Tag Archives: West highland Line

One to savour

In the current drought and steam bans up and down the land I thought I’d share this image from a few years ago. A pair of main line favourites battling Druimauchdar, the last remanants of the snow clinging to the hill sides – a real, never to be repeated, highland drama. With No.70013 Oliver Cromwell supplying the grunt for an ‘off colour’ K4, No.61994 The Great Marquess, they are seen here less than a mile from the summit.

Later this year No.70013 Oliver Cromwell will come to the end of her ten year boiler certificate  and is set to undergo a fast-track overhaul. No.61994 Great Marquess, however, is a very different kettle of fish. No.61994 is already on her way to a purpose built museum, in Fife, where, in due course, she will be joined by No.60009 Union of South Africa, once her ticket expires. A state of affairs which leaves a great many people unhappy especially as the K4 is the only one of the class to survive. Losing two Ex-LNER engines further depletes the already scant number of  representatives of the LNER and its constituents. Not only that but, the very line No.61994 The Great Marquess was built to work over, the ‘West Highland Extension’, from Fort Willian to Mallaig is still enjoying timetabled steam specials for 2/3rds of every year.

Mr. Cameron is, of course, entitled to do as he wishes with his locomotives, but equally I think we are entitled to have our say nontheless. And I say its a shame to reduce these fine machines to static exhibits.

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

 

 

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Windswept & Interesting

62005glenbend2

This is the scene a mile out of Glenfinnan Station, no Harry Potter fans lining the hill side here. I was standing,  at the side of the West Highland line, on the ‘Road to the Isles’, as a steady drizzle fell, grey skies as far as the eye could see – reminding myself I was on holiday!!

Despite the wet rails, gradients and curves, the K1, No.62005, didn’t miss a beat, it would also be fair to say that she was being driven along with some gusto – a fine piece of enginemanship, the start out of Glenfinnan Station is on a 1:52, and it’s a five mile climb to the summit on gradients varying between 1:122 / 1:355. The little white feather from the safety valves suggests the fireman had her well on the boil too.

Opened to carry train loads of herring, the West Highland line became known for the beauty of the scenery en-route, which is, perhaps, just as well, for the fish trains stopped running long ago – not even a faint whiff on the breeze remains. Now the reason for the line’s existence is tourism; the heroic tragedy of the Jacobite uprising, the international fame of J.K.Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ and the romance of a steam train ride from the foot of Ben Nevis, along the shores of Loch Eil and Loch Eilt, past Morar’s white sands to the ferry – ‘over the sea to Skye’.

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For those of you who asked:

The printed edition of “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children” – is now on sale.

Below, is the link to it.

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

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