With these trains we expect to recreate the early days of steam rail tours in the 1980s when travelling over the Cumbrian Fells was the icing on the cake in the main line steam calendar.
We have a high-speed journey down the West Coast Main Line to Carnforth, hauled by a blue Class 86 electric locomotive. We then enjoy a circular steam tour from Carnforth outwards via the Cumbria Coast to Carlisle and back via the scenic Shap Fells.
We leave London Euston at around 07:00 with electric traction, and speed north along the West Coast Main Line (WCML). We stop to pick up passengers at Milton Keynes (where passengers from Watford Junction join by service train), Rugby (where passengers from Northampton join by service train), Nuneaton and Crewe. We continue north to Preston, our final stop to pick up passengers.
We pass through Lancaster and along the edge of Morecambe Bay before we arrive at Carnforth. Here, we will change over our electric locomotive for today’s steam locomotive, expected to be 45699 Galatea or 45690 Leander. Leaving Carnforth, we follow the Cumbrian Coast line towards Arnside, where the Kent Viaduct stretches across the wide estuary. We follow the edge of Morecambe Bay through Grange over Sands and cross Leven Viaduct and approach Ulverston. At Dalton Junction, the line to Barrow in Furnace forms a loop before heading northwards through Askham and Kirky in Ashfield and Foxfield. At Millom, we head northwards and follow the shoreline through Silecroft and Bootle, and then Ravenglass. At Ravenglass, we meet up with the miniature Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. We pass Sellafield, where the British Nuclear Fuels works dominates the landscape. We run very close to the shoreline for several miles prior to St Bees, famous for its priory and school. There are spectacular cliff edge views as we journey northwards from Whitehaven through to industrial Workington, once a centre for the production of iron and steel, with the Isle of Man visible on a clear day across the Irish Sea.
We leave the coast behind at Maryport and make our way towards Carlisle, where there will be an afternoon break. There will be time available in Carlisle to explore this ancient city with its cathedral and castle, plus an assortment of shops and cafes. We leave Carlisle and return southwards over Shap Fells to Carnforth. The southbound climb to Penrith is a challenge to locomotives heading south due to its prolonged rising gradients. Once through Penrith, there is no let up in the climbing as an even greater effort will be required to keep our steam locomotive moving against the raising gradients. Our journey continues over the summit at Shap, some 916 feet above sea level, and through the Lune Gorse and down the falling gradients through Oxenholme back to Carnforth. Here, we reluctantly have to say goodbye to our steam locomotive. Our blue class 86 electric locomotive with now take over for a fast run to London. We stop at Preston, where Blackburn passengers should alight, and set down at the same stations as on the outward journey back to London.
*Passengers from Watford Junction will travel to Milton Keynes by service train to join our train.
**Passengers from Northampton will travel to and from Rugby by service train to join our train.
***Passengers boarding at Preston will return to Preston by service train from Blackburn.
Premier Dining includes a full English breakfast, light lunch and a four course dinner silver served at your seat.
First Class includes morning coffee with a Danish pastry and afternoon tea with a savoury dish followed by a selection of fancies and cakes.
Standard Class includes a reserved seat usually at a table for four.
A buffet car is available and serves tea, coffee, snacks and light refreshments. Tables for two can be guaranteed in first class and premier dining for a supplement of £22 per person. (subject to availability)
Approximate timings shown