Twenty-five years ago; if you had told me that in the 21st Century I’d be riding down the re-born Waverley Route behind a Peppercorn A1 Class locomotive I would have asked you what you’d just dropped.
On Sunday the 13th September 2015, though no illicit chemistry of any sort was involved, that’s exactly what I did.
In just a few short but unforgettable hours all those marvellous images and anecdotes that admirers of the famous line rever; the tales of majestic vistas and sweeping curves, the old DMU cab ride film. All pulled into perspective and brought back into glorious, kicking, screaming life.
An uncommonly wonderful railway returned from oblivion, traversed by a member of a locomotive class back from the lost ranks of the extinct. A historical wrong in part(for now)righted.
Even the service trains observed today were full; station platforms crowded,
bridges full of photographers and curious well-wishers dotting the line-side of the Lothian uplands and the Gala Valley to witness a sight not seen here for half a century.
Tonight I’m hugely proud of my wee country because WE made this happen; from the grass roots lobbyists of the CBR and the WRHA who kept the flame and kept the dream alive to a forward looking and sympathetic government who trusted those who believed in the potential of this largest stretch of line to be built in Scotland or the UK for a century. To the engineers, technicians and labourers who grafted in all weathers and hours of the day to being the project to fruition.
True, mistakes were made along the way but today, the people of the Borders have a fast, modern link with the outside world and if what I witnessed today is any indicator the future is bright.
This evening, with the events of the day in mind, I walked Abi along the old trackbed from Brunthill to Parkside.
Even if trains return to the entire route in the future as far as Carlisle, developments since the 1970s have ensured that trains will never run this way again, but away to the north, the Phoenix of the Waverley has again risen and in that knowledge, the old section, quiet, leafy and tranquil can finally rest in peace.
Sometimes, the wildest dreams really, really do come true!