Today two steam specials were headed to Carlisle via Shap and the Settle & Carlisle. I was booked on the Vintage Trains Cumbrian Guardsman, which became in all but name the Cumbrian Brit when David Smith's green giant was pulled and BR Standard Pacific No 70000 Britannia was hastily brought north to substitute.
No 47773 brought us down the WCML to Farington Junction then up into the hills to Hellifield, where it gave way to Britannia, its support coach making us load 11. In the bright spring sunshine it set off smartly, reaching 38 after Long Preston, only to be slowed for a long tsr through Settle Junction, with a minimum of 15 mph. She was well onto the 1 in 100 of the S&C proper before she could open up again, reaching 30 by Settle station, but not making any further impression until after Helwith Bridge, briefly reaching 37 before Horton. She slogged on up to Ribblehead in the low to middle thirties, a solid but not spectacular climb. On up to Blea Moor in the low thirties but the first real burst of speed came after leaving Rise Hill Tunnel and reaching 58 at Garsdale. We then had a lively run at (or about!) line speed of 60 mph down to the water stop at Appleby.
The running on to Carlisle was very lively, such that we reached the outskirts of Carlisle 18 minutes before our scheduled arrival in the station. During out layover we witnessed the departure of A4 Pacific No 60009 Union of South Africa on another of its series of Winter Cumbrian Mountain Expresses. It had come over Shap in the morning and was returning South over the S&C.
We started surely but slowly on our climb to Shap, reaching Wreay at 42, Plumpton at 52 and Penrith at 59 mph. We fell back to 35 at Thrimby but were back in the 40s by Shap station and breasted Shap Summit at 49. We then had a rollicking run down to Tebay and along the Lune Gorge before slowing to 58 over Grayrigg. Then the fireworks resumed and we were early again on the outskirts of Carnforth where today's steam adventure came to an end.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures