27th-29th April 1979

Wirral Railway Circle
The Orcadian

Locos Used 26021, 26022, 26033, 40086, 47038 & 47274

Route :

Loco Route
47274 Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Victoria, Stalybridge, Huddersfield, Leeds
47274 Leeds, Skipton, Carlisle, Carstairs, Edinburgh
47038 Edinburgh, Perth, Aviemore, Inverness
26021 & 26022 Inverness, Wick
26033 Thurso, Georgemas Junction
26021 & 26022 Georgemas Junction, Inverness
47038 Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling, Edinburgh
40086 Edinburgh, Carstairs, Carlisle, Skipton, Leeds
40086 Leeds, Manchester Victoria, Liverpool Lime Street

Source : David Hills (On train from Stalybridge/To Manchester Victoria)
Tour Review
(by David Hills)

Scotland always seemed to have a special calling for our bunch so when this railtour was offered up it was a unanimous and instant decision to go along for the ride. Its tea-time departure from the Manchester area suggested a Friday off work, with the resultant road trip to the nether regions of Peak Forest and Guide Bridge for a look at the local activity prior to joining the tour at Stalybridge. Thus it was that the trusty Hillman Hunter was yet again pointed north for a good day in North Derbyshire, filled with Classes 25, 40 & 76, the sun was shining at Guide Bridge allowing some fine photographic memories to be captured. With Stalybridge station car park located, three cars and it was full, we climbed to the somewhat barren platform to await our train. 46029 & 37006 wandered through before 47274 arrived to commence our northbound extravaganza. The climb across the Pennines was without incident, more engrossed in the itinerary material provided. Leeds was the last pick-up point, a reversal being necessary as we were having yet another midnight ride across the Settle & Carlisle. Noted around the station were 08224, 31313, 40004/006, 45107/117, 47405 & 47525. Nothing much stirred us as we drifted north into black nothingness, only 40070 & 40120 broke the monotony at Skipton. Carlisle came and went, the darkness at Kingmoor hid everything but super shunters 31101 & 31228. Our early morning arrival in Edinburgh meant a hot breakfast and a stretch of the legs. Greeting us here were 25034/075, 26011, 27207/212, 40027 & 47042.

We bade farewell to 47274, our ride to Inverness would be behind 47038. Although now fully awake and ready to take on the world, it still appeared to be slumbering, only 27209 was recorded at Perth. It was a fine ride up the Highland main line with Inverness providing a splendid gathering of McDiesels, noted were 25108, 26019/23/25/32/38/44/45, 37098 and a completely lost 47345, a long way from its regular haunts. For our ride to the top of Scotland 26021 & 26022 had been chosen for this honoured task, we were soon away on this fine sunny Saturday morning. Bad news reached us that part of the 'off rail' section of the tour had been cancelled, with the sailing portion to the Orkneys scratched, I forget the reason now, either bad weather or mechanical difficulties. However our sturdy tour organisers laid on coach trips to either the Cape Wrath area or to the John O'Groats area. The former required a stop at Rogart, a chance to stretch one's legs and take the all important photographs, the sun having staggered above the horizon only to be lost in thick cloud, but nevertheless light enough for our purposes. We chose the John O'Groats option as it meant staying with the train all the way. A photographic stop at Helmsdale was completed despite a gale force wind that attempted to level everything in its path. Apart from 26015 at Rogart we had passed nothing en-route, though on arriving at a sunny Wick 26040/45 were in the station.

With time to kill before the coach tour began an exploration of the town & harbour was undertaken, one wonders what the natives thought of this invasion of strangers from the south. An interesting selection of coaches were used to reveal the historical & geographical delights of the north east corner of Scotland, including John O'Groats, Duncansby Head & Dunnet Head. Ironically the week before we had been on an overnighter to Penzance, taking a trip to the Isles of Scilly. Looking out at the choppy seas and with my penchant for seasickness it was perhaps fortunate that we had not left terra firma. Somehow we ended up in Thurso, time has created faded memories so I'm not sure of the order here, though we did end up with some haulage from 26033, presumably over the Thurso branch. Back on the tour train it was off into increasing darkness to the sound of our two trusty Sulzers up front. Inverness came and went, with 47038 taking over for our run south via Aberdeen. Not a whole lot was noted (well, we were asleep!) until we came across 26036/37/42 on engineering work at Craigo. Dundee held 25011, 27112 & 40107 as we took the inland route via Perth & Stirling to Edinburgh. Here it was time for another breakfast run and a walk around prior to the slog south. Around the station were 20219, 25075/084, 26001/011 whilst 47020 had been selected to replace 47038. After the headboard was placed on 47020 and the requisite photographs were taken it was then declared that 47020 was in fact going nowhere as it had been failed!

Memories were now strained to try and recall what was available on Haymarket, it was much better than we hoped for when 40086 buffered up to our train, 47020 having long since beaten a hasty retreat. We were to return pretty much by our outward route, 40193 & 46034 were passed at Slateford; Carstairs & Beattock slipped by, with only 20039 stabled at the latter. Over the border Carlisle Kingmoor presented a fine array of machinery, with nine different classes noted including 40015/16 & 84008. We continued on to the tune of some mighty fine whistling echoing around the hills along the Settle & Carlisle route. Skipton brought forth 31109 & 31226 whilst Leeds had 55007 & 55017 on display. Reversing here we were not routed via Huddersfield, so after landing back at Manchester Victoria we had to scramble for a bog back to Stalybridge. With darkness encroaching it was a weary bunch that fell out of the station and into the faded vinyl seats of one Hillman Hunter for the run down the A6, hoping to beat the encroaching fog.

"Can we stop by Buxton depot, its not that foggy?" "What time is the next bus to Derby?"

David Hills

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