By Don Benn

Once again the Railway Touring Company ran its Great Britain tour this year, the eleventh so far. It was very successful as steam haulage was paramount throughout and fortunately all covered in depth by two of my correspondents, Sandy Smeaton and Alan Rawlings. My own participation was limited to linesiding on the last two days of the epic.

The tour started on Friday, April 19, with No. 60103 Flying Scotsman taking the train from King’s Cross to Scarborough. On day two the A3 continued by running from Scarborough to York, where No. 35018 British India Line took over right through to Carlisle. Table One shows the detail of the run northbound over the Settle & Carlisle from Hellifield to Appleby.

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Ten coaches for 395 tons full is no mean load for any locomotive over the S&C but the newly-restored Merchant Navy Pacific coped easily using about 25% cut-off and Sandy told me that he got the impression that the engine was handled with kid gloves by Mick Rawling. Even so, to sustain speed in the 40s on the 1-in-100 up to the Ribblehead restriction was good going indeed.

SR U class 2-6-0 No. 31806 climbs towards Melbury Bubb between Yeovil and Dorchester with ‘GBXI’ on April 26. JACK HAYNES

At Carlisle both of 10A’s LMS Jubilee 5XP 4-6-0s backed onto the train to take it forward to Edinburgh and what followed as far as Carstairs is shown in Table Two. Despite the two temporary speed restrictions at Floriston and over the Clyde Viaduct at Lamington, it was a highly enjoyable romp with two accomplished locos in the hands of Mick Kelly and Steve Chipperfield.

I had nothing like it in the days of steam, my exploits being limited to a northbound run behind a struggling Scots Guardsman right at the end of its life and a couple of southbound runs with ‘Black Fives’ on the 2pm Glasgow to Liverpool. Back on ‘GBXI’, the two 4-6-0s after Carstairs stormed the long climb to Gobbinshaw summit at a minimum of 62mph which may be a record with steam. Edinburgh was reached just a few minutes late after a wonderful day of pure steam. Has it ever been bettered for variety and loco performance?

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Tortuous route

On Saturday, April 21, LNER B1 4-6-0 No. 1264 took the train to Perth where it was joined by No. 45699 Galatea as train engine on to Inverness over the Highland main line assisted throughout by a diesel on the rear of the train. On Sunday 22nd the B1 took six coaches of ‘GBXI’ from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh and I have shown Sandy’s log of the running from Dingwall in some detail over this tortuous and heavily speed restricted route. It is very rare to see steam on this line and the first time it has been featured in this column.

The gradients are fearsome but the crew of B Duncan and P James did well with the B1 on 235 tons. From milepost 2½ to Raven’s Rock summit the ruling gradient is 1-in-50 and after reaching 35mph at the foot of the climb, speed fell to 18½mph before Achterneed where there is a very short section of 1-in-350 before the 1-in-50
resumes. Speed then settled down to steady slog at 14mph up to the top. The Garve stop was reached over four minutes inside the schedule though this included some recovery time. From there the B1 was faced immediately by another 1-in-50 climb right off the platform this time and speed reached 14mph by the time the gradient eased to 1-in-60, then 1-in-75 to the next summit at Corriemollie, where speed was 21½ mph.

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