More Information

For more details about this project, checkout the dedicated website: Rails Developments.