|37403 waits at Carlisle with the 0515 to Preston|
I say I think as it soon became clear that the weather wasn't playing ball and the Cumbrian coast was shrouded in mist meaning there was little of the promised spectacular views to be seen. So I allowed the gentle rocking of the comfortable Mark II coaches and throb of the 37 to lull me to sleep, and sleep I did. I always sleep with music on anyway and a 37 provides one of the best soundtracks possible!
I was vaguely aware of the train getting very busy as we approached Sellafield, and again Barrow, which was good to see. I got off at Lancaster, had a chat with the driver who confirmed the 37's are allowed a top speed of 80mph now, which we don't get in Norfolk, and got the mother of all videos of the set pulling out towards Preston, which will be included in the compilation of videos I'll post at the end of this series.
|37403 at Lancaster Station|
It's very nice, some lovely parts of the line hug the coast and you can get views like this...
The line also passes West Coast Rail's depot at Carnforth so you get views like this too!
|A couple of West Coast Rail's Class 47's|
|37425 back at Carlisle|
Back at Carlisle for tea, then it was time to head to platform 6 for the journey I had waited for many years to do. The Settle & Carlisle line to Leeds.
|The Northern Rail 158 awaits|
And then it was over the famous Ribblehead Viaduct, where I have watched countless trains pass over thanks to Railcam.
If you have ever watched Railcam's Ribblehead Station camera here it is, a little device bringing great pleasure to many.
Then on to Horton in Ribblesdale and Settle.
After Settle the landscape levels out and it's a fairly straightforward run into Leeds. This is a truly spectacular line, and lived up to expectation. I'm so pleased it was saved from closure in the 80's but I do have a couple of suggestions. Firstly £30 for a Day Ranger ticket on the line is a bit pricey and £90 for a family of 4 for a day has got to be very off putting. Lower the price, do a decent family deal and you will have them flocking. Include a hauled service and you would need extra capacity on the line. There is huge potential for added use of this line but not too much going on to tap into that potential. Secondly, particularly in the Summer run trains a little later. The 1814 was the last service from Carlisle and that really is a tad early.
My own verdict is going to be controversial. I would do the S&C again in a heartbeat, I truly would, but I'd walk over hot coals to do the Kyle - Inverness line. The views on the S&C are wonderful, brought a fixed smile to my tired face, but not the wow factor the Kyle line has. Then there's the terminii. Leeds is ok, but it's not Kyle with it's mountains, Skye Bridge and seals. So I'm sorry but given the choice the Kyle line gets my vote.
I arrived at Leeds roughly 9 hours before my coach to London left, with one more thing to do. I was catching the bus to York, staying there a few hours before returning to Leeds by train, so it was time to find the coach station. A couple of friendly BTP officers gave me perfect directions to Leeds coach station, which is on the large side!
|Leeds bus and coach station|
|Top deck of Yorkshire Coastliner Vovo B5tl|
An hour later and I was at York Station for the first time in 40 years. It turns out I didn't need to see anyone as the station is open all night anyway due to the Trans Pennine services to and from Manchester Airport. And not as entertaining as Carlisle as the freight uses the avoiding lines so not much to see. No open loos either so I wandered into the City, found a 24hr McDonald's, refuelled, and ended up taking pics of York Minster at 1am, as you do!
|York Minster at night|
|The Trans Penine Class 185|
I had time in London to grab a couple of pics, including my first capture of one of National Express's
£400K double deck Levantes.
|The Megabus Volvo B11R Plaxton Interdeck|
|National express double deck Levante|
|L60 looking fantastic in Heritage livery|
I had no plans to make this post so long, but there are other things to report this coming week. So, as promised here is the 9in video of the night in Carlisle and the 37 at Lancaster. Enjoy.