Headin’ West……..

North -West.
The weather has been so depressing of late that I’ve decided to live in the past. Again.
So, last Summer – Ruthie and I drove up to Fort William and took a train to Mallaig. The weather was sunny and warm and the power-source was fairly warm too.

Firebox

This is the most beautiful railway line in Britain and how lucky we were to see it on such a day.
To be behind that lusty Black Five was a real treat but there was to be another and less usual steam experience later on the route.
The well-kent viaduct at Glenfinnan is quite breathtaking and all constructed from concrete by the pioneering Robert McAlpine.

Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan

Further down the line from Glenfinnan is another fine McAlpine bridge over the bay at Loch nan Uamh. This is followed by a tunnel and then the 1 in 48 climb of Beasdale Bank. This being a tourist train the trip was taken at a fairly leisurely pace. Too leisurely for The Bank it turned out, as the speed slowed and slowed until every piston-beat shuddered through the train.
Which finally just stopped!
This inevitably led to much discussion and sage recommendations from the knowing enthusiasts and congnoscenti within the coaches who now noticed the train was speeding backwards for some two miles. Whilst no doubt much frantic shovelling was being carried out at the Black End.
Stanier’s best then fairly belted-it at the gradient which had no answer to such a determined assault.
And so to Mallaig and a welcome meal of Fish and Chips. What else???
The journey back was largely downhill – so uneventful except for the surroundings. What a place to live eh?
All this and steam too.

en route

en route

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The Best Museums ever!

..and both visited in the same week. I DO hope 2014 will be as fine as 2013 was
on the esoteric museums front.
Firstly…..

Wainwright D Class

Wainwright D Class

The National Rail Museum at York included the lovely 4-4-0 of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway. A 1901 class “D” by Wainwright. What a fabulous place and still with six A4s on display.
I like 4-4-0s more though.
Then in two days time it was off to Loanhead for a trip round the very private Speedway Museum.

Speedway Museum

Speedway Museum

This was even more amazing than York! Absolutely stunning and only lacking the smell of Castrol “R” and thankfully the reek of fags!
I hope I’ll get back for a further visit this year too, but if not there’s a nice wee railway just twenty miles from here and they have TWO 4-4-0’s in their museum.
Meanwhile, to both my readers – have a great, enjoyable and successful 2014!

Bouch!

We’ve a fine graveyard almost opposite us wherein lie a good many of our illustrious Edinburgh Great and Good.
In the light of my previous post about bridges, here’s a man who’ll long be remembered as the designer of the ill-fated first Tay Railway Bridge.
A man reportedly rather better at self-promotion than he was at stress-calculations.

Bouch

Bouch

He was pencilled-in to produce the Forth Bridge too. Until the morning of 29th December 1879……
He didn’t last another year after that great fall.
Even in a sun-dappled graveyard, Thomas Bouch remains in shadow.