Thought I'd drop this in after an interesting day out last Saturday. Early Summer Cumbrian Mountain Express 21st May 2022 Only our 3rd Steam Hauled Railtour of 2022 and it should be a fun one with the Scot with 12. One of our friends was possibly joining us on his birthday. Possibly because he travels to Crewe on TfW Services; and worse, he belongs to the "don't get up earlier than you need to brigade" unlike us who when we use trains always 'have one behind' as it were, leaving us plenty of time for problems on the rails. Just not to get up early he decided to catch the 0706 off Newport that was due in to Crewe at 0928; our departure time being 0933!!! So he drove to Newport to catch the 0706 and was promptly told there were no trains running north of Abergavenny as the Hereford Station Signal Box 'bobby' hadn't turned up for his early shift. If he'd turned up for the 0552 train he'd have had plenty of time to have driven to Crewe, which is what we always do these days and we got there in plenty of time to have a big Full English Breakfast for less than a tenner at the Brewers Fayre on Weston Road. All maroon stock rolled in to P12 on time. Standards on the front so middle of 3rd carriage for the run over Grayrigg and Shap. We were looking forward to some noisy climbing. All went well to Carnforth U&DGL. 86259 came off and the Scot and POB backed on. Brake test done and all seemed well; until it wasn't. WCR men in orange went to the back of the train and we were eventually told the rear carriage hadn't taken to the air to Vacuum brake changeover. They couldn't resolve the issue so we wondered if the Class 86 would take the train to Carlisle with the Scot and POB either following or preceding us. Not possible in the timeframe so the decision was made to use 86259 to bank the train to Carlisle!! An electric banker; seriously? That's different we thought as a depression descended over the train. 86259 ran down the mainline to access the loop and duly dropped on the rear. Can't say nothing about the run to Carlisle. We wondered how much assistance the Scot would get. Question answered very early on as accelerated out of the loop to 21 through the old station. We passed mp7, the foot of Yealand at 53 with very little sound from the front. Think the Scot was just about taking its own weight. We shot over the summit at mp9 1/4 at 71 just 4m 55s and got to the Scot's maximum 75 before mp10, just 4 miles out. Brisk running got us to a little over 75 at mp13 and Grayrigg was just a minor inconvenience. We blasted through Milnthorpe at 77; Hincaster 77; slowed a little for Oxenholme, 72, and then held 76/77 all the way to the summit. It had only taken 17m 49s. Through the Lune Gorge at a good 75 and onto Shap at 77. Quite bonkers not to lose any speed whatsoever, not even when we were hit by a real squall. Summit duly ignored at 75+ after a mere 26m 26s. The only time speed dropped below 75 was around Penrith, 44, down to 29 just after. Must have been a signal check. At 1301, 54m 49s after we left Carnforth Loop, and a mere 21 minutes down, we arrived in P3 at Citadel. Our average speed had been 69mph. Wandered up front to 'feel the heat' from the bearings but nothing seemed untoward and Mick Kelly was looking forward to the run over the S&C and on to Preston in the afternoon. Loco and POB were detached and ran back to Upperby for servicing leaving 86259 to do the shunting. They got the right away and had fortunately just begun setting back as 4498 ran into the station giving us the opportunity to take some pictures. Not enough time to go into Carlisle really so Mrs S and I strolled over to the '301' for a drink. Beer for me, the excellent Helvellyn Gold; and a nice glass of Waddling Duck Sauvignon Blanc for her. Had a brief chat with a few folks off the 4498 train in the pub before we wandered went back onto the station at 1410 as we were supposed to have been leaving booked time of 1422. The train was still in the through road behind P1 as there had been an issue with points near the box that led to 46115 and the train setting back onto Carlisle A a bit late. After being released by the box we were in P3 ready to leave at 1435 - or so we thought. The train dispatcher pressed the Right Away button but it didn't respond. We didn't move for a while and our train manager Les didn't know why we weren't allowed to depart. Later he came through the train telling us that the battery in the TPWS was flat and they didn't have a spare on the loco or in the POB. Consequently someone from the Support Crew had gone into the City to buy the required battery. Not sure if that happened but by the time we were ready there wasn't a path for us. We were still in P3 at 1550 when 47614 towed SNG's train into P4. Good for the photographers but not for us as we weren't allowed off the train. Getting a bit worried that they'd keep us in the station until the Leeds Service left at 1618 but fortunately the dispatcher returned and we got the Right Away at 1557, 92 minutes down. We got a close look at 4498 in the very different wartime black livery as we crossed over in front of the train. Very different. The sun was still out and there were no concerns about fire risk over the S&C. As I'm still booking 4+4 across, John and I had milepost side seats for the return. We dropped down to Petteril Bridge Jn and even 10 1/2 back we heard the beautiful even note from the front as we set off on the 7 mile 132r to Low House. No blowing drain cocks. That's a rarity. Craig Todd was our fireman. The smoke had a distinct brownish hue as we charged away from the junction. Decent start, 24 at mp307; 36+ at Cumwhinton. Noisy enough to hear 11 back as we passed Howe and Co. Box at 46 and didn't drop below 43.7 on the climb. Good climb. We roared down over Low House Crossing at 55 and passed mp299 at 60. On the next mile of 132r speed fell off a bit to 55 through Armathwaite. and at the end of the 1/2m+ of 220d, we hit a max of 64.7. Speed fell to 62.2 on the short 176r/220r down into Armathwaite Tunnel. Out of the tunnel and climbing almost 2 miles of 220r. Into Baron's Wood No.1 at 55; No.2 at 55, to a minimum of 53 at mp295. A good run over the 165d, 67 max, then through Lazonby and Kirkoswald at 66. We passed mp291 at 67, the start of the 3/4m+ of 264r, left at 64; then through Little Salkeld on the 2m of 132r at 62. We lost a bit of speed on 110r to 57; then through Langwathby, 195f, 57 then back to 61 at mp287 after some lev/264/264d. Onto a mile and a half of 330r, into Waste Bank Tunnel at 62; over Culgaith Crossing on the level at 62.2. More than decent running. We dropped to 57 on the 3/4m of 132r but Mick was still pushing the Scot and we roared through New Biggin at 57 on the 220r; Kirby Thore, 490r, at 58; Long Marton, 300f, 61. We started the mile and a half of 120r at 61 but 46115 was being eased for our water stop at Appleby. We passed mp278 3/4 at 49 and drifted into Appleby Station after an elapsed time of 40m 45s. Impressive and 2 seconds faster than the CME of 8th August 2020 which was regarded as a very good run. Our carriage wasn't on the platform so Mrs S wandered down a few coaches to get off and hopefully bring some Ice Cream back. We were 93 minutes down so it was more in hope than expectation. Sadly no-one was there. Long blast on the Stanier Hooter after a 10 minute stop to replenish the tender tank. Hopefully we'd get an equally impressive climb to Ais Gill as we had in August 2020 when we blasted past the climbing summit at 40 mph. No reason to think it wouldn't be as we had a dry day with dry rails and a locomotive going really well. Speeds from August 2020 are in brackets. We really needed a good fast run to pull back some of the time we'd lost in Carlisle as we left Appleby 93 down. We passed mp277 1/4 on the platform at 13mph and then accelerated to 23 by mp277. Good start. Down the mile of 176f to pass mp276 at 45; end of the 176f at 49. OK but not special. On the 1/4m level, we only got to 52 as we hit the start of the 100r. Over Ormside Viaduct with plenty of noise and smoke but a bit of a drop in speed to 51 as we passed mp275, Mike Notley's start of the 'Blue Riband' section to Ais Gill Summit. Not very close to the 60 mph mark needed for a very good climb. Any thoughts of getting one disappeared rapidly as by mp274 we were down to 44. Speed dipped below 40 as we entered Helm Tunnel. We passed mp273 at 36 (48). Not good as speed dropped further to 31 (42) as we hit the easing mile and 1/4 of 166r. Hmmm, only left it at 33 (44) but we did recover to 43 (48) before Crosby Garret Tunnel and we took 44/5 (52) onto the 100r. My GPS's batteries died then so speeds were from John's from thereon. We passed mp268 at 40 (48) but speed fell back to 34 (45) through Waitby Cutting, and we only ran through Kirby Stephen at 33 (44); and passed mp266 1/2 at the Signal Box at 34 (45). It looked more promising as we picked up a couple of miles an hour to pass mp266 at 36 (46) but by mp265 we were down to 33 (45) and 31 (44) as we entered Birkett Tunnel; so little chance of the hoped for high 30s at Ais Gill? You never know, and over the easing 3/4 mile of 330r around Mallerstang speed rose to 38 (47) at mp263, 3 miles from the climbing summit. Back in the day it was quite normal for locomotives to roar around the last few miles and actually pick up a few miles an hour but we didn't. By mp262 speed was down to 35 (46) and despite the best efforts of Craig and Mick the 100r bit more and we dipped below 30 (41) at mp261. Worse was to follow as we crossed Ais Gill viaduct at only 27 (41). No rally towards the climbing summit passed at 25 (40). Once off the 100r we passed the Summit Board on the level at mp259 3/4 at 29 (42). Disappointing and as the locomotive had performed so well between Carlisle and Appleby and sounded to good we assumed it was the coal affecting the performance. Time elapsed from Appleby to Ais Gill Summit was 30m 18s (24m 32s). Time elapsed over the Blue Riband Section, mp275 to mp259 3/4 was 26m 13s (19m 29s). A somewhat disappointing run. Today's train was full while the August 2020 train was quite lightly loaded. Nothing special 'across the top'. Shotlock Hill Tunnel, 47; Moorcock Tunnel, 48; Dandry Mire, 50; Garsdale 49. Only did mid 40s on the average 350r to Rise Hill Tunnel, 42. Then running across the 'edge' on falling grades, Arten Gill Viaduct 50; Dent Head Viaduct 53. Then up the 264r into Blea Moor Tunnel at 48 . There was a tsr 20 between the tunnel end and the signal box. We rolled onto Batty Moss viaduct at 22 and drifted through Ribblehead Station at only 21. Did the 'usual' on the run down the 100f: Horton 57; Taitland's Tunnel 59; and Settle Station 58. No acceleration down to Settle Jn, 55. Slow run from there to pass Long Preston at 30. We came to a stand in Hellifield Siding at 1801; 108 minutes down. We'd lost 15 minutes to the schedule from Appleby. We left the Goods Loops still 108 minutes down. The timing to Horrocksford Jn is a generous one so we hoped the fire had come around and we could make up some time. With some decent noise drifting back we started well on the short sections of 200r/103r to pass mp34 at 38. Things stayed promising on the mile of 135r/90r/127r/277r to pass mp33 at 47. Speed was held around 47 over the undulating insignificant gradients to Gisburn Tunnel, mp28 3/4, 45. Down the 2 1/2m of 101d the maximum speed was close to 50. The Scot was eased at Chatburn, 22 and we passed Horrocksford Jn Box, lust before mp21 3/4, at 30 on the 170d. Bit slow through Clitheroe on the 104f, 26; now only 97 minutes down. Then a nice noisy pick up to 46 on the 127f to Primrose Viaduct, mp20 1/4. No rush along the level couple of miles to Whalley as there is a 20 mph restriction for steam locomotives over the arches. We had no idea what to expect on the climb to Wilpshire Summit after the bit of a struggle over Ais Gill but the Scot had sounded good since Hellifield with a much cleaner exhaust. We drifted through Whalley Station at 24 onto the arches, the start of 3 miles of 81 1/2r. Nice even note from the front as Mick expertly worked the Scot up the steep bank. We came off the arches at 24 and passed mp17 at 25. Then Mick coaxed the Scot into a gentle acceleration over the next mile, mp16 passed at 27. We had a short slip just after and lost just over a mile an hour but we'd picked that back up by Langho station, 27. The Scot sounded superb now and by mp25 speed was a solid 28. The bank took less than a mile an hour off speed to mp14 1/4 where the gradient eased to 88r. The cutting plays tricks with the GPS and showed us entering Wilpshire Tunnel at 30 and leaving it at 32. Might have been right as over the 1/4m 68r/68r speed only fell back to 28. Now on the 86r we passed mp13 1/2 at 28 and mp13 1/4 on Ramsgreave and Wilpshire Station at 28. I picked out the Gradient Change Summit Marker and we passed it at close to 30 and then passed mp13 over the top at just over 29. For the first time, with me looking forward and John looking back we picked out every milepost between 17 1/4 and mp13. Not that easy as 4 of them had very dirty faces; the heads of 2 were flat on the ground; one head had slipped down to the bottom of the post and 3 were disappearing beneath ever growing ivy. The gradient change summit marker was only just visible above the long grass. Still it proved they were there though by next month I doubt we'll see them all. Kudos to Mick for a really excellent bit of enginemanship ably assisted by Craig feeding the beast. In August 2020 the Scot passed the Summit Marker at 29 after charging through Whalley at 44 mph. Time elapsed from Whalley to the Summit Marker was 10m 29s. In August 2020 we only took 7m 19s due to the unrestricted run over the arches. Unfortunately we were behind the Colne-Preston Stopper from Blackburn, 31, so Mick coasted down through Mill Hill at 20; Cherry Tree at 26. Seemed to work as we accelerated over the 286r/397f to pass Pleasington at 36 and 42 on the 210f across the river at Hoghton Tower. Mick used the long 101f to cross Houghton LC at 44; Mintholme LC at 50 and we passed mp4 at 55 with a max of 56 at mp3 1/2. The service train affected our run then and we were held at 2 signals. Then we drifted through Bamber Bridge at only 17. We were held at another signal before Lostock Hall and then seemed to suffer a sharp TPWS stop before Farington Curve Jn. Once that was cleared we got to 30 as we left the branch and finally came to a stand in Preston at 1938, 104 minutes down. 86259 was outside the station waiting to set back. The loco and POB were detached rapidly and due to some slick cord pulling the Class 86 was on the front with a positive brake check ready to leave at 1945. Control were very good and let us out at 2003, before the London Euston Service, now 'only' 85 minutes down. Think some passengers were worried about ongoing connections but we had a good fast run down to Crewe and arrived there at 2042, 73 minutes down. We got off there and heard the train leave a couple of minutes later. RTT showed it 66 down and only 46 minutes down arriving into Euston. Hope everyone got any connections on the way down. Bit of an extended day for us on the road as we weren't sure that the 2105 Cardiff Service would run, so took John down to Newport. We were still home at 2350. An interesting day out. Got to do a first, even if it was being banked by an electric over Grayrigg and Shap. We got to see 4498 in what is to be a short lived Wartime Black livery that we didn't really like. Had a very good run from Carlisle to Appleby and a superb climb of Wilpshire Bank. Well worth travelling on this CME. The flat battery on the TPWS wasn't a first for us as it happened in Gloucester to 46233 on Steam Dreams' Cathedral Express on 10th October 2017. Someone from the PRCLT had to go into the city then to buy a battery for the TPWS Box that day. Thanks: to RTC for running the train and to Les our train manager and the stewards; to WCR for providing the stock, pity about the braking issue; the excellent 46115; our footplate crew, driver Mick Kelly, fireman Craig Todd who got all they could from the Scot; and our guard whose name I didn't get; to Les Ross for providing his immaculate namesake and allowing its extended use as a banker; and to Network Rail for allowing us to run on the big railway and assisting us to make up some of the time lost that was all outside their control. Our next run is on the Cotswold Venturer next month, booked to be behind Bahamas and hopefully running both ways over Sapperton. Looking forward to that.