25th - 28th June 2004

Hertfordshire Rail Tours
The Orcadian

Pride of the Nation series

Locos Used 37401, 37416 & 90039
Stock Used 1679+3119+3121+3141+1698+3149+3123+1680+3146+3120+2834

1Z50 : Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverley
1Z24 : Edinburgh Waverley to Inverness
1Z19 : Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh
1Z20 : Kyle of Lochalsh to Inverness
1Z22 : Inverness to Georgemas Junction
1Z23 : Georgemas Junction to Inverness
1Z18 : Inverness to Kings Cross

Date Loco(s) Route
25/06 90039 London Kings Cross - (via ECML) - Edinburgh Waverley
25/06 37401 + 37416 Edinburgh Waverley - Haymarket - Dalmeny - Inverkeithing - Kirkaldy - Ladybank - Hilton Jn - Perth - Aviemore - Inverness
26/06 37401 + 37416 (1) Inverness - Millburn Jn
26/06 37401 + 37416 Millburn Jn - Rose Street Jn - Dingwall - Kyle of Lochalsh
26/06 37416 + 37401 Kyle of Lochalsh - Dingwall - Rose Street Jn - Millburn Jn
26/06 37416 + 37401 (1) Millburn Jn - Inverness
27/06 37401 + 37416 (1) Inverness - Millburn Jn
27/06 37401 + 37416 Millburn Jn - Dingwall - Georgemas Junction
27/06 37416 + 37401 Georgemas Junction - Dingwall - Millburn Jn
27/06 37416 + 37401 (1) Millburn Jn - Inverness
28/06 37416 + 37401 Inverness - (reverse of outward route) - Hilton Jn - Stirling - Larbert - Linlithgow - Haymarket - Edinburgh Waverley
28/06 90039 Edinburgh Waverley - (via ECML) - London Kings Cross

Notes :
(1) Locos propelling.

Sources : various including Janet Cottrell (on the train throughout)

Tour Review
(by Janet Cottrell)

With time running out for so called "heritage traction" it looked like a good idea to go on a Scottish Land Cruise whilst they were still class 37 hauled with Mark I coaches. This particular tour looked a good bet for some serious tractor mileage - providing that 66's were not cleared to Kyle before the tour took place.

Friday 25th June
Quite an early start from Kings Cross but it was a lie in for me as I had been leaving the house one and a half hours earlier all week and starting work at 0600 in the morning.

The stock was already in the platform when we arrived having been brought in by Royal claret liveried 67005. I had noticed that one of my last two required EWS class 90's was in the London area the previous day and I was harbouring the vain hope that it might appear on the tour. No such luck as 90039 was on the business end today, but a new class 90 was not what I had booked the trip for and was merely a prelude to the real action.

The journey to Edinburgh was a pleasant one accompanied by breakfast then a light lunch as we sped northwards. Apart from a spell in Arksey loop just north of Doncaster, the timings were reasonable until we reached Newcastle, after which they went to pot. From being slightly late at Newcastle after waiting for a late running Voyager from Darlington, we gradually clawed the minutes back until Crag Mill where we went into the loop as booked. We had barely come to a stand when another train shot past and we were turned out right behind it, nearly twenty minutes early. This was kept up and the promise of some extra time in Edinburgh beckoned, even when we landed in Drem Loop, by now over 20 minutes early.

Efforts were made to try and get us into Waverley but to no avail as we proceeded to sit just short of Drem station for an hour next to a field of potatoes, I swear that I saw them increase in size as we stood there. There was more than enough time to get to Edinburgh so it appeared that platform space was more of an issue than a path to get there. It was also galling to see my other required EWS class 90 pass us on a service to North Berwick and some time later return in the opposite direction, if only the loop was next to the platform.

Eventually we arrived with enough time for a quick visit to the shops for some birthday presents before returning to the station to see which class 37's had been provided. Much to my relief there were 401 and 416 in matching Royal Scotsman livery, I was still half expecting a shed to put in an unwelcome appearance.

Our journey north was via the Forth Bridge and Ladybank. Yet again the timings were dubious, particularly as those published in the brochure differed from the "official" times on TOPS. Both tractors were clagging well as we followed the Fife coastline through Burntisland and Kirkcaldy and straight past the loop at Thornton Junction which we were meant to visit. Perhaps we would be held to time at Hilton Junction but no, we went straight into Perth station and came to a stand some 35 minutes to the good. More phone calls were made but we still had to wait for our path which meant another hours stand. At least dinner was being served, which kept everybody occupied and made life easier for the stewards, but it was still frustrating.

We left exactly on time, only to come to a stand at Stanley Junction and wait for a train to come off the single line which made us nine minutes late. This was maintained more or less until Kincraig where we were booked to stand for nearly half an hour but didn't, landing at Aviemore instead. Here we were told that we would be waiting for a freight and the southbound sleeper. The freight duly appeared with 66's 101 & 112 at the helm, giving many people the opportunity for a photograph despite being nine o'clock at night, one of the advantages of being so far north. The next train turned out to be a class 170 on the last southbound Scotrail service and before it had even got into the loop we were being urged back on board, the sleeper being passed in the next loop as we forged our way up to Slochd summit.

A rapid run down the hill to Inverness made a further mockery of the timings as we managed to pick up a few more minutes and arrive early according to the official figures but late in comparison with the brochure. By this time I was past caring and was only interested in getting the coach to our hotel for the night.

Saturday 26th June
No rest for the wicked as we were on our way to the station by 0700 hours. I had noticed that the train was booked to reverse at Millburn Junction and was hoping for an extra loco (even a class 66) to pull us out, but HSE paranoia had not permeated this far north and we propelled out. Scotrail purple and silver 08308 was parked outside the shed as we passed, now that would have been nice to get in the book for a few hundred yards.

Breakfast was served as we headed north and finished just in time to stretch our legs at Garve where we were booked to cross the first unit from Kyle. The train consisted of eleven coaches and we had been seated in coach C which was more or less in the middle by the time the barrier vehicles and kitchen cars had been accounted for - not good for savouring the thrash. However, I had noticed that there was an unused extra FO as the second coach in which had contained peoples luggage yesterday. Today it was empty and as it was not being used as the barrier vehicle it proved to be an excellent place to finish the journey in.

At Kyle we were all issued with packed lunches and had a choice of excursions, either the Isle of Skye or Eilean Donan Castle and Plockton, John and myself chose the latter as we had been to Skye before. The weather forecast was for rain moving in from the South East so naturally the first few drops appeared just as we approached the castle, but far worse than this was the sight of a nasty RTA involving a car and a motorcycle right outside the entrance. This caused a slight delay to the proceedings as the people running the visitor centre and admissions were understandably in a bit of a flap after having such an unpleasant incident occur right on their doorstep.

Following an interesting tour we rejoined the coaches for the journey to Plockton, it was now raining with a vengeance and the RTA had sadly turned out to be a fatal one so the coach had to squeeze out round two police cars an ambulance and a hearse. When we got to Plockton the rain was bucketing down enough for John and myself to decide to stay in the dry on board the coach, those of the party that did venture out did not do so for very long.

Most of the return journey was taken up by consuming dinner, there was no extra coach at what was now the front of the train so once we had finished eating we had to stay put.

Sunday 27th June
The start time today was more like that of an "enthusiasts" tour but very necessary as we had to get all the way to the Orkney Islands today, hence the tour name.

Our faithful tractors awaited, I was most pleased to see them as the Far North line is cleared for sheds and a class 66 was noted lurking in the yard last night although I (correctly) assumed that they would not bother to swap engines overnight.

As soon as breakfast had been consumed we both relocated to the empty second coach despite the line not having too much in the way of gradients. There were at least three other people who had the same idea except that I think that they just wanted to spread out or video the scenery without disturbing anybody else rather than listen to the engines.

Four hours after leaving Inverness, we arrived at Georgemas Junction and transferred to road coaches for the journey to the Orkney ferry at Scrabster. This was almost brand new (built in Finland in 2002) and quite plush with the reclining lounge seats proving very popular with some after the early start this morning.

The visit to Orkney was probably the highlight for most people on the tour, for me it was just somewhere that I had not been before so it was a case of sitting back and relaxing. We were taken by coach to Kirkwall where we had about an hour to wander round, then on to the Italian Prisoner of War chapel on the Scapa Flow. Each coach was provided with a guide to provide a commentary, the one on my coach was a local lady who was born and brought up on the Islands and she gave an excellent and interesting talk.

Our return to the mainland was on a different ferry route using a 1970's ferry built in Troon. The decor was contemporary to that era but clean and comfortable and the captain was quite informative en route, pointing out and naming each island that we passed and advising us when we might see seals and dolphins.

At Gills Bay we rejoined the coaches which returned us to the train at Georgemas, this journey was much longer than the one to Scrabster this morning and we did not arrive until shortly before the booked departure, I just had time to rush down the opposite platform to take a photograph before we left. Dinner was served on the way back to Inverness, where we actually arrived early at 2314 hrs.

Monday 28th June
More tractor mileage and thrash to start the long haul back to London, but unfortunately the "spare coach" was the wrong end this morning so we had to make do with the odd bellow from the vestibule of our own coach. Having said that, much of the climb up the Highland main line was whilst breakfast was being served but we could still hear the locos on the best of the climbs. In fact one of them (416 I think) did sound particularly raucous all weekend.

Back at Edinburgh there was only time for a quick leg stretch whilst the locos were changed. This was not without incident as the class 90 (39 again) approached and gently glided to a halt in the opposite (empty) platform. The signal was cleared for the loco to go back out and try again before it had even come to a stand, but by now our departure time had been and gone.

Once on the move our driver tried to make amends by trotting us along at a fair old pace, but despite this we still managed to lose a few more minutes en route to York. Should be a chance of leaving here on time, but maybe not when it was announced that the gas bottles needed changing on one of the kitchen cars. No need to worry as this was soon accomplished and we set sail one minute down. The rest of the journey was still a bit of a helter–skelter dash but now it was a different story as we started running early, eventually arriving back at the Cross four minutes ahead of time or a whopping 29 early according to the tour brochure.

The verdict ? an excellent tour and well worth it, although at these prices such a trip can only be an occasional treat. Having said that it was good VFM bearing in mind that all meals and three nights hotel accommodation were included, not to mention 1,500 plus miles of first class rail travel over half of which was 37 hauled.

Janet Cottrell

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from various including Janet Cottrell)

25/06 & 28/06 :

Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual
Kings Cross 07.38d 07.39   19.02a 18.58
Belle Isle 07/41 07/41   18/59 18/52
Finsbury Park 07/43 07/45   18/55 18/48
Alexandra Palace 07/45 07/47   18/52 18/46
Potters Bar 07/50 07/53   18/47 18/41
Welwyn Garden City 07/54 07/58   18/42 18/36
Woolmer Green 07/57 08/00   18/40 18/34
Stevenage 08.01a ~ 08.04d 08.04 ~ 08.07   18.33a ~ 18.36d 18.28 ~ 18.30
Hitchin 08/09 08/11   18/29 18/25
Sandy 08/22 08/20   18/22 18/17
Huntingdon 08/37 08/31   18/13 18/08
Connington South   18/07 ?
Holme LC 08/50 08/47  
Peterborough 08.58a ~ 09.00d 08.55 ~ 09.00   17.57a ~ 18.00d 17.52 ~ 17.56
Tallington Jn 09/08 09/06   17/45 17/35
Stoke Tunnel 09/19 09/15   17/30 17/22
Grantham 09/24 09/18   17/25 17/16
Barkston South Jn 09/27 09/21   17/19 17/11
Newark Northgate 09/34 09/27   17/07 17/05
Retford 09/49 09/38   16/56 16/54
Loversall Carr Jn 10/01 09/46   16/47 16/45
Doncaster 10/04 09/51   16/41 16/41
Arksey Loop 10*09a ~ 10*29d ?   - -
Shaftholme Jn 10/33 10/29   16/37 16/36
Temple Hirst Jn 10/38 10/35   16/31 16/30
Hambleton North Jn 10/42 10/38   16/26 16/27
Colton Jn 10/47 10/43   16/21 16/22
York 10.51a ~ 10.53d 10.58 ~ 11.01   15.50a ~ 16.16d 16.05 ~ 16.17
Skelton Jn 10/56 11/05   15/44 16/03
Tollerton 11/05 11/11   15/36 15/58
Thirsk 11/18 11/18   15/28 15/51
Northallerton 11/22 11/24   15/23 15/46
Darlington 11/39 11/48   15/15 15/37
Ferryhill South Jn 11/48 11/58   15/07 15/25
Durham 11/57 12/04   14/59 15/17
Birtley 12/06 12/10   14/52 15/07
King Edward Bridge Jns 12/09 12/16   14/48 15/02
Newcastle 12.14a ~ 12.17d 12.21 ~ 12.25   14/46 15/01
Heaton South Jn 12/21 12/28   14/41 14/58
Morpeth 12/38 12/44   14/30 14/46
Alnmouth 12/52 12/56   14/18 14/34
Belford 13/05 13/08   14/08 14/24
Crag Mill Loop 13*07a ~ 13*33d ?   - -
Berwick-upon-Tweed 13/45 13/26   13/58 14/14
Marshall Meadows 13/47 13/28   13/55 14/12
Grantshouse 13/58 13/38   13/44 14/02
Dunbar 14/08 13/46   13/35 13/53
Drem UPL 14*20a ~ 14*52d ?   - -
Drem 14/53 14/59   13/28 13/46
Monktonhall Jn 15/09 15/07   13/21 13/39
Portobello Jn 15/11 15/09   13/19 13/36
Edinburgh Waverley 15.15a ~ 16.24d 15.15 ~ 16.35   12L42a ~ 13L13d 12.52 ~ 13.30
Haymarket 16/28 16/39   12/38 12/48
Haymarket West Jn 16/31 16/40   12/37 12/44
Newbridge Jn   12/29 12/39
Winchburgh Jn   12/25 12/36
Linlithgow   12/20 12/32
Polmont Jn   12/15 12/27
Grangemouth Jn   12/10 ?
Carmuirs East Jn   12/04 ?
Larbert Jn   12/03 ?
Stirling   11/54 12/06
Dunblane   11/49 12/02
Blackford   11/40 11/53
Dalmeny Jn 16/43 16/47  
Inverkeithing 16/53 16/58  
Burntisland 17/02 ?  
Kirkaldy 17/10 17/15  
Thornton South Jn 17/16 17/22  
Thornton North Jn 17*18a ~ 17*52d ?  
Ladybank 18/08 17/32  
Newburgh 18/18 ?  
Hilton Jn 18/30 ?   11/24 ?
Perth 18.35a ~ 19.05d 17.58 ~ 19.05   10.55a ~ 11.20d 10.57 ~ 11.28
Stanley Jn 19/15 ?   10/47 ?
Dunkeld & Birnam 19/25 ?   10/38 ?
Pitlochry 19/37 19/45   10.22a ~ 10.26d 10.18 ~ 10.26
Blair Atholl 19/46 ?   10/11 ?
Dalwhinnie 20/18 20/22   09/47 09/47
Kingussie 20/28 ?   09.25a ~ 09.31d ?
Kincraig 20.36a ~ 21.03d ?   09/18 ?
Aviemore 21.12a ~ 21.26d 20.45 ~ 21.18   09/12 09/14
Carrbridge 21/36 ?   09/05 ?
Slochd 21/44 ?   08/59 ?
Tomatin 21/47 ?   08/54 ?
Moy 21/51 ?   08.43a ~ 08.49d ?
Culloden 21/58 ?   08/28 ?
Millburn Jn 22/06 ?   08/17 ?
Inverness 22.08a 21.55   08.15d 08.15

26/06 :

Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual
Inverness 07.24d 07.24   19.13a 19.07
Millburn Jn 07.27a ~ 07.30d ?   19.07a ~ 19.10d ?
Rose Street Jn 07/33 ?   19/05 ?
Clachnaharry 07/37 ?   19/01 ?
Clunes 07/44 ?   18/54 ?
Muir of Ord 07.54a ~ 07.59d ?   18.43a ~ 18.45d ?
Dingwall 08.07a ~ 08.09d 08.14 ~ 08.16   18.29a ~ 18.33d ?
Garve 08.35a ~ 08.58d ?   18.02a ~ 18.03d ?
Achnasheen 09.29a ~ 09.30d 09.30 ~ 09.31   17.32a ~ 17.33d 17.34 ~ 17.35
Strathcarron 10.00a ~ 10.01d 10.02 ~ 10.03   17.00a ~ 17.01d 17.01 ~ 17.02
Kyle of Lochalsh 10.43a 10.43   16.18d 16.18

27/06 :

Location Booked Actual   Booked Actual
Inverness 06.35d 06.35   23.44a 23.14
Millburn Jn 06.38a ~ 06.41d ?   23.38a ~ 23.41d ?
Rose Street Jn 06/44 ?   23/36 ?
Clachnaharry 06/49 ?   23/18 ?
Clunes 06/56 ?   23/11 ?
Muir of Ord 07.06a ~ 07.07d ?   23.01a ~ 23.02d ?
Dingwall 07.15a ~ 07.16d 07.15 ~ 07.16   22.49a ~ 22.51d 22.35 ~ 22.36
Invergordon 07.32a ~ 07.33d ?   22.32a ~ 22.33d ?
Tain 07.49a ~ 07.50d 07.49 ~ 07.50   22.15a ~ 22.16d 22.00 ~ 22.01
Ardgay 08.07a ~ 08.08d ?   21.56a ~ 21.57d ?
Lairg 08.25a ~ 08.26d 08.29 ~ 08.30   21.40a ~ 21.41d 21.25 ~ 21.26
Rogart 08.41a ~ 08.42d ?   20.54a ~ 21.22d ?
Brora 09.05a ~ 09.06d 09.11 ~ 09.12   20.32a ~ 20.35d 20.37 ~ 20.46
Helmsdale 09.21a ~ 09.22d 09.29 ~ 09.30   20.16a ~ 20.17d 20.21 ~ 20.22
Forsinard 09.59a ~ 10.00d ?   19.41a ~ 19.42d ?
Georgemas Junction 10.30a 10.38   19.10d 19.13

Timings continue in first table.

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