Monday, August 4, 2014

Steam in Lakeland

England wouldn't be complete without it's many steam railways still, or again, in operation. The Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway in the Lakes District has been in operation for many years. They operate a steam train which connects to a paddle steamer in the lake. Everything about this railway is just very well done. From the railway station, beautifully covered in flowers and very well restored and maintained, to the carriages, the workshop and of course the trains themselves!

I like this place. The enthusiasm shines on the faces of everyone that works there. It's a nice place to be. When we arrived they were just filling the bunker of the train with coal and started getting ready for the first run of the day. We were thus able to see the whole operation from filling to coupling up and riding away. Usually steam trains, by their very nature, are operated by older men. It was good to see that a young man is interested in steam trains and obviously capable of operating this complex machine as well, which is much older than he is. 

Steam is so different from the later diesel trains. The sounds and smell of them just appeals to my senses somehow. Before you start calling me an old fart, Mike feels the same way about it. It's almost magical how it all works too. In the workshop, which is accessible to the public, you may wander around and try to work out how it exactly works. There was also major renovation work being done on one of the bigger locomotives as you can see in the photos. 

The steam railway harks back to a bygone era. An era when you bought a stiff almost cardboard like ticket which was punched by a conductor to allow you a ride through the country. It's a time where many of us have affinity with. A couple of years back I read the history of one of the steam trains that used to operate in South Australia. Several men were mentioned who worked with the same locomotive all their life. Try to imagine a job today where the same machine is used for a lifetime… I can't think of one.

Next to the ticket office, again beautifully restored and maintained, we found three owls… A volunteer from an owl sanctuary showed owls that were rescued from captivity. Remarkably, the popularity of Harry Potter had resulted in more demand for owls as a pet, owls which are now being discarded of again by their owners… Jeanette was given one to sit on her hand as you can see. The almost 360 degree rotating head is weird to say the least. Beautiful animals in a beautiful setting. Both organisations deserve donations to continue their work!