Created 29-Aug-18
Returning to the Jacobite in Scotland saw me see an operation that often repeated the success of what I saw some years ago. Now the two train operation has become very much established during the high season, the stock and engines also being very much the same, even the nice brochure quoted previously on my last trip still showed many of the details, including the passage from, the History of the Midland Railway written in 1876. However, scones and artisan cheese selections might be a new addition.

The Jacobite prides itself on offering a number of experiences – it gives an insight into travel from yesteryear, a journey with stunning panoramic views and a chance to share an experience with loved ones that will forever remain memorable. While many still were coming for the locations in a Wizards film, many were also taking in the sight, sound and smell of steam engines at work with WCRC’s ‘vintage’ carriages as their own brochure describes. Here, WCRC find engines that have a fitting nod to the lines past.

This week saw Ian Rileys engines 45407, running as 45157 The Glasgow Highlander and 44871 joined by North East Locomotive Preservation Groups K1, 62005, my personal all-time favourite engine. My last trip saw the K1 absent and on the first day there, it looked as if Riley’s time might have jinxed my return to Scotland to find 45157 standing on the front of the train. With the K1 needing more time to be prepared, the first day saw the two Black 5’s take on the line in splendid form. The following two days saw K1 take the morning train, with 44871 the latter.

It was interesting to note the crews and see them go about their work, both supported by WCRC. NELPG had a crew with Driver John Hunt, the man who literally has written the book about working and driving the West Highland Extension, ‘Driving the Jacobite’ on the controls for the first workings out of Fort William. On the second journey the Riley crew that was led by Driver Matthew Earnshaw who demonstrated with extraordinary skill that the future of steam can be assured if crews and a new generation can master the art of their forbearers. Both displayed the usual, traditional and excellence in both working their engines, but also speaking to passengers and letting them photograph and view the engine at both the start and end of the journey.

It was endearing to see that the many visitors, including many foreign nationals, were saw locomotive operation, performance and support crew teamwork at its very best. Even train crew service was excellent, with friendly welcomes and help to get tickets for the days travel. The fact that the morning service was often booked is a testament to the popularity of the service that might get people wanting the vantage point that the wizard saw from the film, but gets them leaving with an experience of railway travel never to forget.

For me personally, it was a delight to see the K1. It sounded and performed excellently when seeing it at work. The Black 5’s too were great performers and the mix of Eastern and Midland traction this time, gave the line a wonderful feel of the lines history that has often changed with different operators. Last time I came to Scotland, and followed the crews of the Jacobite. Again I quote from the aforementioned Victorian literature that still adorns the West Coast Leaflet,

“If a line were to be built it would have to be by spanning the valleys with stupendous viaducts and piercing mountain heights with enormous tunnels, deep cuttings would have to be blasted through the rock; and mile after mile of high embankments would somehow have to be pilled on soft peaty moors.”

Thus, I managed to get to some other interesting locations chasing the Jacobite, along the route, including the photos between the Beasdale Tunnels and climbed onto peaty moors to get a vantage point that often saw me sinking through the ground and having feet and shoes completely soaked. It was all worth it to witness such engines and crews at work and fate would see sun, K1 and vantage point combine for the photo of the NELPG machine returning to Fort William over Glenfinnan viaduct.

The leaflet continues,

“However great the obstacle, they simply had four obstacles to take – to go over it, or go under it, or to go round it, or to go through it; but go they must.”

I followed these two very different crews, but with both completing the task to the same high standard, often getting a nice wave as again they saw me proudly capturing the moment on camera. I chased after them, over streams and peaty ground, round hills and onto cuttings; but go and chase I must. Again I was happy with my interest. Again I followed the Jacobite.

Jacobite 2018

Visitors 54
107 photos
Created 29-Aug-18
Modified 29-Aug-18
Jacobite 2018