22nd - 23rd June 2007

S.R.P.S. Railtours
The Far North Excursion

Locos Used 40145 & 57601
Stock Used ?????

1Z70 : Linlithgow to Thurso
1Z71 : Thurso to Wick
1Z73 : Wick to Linlithgow

Date Loco(s) Route
22/06-23/06 40145 (1) Linlithgow - Winchburgh Jn - Dalmeny - Inverkeithing - Kirkcaldy - Ladybank - Perth - Pitlochry - Kingussie - Rose Street Jn - Muir of Ord - Dingwall - Lairg - Georgemas Junction
23/06 57601 (2) Georgemas Junction - Thurso
23/06 57601 (2) Thurso - Georgemas Junction - Wick
23/06 40145 (1) Wick - Georgemas Junction - Lairg - (reverse of outward route) - Linlithgow

Notes :
(1) 57601 on rear.
(2) 40145 on rear.

Source : Dan Augood (joined & left the train at Dalmeny)

Tour Review
(by Dan Augood)

Firstly, I didn't take the eleventh hour news that 55022 wasn't available to work the tour in my stride. I was a little disappointed, and if I'd paid a commercial organisation, I'd have been furious, but the fact is we're all amateurs, doing the best we can with limited resources, and I was aware of this, when I bought the ticket. You pays your money, you takes your chances - just like the good old days. No criticism, of any organisations or anybody implied or intended. I had other reasons for wanting to do this tour as well, not the least of which was a desire to test my mettle, the wrong side of forty, on the kind of devil-may-care, seventy two hour, out through Inverness at some ungodly hour bash to the very tip of the mainland, that I used to do so often, on cheap February ten pound tickets in my reckless college days. And besides, I wanted to attempt the record for the longest sentence in a Railtour Review.

So, in too deep financially, and too heavily involved (as a CFPS Member) with 40145 to walk away, my options were limited. Recalling that it was Richard Nixon who observed that "When you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow", I headed off to Kings Cross on Friday lunchtime in a moderate huff - coincidentally, five years to the day after the fateful encounter with RSG at York, that brought me out of a fifteen year retirement. So it was that I found myself a few hours later in Edinburgh, propping up the bar at the Half Way House killing an evening by myself after my mate Paul's Vermin Voyager had collapsed in a steaming heap of failure at Carlisle. Quite an evening ensues, and a highly convivial few pints later, and with Paul now in tow, I wobbled off to Dalmeny, in a considerably better humour.

Having already blown a hundred quid on getting this far, and another hundred or so on the tour itself, I concluded that this was a weekend for throwing money at problems, so cracked open a bottle of Veuve Cliquot as we crossed the Forth Bridge on the train, before falling into an alcohol assisted sleep for a few hours. Awoke to broad daylight at Tain, noting that my watch appeared to have stopped at 4AM. Irritation at this was replaced by the ghastly realisation that my watch was fine, and it really was 4AM on the shortest night of the year. Not much happened between there and Thurso, with 40145 chirruping away and scampering from station to station with typical enthusiasm. We finally ran out of mainland at a little before eight in the morning.

By way of a digression, a bit of a coincidence - the last time I was in Thurso, I was en-route to Reykjavik, five years ago to the day. Here's the move: From Thurso, take the ferry from Scrabster to Stromness, bus to Kirkwall, Plane to Sumburgh on Shetland, bus to Lerwick, where you pick up the MV Norona, for thirty six hours to Seydisfjodur (a move particularly suited to those keen on regurgitation). From there you can finish the trip by bus (24 Hours), or plane (1 hour). Highly recommended, allow about a week to get there from London. If planning spending any time (i.e. more than five minutes) in Iceland, bring money, lots of money.

Thurso was bleak and cold, but did reward persistence with a really quite good fry-up from the hugely caught-out, and flustered staff at a town centre cafe. Back to the station, and the rain for 145 to lead the stock in after complex manoeuvres and refuelling at Georgemas Junction. This gave me my first good look at 40145, and she is looking good. In fact, she's looking a little bit scruffy, of which I have to say I approve. She looks like a loco that's out there, earning revenue, whizzing up and down on the main line. Surely everything that the CFPS have worked for all these years. A tribute to all those who worked so hard for so long to make it possible.

And as for 145, she was thrashing for two this weekend, lugging around a load nine and a redundant re-engined Brush. Put simply, she was more than up to the job. Nearer the front on the return leg, she gave it what-for, all the way over County March and Lairg, and then really pulling out all the stops for a truly memorable assault on Slochd. (Apparently, it's pronounced 'Sloshed - I'm saying nothing!). An hour in torrential rain at Kingussie, before assaulting Druimauchdar in weather that a few weeks ago I would have described as atrocious, but now would describe as 'normal'.

A mad dash back after photos at Pitlochry, and an early departure, only to wait around for half an hour at Perth, and an uneventful run back to Dalmeny, where 145 could be heard thrashing away into the evening for several minutes after she'd vanished from view. Top stuff. Back to Edinburgh, for a night-cap at the half-way house and a night in the Student halls at the University. A sound night's sleep, followed by a mountainous fry-up in the canteen. The weather was so bad that I decided to forgo the prospect of a leisurely lunch in Edinburgh, and jumped on the midday train back to London (A wise move by all accounts, as I'm told rapidly closing-in weather played havoc later in the day). By this stage of the weekend, numb with the financial shock of it all, I was just mechanically thrusting wads of money into the hands of anybody who got in my way, in a manner you normally only achieve after a few days in Iceland. One such wad got me a seat in first class for the return to London - and very good value it turned out.

And that's about that. Great fun, great expense. 40145 on top of her game as ever. Looking forward to Large Logo. And yes, I can just about do those mad moves to the far north. Just not very often. Of course in the old days, the whole move would cost about thirty quid, This one, add a zero!

Dan Augood

Timings (Booked & Actual)
(from Dan Augood)

Booked (out)
Booked (rtn)
Winchburgh Jn
21*42 ~ 22*00
Dalmeny Jn
22.19a ~ 22.21d
21.28a ~ 21.30d
Dalgety Bay
22.31a ~ 22.33d
21.16a ~ 21.18d
22.50a ~ 22.52d
20.56a ~ 20.58d
Thornton South Jn
Thornton North Jn
23.08a ~ 23.10d
20.36a ~ 20.38d
Hilton Jn
23.42a ~ 23.47d
20.03a ~ 20.05d
Stanley Jn
Dunkeld & Birnam
00.08a ~ 00.10d
19.40a ~ 19.42d
00.24a ~ 00.26d
19p04a ~ 19p27d
Blair Atholl
00.38a ~ 00.40d
18.52a ~ 18.54d
01.19a ~ 01.21d
18.17a ~ 18.25d
01*32 ~ 01*34
01.39a ~ 01.41d
17*02a ~ 18*00d
16.46a ~ 16.48d
16.35a ~ 16.39d
Slochd Summit
Welsh's Bridge Jn
15*47 ~ 15*49
Rose Street Jn
02*39 ~ 02*41
Clachnaharry Swing Bridge
Muir of Ord
03.03a ~ 03.05d
15.19a ~ 15.21d
03.15a ~ 03.17d
15.04a ~ 15.08d
03.33a ~ 03.35d
14.42a ~ 14.44d
03.47 ~ 03.49
14.27 ~ 14.29
03.54 ~ 03.56
14.18 ~ 14.20
04.13 ~ 04.15
14.02 ~ 14.04
04.33 ~ 04.35
13.46 ~ 13.48
04.49 ~ 04.51
13.20 ~ 13.22
05.06 ~ 05.08
12*33 ~ 12*59
05.23 ~ 05.25
12.16 ~ 12.18
06.06 ~ 06.08
11.37 ~ 11.39
Georgemas Junction
06.41a ~ 07.15d
10.52a ~ 10.58d
07.30a ~ 09.20d
Georgemas Junction
09.35 ~ 09.38

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