Vol 45: The Great Britain IV, 16th-24th April 2011

A 9-day tour of Britain by train, with steam haulage from London to Inverness, Wick to Penzance, and Bristol back to London.


  • 60019 Bittern (running as 4492 Dominion of New Zealand for the first time) on the ECML
  • 46115 Scots Guardsman crossing the Forth Bridge, between Aberdeen and Inverness, and on the Glasgow & South Western.
  • Black Fives 45407 & 44871 on the Far North line from Wick to Inverness, and the Highland Mainline over Drumochter summit.
  • 61994 The Great Marquess on the line to Kyle Of Lochalsh on a still morning that produced some lovely reflections in the lochs.
  • 5029 Nunney Castle on the Welsh Marches route, the Berks & Hants line and accelerating through Sonning cutting.
  • 70013 Oliver Cromwell & Black Five 45305 between Bristol and Penzance.

Watch a couple of excerpts from this production on YouTube:
4492 on Stoke Bank
45407 & 44871 leaving Tain; 45305 & 70013 at St. Germans

Available on Blu-ray and DVD


Sat 16th: Kings Cross-York-Edinburgh

A pair of streamlined A4 class pacifics hauled the first leg down the East Coast Mail Line. We caught 4492 Dominion Of New Zealand (actually 60019 Bittern, on her first trip in her new guise) at Creeton, on Stoke bank, and Weston, by the Great North Road north ofNewark. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley took over at York, but Mark had to be back in Oxford on Saturday evening, Laurie was flying home from the USA and TWR was busy in Lancashire, so we missed her on this occasion.

Sun 17th: Edinburgh-Aberdeen-Inverness

There are only a few free paths for excursions to Aberdeen, and only on Sundays. 46115 Scots Guardsman crosses the Forth Bridge then skirts the North Sea at Lunan Bay, south of Montrose. Turning inland at Aberdeen, we catch up with her above Insch, leaving Keith and finally at Gollanfield Junction (for the former Fort George branch) near Inverness Airport.

Mon 18th: Wick-Inverness

The “Far North” line is another route with few spare paths. The tour train was diesel-hauled to Wick overnight, with the passengers following by road early Monday morning. Ian Riley’s Black Five twins 44871 & 45407 are seen departing Forsinard, approaching Helmsdale and storming up Strath Fleet, between Rogart and Lairg. On more level track by the coast, we see them at Edderton beside Dornock Firth, leaving Tain, and between Muir of Ord and Beauly.

Tue 19th: Inverness-Kyle of Lochalsh and return

Once again, 61994 The Great Marquess gave a great display of sure-footed hill climbing. On the outward trip, she’s seen at Fodderty, Corriemollie, Loch Achanalt and Loch Gowan. As in 2010, the early morning air is still and the lochs mirror-calm. Returning tender-first, we see her at the top of Glen Carron, surmounting Luib summit and alongside Loch a Chuilinn.

Wed 20th: Inverness-Perth-Glasgow

Inverness had four steam locos “on shed” for several days, but all left on Wednesday morning. First, 61994 and 46115 cross Culloden viaduct with three carriages. A little later, we see 45407 and 44871 with the main train on Culloden viaduct, climbing towards Drumochter summit, bursting out of Burnham tunnel at Byres of Murthly, and finally hurrying towards Gleneagles at Aberuthven.

Thu 21st: Glasgow-Dumfries-Shap-Preston

46115 Scots Guardsman was back in charge for the journey over former Glasgow & South Western lines. In early morning mist, the train passes Barr Loch and Kilbirnie Loch, on the line from Paisley to Ayr, crests the summit near Cumnock then starts to accelerate downhill at the head of Nithsdale. After a stop in Carlisle, we see her south of Penrith on the climb to Shap: passing the site of Eden Valley Junction at Clifton, near Great Strickland and approaching Shap village. Finally, we caught her at Forton (known to railwaymen as “Bay Horse”), just south of Lancaster.

Fri 22nd: Preston-Crewe-Hereford-Bristol

Because of gauging problems, 5029 Nunney Castle was a last-minute substitute for 6024 King Edward I. We first see the train restarting from a signal check at Preston Brook, and climbing towards Shrewsbury at Marley Green and Marbury between Wrenbury and Whitchurch. On the Welsh Marches route, we see it working hard at Church Stretton, Pandy and Llanvihangel. Finally, we see the train bursting from the east portal of Seven Tunnel and climbing from Pilning to Cattybrook.

Sat 23rd: Bristol-Penzance

45305 & 70013 Oliver Cromwell are both run by the 5305 Locomotive Association and this was the first time they had hauled a train together. We catch up with them at Beam Bridge and Whiteball tunnel, west of Wellington, on the fierce gradients at Dainton and Rattery, and St Germans between Plymouth and Liskeard.

Sun 24th: Bristol-Newbury-Paddington

On a sunny Sunday morning, 5029 Nunney Castle stretches her legs on Great Western metals, running through Bath Spa station, climbing through Market Lavington and Wootton Rivers on the Berks & Hants, and finally accelerating through Sonning Cutting on the “up main”.




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