The Legend

Legend An apparently plausible account specially prepared by the intelligence or counter-intelligence service to mislead the enemy.

KGB Lexicon By Vasiliĭ Ivanovich Mitrokhin, Peter Hennessy

Mortlach distillery opened in 1823 close to the newly established settlement of Dufftown. When, in December 1858, the Morayshire Railway was extended from Elgin to Craigellachie (some 5 miles from Dufftown) the distillery was thriving. A link was needed to bring in grain and coal, and to transport the whisky to Elgin.

Owing to the difficult terrain along the Fiddich gorge, a narrow gauge railway was proposed. In February 1862 the 2’3” gauge line, from Dufftown down the Fiddich to the Spey at Craigellachie, was opened. During the 1880s and 1890s another 6 distilleries were established in Dufftown, all served by the railway.

By the 1930s the whisky industry has begun to decline and the heyday of the railway has passed. However, there is still sufficient mixed traffic to sustain the railway and many of its branches.

NB: In fact, the first railway to reach Dufftown was the standard gauge Dufftown and Keith Railway in 1862, closely followed by the Strathspey Railway (which twisted along Glen Fiddich from Craigellachie). A spur was build to serve the distilleries at Mortlach. Passenger services were resumed between Dufftown and Keith in 2001 when the railway was restored by volunteers.

Author: Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See for more...

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