Grand Day Out

After last week’s trip to School of Artisan Food now was the turn for another late Christmas gift. I’ve always wanted to experience dining on a train; we’re talking proper food, not the finest dried-out cheese sandwich and bitter coffee from East Midlands Trains’ buffet cart. Orient Express is just a tad bit out of our league at the moment so West Coast Railways who run scenic railway trips throughout the UK seemed like a perfect alternative.

On a damp, dreary Derby Station platform we waited with about 50 other people to catch the Hogwarts’ Express, sorry Diesel hauled Pullman Carriages, to travel 1st class along the famous Settle-Carlisle line. It was quite obvious early on that we were a tad bit different to the rest of the clientele in that the majority of them we’re old enough to be our parents/grandparents and/or were avid trainspotters. Given that Hubs is an Engineer he has a bit of geeky trainspotteresque blood in him, but we were there for the food, experience and the views.

The Settle-Carlisle line is often noted as one of the most scenic train journeys in the UK as it passes through remote parts of the Yorkshire Dales and Pennines while travelling along viaducts and eventually arriving in Carlisle. Some of the route Hubs & I knew well as during September ’09 we walked the Yorkshire 3-Peaks where some of the path between Pen-y-ghent & Whernside travels alongside the railway track. Seeing it again made me pine for the hills. During the outward journey we were served a substantial breakfast of melon, pastries and Full English along with sandwiches and scones as we approached Carlisle. On the return journey we had a four-course meal with cream of tomato soup, roast beef dinner, Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding and cheeseboard. Hats off to the waiting staff. I wouldn’t like to serve hot soup from a tureen on a moving train.

While we were significantly younger that everyone else it was a lovely day just getting away from modern life. No phones, no music just the two of us on our own little table, spectacular views, copious cups of tea and a few Saturday papers to keep us company. If travelling was always like this I’m sure I’d enjoy it more.

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