I know yesterday’s blog fizzled out. That was mainly due to being out in the wind and rain on the Cumbrian coast with an old friend which left me no time to finish it. But I will wind it up later today when I have more time.

Right now I’m on my way from Carlisle to Hexham after spending a pleasant night in the city with Hassard. The two of us having chance to catch up with a beer and a meal. I’m heading for Hexham in order to find a quiet space for an hour or two to take part in a dreaded ‘Zoom call’. This one’s part of the judging process for the 2021 Community Rail Awards, so I suppose it’s rather appropriate that I join in from a station that’s won awards in the past! Once that’s done – and if the weather plays ball – I’ll be visiting some lovely photographic locations along the Tyne Valley line. Pop back later to see what I get up to…


Judging done! I must admit, a waiting room on a railway station’s the most unusual place I’ve joined the from team so far. Technical difficulties meant I had to use my phone, not the laptop but as I had all my notes with me it wasn’t an issue. It was the constant PA interruptions by ‘Digital Doris’ making station announcements that was the worst bit. Still, the team of myself, CRN’s Hazel Bonner and Nik Schofield plus ex-Today’s Railways UK magazine Paul Abell whittled down an excellent selection of pictures showing the past year in the life of community rail volunteers down to just 10. These will be displayed on CRN’s website next week to sllow a vote on the winner.

Job done, I couldn’t resist the station bar on platform 2 to celebrate. The bar hadn’t been opened the last time I was here back in 2018 but it’s a welcome addition. Serving teas coffees, sandwiches and cakes, it also sells 3 very local draught real ales.


Really? Is that the time? I’m on the final leg home from Preston to Halifax now. I’d hoped to blog from the Tyne valley but I kept finding myself in reception blackspots which I found surprising as I’m on the O2 network which is normally very good.

Needless to say, I’ve had a busy day. I’ve managed to visit stations I’d never been to before as well as a few familiar locations. I didn’t get all the pictures I wanted but that’s hardly surprising as the route is rich in photo opportunities. I’m not complaining as the weather was far better than predicted. I’ll edit the pictures tomorrow and add a few to the blog. I was hoping to do that earlier but I succumbed to window gazing as I don’t get chance to appreciate this neck of the woods as often as I should. The line (and its train service) is very much in two parts. The nexus is Hexham. The service East from the town along the Tyne valley’s more intensive with a mix of hourly stoppers and semi-fasts. West of Hexham its hourly with a reduced stopping pattern leaving some locations of trains every two hours. Hardly ideal, but how much traffic do they generate outside the peaks? We’ll never know unless the service improves…

That aside, the line West of Hexham’s much more rugged. It doesn’t stick to the river so it wends and winds its way across the country – and Hadrian’s wall. I’ve not been to the Wall since I was on a school trip when I’d just turned into a teenager. I keep promising to come back. Last year Dawn and I had booked accomodation in Hexham that woukd have allowed exactly that but the lockdown 2 put the mockers on that