The Heritage Railway Association of Southern Africa has bestowed their inaugural Lifetime Achiever’s Award on Geoff Cooke for his “Contribution and commitment to showcasing the heritage rail legacy of Southern Africa to international visitors through his Photographic and Enthusiast tours”.
My next project on the Severn Valley Railway was to join a photo charter that was taking advantage of the appearance of LNER Class A4 number 6646, Bittern. The blue skies held, and on Tuesday, 27 March, another fine day was spent trundling down the valley of the River Severn on a steam train.
The daffodils have been particularly fine this year, appearing in parks and on roadsides in abundance. Even the Severn Valley Railway got into the act.
The train made it’s way slowly to Kidderminster, where lunch was enjoyed before another slow jaunt back to Bridgenorth, stopping regularly to take photographs in the pretty river valley.
I must do this again – soon.
Looking at my steam gala reports, you mat think that England has as much sun as the middle of Africa. Not so! I have, however, been very lucky so far this year.
Living in Kidderminster, it was about time that I found out a little more about the photographic potentials of the local preserved railway, the 16 mile long Severn Valley Railway. With the Spring Gala looming, I became a member of the railway and obtained a lineside pass. This allowed me to get close to the action on Friday, 23 March.
The sun shone all day, perfect weather to enjoy the passing parade of steam locomotives, big and small.
Well done Severn Valley Railway. You not only arranged a fine Gala, but chose to run it on a great weekend as well.
January is nearly over, and not a steam train in sight. Time to get out and do something.
The Grand Central Railway that runs between Loughborough and Leicester, and boasts a the only double track in UK preservation, offered a good option with their Winter Gala. Of the ten locomotives in steam over the weekend, three were in operation on Friday, 27 January. Time to dust off the camera.
Blessed with sunny but cool winter weather, Standard BR Class 8 ‘Britannia’ number 70013 named Oliver Cromwell was the first of three locomotives out on the line. Seen here arriving at Quorn and Woodhouse station on the first train of the day.
The next train was operated by number 63601, celebrating it’s hundredth birthday before being withdrawn for overhaul.
The third locomotive in action was LSWR number 30053, on loan from the Swanage Railway.
A fun day out, and a sunny start to the year. A few more photographs can be found on my Flickr site.
The last day of our tour, and the sun shone.
Dundee on a Sunday morning is quiet, but the hour between arrival and the opening of Discovery point was well spent with a stroll up town to meet Desperate Dan, a dragon and a monkey spelling Information. These all pay tribute to Dundee being the centre for British comic book printing.
RRS Discovery stands tall in a dock close by the Tay Road Bridge. This famous ship that took Scott to the Antarctic is well preserved and supported with an excellent museum. Following our nautical exploration we motored over the Tay Bridge to Saint Andrews to walk over the old course in the sunshine, a perfect day to visit the hallowed home of Golf.
Heading further south, the Forth was crossed on the Forth Road Bridge. The impressive railway bridge was seen, but with time running short it was decided to motor directly to Falkirk, rather than visit South Queensferry. The Falkirk Wheel lifts canal boats up a hill from from one canal to another. It is a fine example of innovative modern engineering and in common with most engineering solutions that work well, it also looks good. In reflection, this could also be said of the Forth Railway Bridge.
Sadly, with setting sun lighting the Falkirk Wheel, it was time to continue to Glasgow Airport, and the end of the tour. It was then a long drive back to Kidderminster, and to planning for my 2012 tours. More on that soon.
The sun shone this morning, but there were very dark clouds to the south.
Gloom descended as we motored south to Aviemore, but the sun appeared on arrival, lighting dramatically dark clouds. Our train on the Strathspey Railway departed in the sun, but before it returned God had found his hat again.
Blaire Castle offered a good place to stop for lunch, and to see the turreted, white painted home of the Duke of Atholl.
It was a short ride from Blaire Atholl to the Edradour Distillery near Pitlochry. This is the smallest distillery in Scotland, a collection of small well maintained buildings nestled attractively in a valley. There is also, not surprisingly, a relatively expensive gift shop.
It seems that God has decided to keep his hat on all week. Clouds are the order of the day, with occasional rather brief patches of sun. Thinking positively though, this is Scotland and it is mild and dry.
Today, we motored from Inverness to the Isle of Skye. Our first stop was at Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness. It was too early for entry, and not with waiting for, so we continued to the more interesting Eilean Donan Castle on Loch Duich. This castle has a rich history, but it was rebuilt in the early 1900′s by the present family and also has a homely feel. The location is particularly scenic, good reason for it to have featured in many films and on countless tins of Scottish Shortcake.
We continued over the Skye Bridge to the Isle of Skye, motoring to Portree for lunch. Parking on the harbour outside the local fish and chip shop was an opportunity too good to be misses, and so my American visitors were introduced to eating fish and chips wrapped in paper beside the sea with the seagulls hovering. Not necessarily a culinary high point, but definitely part of their introduction to British life.
Following lunch we crossed the island to Dunvegan to visit the castle. More formal than Eilean Donan, more like a splendid gentleman’s club with weapons and trophies dominating.
The drive back to Inverness was uneventful, but never dull with the splendid scenery through Glen Shiel and past the highland hydro electric dams before running parallel to Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal.
Another cloudy day, but dry and warm. A short trip to the Fort William railway station saw the steam train for Mallaig standing at the platform, ready for a right time departure. Black Five number 44871, built at Crew in 1945, was generating steam for the train heating as well as for traction. With my guests comfortably seated, I motored to Glenfinnan to take a photograph of the train on the famous viaduct. The clouds did not help the photo, but it was warm and dry and a good day was had on the trip to Mallaig and back.
An afternoon drive past the Commando Memorial at Spey Bridge and then along the shores of Loch Ness took us to Inverness, where we spent the night.
Dinner at the theatre restaurant (two cinemas and two theatres appeared to be well patronised) was followed by a stroll down Ness Walk along the river Ness into Inverness. An attractive promenade with the castle floodlit on the opposite bank, moon glowing through thin clouds above and a statue to Faith, Hope and Charity below.
We left Stirling in the rain for our drive through the Trossachs National Park to Glencoe. The rain did not persist, but the clouds did as we climbed over the pass and down into Glencoe. The low cloud and mist created an appropriate atmosphere for this dramatically beautiful area.
A visit to the Glencoe Folk Museum, with doors not much bigger than cat-flaps, was an interesting diversion before we continued to Fort William. A boat cruise on Loch Linnhe saw the sun shine for a short while before it ducked behind the clouds again for the rest of the afternoon. Following a short walk through Fort William and a visit to the West Highlands Museum, we motored to the hotel, checked in and then explored Neptune’s Staircase, a ladder of nine locks on the Caledonian Canal. So ended another enjoyable day.
This morning I travelled from Kidderminster to Glasgow for A short tour to the highlands of Scotland. I met my clients and continued to Stirling.
Our first visit was to Stirling Castle, a good place to get an idea of the complexities of Scottish history, and its turbulent relationship with the English. The castle has been admirably restored recently. This year the Royal Apartments were added to the previously restored Great Hall and the Chapel Royal. Costumed guides did a good job entertaining children and adults alike.
Next stop was the Wallace National Monument. Built in Victoria times to commemorate William Wallace, this solid tower stands tall over Stirling, glowing like a beacon after dark.
The weather was kind – that is, cloudy with some sun and no rain. For my guests from Texas, the mild temperature was a welcome relief.