© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011 Earlier in the year, we'd planned to go on a rail excursion - to Carlisle, with the outward journey following the Cumbrian Coast. At the last minute, the trip was cancelled (staffing problems, I recall) and we had not only a full refund but a voucher for £20 off a subsequent trip with Compass Tours, the organisers. This one - "The Lakeland Scotsman" - would be both good value and of interest - it would pick up starting (I've no idea why!) at Codsall, near Wolverhampton, then Telford, Wellington, Shrewsbury, stations to Crewe, lastly Preston, then via the main line to Glasgow. We'd have nearly 5 hours in the city. "Yes, let's go for it!" In the event, the pick-up time was earlier than originally anticipated (6.15am - argh!) and set-down later (11.45 pm, or thereabouts). At the same time, circumstances meant my friend, the organiser of our little party, was unable to come. My wife, bless her, volunteered to take his place (I did suggest she could sleep on the train...) We were a few minutes late leaving Telford Central, but with a pair of 47s on the front, we made up time easily in the somewhat slack schedule, such that we had a longish stop at Preston, and some time later at Carstairs, arriving there some 40-odd minutes early. The onward journey to Glasgow Central was slow... I'd planned to escape the city, and examined a number of possibilities. In the end, we settled on a SPT "Daytripper" - just £16 for two adults and up to four children on trains, buses and ferries within the area... ...so within minutes of arrival, we were leaving Central station on the next Gourock train. A later, faster train, advertised as connecting with both the Dunoon ferry and the Kilcreggan ferry, would have meant little time for photos. I'd considered Dunoon, but that would have meant following the same route back to Glasgow Central (and an additional fare). So we travelled on the "Seabus", operated by Clyde Marine, across to Kilcreggan, at the tip of the Rosneath peninsular. The ferry makes several trips across the Clyde between Gourock and Kilcreggan every day - two trips, including ours, continue across the mouth of the Gare Loch to Helensburgh. We were hugely fortunate with the weather - earlier rain had given way to sunshine and showers. We had the latter on the train from Central, and at Gourock, but as we crossed so the skies cleared and we had glorious sunshine for the very scenic crossing. I'm not sure what Helensburgh looks like on a grey day, but from the sea, in the sunshine, it looked almost Mediterranean (I may be exaggerating a little). There's a half-hourly service from Helensburgh to Glasgow (Queen Street) - plenty of time for a brief stroll, plus refreshments (haggis and chips - wonderful!) before the trip back along the northern bank of the Clyde. Time too for a little shopping before rejoining our excursion train - most of the return trip would be in darkness, so some reading material would be useful. Despite the darkness, the return run was of some interest. Firstly, no sign of our 47s (I've no idea what happened to them) - instead, a solitary 67 would haul the train. Departing from Central at the same time as a Crewe-bound Voyager, we were routed via Wishaw so that it could get ahead of us. A very slow run from Penrith to Preston was a little worrying. We had been advised that we would be routed via Manchester due to engineering works, and I guessed the Euxton - Bolton line, so I was a little surprised on realising we were passing through Wigan. In the event, we joined the original Liverpool and Manchester line at Newton-le-Willows and travelled via Manchester as advised. And despite the slow run, we weren't late - arriving eventually at Telford within a minute or two of the schedule. It had been a long day (there were probably a few zombies in Shropshire the following day!) but it had been an excellent day out - well done, Compass Tours. Links:   Compass Tours SPT Daytripper Kilcreggan Ferry Arrival at Gourock 334 028 shortly after arrival, Gourock The boat train - 334 034 Gourock arrivals Calmac "Jupiter / Iupadar" arrives at Gourock from Dunoon Jupiter and the Kilcreggan "Seabus" Hand-brake turn at Gourock Gourock station exterior - time for a lick of paint? Riding shotgun Interesting weather - Cloch point and Cowal Looking back to Gourock and Cloch point Strone Point and the mouth of Loch Long Kilcreggan Pier Leaving Kilcreggan Rosneath view Gare Loch Helensburgh - view from the Clyde Helensburgh - goodbye to the Seabus Helensburgh Pier Helensburgh shore Helensburgh Central - 334 units 320 308 - our train back to Glasgow 334 030 Helensburgh