Monday 27 September 2021

Creepy Crawlies

Just a mini blog post today as a break from all the railway photography, and apologies for those amongst you for whom shots of spiders are utter nightmare-fuel...

We were out for a family meet-up in North Wales, and noticed quite a few spiders and the like near where we were picnicking, so thought we'd get some snaps.

There was also a dragonfly that was sat basking in the sun...

...and this rather day-glow caterpillar too.


Sunday 26 September 2021

KWVR 37 and Ivatt at the start of the heatwave

More from the Worth Valley, and (finally!) a chance to photograph some trains in the sunshine; this was right at the start of the heatwave that hit just before the summer holidays.  I (Ben) had only managed some quick pics around the northern (Keighley/Ingrow) end of the branch through the Spring, and I wanted to get back down to the countryside end of the line for some pics.

A favourite of mine from the KWVR's fleet is the Ivatt tank in the special red livery (the home-designed colour scheme it first wore when the line was reopened in the late 1960's, and into which it was restored for the 50th Anniversary event a few years ago).  The above was actually a chance shot, the loco was out on test one weekday whilst I was walking to the station, and it blasted past me.

The following Saturday was the first Real Ale Diesel Day of the season, and I'd arranged a morning to be out taking pics on the railway.  The Class 37 was doing the honours, and passed me whilst I was running errands on my normal patch, before heading up towards Haworth for a couple of hours.

I wanted to use this as an opportunity to try some new angles for shots that have been opened up by recent building work.  This is up near Haworth.

Bit more of a traditional location, the top-field.

This was a new spot for me, walking right through the nature reserve near Haworth Station.  Not a great spot, and a bit of a pain in the arm (literally, I brushed against some plants and both arms came up in a hideous rash which worried me quite a bit; there's been a lot of giant hogweed in the valley this year, and I was worried I'd brushed up against some).

I've gathered since that the railway doesn't like people in this area.  Even though there is technically a footpath, some of the staff consider it trespassing when there are photographers up at this bit.  Still, worth ticking off the list given I've heard the nature reserve is up for redevelopment into housing in the next couple of years.

Back up to Top Field.

Final shot.  Well, it was nice getting back out to get some photographs and try some new angles, but the various injuries picked up rather took the shine off things.  I'll be honest, I'm starting to run out of locations I'm happy with on the line.  Maybe I need to do a bit more exploring, or start going further afield for my photographs next year...


Thursday 23 September 2021

KWVR- a last summer with the 4F

A stalwart of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway fleet, 4F 43924 is due to be withdrawn from service in 2021.  Having worked hard through the Covid timetables in 2020 and earlier this year, and having been used extensively for the filming of the sequel to the Railway Children back in the Spring, the loco is somewhat 'tired' mechanically speaking, but still just about running as I type this in September.

I (Ben) can remember this machine re-entering traffic not long after I moved up to Yorkshire; I admit to slightly neglecting taking pictures of the loco.  Nice as it is, it's been such a bread-and-butter engine for the KWVR I don't really go out of my way to get pics of it.  Learning of its imminent withdrawal, I managed some pics whilst they were checking it over post-filming back in June, whilst we were riding the trains, and then off-and-on throughout the summer hols...

With the KWVR a little low on functioning locomotives earlier in the year (maintenance backlogs due to Covid apparently), they'd been rostering the 4F on lighter-loadings like the midweek trains immediately before the school holidays.  I managed to get some shots at Damems Station on an admittedly gloomy day...

...then down by the river in rather nicer conditions.

On Bridge 11.

Back to the gloom, but trying out a new spot opened up by a tree falling on the riverbank.

It'll be a shame to see this loco withdrawn, but then it is such a useful member of the fleet, it probably won't be too long before it's back in service.

Shot published in Railways Illustrated.


Tuesday 7 September 2021

The Staycation Express during 2021

I (Ben) made a few visits to the Settle-Carlisle line last year to photograph the "staycation express" services last year, where LSL were running heritage stock on a regular excursion train.  After months of lockdown it was nice to have something special to photograph, and I was looking forward to the services this year for much the same reason.  Rather than use heritage stock this time they've got a specially rebuilt and re-liveried High Speed Train; I was less excited about this, but thought it still worth popping out to see being as it was technically on my patch, and it would be just before things got manic with the summer holidays.

Luckily Middle Child had returned to school that morning, her bubble having been isolating, and both the other Childs managed to avoid being sent home too, so I headed to Skipton.  Due to the incompetence with which Northern have set up their timetables, it's pretty much impossible to get up the S&C and back within school hours.  Skipton, at the end of the electrified commuter route, was as far as I could easily get by public transport, followed by a walk along the canal out of town.

I thought the first run, particularly in sunny weather, might attract the enthusiasts so took a chance on it being quiet around the farm crossing just outside of Skipton.  I didn't want to be jostling for space with a load of other snappers.

Always a reassuring sight, charging towards you.  I did wonder at this point how robust the five-bar gate between me and the field was, and if I could outrun the mobile oxo-cube here...

Luckily I avoided getting squashed by beef, and the train rolled up on time.

I had thought about going a bit closer to the gates, but it would have looked too much like a trespass shot, and in any case since the last time I visited a lot of new signs, equipment cabinets and the like had appeared, making a clean shot rather tricky.

I walked back down the canal, with a bit of time to kill before the return train headed out from Skipton, got a space on the overbridge, and spent a pleasant ten minutes chatting with a chap who'd come up to see the train here on his tea break.

The train rolled past, on time.

I went back up onto the canal, as I now had nothing else train-wise to photograph, and some three hours in which to get back home.

Nice to see the preponderance of wild flowers; good for the insects and birds, but not great for allowing cyclists to pass safely by, or socially-distance with other walkers.

So yeah, I was actually happier with the flower shots than the train shots, just because I didn't find the re-liveried HST that exciting a target to photograph in the end.  Maybe if it was in a heritage livery it would have stood out more, but if anything it blends in too well with the landscapes.  To my slight surprise, posting this right at the end of the summer holidays just as The Childs return to school, I realise I haven't actually bothered going back to re-photograph it, or make any special trips up the S&C to photograph it up there either.  This is in a marked contrast to last year where I made several special journeys, though perhaps the lack of anything else to photograph during the pandemic conditions last year just spurred me on instead.