A steam train trip to the Borders, was on my bucket list for this year. Last year it was a big sellout so I booked the tickets early as a birthday surprise for my friend. And as a special surprise I booked us first class. The train took us from Linlithgow to Tweedbank round the Fife Circle, and back the same route – so we went over the Forth Railway Bridge four times in the same day. On the way back we were hauled by Diesel from Tweedbank to Niddrie, and then by steam round the Fife Circle and back to Linlithgow.)
It was an early start to get to Linlithgow for a 9am (8.53 to be exact) departure. There was plenty parking in Linlithgow as it was a Sunday, so no hold ups, with trying to find a parking space. On the platform there was a growing band of train spotters, passengers and a bemused group of locals waiting for the regular services to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Black Five Steam train
The Black Five 44781 steamed into the station on time. Excitedly we made our way to the carriage. The first class seats were large and very comfortable. We had a table for two at the window, complete with white table cloth and a little vase of flowers. There are 2 buffet cars selling tea, coffee, cakes, confectionary, soft drinks beer, wine and spirits. There’s also a small shop that stocks a selection of railway books, cards, postcards. calendars, gifts and souvenirs.
Our volunteer stewards (all train enthusiasts of course) did a fabulous job of taking care of us. One of our fellow guests was a steam train owner and well known to our stewards. We had booked morning coffee and afternoon tea on the train. With our morning coffee we got a warm croissant with jam, a Borders Biscuit and a nice cup of coffee. Afternoon teas was a more lavish affair, with sandwiches, pork pie, scones and clotted cream and very dainty cakes. Fortunately we had a light lunch in Melrose (in Apples for Jam) during our 2 hours for touring the town. Other options were alighting in Galashiels, a trip to Abbotsford or lunch at Seasons in Gattonside.
The timetable gave us a very detailed account of where we were in mileage and times. So we had a very good idea if we were ahead or behind schedule! Crossing the Forth Railway Bridge four times was a great highlight. The scenery on the Fife Circle, looking down at the silver sands and across to Edinburgh was inspiring. The views travelling down to the Borders were spectacular. There is nothing more soothing, than watching the world go by when travelling by steam. It was a joy to look out the window as you go round a long curve and see the smoke from the engine billowing into the sky. But the most memorable part of the journey was, that everywhere people came out to look and wave at the train. There were photographers at strategic points all along the route and at stations. Train spotters at the stations and small children waving tiny flags. At each station we stopped you could see the smiles spreading across the faces of travellers waiting on the platforms for their train, as we chuffed past. In our technology driven world its good to know that there are some old, traditional things that can make us smile and bring joy to our hearts. So well done to the Scottish Railway Preservation Society, the Museum of Scotland’s Railways at Bo’ness and the Bo’ness & Kineil Railways, for keeping the joy of a ride in a steam train alive.
The trip is run by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society and all profits go to the the Museum of Scotland’s Railways at Bo’ness and the Bo’ness & Kineil Railways. The Museum of Scottish Railways
is three large buildings full of historic locomotives, carriages and wagons, as well as models, displays and photographs telling the history of building, operating and using railways in Scotland. A visit to the Museum is a great day out for kids (big and small). It is rightly recognised by Museums Galleries Scotland as being of national importance to Scotland.
SRPS runs a number of different rail tours across Scotland and beyond, with various pickup points along the way.