Fresh from a full overhaul, Peppercorn A1 4-6-2 No 60163 Tornado came to Carlisle to haul the last of four steam runs for the new Scotrail franchise. Named the Border Reivers after the pillaging clans who terrorised the bad lands between England and Scotland in days gone by, the train took us over Beattock and down the Clyde valley, then round the southern side of Glasgow and along the Ayrshire coast. Then we headed inland to Mauchline and picked up the beautiful Glasgow and South Western route down the Nith valley and back to Carlisle.
Seven packed coaches on hire from SRPS plus the A1's support coach made a modest load for Tornado, and she stormed smartly away from Carlisle, reaching 40 by Eden Bridge and 74 before the Metal Bridge, then eased slightly to 68 at Gretna Junction. We were slowed to 38 at Kirkpatrick (shades of things to come) then flew towards Lockerbie in the 70s but were back down to 52 at Beattock station. We were no slower than 49 to Longbedholm, but then Tornado was eased back and speed fell to 32 with a double yellow spotted - the freight ahead was slowing us once more. She recovered well and blasted uphill in the mid thirties, hitting 37 twice before being eased back to enter the summit loop, stopping 17 min 50 sec after passing the station.
Down the Clyde Valley, we were looped again at Abington for a second Pendolino, but then rattled up to 77 at Thankerton before the Carstairs water stop. No great excitement round the 'burbs, but we were bathed in sunlight as we passed the beachgoers and golfers down through Troon and Prestwick. Then Tornado provided plenty to listen to as we climbed the hill to Mauchline. The Nith valley was at its summer best as we rattled down, mostly in the sixties, before leaving some of our passengers at Dumfries. Final bursts of speed took us up into the 70s both sides of Gretna, and we stopped well early outside Carlisle waiting for a platform. Hopefully we shall see more innovative and well-priced steam specials from Scotrail in the future.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures