Sunday, 6 October 2013

A fine autumn day marks the end of the season for me at Consall....

Today was my last for 2013 rostered as signalman in Consall box. The box will be in use at the end of the month for Halloween trains with Howard as signalman, but after that no more 2-train days on the Churnet Valley railway this year, so no more need to open Consall box until the spring.

I decided to take a few 'farewell to Consall 2013' pictures today, which can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Just after 09:00, and the sun is too low to penetrate the valley. The box is still switched out until the 'combined staff' arrives on the 'combined train', hence the up main starter signal being 'off'. 

 Looking north, with the promise of a fine autumn day. Down main starter signal is off, too, because Consall is as yet switched out.

The King Lever (the brown and white striped one) is forward, and all the 'main line' signals are 'off' in both directions, showing the box to be switched out. The windows are all steamed up with dew, so I've opened the far one and the door in an attempt to clear them. 

Just before 10:00 the 'combined train' arrived to be split at Consall (class 33 diesel leading five coaches with the N7 tank engine on the back, coupled to the DMU). After I'd split the staffs, opened the box, and dispatched the 33 and N7 with their train to Froghall, I shunted the DMU to the loop. Here it is in the loop while Chris starts the engines manually from outside because the air reservoirs are at low pressure. Starting the engines will re-charge them

Later in the morning the DMU returned from Cheddleton. The sun was now high enough to penetrate the valley, and the buzzards were mewing. They were impossible to ignore so I went outside for a look. 

I counted eight though there may have been more; six exploiting the rising air as they thermalled over the valley round and around and ever upwards in the rising air, wings outstretched. And two much higher up; these were the most vocal. They were circling around each other for position then diving in on intercept headings like dogfighting aircraft. They slowed and flicked  inverted as they passed. Occasionally just the lower one rolled inverted so they passed breast to breast.  Periodically, on meeting, they stopped still in the air, talons to talons. They seemed able to do this with no noticeable loss of height. As a pilot, and former glider pilot I was jealous of their aerial freedom and their amazing glide performance. Delightful to watch. If re-incarnation is real, I want to come back as a Buzzard!

Mid-day, and the valley is looking lovely in autumn sunshine as a narrow boat approaches on the Caldon Canal. Consall's up loop starter signal is on the left of the picture, the up main starter on the right.

When the 'combined train' arrived this morning, John the guard on the Cauldon Lowe dining train lent me this book to read in the quiet periods between trains. I don't know if he was taking the whatsit, but actually it's a very good book and I shall order a copy.

Glamour in the box! Mike, a friend of mine, arrived with his girlfriend who is 'into' all things steam, and all things railways. Here she is pretending to operate the down loop facing point lock lever.

So that's it for my signalling fun for 2013. I checked out as a qualified signalman at Consall early in the year, and so have been able to enjoy almost a full 2013 season in this lovely location. Roll on next year!


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