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Heritage - History - Places

The Flying Scotsman @ Aviemore

Aviemore was, without a doubt, the most memorable part of our Scotland trip. Our pre-travel research with Google Maps as the starting point and National Parks as the destination turned out well this time too.

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Aviemore Main Street

Cairngorms National Park covers almost the central part of the Scottish highlands. At over 4,500 sq kms, it is the largest National Park in the United Kingdom and is also rated by National Geographic as one of Top 20 Places to Visit in the World. The Cairngorms National Park website is the best resource that will help anyone planning their trip. It certainly helped us.

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Aviemore Station

Aviemore is a small town, within the National Park area, with a population of 3000+. It’s the base for reaching Cairngorm Mountain treks and trails, and an important tourist resort.  While planning our days in Aviemore, quite early we discovered that the Flying Scotsman Heritage Steam Train is at Aviemore for a few days, coinciding with our dates of visit.

Flying Scotsman is perhaps one of the most storied locomotive in the history of railways. Built in 1923, it was pressed into service on the London-Edinburg rail service and given the name ‘Flying Scotsman’ (The London-Edinburg service had originally started in 1862.) In the same year, it did the first ever non-stop service between these two cities. In 1934, it became the first locomotive to clock 100 mph on a test run. It was also the first train to circumnavigate the globe. In 1989, it also became a World Record Holder for a 422 mile non-stop run (in Australia) of a steam locomotive. After changing multiple hands of ownership (and being stuck in the United States for a couple of years), the Flying Scotsman is now owned by the National Railway Museum. The National Museum lends the locomotive to other heritage railway companies during the year.

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The Flying Scotsman
Flying Scotsman TravelWithAcouple
The Observation Car – Flying Scotsman

Aviemore has its own fans of the heritage railway – The Strathspey Railway Association – a voluntary organisation (now with over 900 members) that formed over 30 years ago to support Strathspey Railway by restoring the century-old rail line in the highlands. Strathspey Railway now runs heritage trains in a 20-mile line between Aviemore and Broomhill. With beautifully restored old stations and trains, it’s an experience. And this time, during our visit, Strathspey Railway had taken the Flying Scotsman on lease for a few days.

And that’s how we are here!

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Inside the Observation Car
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The Observation Car
The Flying Scotsman Travelwithacouple
Boat of Garten Station

We had booked the Observation Car (again, a restored carriage from 1937, built then to commemorate the Coronation of King George IV) with art deco interior and wide glass windows offering panoramic views.

As the country that gave the world railways, UK and the railways have a deep connection. And the passion and pride local people have in restoring their old locomotives, carriages, and even the stations have turned out to be a great tourism inititative.

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The Flying Scotsman TravelWithACouple
Another Steam Locomotive at the Boat of Garten Station

Additional Interesting Reading:

Cairngorms National Park

Strathspey Railway

National Railway Museum


Other stories on Aviemore / Cairngorms from our blog

Trekking at Cairngorms Mountains

Glenmore Forest Trails

Ravenscraig@Aviemore – A warm highland welcome awaits

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