The final programme in Julia Bradbury’s Railway Walks series saw a return to Scotland for her longest walk yet. 23 miles between the town of Callendar and the shore of Loch Tay took in some stunning scenery, yet seemed to have very little to say about the railway.
Indeed, the route of the railway had been fairly thoroughly obliterated since closure with at least one missing bridge and no trace of the old station buildings. At Callendar, the station site is now a car park and at the other end of her walk, Julia Bradbury gesticulated towards the site of the old station and a pier, now vanished.
Perhaps it was that I have absolutely no connection with this part of the world, or that the former railway was far less important in this programme, but despite the well-established formula of interviews with local people, including a local historian, an access officer and the chief of the McNab clan, the programme left me wanting to know more.
I was intrigued by hints at the area’s turbulent and violent past, but still know almost nothing about it. I want to know more about Rob Roy, a character mentioned several times during the programme and I would have loved to see some archive film of the railway in operation as well as a few grainy photographs of disappeared stations.
There is no doubt that this would have been a stunning railway journey and the remaining viaduct remains as a marvel of Victorian engineering and the area provides a great, if long walk along a loch or two. However, the enforced deviations from the original route of the line made this less of a railway walk and more of a walk through this part of Scotland.
Despite my feeling of the programme not giving quite as much as I had come to expect from the rest of the series, I hope that BBC4 and the programme makers have another series on the way because there are still thousands of route miles more of closed railway lines just waiting for the tread of Julia Bradbury’s boots.