Tag Archives: Slochd

The snow line

44871crubenmoreThe Highland main line at Crubenmore and there’s still snow on them thar hills, which certainly weren’t alive with the sounds of music. No.44871, with the GB IX tour, is picking up speed following the stop at Dalwhinnie, a couple of miles back. The line here is on a falling gradient and apart from a little hump around Kincraig, it’s down hill all the way to Aviemore.  After the climb of Druimuachdar this must have been time for the fireman, take a breather and get ready for the next slog – Slochd.

The northbound climb of Slochd is a slog, but the southbound climb, from a standing start at Inverness, is a monster. About a mile from the end of the platform you hit almost 3 miles of 1:60 and 3 more of 1:70 a tiny dip, less than a mile, and another 6 miles of 1:60 which is followed by 6 miles of undulations between  Level,  1:75, though   mostly 1:200ish and then, yes, and then, nearly 4 more miles of 1:60. In steam days, the guys who worked out of Inverness or Perth over this route really earned their corn. What it must have been like, at night, in mid-winter, with a howling North Easterly can only be guessed at. ‘Wooden engines and Iron men’ !!

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:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing: Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’

‘I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Slogging up Slochd

44871carrpassThe GB IX tour has been something of a Curate’s egg, good in parts. Saturday, when this shot was taken, was a lovely day with everything  on time and good photographic conditions, for much of the route through Perthshire and on into the Highlands. Things on the footplate look good too, the driver sits, arm on the window sill and looking relaxed. Across the fireman’s side things seem equally relaxed, as No.44871 has her safety valves open, despite being on the climb to Slochd summit – 5 miles of climbing with some pretty stiff gradients – including 2 miles at 1:60 and another 2 at 1:70.

However, just how much effort No.44871 was actually putting in on this climb is open to some debate.  Unseen, but not unheard, was the Class 47 diesel on the rear of the train which did seem to be ‘helping’ – just a bit.  All of which brings me to Tuesday’s run and an extended stop over in Perth due to an issue with the brake, which, sadly for me, resulted in a 100 mile round trip and no photo!! The train was more than an hour late away from Perth – I had a previous appointment and couldn’t wait to see if she made it or not – she did, but alas too late!!

Hope you enjoy the passing shot on Slochd which is in lieu of the one at Forteviot, I didn’t get!!

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:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing: Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’

‘I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Black 5 – Blackford

44871BlackfordThis year’s GB IX tour has not been without its trials and tribulations, the engine in the photograph, No.44871, set off to work her turn and promptly broke a radius rod. It was little short of miraculous that the organisers, support crew, and others, managed to repair the damaged rod and get her back in action, to take any part in the tour, let alone work from Bristol to Grange – over – Sands and then tackle the very demanding route from Edinburgh to Inverness via Perth and the Highland mainline, with its daunting climbs of Druimuachdar  and Slochd.

No.45407 was, originally, booked to double head with No.44871,  however, No.44871 was not alone in her efforts, the exhaust, somewhat fortuitously, is obscuring the diesel assistance in the rear.  In this photograph No.44871 has just passed Blackford, and rather less fortuitously, the signal box is also obscured by the exhaust – you win some, you lose some. Speaking of winning some and losing some, the locos which were booked, at one stage or other, to work the GB IX tour and didn’t make it include, Nos. 34046 Braunton, 34067 Tangmere, 45407, 46115 Scots Guardsman, 46233 Duchess of Sutherland, 70000 Britannia, and 70013 Oliver Cromwell, which is quite a list.

No.44871 as well as hauling the Bristol to Grange – over – Sands leg is also working the Inverness – Thurso and Inverness – Kyle of Loch Alsh trips before working back over the Highland main line and on to  Mossend, where she will be replaced by No.45699 Galatea for the journey to Oxenhome.  Presumably No.44871 will then head off to Fort William, where she is rostered to work her share of the Jacobite services from Fort William to Mallaig and back. Phew!

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:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

These are some totally unsolicited comments from people who have already read  Gricing: Amazon Customer on 6 Jan. 2016 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase:  “Brilliant and interesting book”

By Amazon Customer on 17 Mar. 2016

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Not a murder mystery, but one that I found hard to put down. One of the best additions to my collection of books about railways.

‘treated myself to a copy of “Gricing” for Christmas, excellent reading.’

‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’

‘I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. 

‘I was given what I believe to be your book called “Gricing” the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather

Uphill struggle

45407drumsumpass

The last traces of winter snow cling to the side of Sgairneach Mhor as a pair of Black 5s, Nos. 45407 and 44871, crest Drumochter summit, with an Inverness –  Perth train; just as they might have done in 1960 something. The Highland line from Perth to Inverness has some of the most arduous climbs of any main line in Britain and those of Drumochter and Slochd have a degree of almost romantic notoriety amongst the railway fraternity due, in no small part, to their demands on the boiler to generate steam, and their remoteness.

Coming off shed at Inverness, with a fresh engine, to work an express to Perth would have been quite a daunting prospect for the fireman. The gradients on Slochd, south bound out of Inverness, are ferocious, more than 20 miles, almost all them, against the collar are at 1 in 60 and 1 in 70 for long sections, they commence almost as soon as the train leaves the station, a short  dip from the end of the platform and then straight onto the climb. Having the fire and water right, at departure time, would be vital when faced with these kinds of demands for steam.

Traveling northwards from Perth the climb to the top of Drumochter, is, pretty much, a continuous slog from Moulinearn Crossing, for the next 27 miles to the summit and, just to make life interesting, the final 12 or  13 miles are nearly all at 1 in 70 to 1 in 80. Into the teeth of a howling North Easter, in the middle of winter, this would have been a serious test of stamina for both engine and crew, as they pulled out of Blair Atholl and onto those 13 miles at 1 in 70 to 1 in 80 on that final climb to the top.

The Highland line, during the 1948 Locomotive Exchanges, played host to an engine I worked on myself, fifteen years later, the Bulleid West Country Class 4-6-2 No.34004 Yeovil. I also did a few turns with Driver Bert Hooker, who had been a fireman in the 1948 Trials. In retirement Bert Hooker did a spot of ‘after dinner speaking’ – one of his anecdotes was how he and I first met – but that’s a blog for another day.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog – why not check out my book – “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children”

The link is below:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinrssyoutubeby feather