On Trains & Buses

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A north-western triangle

Posted on February 17, 2019

Reading time: 3 minutes.

Following the suspension of strike action against Northern Rail, I decided to embark on a rail outing on the first Saturday of fully restored services. This was a repeat of a journey that I took in October 2017 that made use of the North West Round Robin day ranger ticket. That happened on a weekday and, apart from a phone call from my solicitor in Ireland, it was a quiet affair.

The North West Round Robin ticket allows travel within a circuit bound by Preston, Leeds and Carlisle and cost me £40.50 on the day of travel. My journey took me east from Preston to Leeds, north from Leeds to Carlisle with a break in Skipton and then south from Carlisle to Preston again. Along the way, I sampled different Northern Rail services as well as a Virgin one for the last leg.

In addition to doing some reading of a book on Irish history by Diarmaid Ferriter, I also wanted to include some window gazing since my itinerary passed though such scenic parts as the South Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales. The previous circuit inspired me to revisit Calderdale after a long absence so it became a chance to go from Hebden Bridge to Todmorden in bright autumnal sunshine. More walking trips were to follow, albeit in Cheshire and Derbyshire but this is where the seed got sown.

As I travelled along the Settle to Carlisle railway, I remarked to myself about the carpet-like appearance of the landscape. That it was a result of sheep grazing is decried by some but I somehow find it sufficiently appealing that thoughts of further walking trips entered my mind. Only time will show how far this thinking goes.

Trains were busier than on the previous weekday circuit so the restoration was well known to passengers. Aside from the occasional oddball and someone who chose arguing with his friends as a way of getting over a racist comment, the travelling was pleasant this time around too and every train ran on time, which helped with connections.

The day ranger ticket did not work on the ticket gates at Leeds station and that is why I broke the journey from there to Carlisle at Skipton. Otherwise, it was accept on all trains for which I needed it. The return journey between Macclesfield and Preston was not covered so an extra set of tickets was needed for that with CrossCountry, Transpennine Express and Northern services all working as needed.

So long as the Northern Rail dispute does not disrupt Saturday services like it did, other possibilities now offer themselves. Day trips to the countryside for walking again become realistic with the North York Moors, the Lake District, the Peak District, the South Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales all feeling more open than they were. What is needed now is the resolve to visit some of these of a sunny day. With spring on the way and the ongoing expansion of daylight hours, numerous possibilities await.