As always we were up with the larks yesterday, ready for our journey by steam up to Carlisle. J arrived in time, and we then set off by taxi to Leeds railway station. This wasn’t by choice by the way but by necessity, seeing as because we were journeying on a Sunday there were no trains running to Leeds at that time in a morning from our station. On arriving at Leeds J and K had a breakfast in McDonalds, (I had already eaten mine at home) and then we made our way onto platform 8 to wait for the train to arrive. There were lot’s of other passengers waiting for it as well.
Eventually the Oliver Cromwell came steaming into Leeds station. We were stood at a spot on the platform where we thought our carriage (J) would stop as usually the carriages are in an order of A, B, C behind the engine with the lower letters usually coming at the back of the train, but when the train arrived our carriage was next but one to the engine, so we had to sprint down the platform in order to board. We made ourselves comfortable, J and K with their backs to the engine, and myself facing forwards (although this seating arrangement changed during the coarse of the journey.)
Then we were off! With a whistle and a puff of steam, the Cumbrian Mountain Express pulled by the Oliver Cromwell and consisting of 12 coaches, departed Leeds City Railway station precisely on time. The weather wasn’t too bad when we began our journey, but it did become misty and cloudy as we joined the Settle-Carlisle railway and so visibility over the Yorkshire Dales from the train was somewhat hampered by this. I tried to take lot’s of photos through the window and had planned to take some from one of the carriage doors with the window down so that the resulting shot wasn’t hampered by the reflection and dirt on the glass, but I had to abandon that idea seeing as most of the train enthusiasts on board were stood at the doors poking their heads out so that they could see the entire train and wearing huge goggles to stop the soot and grit going in their eyes. (and J refers to me as sad!)
We were all allowed a short break at Appleby whilst the engine took on water, in fact we had two water stops on the way up to Carlisle. The engineers on board use a water tube (similar to the ones that firemen use to get water) and they then laid it out along the platform to the engine from a water wagon parked at the station. It gave us all a chance to stretch our legs and take some more pictures of the Oliver Cromwell. (although you are hard pressed to get a shot of it without also getting other passengers in, as they all clamour around for a photograph stood in front of it.)
It’s a wonderful train journey to make, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking and I would have loved to have taken more pictures from the train than I did, but I wasn’t sure how they would turn out because the windows were none too clean, and the further on we journeyed the more the visibility outside worsened. You couldn’t make out the furthest hills and mountains at all, and I still intend to do this journey when the weather is fine so that I can really appreciate it all.
Eventually we arrived in Carlisle on platform 3. We three ran quickly to the front to get some shots of the engine before anyone else was st0od in front of it, then we made our way out of the station. We hadn’t much time. Just under three hours isn’t long enough to see everything, so we fairly quickly made our way to Carlisle Castle and after buying our entrance tickets, (thank goodness K is a member of the Heritage Trust!) we made our way to the keep. Some of you will no doubt remember that K and I had visited the keep at Carlisle Castle keep during our last trip there but it was still enjoyable to look around it all again. Of course there were plenty of K’s favourite stairs to negotiate but she didn’t complain and tackled them without the usual moans and groans. (mind you, after the York Minster tower climb she did, these would seem like a piece of cake!)
After exiting the castle gate, we returned via the under the road concourse so that J could see the cursing stone there and all the other interesting things that line the walls. J wanted to look around the shopping precinct and so we then spent a boring time following him around as he went into different clothes shops. *sigh* (For those readers who may not know this, J is a nightmare to shop with! He will go in a shop with little idea of what he is looking for, look at just about every garment they have on display, including a detailed examinations of it, the price etc, move on, same again, repeat, out of that shop, into another, repeat, etc, etc, whilst a bored and fed up Mum and sister look on.)
He usually ends up buying nothing, and as in this instance we were ‘clock watching’ into the bargain, K and I spent the majority of this time sighing and rolling our eyes at each other in the usual manner that we do whenever we happen to find ourselves in this unfortunate situation. We try and avoid if if at all possible.
Besides which we hadn’t come here to shop! On top of that, my back was giving me jip again. Eventually he sauntered into a branch of HMV where he purchased some CD’s which of course he could have easily bought at home in one of our branches. *Sigh* We began to retrace our steps back to the Railway Station, and on the way, walked through the market where K bought a Hog sandwich with stuffing’ (I had a taste and it was absolutely delicious!) and I foolishly was tempted by a stall selling marshmallow kebabs which consisted of five or six white and pink marshmallows all on a stick which were then covered in hot chocolate sauce! It was absolutely fantastic as you twirled your ‘kebab’ in the chocolate sauce, and apparently according to J, I ended up with chocolate all over my face at this point (he didn’t take a photo of me in this state though which in hindsight was a shame)
I suffered for it afterwards though as by the time we boarded the train for the journey home I was feeling quite sick. Oh well, I always make a point of buying or eating something whilst visiting a place that I can’t get at home, and we certainly don’t have marshmallow kebabs around here! On arrival at platform 4 from where our train was to depart, we could see it being pulled into position by the Oliver Cromwell. Then the engine had to be unhooked from the carriages, reverse out so that they could return back down to the other end ready for the return journey. I tried to capture all of this manoeuvre on my camera, but as always others were stood in the way intent on doing the same thing.
Once the engine was hooked up to the front, we all piled on again. By now the weather had let us down as it was raining, and for the remainder of the return journey it rained consistently. It also became quite dark as well. K and I shared a bottle of wine (J didn’t want any) and actually he spent most of the return journey standing at one of the nearby doors with his head stuck out watching the train. Funnily enough, he didn’t end up with a black face as most tend to do, but we were at the far end from the engine so maybe that was why.
When we arrived back at Leeds, we had quite a wait for our train home, and so J sauntered off for a smoke outside the station whilst K and I had a toilet and then sat down on a bench to wait. As it was the Leeds Festival there were lots of youngsters walking around the station in high spirits so there was much shouting and raucous laughter going on. I was glad when the driver and conductor arrived and we were on our way to be honest. I was feeling really tired and longing to get home to bed.
It was 23.00pm by the time we landed at our station, so we hailed a taxi for the rest of the journey home. J admitted that he had been disappointed in Carlisle, and wished that we had gone up to Edinburgh instead. (he was given the choice) So we will probably plump for Edinburgh next time we go ‘up north’
TG More pictures of our journey from Leeds to Carlisle HERE. p.s don’t forget to click on the blue hyperlinks for more info will you? Enjoy!