Posted in Railways on Friday 6th February 2009 at 9:03pm

After a week of checking Met Office warnings and forecasts, and willing the snow to stop when all around me seemed to be entranced by it's wintry loveliness, the of my trip finally arrived. After a slight thaw and some dry days, last night had delivered another load of snow. It was still snowing too, and as I shouldered my bag and trudged out it began to snow faster and heavier. A cancellation earlier in the week would have been bad, but worse still would be for the trip to run and me not make it! As I waited at the station, taking comfort from the 05:50 having apparently run without incident, I calculated the cost of travelling to Edinburgh tomorrow if need be. I was startled out of my reverie by the Class 67 hauled set blasting by on route to Taunton to form it's first working of the day. Another good sign. Eventually, First Great Western's information system started working properly, and the 06:21 to Newport was reported just over 20 minutes late. Not a disaster - so far.

When the 06:21 appeared through the blizzard, my heart sank a little. A single car Class 153 arrived, heating not working, already fairly well loaded and now travelling close enough to the path of the following 06:55 to mean we'd be very busy. Noted the beer supplier to Pathfinder was also on board, complete with a large stack of beer! This was a much better sign. Settled in, put my collar up to avoid interacting with the growing crush of commuters who kept trying to tell me this was all "ridiculous" - they had no idea how much more ridiculous the trip I was making seemed in this tiny, jammed and freezing DMU!

After a long, slow and very cold trip which almost broke my spirit entirely, we arrived at a snowy, but at present fully operative Newport station. A brief look at the web indicated that the Pathfinder team and the tour stock had departed Swansea on time. All signs were good, but I refused to be hopeful until I was on the train and warm again. Consoled myself with breakfast in the meantime. Amazingly, despite all the odds and almost exactly on time, 67008 snaked into the station with a long rake of coaches. Soon on board, and settled in amongst the good natured and excited Rugby fans, along with one or two cranks for good measure. As we sped north, calling at one or two local stations as the train was operated in conjunction with Arriva Trains Wales, something strange happened - the sun came out! By the time we reached Chester there was barely a sign of snow on the ground except for topping the hills. An attempt at photographing the train during our break at Preston was thwarted because the sun was too bright! Such a contrast with the south, where I'm told it was still snowing hard, and frozen temperatures were compounding problems on the roads. Finally got the chance for a shot at Carlisle, with the low sun casting long shadows over the train through the station roof.

67008 in low winter sunshine at Carlisle
67008 in low winter sunshine at Carlisle

Enjoyed the rest of the journey very much. Some quick running meant being looped at Beattock which confused the non-cranks on board somewhat, but the splendid scenery with snow where it belonged at the top of hills soon quietened them. Darkness began to fall as we curved east at Carstairs, passing the State Hospital in a clear, bright sunset. A bit of a slow crawl into Waverley followed due to a failed train blocking part of the line into Haymarket station - but we eventually arrived, and it was amusing to watch a long straggling line of hundreds of red jacketed Welsh fans singing and plodding their way up the slope out of the station.

Hopped onto the next available Glasgow Queen Street service and settled in for a ride on well-worn but welcome territory. There was a little snow out in the wilds and on some of the platforms, but it seemed dry and bright outside - if somewhat chilly. It's good to be back here in the surprisingly less than frozen north. I'm glad the beer made it safely too!

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I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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