Excitement in the Rowkin household this morning even though we had to drag our tired bodies out of our cots at the ungodly hour of 6.00am. Last year when Chris and Cath took us to the RibbleHead Viaduct and told us about the steam train journeys you could do in the area our interest was instantly piqued.
Though not what you would call true train buffs (you need to carry a log book to be able to qualify for that title) we do like a good old ride pulled by a steam loco. In this case it is the Fellsman engine.
We drove the 50 miles south to the city of Lancaster along the M6 being overshadowed by the huge juggernauts of trucks in our little red Italian sports car. Not a comfortable feeling as felt at any time we could be squashed just like a nuisance fly. We tried to keep ahead of them but to push the red machine above 60 miles an hour was not possible so we had to sit in the slow lane with the monsters most of the way.
Not hard to find the train station or parking. Tell you what, parking is a nightmare in this country and no matter where you try to park there is always a pay and display. Add that up after a while and it gets very expensive. Even when we stopped in the country side to do our walk the other day we had to pay and it ain’t cheap.
It was all rather anticlimactic getting on the train as they slot it in between normal services so it is a matter of jump on the train as soon as it pulls up and off you go. It is always a thrill when you see it for the first time coming towards you with its billowing clouds of steam. Unable to get a photo of this because everyone else wanted to do the same thing and all you would get was a photo of heads.
Makes you wonder what it would have been like in the heyday of steam with all these loco”s crisscrossing the country spewing not just steam but all the soot with it. No wonder all the buildings turned black over time. Sitting in the carriage with all the windows shut, we could smell and taste the soot.
We were surprised just how fast she got up speed and tore down the track. Our journey is from Lancaster, heading south and then turning north up to Carlisle.
There is a two hour stop then turn around and head back to Lancaster. We stop twice on the way up to take on water. Very rudimentary as to how that is done. The poor guy got absolutely soaked.
There is not a spare seat in the train which consists of twelve carriages. We booked over six months ago which was before we left Canada. Even then, we did not get the choice of carriage as we would have liked to have gone in a Pullman car but they had been the first to go and it was nooot cheap. For us, we felt it would have been worth it as it is an opportunity we would not get again. Even having said that, it is still worth the experience.
All along the sides of the tracks, hill tops, bridges and any vantage point you could think of along the entire length of the route, there were hundreds of people out taking photos of us as we went past. The train only runs once a week during the month of August. We named them traingoozlers after the gongoozlers for the canals. Felt a little like royalty waving to everyone.
Eventually we needed to open the windows and as we were close to the engine we had soot pouring into the carriage settling on the table, seats and ourselves. On our return home we had to brush the soot out of our hair and then wash it.
It was a great day though a little too long. If we had had our time again we would have driven to the half way point of Settle and gotten on and off there. That would have reduced our time considerably. We didn’t get back to Lancaster until 9.15pm and that was even after jumping off the train at Preston and catching a fast Virgin train the last section. At Preston they put the Fellsman onto a siding until they could find a spot for it on the track where we were told it would sit for an hour – hence why 90% of the passengers jumped ship (train).
We don’t much like driving at night as the small lane ways have no lighting and the lights on our car are very poor. The roads were wet and the idiots passing us at speed on blind beds is unreal. We call these people temporary. As long as they take themselves out and not other innocent souls.
We had to descend into the bottom of the bottom for dinner as there was nothing open at that time of night so it was Macc’s. Yeah, it just reminded us why we avoid the place.
All in all a great day out and day off tomorrow to sleep in and just be a foot tourist for the day.