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N.B. September 2008. Another three vists to the branch and along with three new section link over 100 photos have been added along with text to go with them.
Text in blue represents new photos and/or text.
ELLON TO BODDAM RAILWAY
About the railway and these walks
The branch line from Ellon to Boddam was built by the Great North Of Scotland (GNSR) and opened in 1897. From Ellon Junction the stations were, Achmcoy, Pitlurg, Hatton, Cruden Bay, Buller's Halt,
Longhaven and Boddam. It served a sparse farming and fishing area and passenger services didn't last long, ending in 1932. Goods lasted until 1945 and the line finally dismantled in 1950. Decline and
demolition was swift and much of the railway has been obliterated, with only sections of embankment, cuttings and the odd bridge showing the railway existed. All of the stations have been demolished,
with Cruden Bay station almost wiped away and returned to nature Boddam station was taken over by the RAF in the 50's and the land completely rebuilt upon. The RAF left the site in early 2007 and
the site is awaiting redevelopment. Longhaven is just a mound of overgrown ground, while the station house remains as a private dwelling. Buller's Halt is defined by the shallow cutting in which the
platforms stood and a railway bridge used as a farm crossing. As mentioned, Cruden Bay station is all but obliterated, with just the station house, in use as a private dwelling and the remaining three
arches of the viaduct. All that remains of Hatton station is the Goods Shed, Goods Platform edge and the station house. Pitlurg station house is also a private dwelling and it is difficult to get onto the
sight to see what may remains of the railway and goods yard. Again the station house at Achmacoy remains in private hands but there is nothing to see of the station except for the open ground where
the platforms were and the railway bridge at the eastern end of the site. Ellon still has the Down Platform edge, which has tenement type houses built on the Hotel side and you can just make out the
edges of the island platform. However, the main branch too and from Peterhead and Fraserburgh has been made into a walk and cycle path over it's whole length, starting from just outside Dyce station,
where it linked to the Aberdeen-Inverness mainline. Dyce was closed for some years but was reopened when the airport became an international airport and base for the North Sea oil & gas helicopters,
which service the industry.
The Boddam branch was very well built and the dressed granite bridges have stood the passage of time quite well, that is, those that have not been totally demolished. Stations too were well designed
and fitted out. Ellon was built as a main junction with an island platform, which held the Up main track from Fraserburgh to Aberdeen and the Boddam branch using the east side, which was linked to the
mainline for Aberdeen. Most passengers changed at Ellon for Boddam or Aberdeen, but there were some through coaches that connected with Fraserburgh, Peterhead and Aberdeen trains, with some
through working from the south, and England during the lines busiest years. Fish trains were busy, with local and farming goods sharing with the goods trains from the brick works at Cruden Bay and the
granite quarry at Longhaven.
The GNSR built a magnificent Hotel at Cruden Bay, which was attached to an equally fine Golf Course. With the station being almost a mile from the Hotel and village center, an electric tramway was built
between the Hotel and the station. This made it the farthest north electric tram service in the British Isles. With a very short season the Hotel failed and with it went the electric tramway. However, the
Golf Course remains to day. One of the trams has been fully preserved and can be seen at the Grampian Transport Museum at Alford, 24 miles west of Aberdeen.
To encourage tourism the GNSR also built a halt at Buller's O' Buchan, which also served the magnificent Slain's Castle, which today still attracts visitors because of it's magnificent ruin and placement on
top of the cliffs overlooking the North Sea. It is also known for it's connection with Bram Stoker, who composed his book 'Dracula' while staying in Cruden Bay. He based Dracula's castle on Slain's but
set it in Transalvania.
The Buller’s is a large rock off shore, with a large hole through it. During rough weather the sea rushes through it and creates howling noises that can be heard for many miles. This is also a well-known
area for sea bird sighting.
Cruden Bay Hotel was taken over by the army during the war and kept both the railway and hotel in use for the duration. However, as soon as the military moved out the hotel became derelict with much
of the fine stone work disappearing or bought up for use elsewhere and the hotel was demolished in the 50's.
There are plans to possibilty turn Slain's Castle into flats, which is very controversial as it is quite a unique ruin and attraction to the area. The steep cliff face is also very dangerous and the weather can
be quite stormy. However, on fine days the coastal scenery is fantastic and it is also an interesting place for Bird enthusiasts and I personally feel that turning it into flats would be a big mistake. Sadly,
today very little remains of all these grand projects. Three arches remain of the fine granite viaduct at Cruden Bay.
I have always been interested in the ex branch and heard stories about it as I grew up and saw parts of it from the bus on our twice a year visits to Boddam. Sadly it had all gone by the time I started
working on the railway in Aberdeen in 1963. I worked over the Peterhead/Fraserburgh sections and always wished that the Boddam line had still been open then. I would have loved to have worked over
I had passed short parts of the line by bus over the years but as the railway was mostly away from the main road I hadn't seen that much of it. In Sept 2002 I decided to have a look over as much of the line
as I could walk in one day. I caught a bus out to Hatton and walked as much of the trackbed as possible to Cruden Bay and Boddam, taking in the Buller's and Slain's and took a number of photos of what
I came across. The walk took from 11.45 until 17.30. I enjoyed the experience very much. I was also very surprised at how much I did find, inspite of the passing years. I also learned more about the line and
where the stations were and other parts worth visiting. This also got this web site started.
It took me until this year, 2007, to get back to planning another visit. I only planned the one walk but as the weather was obviously going to remain fine I decided to try again next day. On the first day I took
the bus to Longhaven and walked as much of the trackbed back to Cruden Bay taking in the granite quarry branch and down through Buller's and into Cruden Bay. Finding both the sites of Buller's Halt and
the Brick Works then the station and viaduct. The following day I went by bus to Hatton and walked to Pitlurg and Achmacoy and into Ellon. Over the two days I must have walked close to 20 miles and
both days contained 5-6 hours of walking. However, it was very enjoyable and has allowed me to build quite a comprehensive pictorial record of what is left of the railway today.
Latest update on the 19th & 20th of April 2015.
19th & 20th April 2015. Two visits to the railway. One to Pitlurg station site by invitation of the owner.
Second visit included a walk down the track bed from Pitlurg to Auchmacoy.
Pitlurg Station site. A new page and link.
Pitlurg to Auchmacoy. Lots of new photos both of the track bed down to Tassatshill and on to Auchmacoy station site
New photos of Auchmacoy station site and the site of the Goods Yard plus between Auchmacoy stn site and the Ellon road
at the Ex over bridge.
Update 2008. Three more visits with many new photographs and text. There are three new section:
Pitlurg to Achmacoy
Achmacoy to Crawhead
Crawhead to Balmacassie
Ellon Station Site, including Ellon Old photo page
Extended pages (photos):
Longhaven to Boddam
Cruden Bay Station site & Viaduct, including Cruden Bay Hotel & Tramway page.
If anyone knows the line and has any stories or photographs to offer I would appreciate hearing from you.
Contact Bill Reid: firstname.lastname@example.org
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