© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011 "There's a Deltic hauled special going from Shrewsbury in a couple of weeks time - do you fancy a trip" mentioned Dave ("you can't beat a good day out gricing"). "Sounds good - let's do it!" I first discovered the Deltics in the early 1960s when, as a schoolboy number cruncher, I visited Northallerton station on the east coast main line. It was really the steam locos we wanted to see - especially the A4s (and preferably not another WD 2-8-0, please) - but the Deltics were special even then. Looking north down the long straight main line, trains appeared as a black spot, which gradually became larger and audible, ideally with a plume of steam and smoke. With the Deltics, you seemed to sense that throbbing hum even before the black spot appeared - the sound seemed to carry for many miles across the flat lands. And they really seemed to thunder through the station - the Peaks and EE4s were much more sedate! But a purple one! Really! The colour doesn't matter, of course, when you're in the train. This tour, organised by Pathfinder Tours, started from Newtown (this diary entry gets stranger by the minute), picking up at Welshpool (I don't think there have been too many Deltics down the Cambrian), then Shrewsbury. It continued via Gobowen, Wrexham and Chester, then joined the west coast main line at Warrington. Last pick-up point was Wigan, before taking the familiar route via Blackburn to the Settle and Carlisle. I haven't been on too many railtours recently - the timekeeping can be a nightmare when there are connection to make on the homebound journey, and some of the participants, clearly soccer hooligans in training, can mar the trip somewhat. With this one, there weren't any connections to make - we'd take a chance on the latter. I must admit to wishing I hadn't read the Heritage Railways digest the previous evening - a correspondent complained of nazi-saluting lager louts on a recent Deltic-hauled special. I needn't have worried. This train seemed to run on, or ahead of time, throughout (apart from one station stop....). And our fellow travellers? Couldn't have been nicer! (I have to admit that I was possibly the youngest at our end of the coach!) Apparently, a substantial number of tickets had been allocated to booking agencies in Newtown and Gobowen - most of the travellers were just members of the public on a day out, substantially outnumbering the gricers. Having left Blackburn much earlier than scheduled, we were soon through Hellifield and onto the former Midland main line. "Last time I was hauled by a Deltic up here was in January 1969", I mentioned to Dave "on the Last Day of the Waverley Route special" (see Last Day of the Waverley Route). We were early arriving at, and leaving, the obligatory photo stop at Garsdale - which meant we were early at Carlisle - getting on for half an hour. Time for a few snaps of the train - and to say hello to my son, who was just passing through on an Edinburgh-bound HST! - and then a stroll into Carlisle, where we found our way to the castle - well worth a visit. The return run, down the main line before retracing our steps from Wigan, was excellent - we made up time all the way to Chester, where a lengthy pause was scheduled. Might we get away early? We did - but to no avail. The lengthy pause was obviously to await a northbound Shrewsbury - Chester working clearing the single track from Wrexham. So we got as far as Saltney Junction - there to wait until the class 158 rattled through, fortunately on time. There was a worrying moment when the brakes didn't seem to want to release at Wrexham... ...and finally, we were stopped outside Shrewsbury, to wait for a Crewe-bound working to clear the junction - so that we were, in the end, a couple of minutes late. But what a great trip it had been. Can we have some more like this one please? Link: Pathfinder Tours 9016 at Garsdale 9016 at Garsdale Deltic on the S&C Nameplate on 9016 Motive power miscellany, Carlisle Carlisle - ready for departure