A stretch of an Aberdeenshire railway line which was closed decades ago will be brought back to life by a band of volunteers.
The Royal Deeside Railway was forced to close in 1966 as a result of the notorious Beeching Report, bringing an end to more than 100 years of service.
But a preservation society was formed in the 1990s to keep alive the memory of the line which ran along the banks of the Dee.
Members have been offering rail enthusiasts a sample of public transport in years past by operating a one-mile stretch of the track at Milton of Crathes since 2007, along with an award-winning Victorian station and a railway carriage tearoom.
The Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society is now raising money towards extending the route all the way to Banchory and offering tourists an enhanced experience.
The group is reclaiming part of the Deeside Way path, which is popular with cyclists and walkers, for the project.
A new platform has been completed at the Birkenbaud lay-by, which will open later this year.
And now, a local blacksmith is painstakingly building a new bridge at the Burn of Bennie, which will be the first to be constructed on the Deeside line since 1853.
Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society volunteer, Michael Rasmussen, said: “It is a super project and we are so excited about the work on the cards for the coming years.
“We’ve had a lot of gifts and help, for example plant hire firm McIntosh of Echt have been tremendous, and a blacksmith is busy making the bridge for no charge as we speak.
“We would still appreciate any other donations, sponsorship or volunteers to help us work on the line.
“In the future, there is the potential to expand the line even further in the Aberdeen direction – but this will depend on funds.”
The new bridge will be lifted into place in one fell swoop by crane and, after this, a further half mile of track will bring up the running line up to almost two miles.
The former glory of the Deeside Railway
The Deeside Railway was a passenger and goods line that meandered between Aberdeen and Ballater.
While in operation, the railway was favoured by the British royal family and Queen Victoria used it to travel to Balmoral.
A special “messenger train” also ran daily when the royal family was in residence.
It opened between Aberdeen and Banchory in 1853, and an extension reached Aboyne in 1859.
By 1855 there were five services a day over the 43 1⁄4-mile line, taking between one hour 50 minutes and two-and-a-half hours.
The Aboyne and Braemar Railway firm built an extension to Ballater which opened in 1866.
The line became part of the London and North Eastern Railway in 1923, and part of British Railways when nationalised in 1948.
The Royal Deeside Railway Preservation Society began restoring part of the line in 2003.