The all steam-hauled tour begins at London Paddington and on day one takes the West of England main line to Newquay. Day two includes the route through South Wales to Swansea and the following day follows the awesome Central Wales Line.
Following the highly successful Great Britain V rail tour we shall again divide our train in Scotland, thus operating two trains around Scotland at the same time. Passengers change from one train to the other by travelling across the beautiful Island of Skye. This allows all passengers to experience the spectacular Mallaig & Kyle of Lochalsh routes. There is the option of a day sightseeing in Edinburgh or a trip to Aberdeen and back with an A4 class Pacific steam locomotive. We also travel over the scenic Highland main line.
Day 1: A Castle to Taunton and a West Country with a Battle of Britain to Newquay
The Great Britain VI departs London Paddington a little after 09:00 and steams along the ex-Great Western Railway main line to Reading. Here we join the Berks and Hants route and head for the West of England through Newbury. At Taunton our ex-Great Western Railway Castle class locomotive is replaced by two locomotives - rebuilt West Country class No. 34046 “Braunton” and Battle of Britain class No. 34067 “Tangmere”.
Our double-headed train now begins the climb to Whiteball summit, on the border of Somerset and Devon, before dropping down the Culm Valley into Exeter. We follow the Exe Estuary and then run beside the sea wall from Dawlish to Teignmouth, one of the most superb stretches of railway line in Britain. It is an exhilarating experience to travel along this route through tunnels and rock cuttings right at the edge of the sea.
After Newton Abbot, there are some of the steepest gradients on main lines in this country. First there is the difficult climb of Dainton Bank, up to Dainton Tunnel, before dropping down to Totnes, and then it is the climb up Rattery Bank before the descent to Plymouth. After leaving Plymouth we cross the River Tamar on Brunel’s masterpiece, The Royal Albert Bridge, and enter Cornwall. Our train continues through the wonderful Cornish countryside crossing numerous viaducts en route to Par. From here our two ex-Southern Railway Pacific’s take our train over the amazing steeply graded line to Newquay where we arrive in the late afternoon and transfer to our hotels.
Day 2: Over the South Devon banks to Bristol; through the Severn Tunnel to South Wales
After a leisurely breakfast we depart Newquay mid morning hauled by our two ex-Southern Railway Pacifics. We join the main line at Par and should then enjoy some spirited running through the splendid Cornish countryside. We cross Brunel’s Saltash Bridge before entering Plymouth.
Leaving Plymouth our two steam locomotives demonstrate their true power as they tackle the long steep climbs of Hemerdon and Dainton banks. After Exeter the climb to Whiteball will be followed by a fast run from Taunton to Bristol across the Somerset Levels. At Bristol a Castle Class locomotive replaces the Pacifics for the run to Swansea. The route is through the Severn Tunnel and along the South Wales main line to Cardiff and the terminus station at Swansea. Overnight accommodation is in Swansea.
Day 3: The Central Wales Line with two Black 5’s
Our train leaves Swansea Station steam hauled by two ex-LMS Black 5’s and tackles the difficult climb up Cockett Bank. We are soon on the single track Central Wales Line and our first stop will be at Pantyffynnon where the locomotives take on water. We continue northwards through the glorious Welsh countryside to Llandeilo, and then follow the River Towy to Llandovery. We commence the long and tortuous climb up to Sugar Loaf Summit, which is approached by gradients as steep as 1 in 60, and pass beneath the hills via the 1,000 yard (910 metres) long Sugar Loaf Tunnel. We descend to Llandrindod Wells where there will be a one hour break while our locomotives are serviced. This ‘spa’ town has many ornate style buildings from the Victorian and Edwardian eras and is also home to the National Cycle Collection.
We continue northwards through hills and forests along the sinuous single track. We cross the magnificent turreted Knucklas Viaduct, with its 13 arches, just before Knucklas Station. We stop at Knighton Station in Shropshire, 100 yards from the Welsh border, for our locomotives to take on water and for passengers to ‘stretch their legs’. We join the Welsh Marches line at Craven Arms and continue north-bound to Shrewsbury. Here we take the ex-GWR Birkenhead route through Ruabon and Wrexham to Chester. We pass through Frodsham before joining the West Coast Main Line for our run to Preston, where we have overnight accommodation.
Day 4: A Duchess over Shap and Beattock
Our train leaves Preston mid morning hauled by Pacific locomotive No. 46233 Duchess of Sutherland. We should have a fast run along the West Coast Main Line through Lancaster and Carnforth before the climb to Grayrigg. After Tebay our locomotive will be working hard for the climb to Shap summit, followed by a speedy descent to Carlisle. On leaving Carlisle the Duchess will have an easy run to Lockerbie prior to the great climb to Beattock’s summit, the equivalent to two Shaps in one. We descend to Carstairs where we leave the Glasgow line, then tackle the shorter gradient to Cobbinshaw en route to Edinburgh Waverley. We transfer to hotels in Edinburgh for two nights accommodation.
Day 5: Free day in Edinburgh or an optional trip to Aberdeen steam hauled by an A4 class Pacific
Free day in Edinburgh or an optional trip to Aberdeen steam hauled by an A4 class Pacific Today is a free day to explore Edinburgh. Breakfast at the hotels is included. Optional steam trip to Aberdeen Our train leaves Edinburgh Waverley hauled by A4 class Pacific locomotive No. 60009 Union of South Africa. The route follows the old Edinburgh suburban line then passes Edinburgh airport before crossing the spectacular Forth Bridge. We follow the delightful Fife coast then skirt the Lomond Hills before crossing the famous Tay Bridge into Dundee. Our steam locomotive takes on water here before we head north through Arbroath and Stonehaven to Aberdeen. There will be around two and a half hours to explore the Granite City, the oil capital of Europe. We return to Edinburgh via the outward route over the Tay and Forth Bridges, and hopefully the direct route from Haymarket to Waverley through The Mound Tunnels.
Day 6: Over the Forth Bridge to Inverness or Fort William
Britannia class 4-6-2 No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell will be ready to leave Edinburgh Waverley with our train at around 09:00. We cross the magnificent Forth Bridge, with superb views over the Firth of Forth, and enter Fife. The journey through Fife is both scenic and fascinating; we hug the sea shore for some of the way. At Thornton Junction our train will be divided into two parts. Train 1
Train 1, hauled by No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell, continues through Fife to Ladybank where it takes the single tack line via Newburgh to Perth. We then head northwards along the Highland main line through Pitlochry and Blair Atholl passing through amazing scenery. The terrain becomes more rugged as we climb to Druimuachdar Summit, 1484 feet above sea level, the highest on Britain’s Railways. We descend to Aviemore before beginning the climb to Sloch Summit (1315 ft.), from where it is downhill all the way to Inverness. We transfer to hotels in Inverness for overnight accommodation. Train 2
After reversal at Thornton Junction, train 2 will be hauled by No. 61994 The Great Marquess and head south-westwards to Cowdenbeath and Dunfermline. Here we join a freight line which runs along the Forth to Longannet Power Station and Alloa. We continue through Stirling to the outskirts of Glasgow at Springburn. We pass through Dumbarton before joining the West Highland line at Craigendoran. After a brief stop at Arrochar & Tarbet Station, we observe the tranquil beauty of Loch Lomond. We leave Crianlarich, where the Oban line branches off, and head for the wild and desolate Rannoch Moor. We pass by Loch Treig and through the amazing Monessie Gorge. The highest mountain in Scotland at 4,418ft, Ben Nevis, comes into view as we approach Fort William where we arrive in the mid afternoon. Overnight accommodation is in Fort William.
Day 7: Steam on the Kyle of Lochalsh and Mallaig routes Train 1 – Inverness to Fort William
We depart from Inverness steam-hauled by LMS ‘Black 5’ No. 44871. Premier class passengers will be silver served a full Scottish Breakfast at their seats soon after departure. We pass over the Caledonian Canal on the Clachnaharry Swing Bridge, then take the Kyle line at Dingwall; possibly the most scenic line in the country. The route takes us up to Raven Rock Summit and Luib Summit before we stop at Achnashellach for the locomotive to take water. We descend to the shores of Loch Carron and experience fine views of the lochs and mountains. At Kyle of Lochalsh we join road coaches which take us on a scenic tour over the Skye Bridge on to the Isle of Skye and to Armadale. Here we take the ferry to Mallaig. On arrival at Mallaig our special train will be waiting with steam locomotive No. 61994 The Great Marquess. We enjoy a scenic journey east passing the Sands of Morar and crossing Glenfinnan Viaduct en route to Fort William. Overnight accommodation is in Fort William. Train 2 – Fort William to Inverness
We depart from Fort William, steam-hauled by K4 class 2-6-0 No. 61994, for our journey to Mallaig. We cross the impressive Caledonian Canal at Banavie and run beside Loch Linnhe. The splendid curved Glenfinnan Viaduct is a masterpiece of engineering famous in its own right but given greater prominence recently through the Harry Potter films. Take the opportunity to photograph it, it’s a fabulous sight. We are travelling through some of the most breathtaking scenery that Scotland has to offer. The beautiful colours of the glens and lochs stand out in contrast against the sombre tones of the mountains. There are views of the Atlantic Ocean and distant islands before we reach Mallaig. On arrival at Mallaig we join a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Armadale on the Isle of Skye. Here road coaches will be waiting to take us on a scenic tour through the Isle of Skye and over the Skye Bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh. Here our special train will be waiting for us and we shall be steam-hauled to Inverness by ex-LMS ‘Black 5’ No. 44871. Overnight accommodation is in Inverness.
Day 8: The best of Scottish Scenery en route to Edinburgh Train 1 – Fort William to Edinburgh
We depart from Fort William mid-morning steam-hauled by former LNER 2-6-0 No. 61994 The Great Marquess. We climb out of Fort William through the Monessie Gorge and pass Roy Bridge before tackling the steepest part of the climb up to Corrour (1,350 ft.), the second highest summit on British Railways. We cross Rannoch Moor and continue through Tyndrum to Crianlarich where our steam locomotive takes on water. We face another stiff climb up to Glen Douglas before reaching Garelochhead. From here The Great Marquess will haul our train through Helensburgh and Dumbarton to Edinburgh Waverley. Overnight accommodation is in Edinburgh. Train 2 – Inverness to Edinburgh over the Highland Main Line
We depart from Inverness late morning hauled by No. 70013 Oliver Cromwell. We make the arduous climb up to Slochd Summit (1,315 ft.), probably the most gruelling climb on the whole network. We climb for 13 miles at 1 in 60 followed by another 10 miles at mostly 1 in 60. We descend through Aveimore before commencing the climb to Druimuachdar Summit (1,484 ft.), the highest summit on Britain’s railways. We continue to descend through the Highlands, passing Blair Athol and Pitlochry, before arriving in Perth where our steam locomotive takes on water. On leaving Perth we take the Glasgow main line and climb up to Gleneagles and Dunblane. There are fine views of Stirling Castle after we pass through Bridge of Allan. We continue to Edinburgh Waverley and transfer to our hotels for overnight accommodation.
Day 9: No. 4472 Flying Scotsman from Edinburgh to York and No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley from York to London King’s Cross
Our train leaves Edinburgh in the morning and heads along the East Coast main line hauled by arguably the world’s most famous steam locomotive, Flying Scotsman.
We pass over the Royal Border Bridge at Berwick upon Tweed and enjoy fine views of the North Sea as we pass through Northumbria. We cross over the River Tyne leaving Newcastle and enjoy magnificent views of the cathedral at Durham. On arrival at York there will be a break while locomotives are changed. We leave York hauled by ex-LNER A4 class Pacific No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley and we have requested a fast run back to London King’s Cross. This will be the culmination of our epic all steam tour of Britain.
Tour priced in British pounds. USD final payment based on the value of the British pound at time of final payment. For approximate exchange rates, visit http://www.xe.com.
Deposit for this tour: £100 per person.
Optional Trip to Aberdeen (day 5), includes:
-First class reserved seat
-Full Scottish Breakfast
-3-course lunch with tea or coffee
Cost: £175 Premier Class
Also available in First Class (£119, including Danish pastries, orange juice, tea and coffee; afternoon tea and biscuits)
This journey calls for stamina because of some long days. If you are joining the trip from outside the UK, you will need to arrive in London the night before and stay one night after to make air connections from the U.S. IRT will be happy to arrange for you or make suggestions.
We highly recommend the optional tour from Edinburgh to Aberdeen, but there is limited availability; ask for this at time of booking.
Premier class includes:
• Overnight accommodation and breakfast in 3 and 4-star hotels
• Four breakfasts served on the train
• Eight lunches served on the train
• Five dinners and one Afternoon tea silver served at your seat on the train
• Seating is in first class open coaches with comfortable deep cushioned Pullman style seats
• Apart from breakfast, other meals at the hotels will be at your own expense
First class includes:
• Overnight accommodation and breakfast in 3 star hotels
• Coffee or tea and Danish pastries
• Afternoon tea and biscuits served at your seat
• Seating is in first class open coaches with tables for two or four (supplement £159 per person)
• Apart from breakfast other meals at the hotels will be at your own expense
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