Flying Scotsman is the most famous steam locomotive in the world.
Its name brings back poignant memories of adventure, luxury and a lost era of glamour.
And for one day only last weekend the iconic engine headed north of the Border for the second time since its restoration.
On Sunday, May 15, avid fans enjoyed a real treat as they were able to see Flying Scotsman in all its spectacular glory when the 94-year-old engine, hauling the Cathedrals Express, transported 800 passengers on two unforgettable excursions from Edinburgh.
The classic locomotive headed out of the Scottish capital in the morning, over the Forth Bridge and along the Fife circle route for a lunchtime tour before heading back to Edinburgh Waverley mid-afternoon.
And in the evening, Flying Scotsman embarked on a Forth circle route travelling into Alloa and Stirling before steaming back to Edinburgh.
I was one of only two journalists lucky enough to secure a seat aboard the Cathedrals Express train which was travelling behind Flying Scotsman as it took a circular tour of Fife over the Forth Bridge.
But the other reporter missed the train – so I managed to get an exclusive!
Not wanting to risk any cancellations, I arrived early at Edinburgh Waverley on Sunday morning.
I had enough time to grab a coffee before making my way down to platform 20 where passengers eagerly awaited Scotsman’s arrival.
Some 35 minutes later, at 11.25am, Flying Scotsman puffed its way into the station, impressive in a cloud of steamy smoke.
Many had turned out to see the spectacle and take photographs and video of the locomotive in action.
The engine didn’t wait long, though, as it had a strict timetable to meet.
So, just 15 minutes later, it pulled out of Edinburgh Waverley with people lining the platform waving her off.
I was seated in the premier dining area next to a lovely lady called Sarah who had travelled down from Pitlochry after securing a ticket following a cancellation.
She told me this was her second time travelling with Flying Scotsman – she had previously stepped aboard as a child, going to London in the late 1950s.
Indeed, her family had strong connections with the locomotive.
Her father was friends with British businessman Alan Pegler – who rescued the engine from the scrapyard in the early 1960s – and, as a result, they went on a lot of its special trips.
We were later joined by fellow passengers Heather and Malcolm.
We were all amazed by how many people turned out at various vantage points – open fields, footbridges, hills and train stations – to catch a glimpse of Flying Scotsman as it steamed through the Fife countryside in glorious sunshine.
While rain had been forecast, the sun came out especially for Flying Scotsman’s trip!
After a glass of champagne to toast the journey, we tucked into a three-course lunch during the three-hour trip.
Asparagus Spears with shaved Parmesan and mixed leaves was followed by baked salmon with new potatoes, peas, watercress and a lemon sauce. And it was suitably finished off with a pear and almond tart, as well as refreshments.
As it turned out, there was no need to worry about Flying Scotsman falling behind schedule – it ended up being ahead of time by around 15 to 20 minutes.
But we didn’t have to worry about returning early as the locomotive rested on an old freight line before making its timetabled return back to Waverley.
For me, there were a number of highlights – being followed overhead by a bi-plane and the stunning scenery – but travelling over the Forth Bridge twice was top of the list.
It was a very special moment being pulled over such an iconic feat of engineering by an equally iconic steam locomotive – and the views were stunning.
It was something I won’t forget, travelling behind Flying Scotsman – seeing the smoke billowing past the window, breathing in its distinctive smells and listening to the sounds of the engine. It all made for a memorable adventure.
Crossing the Forth Bridge
Marcus Robertson, chairman of Steam Dreams, was delighted with the success of the Fife Circle tour on May 14.
He said: “Our Fife lunchtime tour was, for many of our passengers and staff, the highlight of our second tour to Edinburgh with Flying Scotsman.
“The weather was kind and we were treated to wonderful views of the new Queensferry Crossing as we crossed the iconic Forth Bridge twice.
“The trip was made even more special by the turnout in Fife – as well as the beautiful scenery in the area, we could also see hundreds of onlookers who had come out to wave us past.”