Sgòr Gaoith and Mullach Clach a’ Bhlàir

August 21, 2016
Sgor Goiath panorama copy

Panoramic view from Sgòr Gaoith with south to the left in the picture looking towards Carn Bàn Mòr and Mullach Clach a’ Bhlàir.

I returned to the mountains to the east side of Glen Feshie this weekend; to walk up Mullach Clach a’ Bhlàir (1019 Metres) for the first time, a Munro which is located at the south end of Glen Feshie. I parked near Balachroick and climbed up to the long high and very exposed plateau between Sgòr Gaoith (1118 Metres) and Mullach Clach a’ Bhlàir near a top called Carn Bàn Mòr (1052 Metres). I have been on top of the Munro Sgòr Gaoith before and this walk made it the third time I have had the pleasure of looking down on Loch Einich from this vantage point.

Sgor Gaoith panorama - 1 copy

Loch Einich in October 2012.

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Walking up the hill on really pleasant conditions. They soon changed however, and very quickly too.

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It was very windy this time, with a real last of air screaming up the crags and over the summit of Sgòr Gaoith – in complete contrast to the mild conditions in Glen Feshie earlier in the morning. The wind soon dragged a great deal of cloud over the plateau and its tops.

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The craggy ‘tor’ at the summit of Sgòr Gaoith. The walk up the west side tail of the mountain does little to warn you of the sheer drop into Loch Einich on the east side.

I turned into the south-east gale and walked over Carn Bàn Mòr, skirting the deep Coire Garbhlach, to reach Mullach Clach a’ Bhlàir, a Munro, but with a very unimpressive summit with barely a cairn to speak of. There are few rocks to make one on this top and with the weather closing in, care was needed to navigate to the summit as visibility closed down to a hundred yards or so.

Weather closes in...

Weather closes in…

Mullach Chlach a Bhlair summit OMWB

Summit cairn of Mullach Clach a’ Bhlàir. No views on this day!

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Looking over Coire Garbhlach and its waterfalls at Cadha na Coin Duibh. That’s a steep drop for the unwary…

One of the real pleasures of walking off Mullach Clach a’ Bhlàir down the track past a small top called Meal nan Sleac is the chance of a view of the crags at Cadha na Coin Duibh overlooking the steep sided Coire Garbhlach.

Mullach Clach a Bhlair_2

Mullach Chlach a Bhlair panorama

Looking back up Mullach Clach a’ Bhlàir from the small top called Meall nan Sleac with the Coire Garbhlach to the left. It had started to rain at this stage of the walk…

With rain closing in at low levels, I had little choice than to make my way down Glen Feshie past the farm at Achlean to return to the car. The complete circuit, including photographic stops and navigation took seven hours. Thankfully, the worst of the rain held off until after I completed the route and was sipping a much needed coffee back at the car!


More sleeper shots…

August 21, 2016

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…taken on what was International Photography Day. The north bound 1S25 Euston-Inverness sleeper was bang on time at Aviemore with GBRf Class 66 No. 66 705 in charge, paired up with Class 73/9 No. 73 966. This is probably the only daily Class 66-hauled scheduled passenger train operating in the UK at this time – at least I am aware of. I must confess to liking this Class 66 plus 73/9 arrangement on the sleeper!

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Aviemore 19-08-2016_3 copy copy

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Aviemore 19-08-2016 copy copy

New project: N gauge Class 310.

August 8, 2016

Class 310_1 copy

I have a new project! With OHLE complete on my N gauge Dudley Heath layout, there’s every excuse to build some 25kV ac EMUs for the layout and one that fits the bill is the three-car Regional Railways Class 310. A handful survived for quite some time in the privatisation era, operated by Central Trains in Regional Railways colours as seen above. They rarely saw use except in peak periods and to cover for failed Class 323s. Class 310s were originally operated as four car sets and date back to the mid 1960s. They were an iconic EMU of the southern end of the West Coast main line until displaced by Class 321s (themselves latterly displaced by Class 350s). They were also commonly used on West Midlands suburban services alongside Class 304s.

Class 310 copy

It has to be the three-car Regional Railways version for Dudley Heath, representing the earliest end of the time era chosen for the layout. The vinyl overlays are by Electra Railway Graphics and some old Graham Farish Mark 2 coaches will provide the base models for what is an interesting conversion.

Class 310_2 copy

Old Poole-made Graham Farish Mark 2 air-con coaches have clear printed sides which makes this conversion very effective. The printing is removed to allow the sides to be added, eliminating a great deal of complex livery painting. Prior to that, the mechanism from a Class 150 is to be installed, the roof of three coaches modified with ventilators and a pantograph well. Cabs by N-Train are also to be used to build up the driving trailers, whilst the inner ends of the coaches will be modified with different gangway and end panel detail. Based on the success of the Trans-Pennine Express Class 350/4, this should be an interesting conversion to complete.

In the meantime, a Class 323 is also on the cards for Dudley Heath using Electra Railway Graphics overlays applied to a Graham Farish Class 158. Whilst the conversion is sound in principle, the lack of a cast or 3D-printed cab for Class 323s holds the project back at this time. Oh yes, in case you are wondering what will happen to the spare Class 150 bodies and parts…a Class 150/0 as 150002 together with one of the Class 150/1 and 150/2 hybrids will be the result.


You have to be in tune with Scottish politics to understand this one…

July 30, 2016









By Chris Cairns –

Via Wings over Scotland.

The real Spanish veto threat

July 22, 2016

Reblogged from ‘Wee Ginger Dug’, someone who REALLY knows about Spanish attitudes towards Scottish independence.

I wasn’t going to blog today because I’ve got a bad case of manflu, which is like a regular cold only with additional histrionics, drama, and attention seeking. So very much like the La…

Source: The real Spanish veto threat

Class 73s on the Highland line.

July 22, 2016

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For the first time in ages, I have been able to catch up with the Highland Line Sleeper, the 1S25 Euston-Inverness service. I had heard reports that double-headed Class 73/9s had finally taken over from Class 67s to hear that they tend to overheat on the steeply graded Highland Line. The current traction arrangement north of Edinburgh Waverley as of July 21st is to use GBRf Class 66s for traction with a single Class 73/9 tucked inside to provide power for the train (Class 66s are freight locomotives and unable to provide power for on-train systems).

I was not sure of meeting this particular working on this beautiful morning (unfortunately, I was not heading off into the mountains but to a photo-shoot in Kirkaldy). 1S25, the northbound Caledonian Sleeper service from London Euston, managed to loose 85 minutes between Willesden West London Junction and Watford Junction on the night of 20th July when I checked its progress the night before. It must have been a lively ride up the West Coast Main Line because it appeared to make up 70 minutes by the time it arrived in Edinburgh Waverley! Arrival in Aviemore the next morning was eight minutes early, nearly catching me out (the south bound 1B08 06.50 Inverness-Edinburgh was 15 minutes late at Aviemore which allowed the 1S25 to advance against it and cross at Aviemore instead of Kincraig loop).

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1S25 July 2016_1

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In a way, it is fascinating to see such a Southern Region thoroughbred in regular service here in the Highlands, despite the awful modifications made to it. Still, it retains its third-rail collector shoes (and flash guards) and the boxy but classic shape of the class is still there to be seen. Class 73s in their original form had it where it counted – under the body! The Caledonian Sleeper is a long way from this Class 73’s  original home in the south and the Highland line is a very different situation for such locomotives, no matter how well they have been rebuilt, compared to the third-rail routes of the former Southern Region.

Night photography at East Croydon

July 20, 2016

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Staying with the theme of recent posts, that of night photography on Southern Region territory, East Croydon was a particularly good spot for available light imagery of the intensive flow of trains that use the Brighton line. The lighting at East Croydon is just right, with the platform lights of Platform 3 below the roof level of the train. Those on the platform on which the photographer is standing (me!) are not causing too much reflection on the side of the train. The picture is of a ‘4 Big’ slam door EMU working a fast Victoria to Brighton service calling at East Croydon only (headcode 4).

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The second picture, taken on the same wet evening, is a Class 319/1 dual voltage EMU in original condition. It was working a fast Bedford to Brighton service which calls at Gatwick Airport as well as East Croydon. Note the pantograph vehicle which enables the unit to operate over the 25kV AC electrified Midland Main Line north of the Thameslink tunnels which link the third-rail network south of the Thames with the 25kV AC OHLE line to Bedford to the north of London.



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