I’m by no means a train fanatic :o) but I am rather partial to vintage “stuff” and steam locomotives fit this category. The “Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express” tour started last weekend, so this weekend after a quick weather check I decided to make the 45 minute journey to Ribblehead. I arrived about 45 minutes early, allowing enough time to decide on a good viewpoint.
History tells us that one thousand navvies built this mighty impressive structure and established shanty towns on the moors for themselves and their families. There were smallpox epidemics and deaths from industrial accidents (we don’t know how lucky we are these days). Work commenced in 1870 and ended in 1874, around one hundred navvies were killed during its construction.
Anyway, the conditions were promising for obtaining a decent image, the sun was getting low, nice colour in sky and clouds, perfect for a silhouette shot! The locomotive “Duchess of Sutherland” was scheduled to cross the 24 arch viaduct at 16.27 and after trudging across the sodden moor to get to my preferred spot, I’d only been there for a few minutes when another nearby photographer shouted “trains coming”! I didn’t check my watch but I’m pretty sure it must’ve been approximately 15 minutes early. At least I’d had just enough time to take a few test shots to set up the camera.
Now I’m not on my own in saying that when the eagerly anticipated scene unfolded, it was rather an anti-climax. I know the viaduct runs downhill in a southerly direction so the two elements of smoke and steam aren’t going to be as prolific as when the engine has to work harder but the Duchess seemed to limp across Ribblehead going so slow that there was barely a trace of exhaust. Maybe it had slowed down to get back on schedule…?
For me, the smoke and steam is a must have, so…’tis a good excuse to go back soon!