HERITAGE rail operator The Railway Touring Company has announced a series of steam dates across the Settle-Carlisle line with equally famed loco 60103 Flying Scotsman putting in a number of appearances.

Passengers will be able to join ‘The Waverley’ at York, Leeds, Shipley, Keighley and Skipton for a nostalgic day reliving the golden age of rail travel as this steam service ventures across the challenging route. Dates are Sundays July 11, August 8, 15 and 22 and September 5. Flying Scotsman is scheduled to haul the train on July 11 and August 22.

From May 17 restrictions will be eased to allow leisure rail travel to resume, and The Railway Touring Company’s ‘Cumbrian Mountain Express’, on Saturday, 22 May will traverse the Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle Railway. This train will bring passengers up from London, Milton Keynes, Rugby and Nuneaton, many of whom had booked for 2020 and have had to wait a year for the steam treat.

The Railway Touring Company has been running steam specials across Yorkshire’s iconic rail line since 2007. Passengers travel on vintage rail coaches and can enjoy a full English breakfast and a four-course dinner on board as they watch Yorkshire Dales scenery, including the magnificent Three Peaks, go by. The high point of the journey is as the train travels through Dent, England’s highest railway station. However, for many, the real highlight is as the steam trains cross the Ribblehead Viaduct.

In a normal summer around 2,250 passengers take ‘The Waverley’. This year numbers will be lower as social distancing on board limits how many people each steam train can carry.

Kelly Osborne, managing director of The Railway Touring Company, comments, “Already a number of our steam excursions for this summer are full. After a very tough 15 months for the heritage rail industry, it’s tremendous to see such enthusiasm and support from people.”

Historic steam locomotives lined up to haul ‘The Waverley’ this year include not only Flying Scotsman, but also 1936-built 45690 Leander and 46115 Scots Guardsman built in 1927.

“These magnificent steam locomotives need to be seen in action to be fully appreciated,” said Kelly Osborne. “Let’s hope there will be plenty of opportunities in 2021 and for many more years to come to climb on board, hear their distinctive sounds, catch a whiff of coal smoke and see heads turn and faces light up as these fine feats of British engineering build up steam in our stations and take to our railways once more.”

The Settle to Carlisle route includes one of the most arduous climbs on Britain’s railway network – a total of 15 miles mainly at a gradient of 1 in 100. It involves many tunnels, including the Blea Moor Tunnel, numerous viaducts crossing valley floors and an arduous climb to Ais Gill Summit at 1169 feet. Passengers on board ‘The Waverley’ can choose to visit the historic market town of Appleby set on a loop in the picturesque river Eden or border city of Carlisle, with its castle, cathedral and Tullie House Museum.