Oh why do we settle for solitude…?
Settle, a good place to head with this one then!
Our trip for today was to go out and see one of the Railway Touring Company’s ‘Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express’ railtours. Headed by BR ‘Britannia’ 7P No. 70013 “Oliver Cromwell”, the tour was one of a series of winter excursions over the S&C, and if lucky, a nice frosty crisp morning would lay bare to an amazing photo.
The train down to Carlisle was enjoyable enough! We had known each other very well for a few years by now, so the usual banterous chatting commenced which would probably raise an eyebrow or two of fellow passengers. Prompt on time arrival at Carlisle, quick browse of the railway selection at WHSmiths, and then to purchase our Settle & Carlisle Railcards. This is where the first issue of the day came up, Cammy accusing me that I had not given him the proper pricing details for the ticket a few days earlier.
Cue discussion – “You did not tell me!”, “Yes I did”, “No You Didn’t”, “Yes I Did”, “No You Didn’t”
Cue check of IPhone for text message history
Cue end of argument : Jonny – 1, Cammy – 0
( And if you’re reading this Cammy, I can already hear you denying my victory! )
Anyway, so off on to the Settle and Carlisle we went, in the snow. Did I mention the snow? Oh, there was snow alright! It was a good thing we were all wrapped up, Cammy however, was suitabley clothed up except from in the footwear department. Thick snow, middle of winter, and he chose to wear Converse canvas shoes. That would haunt him later...while Spacey was mentioning rather frequently how he would like for a pub, to sit warmly by a lit fire drinking a pint! But the Settle and Carlisle, is one of those routes where a pub may be in sparse. The railway, opened in 1875 after many years of tough labour for building, crosses the very heart of the English Pennines where it is most remote, with the stations serving little villages which often own amount to 30 or so cottages.
We decided to cover the whole of the line first down to Settle, firstly to try and assess photo spots from the window and secondly to kill some time. I’m not sure exactly, but it’s up for debate whether it was colder inside the train, or out in the open. My bet was on the train. But arrival in Settle did give us a moment of ‘Wow’, the station is amazingly restored as like most others on the line, but the signal box too is still in situ, with level frame fully preserved against the onset of modern signalling ( although not operational ). A quick wander around town and back to the train station, and a very long conversation with the station shopkeeper, encouraged us on to the train at Settle to return up the line to Horton-In-Ribblesdale.
Amongst the chat of the enthusiasts all stationed, half ready for the railtour, the roar of “Oliver Cromwell” could be heard in the distant. The blast from the chime whistle meant to us she was on the approach to Horton-In-Ribblesdale station, and without further stalling, on went the camera. And silence, silence for Mr Easton.
Round the corner she came, giving no sign of slowing on the climb, digging hard into the gradient hauling her load of 12 coaches and wearing a bright red “Cumbrian Mountain Express” headboard. “Ollie” was putting on a good performance for those on board! After taking the photograph, and Cammy having finished his videoing, we could just stand and listen to the exhaust beat of the engine as she approached Ribblehead. That was miles away!
After a walk back to the station, it was time to wait on the train back up to Carlisle. A long wait too, the frequency of trains on this line isn’t exactly regular.
To kill some time, we decided to invent our own nature documentary…..this is why we shouldn’t ever be allowed near a T.V Set.