Day 1: London – Bristol 71000. Our train departs from London Paddington around midday hauled by 8P Pacific 71000 Duke of Gloucester. A celebratory glass of champagne will be served to all on departure. Our route today is through Reading, Didcot and Swindon to Bristol. A four-course lunch will be served to passengers traveling Premier Class. On arrival at Bristol, we transfer to our hotels for overnight accommodation and breakfast.
Day 2: Doubleheaded – Penzance - Bristol. We depart from Bristol early in the morning and travel down the West of England Main Line diesel hauled. On arrival at Penzance, there will be a break to visit the town while our two steam locomotives receive final preparation and are attached to our train. At around 13.00, we steam out of Penzance hauled by our classic pair of Great Western locomotives, 5051 Drysllwyn Castle and 6023 King Edward 1st. We curve around Mount’s Bay with views over St. Michael’s Mount and the English Channel. Soon we are passing through Truro, the county town of Cornwall. We continue through Cornwall over high slender viaducts and through short tunnels while enjoying lovely scenery.
Just before arriving in Plymouth, we pass over Brunel’s masterpiece The Royal Albert Bridge next to the more modern Saltash Road Bridge with superb views over the estuary. We break our journey in Plymouth while our locomotives are serviced. On leaving Plymouth, our two locomotives will be working flat out on the assault of Hemerdon Bank before we drop down through Totnes and then tackle Dainton Bank. Soon we are running along the sea wall through Dawlish possibly the most spectacular stretch of railway in England. We pause at Exeter to take water before climbing up to our last major summit at Whiteball. At Taunton, we say goodbye to our Drysllwyn Castle and continue to Bristol with King Edward 1st. Overnight accommodation and breakfast in Bristol.
Day 3: The Duke takes us to Preston. After breakfast, we rejoin our train under the historic train shed at Bristol Temple Meads hauled by the magnificent Pacific 71000 Duke of Gloucester. We climb steeply out of Bristol through Filton and Patchway before entering the four-mile Severn Tunnel. We take the avoiding line at Newport to join the scenic Welsh Marches route. Soon we are climbing through Wales up to Llanvihangel Summit and then dropping down to the cider capital of Hereford where you will have the opportunity to visit the city. On leaving Hereford, we head north through Ludlow and Shrewsbury to Crewe where 71000 will again take water. We continue along the West Coast Main Line to Preston where we stay overnight. Overnight accommodation in Preston.
Day 4: Duchess to Glasgow. We depart Preston mid morning hauled by 6233 Duchess of Sutherland as we traverse its old stamping ground. We climb Grayrigg Bank and pass along the delightful Lune Gorge before commencing our assault on Shap. We pause for water at Penrith in the Lake District before heading down through Carlisle and into Scotland at Gretna Junction. Soon we will be climbing up to Beattock Summit and the Scottish hills will be echoing the beat of our locomotive. But all too soon we will be rushing down to Glasgow where a late afternoon arrival at the superb train shed of Central Station is expected. Overnight accommodation and breakfast in Glasgow.
Day 5: An A4 from Glasgow. We depart Glasgow Central hauled by A4 Pacific 60009 Union of South Africa. We head east through Coatbridge and then north through Cumbernauld to Larbert. Soon we will enjoy views towards Stirling Castle as we pass through this fine city before climbing up to Dunblane. We pass through Gleneagles before arriving in Perth. Here 61994 The Great Marquess will be attached to double head our train for the climb to come. On leaving Perth, we pass through magnificent scenery as we pass Pitlochry and Blair Athol before climbing to the summit at Drumochter at 1,484 feet. Soon we are drifting downhill through Kingussie to Aviemore. At Aviemore we detach The Great Marquess and continue to Inverness with 60009 unassisted. Overnight accommodation in Inverness (2 nights).
Day 6: Free Day. Today is at your leisure to explore the highland capital. Overnight accommodation in Inverness.
Day 7: To the Far North with Steam. After breakfast, we join our special steam hauled train at Inverness Station today hauled by former LMS 8F 2-8-0 48151. We leave Inverness by way of Rose Street Junction and soon after cross the Clachnaharry Swing Bridge with fine views over the Firth. We pass through Dingwall, Alness, Fearn, Tain and Inveshin to Lairg where there will be a break while our locomotive takes water. On leaving Lairg we climb up to Lairg Summit before dropping down to the sea at Golspie and then running alongside the sea to Brora. We continue to head north with fine views over the sea until we turn inland again at Helmsdale where we climb through Kinbrace and Forsinard to the line’s summit at County March. At Georgemas Junction our locomotive runs around the train and we head north to Thurso, Britain’s most northerly railway terminal. Overnight accommodation and breakfast in Thurso and Wick.
Day 8: Return to Inverness. After breakfast, we transfer by coach via John O’Groats to Wick Railway Station where our train will be waiting. We run to Georgemas Junction over moorland and then retrace our steps back to Inverness hauled by our gallant 8F 48151. Overnight accommodation and breakfast in Inverness.
Day 9: Homeward Bound. It will be an early start this morning from Inverness. Our train will be hauled by A4 Pacific 60009 Union of South Africa piloted by 61994 The Great Marquess. It is a tremendous climb from sea level at Inverness to Slochd Summit (1315 ft) one of the really difficult climbs on Britain’s railways. On arrival at Aviemore we say goodbye to our brace of steam locomotives and head south to London diesel hauled calling at Edinburgh, York, Grantham, Peterborough and finally Kings Cross after what should be the greatest rail tour of the UK ever.
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