Your Editor was rather shocked by the content of a photo-feature about the Far North Line, which appeared in the August issue of The Scots Magazine.
He felt it necessary to contact the Editor of that publication to suggest that an apology was due to their readers:
I have just seen a copy of the August issue of The Scots Magazine containing a feature about the Far North Line. This is really quite extraordinary and I don't recall reading anything which is meant to be informative being so incorrect. It's hard to tell whether the writer has actually travelled on the line, or even knows where it goes.
I've copied the text below with comments.
The Far North Line - now that sounds like an adventure route into the wilds, doesn't it?
Even stepping onboard feels like stepping back in time, as electric trains haven't reached the Highlands yet so all the trains on the Far North Line are diesel-powered. (There are huge numbers of diesel trains in operation all over Scotland and the rest of the UK, many of them very new. There are non-electrified lines all over Britain.)
As you pull out of Inverness, across the Black Isle and the natural harbour of the Dornoch Firth (no, you don't travel across the Black Isle or across the Dornoch Firth - that's the A9), you are entering castle country and the line goes right past the doorsteps of Foulis, (quite close, but no station anywhere near) Skibo (the other side of the Dornoch Firth, but quite near the A9) and Carbisdale Castles.
Glenmorangie Distillery and the Black Isle Brewery (which is on the Black Isle, so the Far North Line goes nowhere near it) make excellent pit stops (but not as good as the excellent Platform 1864 restaurant situated in the old Tain Station building on the station platform), before the line drops down to the east-facing Moray Firth coast (no, not yet, because it isn't there, it's way inland, going via Ardgay, Invershin and Lairg, then it drops down etc, etc). Here you are almost right on the beach, with amazing views out to sea.
There are many picturesque coastal villages and towns (no towns) to stop in and explore (there are only four stations though - three at villages and the stop for Dunrobin Castle, the story of which would have been well worth mentioning) - like Helmsdale, perched on one of the most productive salmon rivers in Scotland.
At the village of Latheronwheel (on the A9 but nowhere near the railway) the line cuts inland (no, it did that at Helmsdale because the coastal topography is too precipitous for a railway) for the final stretch across the country (worth mentioning that it traverses the Flow Country - the largest area of blanket bog in Europe and amazing to see?) to the most northern station in the UK, Thurso.
The diesel trains you refer to at the opening, but do not include in your choice of photos, are very similar inside to any modern electric trains so the comment about stepping back in time could provide a great disappointment for anyone visiting the line wishing to experience such a thing.
I really think your readers deserve an apology!
Thank you for getting in touch with The Scots Magazine editorial team. I am sorry it is not under better circumstances. I wanted to address your concerns and to let you know how seriously we take reader feedback.
I have analysed your comments and the feature in question. Ian, please accept my sincere apologies for the mistakes in this article. This feature was the last in our Great Scottish Rail Journeys series - a wonderful series of picture-led articles by photographer Keith Fergus. Keith was unable to complete this last feature on the Far North Line from Inverness to Thurso, and the magazine team finished the feature in his stead. I'm sorry to see that on this occasion we did not step up to the standards expected of us, with glaring errors marring the feature. You are right - the route described in the feature is more the A9 than the rail route.
I will make sure your comments are circulated round the rest of the editorial team, and will keep a sharper, stricter eye on the fact-checking of features in future.
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and for helping us ensure that mistakes like these do not happen again.
Katrina Patrick - Brand Content Manager - The Scots Magazine
Let's hope the magazine will return to normality forthwith - apologising to its readers en route!