Saturday, 10 September 2016

Sunday Times Where Was I? Holiday Competition

Near as I can figure it, through the possibly flawed perceptual filters of my own reality tunnel, the most likely answers this week, seem to me to be :

Q1. The Strathspey Railway (aka The Strathspey Preserved Railway)

Q2. Braeriach (aka Braigh Riabhach)

Very tricky indeed this week, the Eastender had to get a bit 'Operation Crossbow' and look for the shadows of viaduct arches on the satellite picture to find the spans mentioned in the puzzle text and was not aided in this task one bit by the Microsoft browser, which seems to use special fat electrons which cannot get down the cable as quickly as regular sub atomic particles and makes it all run a bit slow....but I digress, the initial clues appear to place us a tad north west of Loch Moy, on the Highland Mainline, at the wooden trestle bridge of Moy Aultnaslanach. It seems to be one of the few remaining wooden trestle bridges in existence in the UK, as the terrain there is apparently not suitable for the foundations of steel or masonry bridges. I found a few references that claim it was opened c 1897 by the Highland Railway.

Travelling south east down the line for about six miles or so would bring us to the village of Tomatin and this has two viaducts on its southern outskirts. These are the Tomatin viaduct and the Findhorn viaduct which were probably built by Murdoch Paterson (born c 1826), who was the chief engineer of the Highland Railway for a time. The Tomatin viaduct has nine stone arches and the Findhorn viaduct is a steel structure which sits atop some stone pillars. The river Findhorn is around sixty two miles in length, according to some of the sources I looked at. Carrying on further down the line brings us to the Slochd Summit, which is around four hundred metres or one thousand three hundred and fifteen feet above sea level and is where the Slochd viaduct is situated.

Fifteen minutes later into the journey would probably bring us to the town of Aviemore and this is one of the terminals of  the nine and a half mile Strathspey preserved railway. The preserved railway lies entirely within the Cairngorm national park, an area not to be entered lightly by the unwary or inexperienced traveller. The peak referred to in the hints is most likely Braeriach as it is the right height and in the right location (1296 metres and about eight miles or so south east of Aviemore station). The Strathspey preserved Railway follows the river Spey for part of its route and this is listed as the second largest river in Scotland in some references.

The Strathspey preserved Railway terminates at Broomhill station and across the river from there lies the eleventh century Castle Roy. The seventy two mile Speyside Way hiking trail follows the trackbed of the old Strathspey railway, which closed c 1965.

N.B. Due to the number of people who normally write poison pen letters in green ink posting on his page, the Eastender has moved to moderated comments but if you have a non abusive comment or quip relating to the puzzle and its solution, he will endeavour to publish it.


  1. Actually, I found the first part, triflingly easy, perhaps be4cause I had been on the Srathspey Railway albeit over 20 years ago. It was obviously set in Scotland, the NP with the 4 peaks had to be the Cairngorms and the station had to be Aviemore, so job done - I ignored all the arches and viaduct stuff. But the peak I found really challenging, and was tentatively settled on the nearby Ben Macdui till I saw your suggestion, which I am persuaded is correct - thanks!

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    2. The Eastender likes to be very sure of the facts hence 'Operation Crossbow' with the satellite photographs regarding the viaducts. Some of the descriptions I read of Braeriach claim that it has a crescent shaped summit, it certainly appears to be in the right ballpark regarding height and location to be a good fit for the peak given in the clues...

  2. Having walked Braeriach three times, I can confirm it could be called crescent-shaped (depending on the viewpoint, of course). You can see photos of it at The height is correct for Braeriach; Ben Macdui is a little higher and is definitely not crescent-shaped (more of a whaleback).