There are times when you think just about the impossible has happened when watching Railways. Today was one such day. Should someone have said 15 years ago, that the Royal Train might visit Bishop Auckland again then you might have believed them. Should it be steam hauled and youd think they were dreaming. Should it then be by a class of engine that was extinct and has since returned - well youd have been censured and laughed out the room!
But today, thats exactly what happened...
60163, which is no stranger to grabbing the headlines made a return to Royal Train duties, hauling the Prince of Wales to Bishop Auckland to view paintings and a Castle recently sold by the Church of England to a local benefactor. It meant the Royal Train being hauled to Bishop Auckland, by steam, an event so rare that would have bankrupt Ladbrooks if a bet was placed a year ago. Tornado was watered and given some maintainance while there, before then being hauled by 67026 in Diamond Jubilee livery back to Darlington for the run north on the ECML.
This is not the easiest line to chase, it lends itself for the train to be able to run at speeds of 75mph at ease. Having been seen near Preston-le-Skerne (with some good company!) at speed, Tornado had a clear head start which took some catching up. The race was on and with seconds to spare it passed me on the approach to the King Edward Bridge as I was walking onto the Redheugh. There was no option but to sprint onto the Bridge and having run far enough I clicked away to the best the vantage would give, yet it still brought good results.
This time directions and my ususal good navigational skill deserted me, so much that I ambled around north of Morpeth trying to find the mainline. I stubled across Widdrington Station, when the barriers came down and you guessed it - a Peppercorn whistle blew in the distance. The shot was a right off, the angle useless, but you cant get it all right.
While Charles alighted at Alnmouth, it gave a chance to press northwards. The road brought me to Beal, the barriers came down and stayed down. Given the warning it could be only one thing. The empty stock hove into view at speed, Tornado running well.
Sometimes the desire for that photo you want spurs you on to reach limits. Chasing it though Berwick brought nothing. The view obscured by angles and the knitting of the cables. The Scottish border seemed a good place to head for given I had come this far. I headed for somewhere I now know as Burnmouth, and planted myself in a field I saw someone else in too. Finally, the picture of the train, the steam and the sea.
Perhaps one of the longest chases that I have done. With some mixed results, some brilliant. But from a lad grown up in 51A area, that Royal Train chase started at Bishop - I still can't believe it!
© The Black Hat