Steam trip behind '60009'
Over Ribblehead

The 'Cumbrian Mountain Express'
Always fancied a trip down the Carlise to Settle line. It's supposed to be a scenic journey, and you get to cross over the famous Ribblehead viaduct. Well, a trip came up on a steam hauled train called the 'Cumbrian Mountain Express'. That's settled then. What's more, the engine pulling the train was one of Sir Nigel Gresley's A4 Pacifics, 'Union of South Africa', British Railways number 60009. The pictures below were taken from the train on August 23rd, 2014.

An A4 Pacific? I hear you ask. These were streamlined engines designed by Sir Nigel Gresley. Only 35 were made in the mid 1930's. Probably the most famous of these engines is 'Mallard', which set a world speed record for a steam train of 126 mph in the hands of driver Duddington on July 3rd 1938. The record still stands. '60009' Union of South Africa is one of only six A4 Pacifics left, of which only three are in running condition. Three are used only as static exhibits. All six surviving locomotives, Bittern, Mallard, Union of South Africa, Dominion of Canada, Dwight D Eisenhower and Sir Nigel Gresley were all brought together at the Nation Railway Museum in York at the 'Great Gathering' in 2013. The three engines highlighted in bold are the operational engines.

The route
The map of the route we took is shown on the right. After originally being postponed due to a fireman's strike (fear of a trackside fire), the trip went ahead on August 23rd, 2014. However, due to a continuing dispute, we were only allowed to be steam hauled between Carlisle and Blackburn. The rest of the trip was to be diesel hauled.

In actual fact, it wasn't so bad only being partially steam hauled. When you're sitting in the carriage enjoying your tea and sandwiches, the scenery doesn't look any different. The biggest concern was for all the steam enthusiasts lining the route to take pictures and videos. There were people on bridges, the roadside and in fields miles from anywhere, cameras on tripods at the ready. You could see them visibly confused and scratching their heads as a diesel train shot past, not an A4 Pacific. Oh, the trials and tribulations of a train spotter !! At least the enthusiasts weren't disappointed on the stretch between Carlise and Blackburn.

The trip
After being picked up by the diesel at the Metrocentre station in Gateshead, (it would have been so much better to have seen '60009' steaming across the Kind Edward VII bridge into Newcastle Central, but it wasn't to be .... this time!!), we headed over to Carlisle where we would be coupled up to Union of South Africa. There was a break of about an hour and a half in Carlisle originally intended for refuelling and watering. Once we were coupled up to '60009' and our scheduled departure time had arrived, we were off. We were steam hauled down the Carlisle to Settle section and on to Blackburn where the engine steamed off, leaving us to be diesel hauled back to Newcastle via York. On the journey from Carlisle to Blackburn, we stopped twice to be watered at Appleby, and then again at Hellifield station, a few miles South of Settle.

The photos in the gallery below, are just a selection of the ones I took. Most of the images are from the steam hauled section from Carlisle to Blackburn, although there are a few other random ones sprinkled in.

To view the pictures in the main window, click on the thumbnail images in the scrolling gallery to the right of the main picture, or use the navigation buttons. It's up to you.

OK, so let's get one thing straight.... I don't do cattle class!!
Maybe the Greggs cup lowers the tone a little, but had to have something while waiting for the train.
You have to admit though, the accommodation is very comfortable. Who would want to mix it up with a bunch of sweaty, steam geeks in anoraks, when you can travel in style. Poop poop.
Dashing along the Tyne valley, on the way to Carlisle.
Not quite sure where this is, but it IS a view of the river Tyne!!
Passing through Haltwhistle station without stopping. The water tower is still there, evidence of a bygone age.
On the right, we have the old Lime kilns near the village of Longbyre, not far from Carlisle.
Slowing into Carlisle, we pass a raised siding. Doesn't look as if it gets much use these days !!
As we pull into the platform at Carlisle, we get a first glimpse of '60009', 'Union of South Africa' sitting in a siding. Already fuelled and fired, she's waiting to join us.
Remove the lamp at the right hand side of the carriage and the back of the train becomes the front once '60009' is coupled up.
'47786', 'Roy Castle OBE' built in 1964 is the diesel that pulled us to Carlisle. It wwould also return us to Newcastle once Union of South Africa left us in Blackburn later in the afternoon. This loco was pulled backwards on the journey South.
Inside Roy Castle OBE's cab. Looks like some duct tape holding the console together and perhaps a dead body in the orange overalls?
While we wait to be coupled up and for our scheduled departure at 12:00, there's time for a quick wander down English Street and into the market in Carlisle, passing the Citadel building on the way. Looks nice in the sun.
Just to dissuade those nasty stag and hen parties from pitching up in Carlisle Station for a weekend of debauchery, there's a canon which could be pointed at the station, if required.
Apparently, the gun was used to defend Carlisle against the Highlanders in 1745. Typical of the Jocks, factory fortnight, jump on a Virgin train from Glasgow to Carlisle and get blootered over the border. Hmph !!
Looking back towards the Citadel on the way back to the station. Still looks nice in the sun !!
Poop poop, Union of South Africa is raising a head of steam as she begins to reverse out of the siding.
On the way, with more steam hissing out the cylinders.
A couple of handy chaps make sure she's heading in the right direction and not about to hit anything.
Mirror, signal, manouvre, moving back and forwards to get on the right track. Seems simple, sure I could drive one.
Almost there. Nearly ready to couple up. I hope they don't hit the guy in orange. Maybe that's where the body in the cab of the diesel came from. Oh well. Look the other way.
Finally, we're coupled up to Union of South Africa and ready for departure.
One last photo from the 'other' platform, before a quick spint over the bridge to the train so we don't get left behind. You'd be surprised how many people are running for the train after taking photos !!
Flashing through Lazonby & Kirkoswald station on our way South. Distinct lack of tainspotters at this location.
Crossing the river Eden, just south of Lazonby.
We've stopped at Appleby, becasue '60009' is a mite thirsty, and just a little hungry too.
Best move the coal to the front of the tender if we're going to make life a little easier for the fireman.
OK mate, I could do you a few bags of nutty slack if you're sure you need some more.
WOW, check the driving gear on her !!!!
HOW MUCH, did you say. I don't carry that much on me. I've only got small change in my pockets.
Coaled and watered, the driver & fireman have run off to the nearest bank machine so they can pay.
The rest of us are re-boarding the train, complete in most cases, with some very nice tubs of ice cream. It was a lovely sunny day after all.
Looking East, having just passed over the river Eden once again on the Ormside viaduct.
Heading towards the xxxxxx tunnel.
Crossing the Grisedale viaduct, with Waterhouses Beck flowing 74 feet below us.
Looking down as we cross the Smardale viaduct, the highest on the Settle Carlisle line at 131 feet. Scandal Beck flows below
No stopping, as we pass through Kirky Stephen station
I hope the signallman has set the points correctly !!
Looking backwards, we leave the old Kirkby Stephen goods shed behind as we power up the hill over Mallerstang Common on onward to Ais Gill.
Steaming across the Ribblehead viaduct. This is what all the fuss is about.
Looking backwards as we approach the Southern end of the Ribblehead viaduct.
Almost clear, as the last coaches leave the viaduct behind.
Just a memory now, the Ribblehead viaduct is behind us in the distance as we steam on down towards Blackburn.

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