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 scenic Shap Fells to Carlisle and back via the Cumbrian Coast.
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 along the WCML 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 45690 Leander. Leaving Carnforth, we pass the Brief Encounter café and commence the climb of our first severe gradient up to Grayrigg. We then travel through the beautiful Lune Gorge to Tebay, gaining speed for the ascent to Shap. This well-known section of the WCML has a gradient of 1 in 75 and in the former days of steam locomotives banking engines from Tebay were often used to assist trains. After crossing the Cumbrian Fells we descend to Penrith, and then head for Carlisle. There will be time available in Carlisle to explore this ancient city with its cathedral and castle, plus an assortment of shops and cafes.
Our return steam hauled journey to Carnforth takes the scenic coastal route around the Cumbrian Coast. After Maryport, we run along the shoreline through to the industrialised district of Workington, once a centre for the production of iron and steel. There are spectacular cliff edge views as we journey southwards from Workington through to Whitehaven, with the Isle of Man visible on a clear day across the Irish Sea. We run very close to the shoreline for several miles prior to St Bees, famous for its priory and school. We pass Sellafield, where the British Nuclear Fuels works dominates the landscape. At Ravenglass, we meet up with the miniature Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway which is normally steam operated.
At Millom, we head inland and follow the sweeping estuary through Foxfield and Kirkby in Furness. We will avoid Barrow in Furness by taking the ‘Park’ cut off line to Dalton in Furness. After Ulverston, we cross Leven Viaduct and curve along the edge of the bay through to Grange over Sands. There are more views across Morecambe Bay as we cross the lengthy Kent Viaduct at Arnside and approach Carnforth. Here, we shall say farewell to our gallant steam locomotive and our blue Class 86 electric locomotive will take over for a fast run to London Euston. We stop at the same stations as on the outward journey to set down passengers.
*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.
Premier Dining includes a full English breakfast and a four course dinner silver served at your seat.
First Class includes morning coffee with a variety of tulip muffins and afternoon tea with a savoury of the day followed by a selection of cakes and fancies.
Standard Class includes a reserved seat usually at a table for four.
Tables for two can be guaranteed in Premier Dining and First Class for a supplement of £25 per person (subject to availability).
A buffet car is available and serves tea, coffee, snacks and light refreshments.
Approximate timings shown