© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2011
The opportunity arose for a drive up to Edinburgh in early
August, with free accommodation to boot - "I could stay a
couple of nights and make it a railway outing....."
Thursday 3rd August:
With business in the Scottish capital over by early afternoon,
we set out in search of rail interest. First target would be the
Sinclair Horticulture peat lines south of Penicuik. Three sites
are listed in the excellent 12EL "Industrial Locomotives"
published by the Industrial Railway Society. Firstly we tried
Auchencorth, where the railway was useable, but not in use
today (RH462365 of 1960 is seen above). "There are a couple
of locos in use at the Whim". So next call was Whim Moss,
where sure enough we found some action, involving a fairly
modern Keef loco (47 of 1994), and a fairly ancient-looking
Motor-Rail "Simplex" (MR22253 of 1965).
Steve, my companion for the trip, fancied a look at the east
coast main line, so our next port of call was the electrified route
near Prestonpans. We had some difficulty finding a decent
photographic location (the light was "all wrong") so after a few
token snaps, we moved on to have a quick look at the
Prestongrange Mining Museum. 12EL lists nine locomotives here,
but they were all locked up, so once again it was a few "token
snaps" of the historic site before moving on.
After some navigational difficulties (the Edinburgh
southern bypass and associated roads post-date my OS
maps....) we found the road which crosses the railway
just to the north of Millerhill yard, and spent an hour or
so in the warm early evening sunshine, hoping for a
train to head out of the yard. None did, of course,
though a couple of trains sneaked in from the north -
both 66 hauled.
And that was it for Thursday - apart from a quick
shower, a pint (Caledonian "Deuchar's" - very pleasant)
and a bite to eat...
The Keef loco trundles back along the main line
with some noisy empties, then heads away
towards the moss. It shunts into a siding to let the
Motor-Rail propel the next trainload of peat to the
The MR has a cap on its exhaust pipe - which goes
tap-tap-tap as the engine idles...
Friday 4rd August:
First on our itinerary for Friday were a couple
more peat lines - firstly, Sinclair's site at Gardrum
Moss, to the south of Falkirk. We needn't have
bothered - the site was closed. "How about a
quick look at Grangemouth?" Well, Grangemouth
wasn't closed, but we couldn't see any activity, so
on we went to the other peat line, L&P's site at
Letham Moss, to the north of Falkirk. Two locomotives had been
in use earlier in the day, but by the time we arrived (about
10:30am) they had been put away. Not a very good start to the
day. The active locos, seen in the shed, are much-rebuilt Motor-
Rails, along with a useable Lister Blackstone. The most modern
locomotive on site, a Motor-Rail of 1969, was dumped in a
dismantled state out in the yard.
I had been aware of the Summerlee Heritage Park at Coatbridge
for several years, always intending to look in on the past, and
never quite getting around to it. Today I achieved that objective.
Summerlee is a venture of the local authority, Monklands District
Council, and admission is free (but would be well worth a
substantial entry fee). The site is devoted to local industry,
much of which now exists in memory only. Of particular interest
to railway enthusiasts are the electric tramway and the
collection of steam locomotives, including Sentinel "Robin", ex
Tennants of Wishaw, and the beautiful Hudswell Clarke No 9
from Bedlay Colliery. I photographed both of these in action in
the 1970s, and was pleased to see them again, though sadly
they are not (yet?) in working order. The other steam locomotive
on site is the enormous 4-8-2+2-8-4 Beyer Garratt no. 4112
"Springbok", built by North British at Hyde Park works in 1957.
We had a quick lunchtime snack in the excellent cafe, then
steered a course for Mossend "There's a spot near the south end
of the yard - we should see one or two freights". We didn't, of
course, though several multiple units, and one light engine
(60001) scuttled through the complex junction. The light was
pretty grim, too, so after an hour or so we headed eastwards
again, to catch the end of the day's activity on the Bo'ness and
We were in time to see the return working of the last steam
train, which duly appeared in the charge of 65243 "Maude" the
ex-NBR 0-6-0, LNER cl. J36. "If I'd realised Maude was in action
today, we wouldn't have bothered with Mossend" I suggested to
Steve. The last train of the day is diesel hauled - on this
occasion by 27 001, in blue livery (never my favourite...). The
gantry at the station approach made for a reasonable shot on its
return to Bo'ness.
"The new class 170 units are in use on the Edinburgh - Glasgow
trains - we ought to get a picture of one while we're up here".
We managed a snap of a couple of units near Linlithgow, then,
duty done, we headed for Queensferry for a look at the bridge.
Taking the road to the shore, we managed a couple of
shots from the harbour. Most of the traffic across the
bridge is in the hands of multiple units, though Steve's
timetable indicated a northbound HST in about an hour.
"Let's go up to Dalmeny station and try a shot there,
then come back down here and get the HST" "We could
probably find something decent to eat too" I replied. Up
at Dalmeny, we were rewarded with 66242 on an empty
coal train; back at Queensferry the HST seemed to take
an age before it finally rumbled out across the bridge.
At last we could head for refreshment - the Hawes Inn
providing good food and drink, and an interesting
selection of photos of the construction of the bridge
So - back to Edinburgh, where we managed to sneak
another couple of pints of the excellent Caledonian
"Deuchar's" ale (The Abbey in South Clerk Street
providing a suitable venue). Tomorrow - home again...
Maude drifts towards Bo'ness; 27001 chugs
up the bank with the day's last train
Saturday 5th August
... via the west coast route near Abington, where traffic was
reasonably busy for a Saturday morning. As usually seems to
happen, a interesting-looking freight headed north in the charge
of a 92, before we stopped beside the line to see several more
trains, including a postal 325, and 60 001 on a lengthy train of
We then headed across country to Leadhills, where I fancied a
look at the Leadhills and Wanlockhead Railway, a 2ft gauge line
being built on the trackbed of the long-closed standard gauge
branch. We arrived before the first train of the day, and there
being no-one around, took a few snaps and departed (making a
mental note to look in again one day). A derelict concrete
viaduct on the unrestored part of the line was worth a picture
too, before rejoining the M74 and heading south. We didn't
travel too far, making a call at one of the superb bakers in
Moffat for lunchtime snacks and a few supplies for the deep
There remained one further objective before the final drive
home - another 2ft gauge setup on a former standard gauge line,
this time across the border in England, the South Tynedale
Railway based at Alston. Our road from Carlisle proved to be
interesting, following the route of the historic Brampton Railway
from Brampton to the South Tyne Valley.
Arriving at Alston, we checked the afternoon's workings before
driving a mile or so north to get a couple of "train in the
landscape" pictures, then back to Alston for a few more snaps.
Today's locomotive was "Helen Kathryn", a most attractive little
Henschel 0-4-0 well tank, built in 1948. This line is well worth a
visit, with attractive stock and scenery - again, another visit
with a bit more time seems worthwhile. Just one more venue to
check out now - "Hazel's Cafe" in the station at Alston, for coffee
and a sticky bun, then home again, via the high road to Penrith,
and the joys of the M6.
Industrial Railway Society
Summerlee Heritage Park
Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway
Leadhills and Wanlockhead Railway
South Tynedale Railway