1) What is the connection between the following disused railways; the Whitehaven, Cleator & Egremont Junction Railway, the Stainmore Railway, the Rosedale Ironstone Railway and the Scarborough & Whitby Railway?
2) What is the connection between the following existing network rail lines; the Cumbrian Coast line, the West Coast Main line, the Settle & Carlisle Railway, the East Coast Main Line and the Esk Valley Railway?
3) What is the connection between the preserved Stainmore Railway Co (Kirkby Stephen East) and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway?
4) What do all of the above have to do with Broadway station on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway?
If you failed to answer all of the questions correctly, then you are cordially invited to sponsor me as I walk all approximately 192 miles of Alfred Wainwright's famed Coast to Coast path from St Bees on the Cumbrian coast to Robin Hood's Bay on the Yorkshire coast. The answers to questions 1 to 3 are that they all lie on the route of the Coast to Coast path and the connection with Broadway station is that I'll be walking the Coast to Coast path to raise money for the extension of the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway from our current northernmost point at Laverton on towards Broadway.
For those of you who wish to know more about the Coast to Coast route, it traverses three of England's National Parks and as far as is reasonably possible avoids using roads or passing through major habitations. Starting from St Bees, it meanders around the headland for a while before heading into the Lake District, through Ennerdale and Borrowdale to Grasmere, then via Grisedale and Patterdale to Haweswater. Leaving the Lake District the path continues on to Shap (on the West Coast mainline). From there through to Kirkby Stephen (on the Settle and Carlisle line) and over the rather mysterious Nine Standards Rigg to Swaledale, the northernmost of the Yorkshire Dales. The path carries on through Reeth and Richmond before crossing the North Yorkshire Moors (meeting the NYMR at Grosmont, old Alfred Wainwright was a bit of a steam buff too) and then one last gasp to get to Robin Hood's Bay. The gory details can be found here and here.
A map of the route can be found here.
If you're really keen, an excellent DVD of the route made by the BBC and presented by the utterly delightful Julia Bradbury can be purchased from a variety of outlets, as can Alfred Wainwright's original guide book of the walk, which is a work of art and a rattling good read even if you don't intend to walk the route.
Broadway is of course a major tourist attraction in its own right and more details can be found here.
Having such a prestigious destination for our steam hauled services can only be a boon to the railway.
Although Alfred Wainwright suggested a route and direction of travel between the two points, he actively encouraged making up your own route and even offered several alternative options for various sections. I intend to use a few of his suggested alternatives and possibly even one or two of my own.
It is customary when walking the Coast to Coast to take a pebble from the beach you start on and deposit it on the beach you finish on. I shall expand on this fine tradition by collecting a piece of ballast from Toddington on Saturday 21st July, take it to St Bees and deposit it on the beach. I shall then collect a new pebble and carry it to Robin Hood's Bay, depositing it on the beach there. I shall then collect a third pebble and bring it back to Toddington. During the course of Sunday 4th August I shall take one of the day's steam services to the current northern limit of operations at Laverton (thankfully it is a purple timetable day), alight from the train (not something that the general public can do of course) and carry the pebble the last few miles along the trackbed to Broadway station where it will become part of the ballast and patiently await the arrival of the next train. Hopefully, with your help, that train won't be too long in coming.
Just to make it interesting, I'll be doing it the hard way. I'll be carrying a tent & sleeping bag on my back and only making occasional use of a B&B when hygiene or the craving for an internet connection compel. You know what the weather is like at the moment, it will rain, I will get wet. In fact I will get very wet. The cab of 2807 running tender first into the rain will seem like joy ride in comparison. Borrowdale which is on the second of my projected day's walking is on record as being the wettest place in England. The four miles from Nine Standards Rigg to Ravenseat is the most dreadful bog you'll have ever seen and the propensity for getting blisters along the way is not to be underestimated. I did the walk once when I was younger and fitter. The following photo is of the soles of my feet one week after getting back and having just removed the bandages.
|Not a pretty sight|
So what part do you play in all of this? Well that's easy, if you want to see me go through approximately 12 consecutive days of blisters, pain, getting lost and soakings, then please pledge to sponsor me by contacting the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway's head of Commercial Dept, Steve Sperring using his gwsr email address:
The railway gets helped back to Broadway and I get to suffer. I know a lot of people in the steam loco dept who will be pleased at the prospect of both.