Preparation for this trip began immediately after Wednesday's Belmond British Pullman trip to Bath and Bristol. On Thursday morning, we had to clean the grate, empty the ashpans, and clear the smokebox. All this had to be done on a hot engine, with pressure still on the clock. There were also some important maintenance jobs to carry out, to ensure that Clan Line keeps running. A start was made on the polishing and cleaning, and a new fire was lit.

On the Friday, there were a few more people to help, and we got through all the usual jobs, such as oiling, watering, cleaning and passing the Fitness To Run examination. It was a long day, but we got there.

Saturday saw us being towed to Barton Hill in Bristol by a Class 66 diesel. This saves on crew, coal and water, but also makes pathing easier, because of the quicker acceleration. On these occasions, DB Cargo just provide a Traction Inspector on the footplate, leaving the support crew to look after the boiler. It is a great learning opportunity for them, as well as being quite enjoyable.

On arrival at Barton Hill, we had more work to do. There was the fire to clean, the ashpans to empty, the tender to be filled, more oiling to do, and, of course, some more cleaning and polishing. We were "entertained" by the noise from a nearby rave, to add to our pleasure.

The trip on Sunday went very well, with bright sunshine for most of the day. We ran more or less to time throughout. The climb of Whiteball was steady, with fifty seven miles per hour at the top, but no more was necessary to keep to the schedule. Some of the support crew took advantage of the journey to catch up on some sleep, though most were awake for the Dawlish Seawall.

Clan Line on the Torbay Express - photograph by Andrew Sparks

At Paignton, the Dartmouth Steam Railway crew took over, and, as we have come to expect, handled our engine very well. After dropping off the stock at Kingswear, Clan Line came back to Paignton for servicing, having turned on the turntable at Churston on the way. Whilst the servicing was being carried out, it was interesting to see our engine alongside 6023 King Edward II, which was in operation, and to compare the two.

The support crew had another chance to catch up on their sleep on the journey back to Bristol, which was uneventful.

After dropping off the passengers, we left the stock in the platform, and were able to go straight to Barton Hill.

Work continued on Monday morning to prepare for the return to Stewarts Lane in the afternoon. This was, again, diesel-hauled, with our people looking after the boiler. The support crew were then able to go home, some of them having been with Clan Line for over a week.

Our thanks go to Torbay Express, DB Cargo and Barton Hill, amongst others, for their help.