Christmas at the double

Well here we are again, tis the season of pies, cake, and Santa, so let me take the opportunity to wish all of you the very Merriest of Christmases.

The nearest thing I have to a nativity scene is this shot, at the top of Druimuachdar, you can see the summit marker just to the left of the lineside bothy, (stable) – and yes that’s snow on the hill behind. The double-headed Black 5s, or yonder stars,  are No. 44871 piloting No.45407 with the Inverness – Perth leg on one of the “GB” series of Rail Tours.

Double-headed fives over the Highland main line is very much the ghost of Christmas past.  I couldn’t help thinking about what it must have been like a hundred years ago, at Christmas 1917, when huge coal trains were being hauled over these desolate hills, not by Black5s of course, enroute to Scapa Flow and the bunkers of the Royal Navy’s high-seas fleet – they even gave them a name – ‘the Jellicoe Specials’. A lot of the coal being hauled  had been dug out of the ground hundreds of miles away in the Welsh valleys and these trains, which ran day and night, were an essential part of the war effort. And what an effort it must have been with Shap, Beattock, Druimuachdar, and Slochd all on the route.

For me it only remains to say, all the very best for 2018.

If you have enjoyed my blogs – I have written a book about my 60 years involvement with railways, from trainspotter, via steam age footplateman, to railway author and photographer, this is a link to it:

Until New Year the eBook edition of Gricing is on offer at just £3:95, that’s a whole book for less than a monthly mag.




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