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Located approximately 2 miles north from Fort William town centre.
Railway type and traffic
You will not get much in the way of traffic. Three 156 unit workings in each direction to or from Glasgow Queen Street and the Monday to Friday Alcan workings which come up from Mossend in the morning (14:30 arrival) and the return (17:58 usually) worked by a class 66.
The summer months bring some charter trains like the Royal Scotsman and SRPS Railtours etc. You can also see whatever loco works the Alcans taking the wagons to and from the main line into the factory, before taking the empties down to the yard for stabling.
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RTT Link Fort William, Alcan Bridge
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It is a fairly quiet environment, but just off a busy main road at the best of times. No point in being there after dark as there will be nothing to see apart from maybe the odd ballast train working during an overnight possession. You are unlikely to encounter any trouble at night, but it is always best to keep safe.
If travelling from the south, follow the A82 north from Fort William town centre for 2 miles or so. You will pass the yard which you will see on your left followed by the Milton Hotel, almost immediately, you will pass a National Tyres car garage on your right with a few other small companies. The road turning off to the British Alcan factory is on your next right, there is a fairly large blue and white sign.
If you are coming from the north via the A82, you will see a playing field just after the BP filling station and the junction for the A830 road to Mallaig. The British Alcan access road is on the left after you pass the ESSO filling station and after the turn off to the right for the Fort William EWS depot and old Inverlochy Castle.Click here to set up your location for directions to this location Fort William, Alcan Bridge map co-ordinates
Just after crossing the bridge, you will see a small clearing on your left right before the level crossing which could fit 2 or 3 cars. No need to worry as your car will be in sight of you at all times and the road is quiet except for cars and lorries going to and from the factory.
From Fort William town centre. Behind the MacKays clothing store on the High Street, there is a bus stop which serves the bus stop nearest to the British Alcan with three or four services every hour. You want a bus that takes you to Caol or Corpach, just ask the driver to drop you off at the British Alcan. You will see once you alight the bus stop on the other side of the road to go back into Fort William.Click here to set up your location for directions to this location
If you go back down to the main road, you will see the ESSO station about 200 yards to your right which is open 24 hours and is about as good as most service stations and I believe also has a public toilet. It is awkward to reach as you will need to cross the road as there is only a pavement on the far side, then cross the road again when you get there.
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Fort William, Alcan Bridge
Fort William, Alcan Bridge general view map
Fort William, Alcan Bridge close up map
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Fort William, Alcan Bridge
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The bridge crosses the West Highland Line from Fort William to Glasgow. The best view is towards Fort William as the view on either side of the bridge is fairly clear and you can get more of a side on shot instead of head on (Fig. 1 and 2). The other side of the bridge is not so good as you can only really get a view from right above the train as it approaches you going to Fort William (see Fig.5)
The sun should not really be a problem at any time, whenever I have been there, pictures have turned out just fine. Although it depends on weather conditions really!
When the Alcans are being worked, you can go further down the road across the level crossing and on your right, is a little grassy area beside the line, and that will offer you some good shots (see Fig. 3 and 4). Note, if you are down there when the Alcans are being worked, ear protectors might come in handy as they are very loud.
General views - All photographs © Alasdair Mulhern unless otherwise stated
Fig 1 - Looking north east
Fig 2 - Looking north east
Fig 3 - Looking east
From the Alcan level crossing.
Fig 4 - Looking west
From the Alcan level crossing.
Fig 5 - Looking south west
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