Posted in Railways on Saturday 21st November 2009 at 11:11pm
Not sorry to get out of the hotel this morning however early, as it had been a fairly noisy night and the room wasn't really up to scratch. However, I managed a decent sleep and felt quite rested. I'd also had an attack of feeling miserable which hadn't helped - perhaps it was work, the weather or just the fact that yesterday turned from a pleasant sunny day into a dark wintry night? In any case I trudged down to Victoria feeling much better, and noted a few familiar cranks already milling about. Lurked around near the buffet and managed to sneak in as customer no. 2 of the day to get a coffee which almost instantly improved the outlook still further. So, today was another Spitfire tour in the 'Growler' series, which has kept the late summer and autumn interesting with lots of Class 37 mileage to a variety of destinations. Yes, there are a lot of 37 tours - and this argument gets regular airings on the internet - but these good value, high mileage jaunts can't be beaten - especially with the added 'mini-tours' which cover unusual bits of line. Joined the assembly on platform 4 where the lights of our locos could be seen waiting to enter the station early - a good sign. Soon onboard and seated - with some all too familiar reprobates from previous tours alongside which meant I'd have an entertaining trip north if nothing else!
The day didn't really get light - it just became somewhat less dark. As the sky lightened it became clear that we wouldn't see much in terms of scenery due to a low fog which hugged the landscape from Yorkshire right through into Scotland. Routed to avoid Leeds, passing an empty Healey Mills and then through Milford Junction, the first point of interest was York. Made a pitiful stab at identifying 185s in Leman Road which was to set a pattern for the day - with colleagues on the other side of the train turning in an equally poor performance! Into the wilds north of York and back into deep fog as far as the Tyne, where the locos stormed noisily through Newcastle Central and into the long stretch of wildnerness along the east coast. With the usual compensation of sea views not available, had a relaxing and sleepy trip over the border.
The real target of this tour for me was the trip around Central Scotland, and after arriving at Edinburgh Waverley on time and depositing most of the passengers for pubs and shopping excursions, we headed west through Haymarket and wondered just what would happen next. A landslip at Shotts a couple of days back had left single-line working in place, but it wasn't clear if we'd be routed via this, admittedly quiet, line now. In the event, we turned south and west for Carstairs - a less interesting route in some respects, but a faster one - and we arrived at Holytown Junction a little early as a result. After negotiating the curves around Mossend, we passed through the yards here and at Coatbridge before the highlight for me - the curve from Gartsherrie South Junction to Gartcosh Junction. A tiny line on the map, but a surprisingly long turn to the west and into the Glasgow suburbs. One of the few bits of track in the area I haven't covered, and thus worth the cost of the trip alone - although I doubt others will understand this rather odd perspective on things! It was strange, skirting Glasgow to the west and passing Springburn and Cowlairs where I was minutes away from my walk to Saracen Cross a month or so back, but might as well have been miles away! Back on the E&G line, we made a very swift dash back east with a brief pause in Polmont Loop. Noted the progressing electrification on the eastern approach to Edinburgh, along with the works for the tram line to Gogar. Good to see progress on major projects like this which doesn't seem to be reflected south of the border at all. Soon back into a very damp looking Waverley and out to the end of the platform to watch the empty stock departing for Craigentinny Depot.
Time for a brief wander in Edinburgh - not my favourite city in many ways, but perhaps in fairness it didn't get a look in with the gravitational pull of Glasgow to the west. I recall a miserable couple of days in Edinburgh a decade back and my swift escape to Glasgow as soon as I practically could! This time, set out into the Old Town - where I've spent far less time. Up the winding street towards Avalanche Records which I recalled from a previous visit, and onto the Royal Mile. The glow of warm inviting shops in the grey afternoon was attractive, but the constant flow of tourists was just irritating me - so I walked back over North Bridge into the new town and in a huge circuit to Waverley. Found a few local real ales to entertain myself on my return journey, and had a pleasant wait for the stock to come in for the ride home with 47787 - the loco provided to heat the train - thundering impressively back into the station.
We left Edinburgh in the dark, so the return journey was even less visually entertaining than the fog-enclosed outward leg. Some very swift running on the way back, and a fine atmosphere on the train. Efforts to elicit 2010 plans from Spitfire staff met with silence until they're further developed, which sparked a discussion on what to expect from next year on the railway. Pleasant to think of longer days and better weather as the wind and rain whipped our train. Back via York and Leeds, and soon heading into Victoria again. Off the train into a sea of hormonal teenagers cascading down the stairs from the MEN Arena where the Arctic Monkey's had just finished playing. Watched several respected railway types get washed away in a tide of teenage girls, before bidding the Spitfire team goodbye until next week! Despite the weather and my gloomy outlook earlier, another entertaining and successful trip.
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.