The final 2011 tour by PMR Tours was over its classic route Crewe - Grayrigg - Shap - Carlisle and return. In the absence under overhaul of its Duchess loco, another Stanier 8P 4-6-2 substituted, No 6201 Princess Elizabeth. In glorious autumn sunshine throughout, and with no threat whatever of diesel assistance, she headed north.
To Preston the running was unremarkable, but then she reached 63 at Bilsborrow and stormed through Lancaster at the loco's top speed, only slowing after Hest Bank. Following the Carnforth water stop, she reached 59 at Elmsfield, 43 at Oxenholme (well into the climb) and a minimum of 34 at Grayrigg summit. Her race along the Lune gorge ended in a sudden stop approaching Tebay, and restarting, she only reached 31 mph before hitting the punishing climb to Shap. She slogged away, dropping to 26 at Greenholme, 20 at Scout Green and a minimum of 18 at the summit. Though we were looped at Penrith for a Pendolino to pass, we had a lively run down into Carlisle.
On the return she passed Penrith at 63 and climbed steadily on the easier southbound approach to Shap, dropping only to 52 at the summit. Then she ran rollicking downhill all the way to the Carnforth water stop, having to brake hard to pass Oxenholme at 69. Again she was into the seventies between Lancaster and Preston and between Wigan and Warrington, and she arrived back in Crewe within a few minutes of time despite several checks in the final stages.
An excellent day out in every way.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures