The Citadel 09 November 2019 – 44871 & 45407 hauling 10+2 POBs Ian Riley Railtours set the bar very high with last year’s inaugural Citadel; the load was light (9 coaches) and the weather was good and so were the times. This year the train was 12 coaches and full – how would the girls fare? The day (night) was cold and I had to scrape the ice from my car before driving the 8 miles to Bolton (on the way I was treated to a spectacular orange sunrise). There was a bitter east wind blowing as around 100 passengers waited on platform 4 for our train to arrive. The train looked superb as it pulled into the platform; 44871 leading 45407 at the head of 12 maroon coaches. I took my (backward-facing, aisle) seat at the very back of the 11th coach; still it was nice and warm. The warmth was a leftover from the ETH on the ECS move; despite various attempts to fix it, the steam heating did not work throughout the day. We left 1L towards Chorley. The line climbs gently (av 1/450r) to a summit just beyond Horwich Parkway, near to where we crossed under the M61 (60.1). We cruised at around 60; Blackrod (61 & 1L), Adlington (61.2 & RT), Chorley (62.1 & 1E) then we braked approaching Buckshaw Parkway (20 & 5E) and we stopped for 4 min before Euxton Jn. Once away we trundled up the WCML (FL) before branching off at Farington Jn and up the chord to Lostock Hall Jn (21 & 1¾L). Here the climb to Hoghton begins with ¾ mile of 1/224r to Bamber Bridge (31 & 2½L); the gradient then stiffens towards Gregson Lane (2 miles of 1/99r) followed by a further 2 miles of 1/101r to the summit; we held 31/2 all the way with 33.3 at the summit (as most of the train headed downhill). Some steady running in the mid 40s saw us stop in pl1 at Blackburn (5¼L); this was our final pick up. The man with the seat alongside me had stayed in the buffet car for some time and when he returned he kindly offered me his window seat. We departed 5L, through the tunnel, across Daisyfield Jn followed by the climb up to Wilpshire; much less testing in this direction with 2 miles of 1/127/162r topped by a brief 1/73r. The view back towards Blackburn from the A6119 at Brownhill has been restored in recent months as all the vegetation has been cleared in preparation for house building. Let’s hope that a view remains. It was good steady acceleration up to 34.5 as we crossed under the A6119 and, as the 11th coach passed the summit, we were up to 35.3. Through Ramsgreave & Wilpshire (40.6 & 6L); speed was held around 50 as we headed down the bank; Langho (1½L), Whalley (1¼E). We made our way towards Clitheroe before slowing whilst the preceding unit crossed over at Horrocksford Jn to return towards Blackburn; it was just drawing into Clitheroe as we passed through (4¼E). We carried onto our water stop at Chatburn, arriving 1E. We had a booked 65 min stop, trapped in a cold carriage – oh joy! I obtained crew details from a couple of sources and I hope that they are correct. 44871 – driver Mick Rawling, fireman Callum Titley; 45407 – driver Chris Cubitt, fireman Matt Durkin. Roly Parker was the guard. Our scheduled allowed 16 min to run the 11¾ miles from here to Hellifield which seemed odd on a 45 mph line; I thought that we might leave early. The guy sitting alongside me took his bag and coat and moved elsewhere (warmer?). Our departure time came and went and we finally left 7L and ran with no great urgency; only 25 as we climbed the 1/101r through Rimington. In retrospect, with several delayed trains through Hellifield, I wonder if a “slot” had been agreed with the signalman at Hellifield. Whatever it was, with the briefest of stops at Hellifield signal box (10s), we were onto the main line. We accelerated through the platform (20.5 & 14½L), speed built quickly and we sped through Long Preston (48.5 & 15L). A mile before Settle Jn and we were up to 60, past Settle Jn SB (62.9 & 14½L), we reached a max of a little over 63 before the gradient began to bite. With 12 coaches we were climbing very well; 54.1 as we shot through Settle (14L) but inevitably we began to lose some momentum and speed fell to 41 as we entered Stainforth Tunnel. The girls dug in with a minimum of 39.9 across Sheriff Brow. The miniscule easing (less than ¼ mile of 1/200r) before Helwith Bridge saw us back up to 42 (but still 14½L). Now for some respite and we reached 47.1 on the level as we approached Crag Hill Farm. We thundered on with 43.5 through Horton in R, up to 44.2 on the brief easing to 1/200r and 44.5 on the second easing (MP243.5), this was good stuff! We were still travelling at 43 as we passed Selside cottages but down to 41.7 at Selside. Speed gradually fell back as we ran parallel to the road at Selside Shaw, and was down to 39.4 as we ducked under the road bridge. We were now only a mile from Ribblehead and speed was allowed to fall; Ribblehead (32.5 & 14¾L), across Batty Moss and past Blea Moor SB (29.5 & 14¼L). There was no charge towards the tunnel, we briefly touched 30 and into Blea Moor Tunnel at 29.9. The times are a testament to a very good climb with a heavy load. Settle Jn SB to Blea Moor SB 19m 41s and Settle Jn SB to Blea Moor Tunnel S 21m 20s. Even 11 coaches back and with all the windows closed (a very cold day and no heating) it had been possible to hear the girls going about their work. Even though we were running late, there was no merit in gaining speed as we had the 20 mph TSR at Dent Head and the 30 mph PSR at Dent to contend with. Once clear we set about regaining the deficit; Garsdale (59.7 & 16L) across Dandry Mire at 62.9 and Ais Gill summit (56.2 & 16L) and onto the downhill. We pressed on with speed around 60ish, we slowed through Appleby (54.7 & 14½L), Kirkby Thore (59.8 & 12¼L) and Culgaith Xng (60.6 & 12L). We stopped in Langwathby (13¼L) to take water from a tanker parked on the station car park. The carriages were out of the platform and we were booked for a 46 min stop. The locos had run almost 69 miles from Chatburn. Our stop was reduced to 30 min and we left 3E for the final 20 miles to Carlisle. There was a dusting of snow on the top of Cross Fell – brrr! By Lazonby we were 3¼E, down through the tunnels and up to Armathwaite (47.4 & 2¾E), down again and 53.8 across Drybeck Viaduct where we began to slow; presumably the Low House Xng distant was sighted at caution. We ran slowly to just short of the Xng and stopped for 3 min before proceeding. It transpired that signal wire was broken. We passed the crossing 3¾L and with only 8 miles to Carlisle our hopes of a RT arrival had taken a knock. On past Howe & Co SB (59.9 & 4½L), reduced to to 3L at Petteril Br Jn, still in with a chance – until we were held for 3 min at Carlisle S Jn. We finally stopped in pl3 at Carlisle 5½L. I had time for a walk to the front to see the locos which were just as splendid as on Sunday. Ian Riley was at the regulator of 45407 and Mick Kelly was about to get into the cab of 44871, I saw Mick Rawling on the platform but not Chris Cubitt (off at Langwathby?) I wandered off to the WW for fish and chips; the choice at Wetherspoons is becoming more McDonalds by the week (other fast/junk food outlets are available). I had a couple of errands in the centre and then returned to the station. The ECS had remained in the platform and after a few minutes the girls appeared; all steam and smoke in the cold air as they approached the station. Once coupled up it was time to return to my seat, now at the front of the 4th coach. Informed opinion was that we should get some heat as we were now closer to the locos – no such luck. The crews were (as informed to me); 44871 – driver David Blair, fireman Matt Earnshaw, 45407 driver Ian Riley, conductor Mick Kelly and fireman Phil Akester and Peter James was the guard. We left at 15.18 (RT), still in daylight and still dry. Leaving Carlisle there is ¾ mile of level track (28.4) followed by around 4 miles of 1/131r towards Wreay, topped at 42.9. The gradient then eases for 1¾ miles (1/184r) topped at 47.3, a short ¼ mile of level track allowed speed to reach 50.1. Windows were shut but they could not keep out the wonderful noise from the front. Next comes 3 miles of 1/228r, just over ½ mile in we passed Southwaite (51.6 & 2½L) and went on to top the section at 54.8. The gradient tightens to 1/172r approaching Calthwaite and speed fell back to 53.7 but the girls fought back and the ¾ mile of 1/164r that follows was topped at 55. Next onto the level and past Plumpton loop (60 & 1L) with 59 at the end of the level section. Onto 2 miles of 1/186r with a min of 54 just south of where the line crosses the B5305 – Black 5s everywhere! We reached 60.4 in the dip before Penrith and thundered through the station at 58.9 (RT) before we began slowing for our time inside in the Eden Valley Loop; we stopped, after a slow run in, 1¾L. We were booked to wait 40 min for the passage of 3 trains; the first, a TP passed 8 min later (running late), the last passed and, 2 min later (¼L), we were off, in rapidly fading light, and straight onto the 1/125r. There is around 10 miles to Shap summit; the first 6 miles at 1/125r. Just over ½ a mile after starting from the loop we passed Clifton & Lowther (25 & 1½L). 1 mile from the start and up to 30.7, 2 miles 35.1, 3 miles 42.1, 4 miles 44.6, Thrimby Grange (45.1), 5 miles 45.6 and 6 miles 46.7; the girls were smokin’! The gradient eases to 1/142r for 1¼ miles, topped at 49.1 and up to 52.4 at the end of the level past Shap village. Onto the final mile of 1/106r where speed fell back to 43.1. I passed the Summit Board at 47.6 (2L) and the light had all but gone. From starting at Eden Valley loop to passing the Summit Board had taken 15m 49s – this is the cruellest of paths, but what fun. Light rain had begun to fall as we dropped down the hill; speeds regularly being checked from the low 60s down to the high 50s. We were ½E at Lowgill but then slowed: I thought that we might be looped at Grayrigg but we passed by at 20mph (TSR?). This had cost us some time and we were 1½L through Oxenholme (58) but RT at Milnthorpe (55.3) then a very slow approach to Carnforth, to allow the junction to clear, saw us stop 6¼L. This was our final water stop – the girls were going all the way! It was just after 18:00 when we left (1½L). We accelerated quickly (enough to convince some fellow travellers that there was a diesel on the back – oh ye of little faith!) After a mile we were up to 40 and by Morecambe S Jn (56) we were RT. We failed to reach the qualifying 60 through Lancaster (58.8 & RT), but plenty of whistles. It was raining more steadily as we travelled along with speed in the high 50s and in pitch darkness. We reached our first set down at Preston pl5 and stopped ¼L. Away again (½L), with a slight slip, we were soon passing through Leyland at 29.5 on the SL. We had a pathing stop of 12 min before Euxton Jn, but by running very slowly we reduced this to 2 min before traffic cleared and allowed us to cross (2½E). The schedule was undemanding and despite cruising in the mid 50s we easily gained time culminating in us being 10½E at Lostock. We stopped in pl3, at a still cold Bolton. I had time for one last look at the locos; Mick Kelly was on the footplate of 44871 but it was too dark to see on 45407 (possibly David Blair and Ian Riley). I understand that the plan was for David Blair to collect the diesel from the siding at Man Vic, run it up to Brewery Jn to collect the ECS and for the girls with their POBs to depart Thorpes Bridge to Bury. I was home for a couple of minutes after 8pm, Mrs W was flattening the battery on her ipad before reverting to jigsaw and wine. It is always a good day out with the girls and my thanks to all who made it possible and so enjoyable and thanks also to those who have posted photos and videos. It was good to see @RalphW again who was stewarding and there was time for a chat with @torgormaig who was guard on the return. I shared a table with couple of regulars, from Birmingham, who had arranged to meet up with Gordon Hodgson in Carlisle; they said that he appeared still to be missing the footplate – absolutely understandable.