Tornado's long-awaited assault on the northbound climb to Beattock materialised today when HF Railtours promoted an epic journey from Crewe to Glasgow, with a scenic tour of Greater Manchester on the outward leg.
I opted to join at Preston, and we got smartly away with 67 mph reached at Broughton, 70 at Barton and continuing in the seventies alongside the M6 until slowing for our final pickup at Lancaster. Another brisk start saw us pass Carnforth at 72 (making a point) and soon we reached our pathing stop at Oxenholme.
The mist and damp had intensified, to add to the challenge of lifting our 13 coaches, for over 500 tons gross, over Grayrigg, Shap and Beattock. The risk of our 6ft 8in drivers slipping led to caution on the climb, with our speed of 39 at Docker falling to 34 at Grayrigg. Downhill and on the level run through the Lune Gorge, we just touched 70 before beginning the climb to Shap. With all that was stacked against us, speed fell to 50 at Greenholme, 39 at Scout Green and a minimum of 29 in the last stages of the climb. Over the top, Tornado really showed her mettle with a sustained run in the high seventies right down to Carlisle.
We had a lively run across the Scottish lowlands but for some reason were only doing 60 as we passed through Beattock station at the foot of the ten mile climb. The weather was worse than ever and our speed fell away quickly in the first few miles of the climb but then we dug into the climb and slogged our way up to the summit in the mid twenties. Once again we showed greyhound speed down the beautiful twists and turns of the Clyde valley to our next stop at Carstairs.
Having followed closely the three climbs and the subsequent spurts downhill, I did little further detailed recording, but overall the day was excellent: high mileage, high speed, sturdy if unspectacular climbing, good destination and a high level of on-train service. I am sure my fellow punters will all wish Hayden good fortune in promoting further original, high-quality tours of this kind.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures