IMOG Harvester Run 2016 – Minis, mountains and Loch Ness!

September 19, 2016
Classic Minis - the same car, but all sorts of colours, fittings and character!

Classic Minis – the same car, but all sorts of colours, fittings and character!

Yesterday, ‘The Min’ and I joined in the Inverness Mini Owners Group (IMOG) Autumn run along Loch Ness to Fort Augustus via a circuitous route over the A887 and A87. The group calls the trip its ‘Harvester Run’ and the circuit around Loch Ness, the ‘Lochnessring’.

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The route was: Inverness – Drumnadrochit – Invermoriston on the A82, running west along the north side of Loch Ness.

Invermoriston – Beinneun Forest up Glen Moriston on the A887 Kyle of Lochalsh road.

A87 to Invergarry, A82 east to Fort Augustus.

Return was east along the south side of Loch Ness on the B862 for 10 miles; B852 to Foyers, finishing off at Dores Inn just west of the Inverness outskirts to complete the ring.

Right, on to the road! Plenty of thrash and a great deal of attention from tourists and other motorists as we powered along the A82 past Drumnadrochit and on to the junction with the A887 at Invermoriston. Minis can shift when they want to and the road is a great one to test their superb road holding capability. I really began to appreciate the road holding performance of the Yokahama A539 tyres I had fitted this spring, despite the relatively high cost of them. Turn right on to the A887 for more thrash – increasingly uphill at this point.

Turned left on to the A87 at Beinneun Forest after some pretty spirited running 15 miles along the A887 where the first stop was made in the lay-by just beyond the junction. A lay-by crammed with classic Minis by the time we had all arrived.

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Showing off and why not when your car looks a good as this!

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Ready to move off – the silver BMW was lead car.

From there, A87 to Invergarry, turning left back onto the A82 for the short run to Fort Augustus, the town at the head of Loch Ness where the Caledonian canal starts once again with a fine ladder of locks. The Minis headed to the point where the canal enters Loch Ness for a photo stop. The popularity of the classic Mini seems unabated judging by the reaction from tourists on our pretty chaotic and noisy arrival.

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After lunch, a trip on Loch Ness on one of the small cruise boats, ‘The Legend of Loch Ness’ (www.cruiselochness.com) was followed up by a run east along the south side of Loch Ness along the B862 for ten miles before turning on to the single-track and winding B852 to Foyers to see the Falls of Foyers.

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Legend of Loch Ness with Fort Augustus in the background.

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Departure, with swing bridge and lock gates.

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Heading east down Loch Ness. No sign of Nessie…

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Return run back to Fort Augustus with west coast mountains dominating the skyline.

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Entering the Caledonian Canal with a wee little light house on the left bank.

From there, a run along the south side of Loch Ness to Dores and a final blether at the Dores Inn to finish the trip. Fortunately, the threatening rain held off until that point and did not last too long. A brilliantly arranged tour with the bonus of a trip on Loch Ness. Sixteen classic Minis, of various shapes, sizes, colours and character took part in the run and no one suffered any technical issues or break-downs either. A perfect day!

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‘The Min’ in the thick of the action at Fort Augustus.

 


Bulling up for ‘Lochnessring’ tour…with I.M.O.G.

September 17, 2016

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A few hours were spent adding a further layer of polish to ‘The Min’. She is now all set for a circumnavigation of Loch Ness tomorrow (18th September) with the Inverness Mini Owners Group on its Harvester Run – known as the ‘lochnessring’ tour.

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She was photographed whilst waiting for the polish to dry sufficiently to buff up the paint work to a high shine.

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Loch Dhu Distillery progress pictures

September 14, 2016

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Landscaping, scenery and detailing of the Loch Dhu Siding side of my double-sided OO gauge micro-layout (the distillery is on the opposite side of the backdrop) has been completed (more or less) in recent weeks. A few things remain to be added at this time including the addition of a handful of small details, a road vehicle and a tidying up of the back drop area. Some grass tufts remain to be planted in one or two areas.

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Whilst working on this scene, I have managed to get my hands on another ARC Models kit, this time for the smaller version of the Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST locomotive and in pre-war condition. No need to do any back-dating as was done to the larger version I built previously as a freelance distillery pug, named Loch Dhu No.1. This second distillery ‘Pug’ loco will be modelled as Dailuaine No.1 in 1968 condition.

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The layout is operational, but only has the two locos so far: the Bachmann Class 20 and the Pug as seen above. The layout awaits the Bachmann Class 24/1 model which is some time away as yet. A Class 27 is a possibility as is one of the Heljan rail buses – maybe – perhaps. Also, I plan to build a Ruston 48DS for the distillery branch – just for the hell of it! It will be a challenge to fit it out for DCC. – the Andrew Barclay 0-4-0ST was interesting enough. Hard to believe that there is a TCS decoder together with a TCS ‘Keep Alive’ device in the saddle tank of that loco!


Next up for today: The GBRf 15 charter…

September 10, 2016

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Class 20s this time! First time in a long time for Nairn. The GBRf 15 tour train was slightly late, messing up the cross with an east bound service train. It is part of the 15th anniversary celebrations marking the start of GBRf operations. Class 20, No. 20 097 leads the train past one of the restored Nairn signal boxes.

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A Class 47 brings up the rear. The limited photo angle seen in the pictures above on what is normally a very easy station to take pictures on was due to the arrival of an Inverness-Aberdeen service consisting of a Class 158 and 170 which occupied virtually the full length of the Aberdeen side platform…blocking most of the view of the charter.


September Royal Scotsman

September 10, 2016

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GBRf Class 66 No. 66 737 heads up the 1H80 Royal Scotsman this morning (10th September) on what promises to be an interesting day on the line through Nairn. A charter featuring GBRf power was expected later in the day…the 08.15 1z15 which was reported 33 late leaving Edinburgh Waverley; to be seen to have made up over 20 minutes on passing Perth…

As an aside, this is not the first time I have photographed No. 66 737 in the Highlands recently. I photographed it working the Caledonian Sleeper, paired with a Class 73/9, earlier this summer.


Hornby Magazine cover story: Rannoch Moor

September 8, 2016

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Mark Darragh’s lovely OO gauge ‘Rannoch Moor’ layout made it onto the cover of Hornby Magazine as the cover story for this month (Issue 112, October 2016). I photographed the layout earlier in the summer with some lovely results – a great layout – so I would have to be in truly glaikit form to make a mess of such fine work. It’s beautifully modelled with just the right level of detail and neutral space making it appear larger than it really is. The layout is based on the West Highland line in 2006 or thereabouts.

Here’s a selection of pictures that did not make the magazine cut:

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Very fine work from Mark Darragh. I am always searching for quality home or exhibition layouts to feature in magazine work. They have to be based in Scotland and N gauge is particularly in demand. As you can see from the pictures above, I aim to achieve the best possible image quality. A photo-shoot typically takes four to five hours and does not need the whole layout to be assembled at once – they can be photographed in sections. I need to see some simple images of the layout before proposing it to a magazine editor. I do the images, you write the article. Simple!


Fun in the Fannichs

August 28, 2016
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Panorama taken from Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich before the mist closed in. Loch Broom and Ullapool can be made out in the distance.

I could little resist the call of the mountains once again. Just over an hour from home are the Fannichs, easily accessible from the Ullapool road. I started the traverse of the long eastern ridge from Sgùrr Mòr to An Coileachan with a long walk-in from the top of Loch Glascarnoch. The first Munro of the day was Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich (954 Metres) accessed via a top called Creag Liath Fannaich. From there, one drops off the western side of Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich to a convenient saddle linking Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich with Sgùrr Mòr. The summit was reached by climbing up the shoulder of the mountain (in the mist) with due regard to the drop to the right!

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Sgùrr Mòr is in the background of this image taken from Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich.

Opportunities for photography in these beautiful mountains were hampered by the low cloud and subsequent drizzle. The sheer drop off Sgùrr Mòr (1108 Metres) is no less impressive in not being able to see the bottom…

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Sgùrr Mòr summit cairn and the drop off to the left. Scottish mountains might not be the biggest in the world, but they are still dangerous.

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Looking down into the cloud…

Careful navigation through the low cloud brought me to the top of the third Munro of the day: Meall Gorm (949 Metres), not the most impressive one in the Fannichs. However, it has a lovely shelter stone to the east of the cairn and I am sure the views are spectacular when there’s no cloud.

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Meall Gorm shelter stone – comfortable, especially when a foam sitting pad is used.

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Meall Gorm in the cloud…and drizzle.

With three down and time to spare, it was decided to go for the most southerly Munro of the range: An Coileachan (923 Metres). There were signs that the low cloud was lifting and sure enough, as the top was reached, it cleared sufficiently for photography.

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An Coileachan summit and the view around the mountain. Loch Fannich can be seen from this summit and the saddle of land on the approach to the mountain from Meall Gorm SE Top

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An Coileachan cairn.

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Some sun light on An Coileachan. The weather window was not to last as higher cloud with rain on it was moving in from the south west.

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Loch Fannich in the distance.

The walk out was east, down the side of An Coileachan allowing superb views of Loch Gorm. It is a long, boggy and pathless route down to the river path.

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Loch Gorm with Beinn Liath Mhòr Fannaich in the distance.

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Loch Gorm with the top of Sgùrr Mòr behind.

It was a long traverse – four Munros covered in nine hours. The long walk out to the car was made much more pleasant by meeting a fellow wanderer, Roy, on the flanks of Meall Gorm.  He was grabbing as much mountain time as he could whilst on holiday from Sherborne in Dorset, although he was originally from Caithness. We had a good old blether!