Air brush supplies…

August 28, 2015

A quick note to draw attention to Custom Paint Shop, the small suppler from which I obtain my airbrush spares and supplies.

Recently, Del helped me out with a hard to find spare for my Richpen 113C and for that I am very grateful. I am quite attached to my Richpen air brush!



Last summer of Class 67s on the Caledonian Sleepers

August 24, 2015

67009-sleeper OMWB

Caledonian Sleeper services are no longer the responsibility of the ScotRail franchise, having been separated and contracted out as a separate operation to Serco. With the change in the operation comes a new livery and a future change in traction as DBS (formerley EWS) are replaced as traction providers by GBRf. As a keen follower of the former Southern Region of BR, I am fascinated to hear that the now long term incumbents, the Class 67, are to be ousted by rebuilt but considerably older former Southern Region Class 73s, working in pairs. As an aside, GBRf Class 92s have already replaced Class 90s south of Edinburgh.

67004-sleeper OMWB

Following a problem with a Class 67 recently where one over-heated on the Inverness-Euston service (eventually cancelled) when climbing to Slochd Summit (together with a few strange management decisions by those in ‘control’); Caledonian Sleeper services are now double-headed on the Highland Line leg (most of the time). On a recent visit to Aviemore (on the way to another mountain climbing day on Thursday August 13th), I noted No. 67 009 leading No. 67 004 on the 1S25 north-bound service.

9802-sleeper OMWB

Both No. 67 004 and the leading Mark 2 coach, No. 9802 have the new CS livery of dark blue applied. Given that this is a night-time operation, I think some much brighter colours would have stood out better in stations after dark…


Class 67s look as if they will be a thing of the past on Caledonian Sleepers after this October and there’s little other scope for their use in the Highlands these days, so they may become rare visitors to Fort William and Inverness in the future. It’s been a long reign and even though I like Class 73s, the enigmatic and not always reliable Class 67 will be missed from the Highlands. I wonder how the Class 73/9s will cope… I am not one for pessimism, but I give them six months, especially as they will debut at the start of a Highland winter with all that means for weather over Rannoch Moor, Druimuachdar Pass and Slochd.

Creag Meagaidh Nature Reserve

August 22, 2015

Walk-in Sron a Choire OMWB

The Coire Ardair is an amazing walk in to the climb up Creag Meagaidh and along the ridge to bag Stob Poite and Carn Liath. The six to seven-hour walk starts at the visitor centre (simply a car park and toilet block) and works it way through the nature reserve past the end of the hills marked by Sron a Choire (above).

walk in - trees Allt Coire Ardair OMWB

Re-forestation and preservation of the existing trees along the Allt Coire Ardair burn is one of the objectives of the nature reserve at Creag Meagaidh. The track into the Coire is well maintained and allows a fast pace at the start of the walk. It is a sheltered area and makes a lovely low-level walk.

Corrie Ardair OMWB

Corrie Ardair outflow

Creag Meagaidh looking from the Corie Ardair. The climb to the summit together with the east-west ridge to Carn Liath is through the col to the right of the crags.

The trail is about five kilometres long and ends at the Lochan a Choire (Coire Ardair). A rough path then leads north west up through a col called ‘The Window’. Creag Meagaidh has its head in the clouds at this point, which remained for most of the day.

Corrie Ardair from window OMWB

The view looking down from ‘The Window’…

Creag Meagaidh window looking up OMWB
Scrambling up the rocks and loose stones.

Creag Meagaidh window OMWB

Looking down ‘The Window’ in a south east direction. Now for the climb up to the rounded top of Creag Meagaidh…through the damp cloud and to the summit cairn – cloud is just one of those things one has to contend with with Scotland’s Munros from time to time. There’s another small top on the summit and finding the true summit at 3700ft. in cloud requires a little map and compass work.

Creag Meagaidh summit cairn OMWB

Unfortunately, the cloud meant there was no chance of looking down those rocky crags at the Coire Ardair, nor taking any photos for creating panoramic montages – I will have to return to this summit when I tackle Beinn a Chaorainn.

Stob Poite OMWB

There was little point in lingering in the cloud on Creag Meagaidh, so to the second peak of the day – Stob Poite. I returned to The Window and climbed up in the opposite direction  onto the east-west ‘whale-back ridge which overlooks the Corie Ardair and forms the return leg of the walk. The image above is the view looking back towards Stob Poite and Creag Meagaidh beyond. The cloud began to lift a little, making the walk along the ridge above Coire Ardair more enjoyable, despite the buffeting south wind.

Looking towards Carn Liath OMWB

Sheltering briefly behind some rocks for a bite out of the increasingly strong south wind which was blowing up the side of the line of hills with enough force to knock me sideways from time to time. The view above was taken looking east along the whale-back ridge towards Meall an-t Snaim and Carn Liath.

Carn Liath summit cairn OMWB

Carn Liath cairn and sheltering from the wind!

Creag Meagaidh-from Carn Liath OMWB

With my allocated time window quickly running out, there was time to prepared pictures for a montage facing south and east with Creag Meagaidh in the back ground. I then walked back west along the ridge for a few hundred yards before turning south into the Coire Ardair for the walk through the heather and woods to the car park.



Playing chicken with Trikken i Oslo

August 18, 2015
Oslo tram 1141

Route 17 and 18 trams (Type SL95) outside the Hotel Royal Christiana near central station in Oslo (Jernbanetorget/Oslo S). Type SL95 trams are 8-axle units consisting of three vehicles. They have a cab at both ends and do not need a turning loop at the end of a route, unlike the older Type SL79.

Trams (Trikken) in Oslo are fun to ride on, a great way to see the city (use an Oslo Pass) and pretty near impossible to photograph at times! They don’t hang about and the city is so vibrant; so busy, someone invariably gets in the shot just in the micro-second the shutter button is pressed.

Oslo tram 151

A Number 13 at The National Theatre in the centre of Oslo.

The 131Km network was described in an interesting article on the Nordic Horizons web site and a special meeting in January 2014. The article compares the size and population of Oslo with both Edinburgh and Glasgow and speculates on how Oslo has developed (and saved) its trams. The contrast with Edinburgh and Glasgow could not be more stark – cities of relatively comparable size and populations. The article and presentations can be viewed here.

Oslo tram 148

Oslo tram 139

End of route 12 and start of route 11 at Majorstuen. This type of tram (SL79) has a cab only at one end, so has to continue back into the city in a different route to the one it has just traversed, facing the same way, or be turned round.

Oslo tram 140

Akker Brygge on route 12. The Nobel Peace Centre is the building furthest to the right behind No.140.

Oslo tram 112

Aker Brygge again with the waterfront in the back ground. Type SL79 trams have six axles and consist of two vehicles.

Oslo tram 132

The rear of tram No. 132 taken at Majorstuen.

Oslo tram 108

Route 12 passes the iconic (and controversial) City Hall. I quite like it…it’s bold and when you look at the building close up, there’s a great deal of detail in the structure.

Oslo tram 130

Another shot taken at the central station interchange in Oslo (Jernbanetorget/Oslo S).

I was unable to cover much of the network, there being so much to see in this amazing city which ranks in my top five favourites alongside Seattle, Vancouver (Canada), Nice and Edinburgh. If you have never been to Oslo, put it on your bucket list and not just because of the trams!

Highland Chieftain

August 18, 2015

HST 43272 OMWB
On my way to the mountains last week, I called in on Kingussie station to photograph the south-bound Highland Chieftain service (1E13 07.55 Inverness-Kings Cross). East Coast Main Line HST sets have seen a variety of liveries – a real mix of styles from interim East Coast grey and magenta livery (which I hate) to de-badged National Express colours (which suited the stock well despite how rubbish that operator turned out to be) since GNER days. Re-badging of East Coast stock with Virgin markings over already worn and increasingly grubby interim East Coast colours has made a messy situation even worse.

HST 42193 OMWB

HST 43272_1 OMWB

HST 43272_2 OMWB
That is quite a mix of re-badged liveries and does not relfect well on what is supposed to be a premier service! Power car No. 43 272 brings up the rear of the train – HSTs will soon be a thing of the past on this particular service as new stock for east Coast services is introduced over the next few years.

Unfinished business at Loch Laggan

August 15, 2015
Geal Charn panorama base OMWB

360 degree panorama taken from Geal Charn with Loch Laggan in the distance.

I have had my eye on two mountains south of Loch Laggan for some time – unfinished business from previous expeditions to the area: Geal Charn and Beinn a Chlachair. Last Thursday saw some perfect weather for mountain photography. The lure of the mountains is always irresistible and the habit has to be fed from time to time.

Lochan Na Hearba OMWB

Lochan Na Hearba is encountered on the long walk-in from the main road (the A86).

Lochan Na Hearba-panorama OMWB

The mountain landscapes of the Scottish Highlands are arguably the most beautiful in the world, especially early on a morning like this!

Geal Charn OMWB

Climbing Geal Charn first with Beinn a Chlachair in the distance.

Geal Charn summit_1 OMWB

Me – at the summit! One climbed, one to go.

Loch a Bhealaich Leamhain OMWB

I detoured from the usual path down Geal Charn, taking to the rough heather to photograph this beautiful mountain loch called Loch a Bhealaich Leamhain which sits in the wild country beyond Geal Charn.

Loch a Bhealaich Leamhain OMWB-2

Loch a Bhealaich Leamhain from the opposite side after climbing back to the path which runs NW to SE from Lochan Na Hearba towards Loch Ericht. The ancient path over the pass between Geal Charn and Beinn a Chlachair is to the right of this picture. This path takes you to the southern side of the latter mountain and the preferred route for walkers.

The pass OMWB

The colours of Scotland…looking back up the pass. I am miles from where the car was parked at this point.

Beinn a Chlachair OMWB

Finding a route to the summit of Beinn a Chlachair.

Beinn a Chlachair summit OMWB-2

Second summit of the day – Geal Charn is in the back ground. There’s a third mountain in the area which many walkers add to a day out in this group: Creag Pitridh, which is a lovely top and a good one for anyone making a start in mountain walking to tackle. I have already done it on one short and chilly November day with three feet of snow on the ground, so missed it out this time round. I took a different route around the area, avoiding some of the faint paths from time to time to see different views of the landscape for photography.

Beinn a Clachair panorama OMWB

360 degree panorama taken from Beinn a Chlachair. Cloud was beginning to move in from the south west. The centre of the picture faces north east.

walk out OMWB

Walking out – the wee burn which runs along side the path. It rejoices in the wonderful name of Allt Coire Pitridh which flows north west into Lochan Na Hearba. Geal Charn is in the back ground.

My day finished with a long walk-out ( I could have taken my bike to cycle the first few miles in and out of the area – one to remember for the future) by descending from Beinn a Chlachair around the rim of the summit and down the side of the amazing Coire Mor Chlachar which faces north east. It is off the beaten track (or what passes for beaten tracks in that area) and over some rough ground which required some care to traverse – no dangerous drops however. It should only be attempted in good weather too. I rejoined the main track which runs down from the pass and alongside the beautiful Allt Coire Pitridh burn. Ninety minutes later and I was back at the car!

The pleasure of photographing Rhyd once again.

August 15, 2015


Rhyd, the creation of master railway modeller David John, has to be one of my favourite layouts. I never tire of photographing it and this session, for Hornby Magazine, produced enough quality RAW images from which 46 publishable high resolution photographs were distilled – about 20 more than is really necessary for a full-blown magazine feature. Here’s a small selection of the overflow – images: No.s 41 to 47!







Is it strange that the layouts that most inspire me have little to do with my particular sphere of interest? Rhyd is 7mm scale Welsh narrow gauge running on analogue control – no fancy lighting or digital sound, just great-looking modelling.

Another layout which always draws me whenever I know it is at a show is Pempoul. I have never photographed it, so have no images to post here. The layout (built and exhibited by Gordon and Maggie Gravett) is everything I do not model – French steam, metre gauge and to 1:50 scale – brilliantly modelled and with that all-important feel of normal life – no whistles and bells on this layout to distract you either and indeed, it does not need them.

As if all that fine modelling on Rhyd was not enough; together with its beautifully finished back scene, proscenium arch and presentation, there’s an extension under construction which will represent the next station on the line which looks fabulous already. I look forward to pointing my camera at it in due course!