The Cumbrian Guardsman, The Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express & The Statesman 02-03-2013
It's always good to be able to take advantage of multiple tours running on a certain day, complete with a nice walk in the dales inbetween shots. And that's exactly what we did on a sunny and relatively warm March Saturday. After setting off early from home, since we had time we decided to begin at Gisburn with a shot of 47773 heading Vintage Trains' 'Cumbrian Guardsman' from Tyseley to Hellifield before 70000 'Britannia' took over for the run north over the S&C to Carlisle then back down the WCML over Shap to Carnforth (originally this was booked to be hauled by 46115 'Scots Guardsman', hence the tour name). After we heard one week earlier that 70000 was standing in for 46115, we decided to scrap the planned shot at Selside and instead we headed for our favourite S&C Northbound vantage point-Helwith Bridge. The Brit ended up approaching alot slower than expected on the 1 in 100 gradient but made up for this when it reached the 1/4 mile level section, suddenly piling on the power and accelerating hard towards Ribblehead. Because the wind was in the correct direction and 70000 was making so much noise, we were able to hear the train for about 5 miles after it passed us. We now had 4 hours to get up to Keld Farm, just north of Appleby, so we took the scenic route and had a walk at Denthead and next to the northern portal of Blea Moor Tunnel, where there were some rather nice waterfalls cascading down from the nearby moor, which are included here. After stopping at Dent and Garsdale stations we eventually reached Keld Farm, 25 minutes before 60009 'Union of South Africa' passed at the head of the return 'Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express' from Carlisle to London Euston. Here we had a close call with a tractor which came onto the bridge around 20 seconds before 60009 arrived but clearly the farmer was used to having photographers etc. around and stopped the tractor engine just as the A4 appeared round the bend. Leapfrogging 60009 at Appleby, we headed for Stockber, which we hadn't used since the last time 70000 ran down the S&C last March, and on this occasion there was virtually no wind, so that wasn't a problem. Now running a few minutes behind 60009 was giving 110% on the 1 in 100 gradient to Ais Gill and thundered past spectacularly. We then headed for the final calling point of the day-Dillicar Common in the Lune Gorge, where 2 tours were timed just 10 minutes apart. First up was 47826 & 47854 top and tailing Statesman Rail's 'Winter West Highland Statesman' returning from Fort William to Worcester Shrub Hill running a couple of minutes early and powering along at close to the 95mph maximun speed for the class. 10 Minutes later, 70000 came into view and after a fast descent of Shap was now hammering along at a good 75mph towards Grayrigg, Oxenholme and eventually Carnforth, where the locomotive would detatch and run light engine to Castleton to stable for a few days.