Our first main line steam hauled train of 2020 starts the year off with a winter scenic day out from the north-west to the Cumbria Fells.
Travelling outwards over the West Coast Main Line via Shap to Carlisle, time will be available to explore this historic border city. In the afternoon, we head southwards again, but via the highly scenic Settle & Carlisle line. This will be even more special if there is snow about to enhance the breathtaking scenery of the Pennines. The train will be hauled by a steam locomotive from the Carnforth pool.
Our special train will depart from Manchester Victoria at about 07:00 stopping to collect passengers at Bolton and Preston. We enjoy a fast run along the West Coast Main Line (WCML) to Carnforth where we stop for our locomotive to take on water. We climb the first severe gradient up to Grayrigg and then travel through the beautiful Lune Gorge, 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 used to assist trains. After crossing the Cumbrian Fells we descend to Penrith, and then head for Carlisle. We stay in the Border City for over two hours, providing ample time to visit the castle, cathedral, museum and shops, or just to relax in one of the many fine coffee shops, restaurants or bars.
We leave Carlisle and begin to climb as soon as we join the Settle & Carlisle Line, one of the best known and best loved stretches of railway line in Britain. We stop at Appleby, for our steam locomotive to take on water. The route then climbs through Kirkby Stephen towards the highest railway summit in England at Ais Gill, 1,169 feet above sea level. We pass over tall viaducts, including the famous one at Ribblehead, and through tunnels. There are magnificent views across the Fells and to the peaks of Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.
We should have a fast run out of the hills through to Settle before we stop for our steam locomotive to take on water. We continue through Hellifield and Clitheroe to Blackburn, where we stop to set down passengers. We then head for Bamber Bridge and join the WCML at Farington Junction and make our way towards Bolton, where we stop to set down passengers. Shortly after 19:00, we arrive at our final destination of Manchester Victoria, and the end of a truly marvellous day.
*Passengers for Preston travel by service train from Blackburn on the return journey.
Premier Dining includes a full English breakfast and four course dinner silver served at your seat.
First Class includes morning tea or coffee with a bacon/breakfast roll and a Danish pastry and an afternoon service of tea or coffee with a savoury of the day followed by a scone with butter and jam.
Standard Class includes a reserved seat usually at a table for four.
Tables for two can be guaranteed in first class and premier dining 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