The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Coast to Coast: Day 0

16 Sept

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I like travelling by train, particularly when everything goes smoothly and to schedule.

Today things did not quite go smoothly. We had an eight minute connection to make at Lancaster, which always looked to be a bit of a tight margin even without any notable incident.

The inevitable notable incident came at Crewe where we sat for 30 minutes, due to a derailed freight train at Warrington. It didn't require difficult sums to work out that our connection wasn't going to be made. No call for alarm though. We were in no particular rush so we would just catch the next train.

Except that when we got to Lancaster at 13.40 we found that the last train of the day going to St. Bees left at 13.12.

Things were soon back on track thanks to a nice man in the ticket office who pointed us in the direction of the imminently departing Barrow train, which would provide a connection with a train to St. Bees.

Back over the bridge I dashed, hoisting Mick out of the waiting room, only then to see the words "on time" on the departure board change to show a ten minute delay.

That was not the best news given that our revisd route involved a ten-minute connection in Barrow. The news got worse when we finally left Lancaster fifteen minutes late.

It's the sort of thing that could have had us fretting and certainly had other people reaching for their mobiles to inform everyone they knew that they were running fifteen minutes late. But for us there was no need to fret. It was no disaster if we had to wait for a later train (if indeed there was one) and although it would have been annoying, our plans would not have been ruined even if we were thwarted in our attempts to reach St. Bees by night fall.

As fortune had it, our plans were not thwarted. The Carlisle train was held back for the arrival of the Lancaster train and after a dash between platforms we made it onto the train just moments before it pulled away. I nearly didn't make the train at all, mind, thanks to a near-decapitation incident involving a man carrying an extraordinarily long bag and completely lacking in spatial awareness (from the shape and size of the bag that nearly met with my head as he dashed past me and swung around, my only guess was that it contained ski-jumping skis, but that seemed unlikely given the location).

An hour later and we were in St. Bees, heading down to the campsite on the sea front. It's not the sort of campsite that had me thinking "oooh that looks a nice place to stay" and I had already been forewarned from their website that they charge an alarming £14 for a backpacking tent.

In reality, it's not a price that I mind paying if the facilities and upkeep warrant it, but this is not one of those places. We did find a dry spot on the quagmire that is the camping field, and the facilities are not only as far away from the camping field as can be (i.e. as far as possible away from the only people who need to use them) but they're also nothing special. Still, I'm sure that we'll have a comfortable night there, and that's what is important.

Out of laziness our first choice for tea, after we had walked across the sands to dip our feet in the sea, was the nearby Seacote Hotel, but it only took a glance through the windows to convince me that a walk into town was worthwhile.

The short walk was indeed worthwhile. Not only does the Queen's Head boast much nicer decor, but it has also provided us with a fine tea.

Mick's now pleased to have found a television with the football on and I'm wondering how I'm going to drag him away at half time so that we can slip back into our camping routine of early-to-bed-early-to-rise, ready for the off tomorrow morning.

1 comment:

  1. Have a good trip.
    It'll be good to follow your progress.