Wings and Wheels Society.

Cumbrian Fells Express 3-9-2022.

What a brilliant 'big day out' this was, that also included drama as well, we joined our Pathfinder excursion train at Cam & Dursley, with West Coast Railways (WCR) loco 57313 at the helm, with the tour starting from Bristol Temple Meads. The Riviera Mk1 coach set was used, with the addition of a Mk2 Generator coach attached (at this point making the train load 11), enroute to meeting our Steam Locomotive the mighty West Country class Tangmere we had lashings of tea and coffee toast etc served with a choice of Full English or Kippers and Bucks Fizz for breakfast! The day started off with the very sad news that one of our old Class 45/46 Peak Army basher friends Nick Perrin (that also was a Steward for Pathfinder tours) unexpectedly passed away in the week! Hence the wreath on the front of the Class 57, WCRs however requested that the wreath was not put on the front of Tangmere, as they too had lost a much-loved member of staff in the week and didn't want any confusion over who it represented. Many friends of ours (including my past photography teacher Mags and her friends!) were also aboard the train, so much banter followed throughout the day. An operational stop at Bromsgrove gave the passengers a chance to stretch their legs, here we saw a Class 47 top and tailed Northern Bell excursion enroute to Paignton, note: we passed this at a similar place on our return journey. At Crewe Station we also passed another excursion with 2 x green 47's on the front, this Statesman tour also passed us going the opposite way on the Settle and Carlisle later. Worth noting that our tour was the second time the Watts dynasty have worked with WCR, looking forward to future tours this may become the norm as tour operators and providers spread and use the resource available. At Carnforth our 57 uncoupled and dropped onto the rear of the train, whilst Bulleid Pacific No. 34067 Tangmere with a support coach (now making our train load 12) was coupled to the front of our train. And so we departed further north to Carlisle in style. We were told earlier that near to the day WCR requested diesel assistance as required due to the load of the train and other reasons, however the steam loco would be doing most of the work. Not far after departing Carnforth Tangmere certainly did as it erupted into a volcanic beast with lots of smuts and lumps of burnt clinker pelting our carriage and coming in through the windows! This would be a good run at Shap for sure we thought. However all was not well on the train with one of our friends who was suddenly taken seriously ill on departing Carnforth, and due to the quick response of the Pathfinder Mrs Watts and her team, the emergency services were called, with the train making an unscheduled 30-minute stop at Oxenholme, obviously we could not disembark. Paramedics and an ambulance quickly arrived, to assess the situation and our friend and family were taken off the train, with the ambulance dispatched at speed to Lancaster Hospital. We now had the road with Tangers opening it up and assisted when called for from the class 57 at the rear as the train had to make up time, this was short lived as we soon got held at Grayrigg to let an express train pass. A combination of these stops meant that No 67's crew had to ask for banking assistance over Shap Summit (that I didn't stopwatch time in the end), but it was fast of course. We finally arrived at Carlisle, here the train was turned and serviced this would lead us on to our final part of a circular trip along the Settle and Carlisle Railway and onwards to Preston. At Carlisle now with time reduced, a quick visit to the Woodrow Wilson Pub to sample some local ales (and a cracking Corby Stout I must say!) with Andy (Class 50 Crank) and his mate from Gloucester was done, However not too much time was available. Back to the train, after chatting to the footplate men it was clear the WCR boys were going to open the regulator up on this journey and they certainly did, our brief stop at Appleby didn't happen and we went through at some speed! At Kirkby Stephen our recently overhauled West Country was motoring (as seen on YouTube). At Hellifield we had a scheduled stop for water and quickly resumed our path to Preston. We arrived in good time, by this point we were all well fed and ale'd from our dining experience. The WCR Tangmere crew were black with coal smuts, and allowed people onto the footplate, posing for photos etc, the fireman (Big Martin) told me he shifted over 3te of coal on our trip pointing to the tender that didn't have much of the black gold fuel remaining in it. The return part of the journey from Preston was with 57010 and 57012, this went well and didn't hang around either, we saw the sunset and much more ale and wine was consumed, and so finally Pathfinder tours got us back to Cam and Dursley station pretty much on time, what a cracking day. We would all like to thank Pathfinder tours and West Coast Railways for making the day special, with the awesome more recently refurbished Tangmere and its friendly crew. Also putting the day into perspective our thoughts still being with our friends and families as mentioned earlier. Enjoy the photos

Copyright of all pictures in this gallery belong to R Kelsey.