The powers that be must reckon that Macclesfield is full of lazybones with the first northbound train departing on Sunday mornings after 10:00. Thankfully, the first 130 of the day does leave at 09:05 but that takes an age to reach Manchester. However, there is another option: using the 130 to reach Wilmslow’s train station. That approach gets you to Manchester by 10:12 and opens up a few more travel options. Booking a taxi starts to bring earlier options from Wilmslow into the fray and there are more again if you decide to go as far as Manchester Airport. Returning to Wilmslow, it seems that Arriva Trains Wales' apparent stabling of trains in Crewe means a good supply of Sunday morning services since their southbound timetable was expanded at this time. Add to that the fact that Northern, CrossCountry and Virgin all use the station and a good deal of choice is on offer.
It might be the size of the shopping precinct in the centre of the town but I have always been a little surprised by the level of train service that a place the size of Wilmslow enjoys. To an extent, that has always been pertinent when it comes to getting away to somewhere of a Sunday but becomes even more pointed after last December’s timetable changes left Macclesfield with three trains an hour connecting us with Manchester. Is it because Wilmslow feels a little like an extension of Greater Manchester and Macclesfield has pastoral countryside between it and Stockport? I don’t know the answer to that one but I’d much rather it if Northern Rail offered a better Sunday service to Macclesfield than they do. Hopeless is near enough the description that I’d ascribe to it and the timings of Virgin and CrossCountry trains make Sunday service next to hourly when spreading them apart would make so much more sense. As things stand, they look enough of a dog’s breakfast that using buses to get to and from the likes of Crewe and Wilmslow remains a useful addition to the travel arsenal.
The past weekend saw me fit in a short foray to Scotland and rail engineering work has started to return some thoughts to my mind that have lain dormant for a while and then developed them. The main cause of this was the non-running of trains between Lockerbie and Glasgow or Edinburgh because of work on the line. The result was that I got sent around by the more expensive East Coast mainline on a journey commencing from Macclesfield. Does going around by York add that much to the mileage?
Of itself, that escapade has prompted thoughts regarding the differences in fares between the West Coast and East Coast mainlines. Some vague recollection has left me with the impression that the former is subsidised with the latter being treated as a sort of cash cow. However, it would make for a great display of forward thinking if West Coast tickets were to made valid for journeys along the East Coast whenever engineering works took place. Going beyond this again, it might be an even better idea if fare harmonisation meant that an East Coast journey cost the same as a West Coast one. In the eyes of some, that may seem like adding a new idiosyncrasy to a system that already is illogical in parts. Others may decry the idea of fare increases while more would appreciate the decreases. All in all, having the extra flexibility could be worth it.
Saying all of that, the tide seems to be going the way of inflexibility these days so another crazy idea of mine might never see the light of day either: tickets allowing you to go via either Edinburgh or Glasgow on journeys going further north. Though it doesn’t happen so often these days, there have been occasions in the past when I wished to go via Edinburgh and return via Glasgow or vice versa but the need of single tickets for each precluded the scheme. Then, I was prone to going by coach from Scotland’s central belt so the idea of a “Central Belter” ticket allowing the use of either Edinburgh or Glasgow on inbound or return journeys often appealed.
Would either of the above wild daydreams yield an increase in visitors to Scotland using the railways? I don’t know the answer to that one but having the freedoms granted by their implementation would be no bad thing. Otherwise, the thoughts of the inconvenience induced by what I assume are very necessary rail engineering works are enough to get you wondering about the prospect of going by National Express coaches instead. Add the cost of travel into the equation and the coach option starts to look more promising, enough to make you wonder why the service level isn’t better than it is.
The changeover to the new Cheshire East and Cheshire West & Chester councils has taken place but the old county and borough council websites live on in a transitional period that’s set to last until the end of the year. That’s good news because the county council’s listing of bus timetables lives on for now and there are initial signs that its maintenance is set to continue too, even if new timetables have yet to make their appearance. it is for that reason that I have gone onto the Traveline website to extract something for the Macclesfield-Whirley-Prestbury route. The appearance may not be tidy but I hope that they have their use.
My run in with the West Coast Mainline Upgrade saga is probably worthy of a longer post but it seems that it is still continuing as much as ever and that’s in spite of their celebrating the end of things not so long ago. Thankfully, Macclesfield is being spared by the latest attentions but weekend engineering works continue apace between Lancaster and Lockerbie and the journey suggestions supply by the National Rail journey planner for Saturday and Sunday travel can send you around by the more expensive East Coast Mainline, or even via Birmingham if you try Macclesfield as your starting point like I did when I went experimenting. Currently, the idea of a day out among the Lakeland fells remains stillborn and that appears to be the case until the end of the month. As if that weren’t enough, works between Lockerbie and the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh are to extend the disruption to Anglo-Scottish services into next month and beyond. It’s enough to make you consider going by coach instead and neither National Express
seem not to have made the running with what is taking place; they might need the business in these depressed times. Let’s hope that the railway works get scaled back to a reasonable level, without compromising safety, sooner rather than later to let us all travel in peace. That would be a change for good but I’m not holding my breath just yet.
I was up in Scotland over the weekend and got the chance to embark on a walk from Tarbet to a place called Rest and Be Thankful at the top of Glen Croe in Argyll. The full account of that excursion
is best left for my hillwalking blog
but it is sufficient to say that I got a few hours of sun on what later turned into a day on which nigh on incessant rain could attenuate one’s enthusiasm. Even with the soaking, it was still a good day out.
The name “Rest and Be Thankful” needs a spot of explanation given how odd it might appear. As far as I know, it dates from the days when cattle were routinely driven from the Highlands to the markets in the Lowlands. The place it describes is at the top of the pass lying between Cairndow and Arrochar. Doubtless, rest was needed after the ascent from the former and that may have something to do with the naming of the place. The fact that it could be the sort of place where you might linger on a good day helps the understanding. Somewhat surprisingly given all of this, no one has ever thought to build an inn up there, particularly given what drovers enjoyed for their recreation. To this very day, the place is bereft of any facilities apart from a car park frequented by a canny mobile takeaway. I suppose that some would object to there being anything more than this to leave the area as near unspoilt as is possible with Forestry Commission plantations everywhere.
My real reason for mentioning Rest and Be Thankful on here is because of the bus stop arrangements. Though the possibility of hailing a Scottish Citylink 926 or 976 anywhere along its route so long as the stopping place is a safe one, the A83 makes the operation tricky with all of the said road’s twists and turns as it weaves its way through the hills. That is partly the cause of Glasgow bound coaches stopping using a lay-by at the other side of the road. Anyone embarking on a return trip to Rest and Be Thankful should be told of the arrangement but I was ignorant of this because I had walked there and hailed the coach from the obvious side of the road. Because the A83 is busy anyway, I was none too surprised to see where the coach went, even it meant a dash across the thoroughfare on my part. I then got the explanation of the stopping arrangements so I thought that I’d share them here in case anyone plans to do something akin to what I did.
Perhaps confusingly, the 926 and 976 are operated by West Coast Motors in their livery. This follows a silly bus war last summer following Citylink’s decision to use Parks and Stagecoach in place of WCM, who had the work for quite a while. I have related the sorry tale
already but I am glad that an amicable conclusion was reached by both sides. The timetable is back to where it was last winter and it’ll be interesting to see what is planned for the coming summer, though I reckon that the current economic climate could curtail any ambitious plans. Whatever happens, let’s hope that wasteful bus wars can be avoided for the foreseeable future.
From 2022-07-10, High Peak will be operating revised timetables for several of its services around Derbyshire. The Saturday frequency for Buxton town services 185 and 186 will be reduced to hourly while Monday to Saturday evening journeys on service 199 will no longer service Manchester Airport. The Transpeak service will see changes too but there is no timetable available at the time of writing.
The timetable for service 61 will change because of road works on the A5004 near Fernilee. These are for repairs following landslides that occurred earlier this year and will continue until 2022-09-25. Because of these, the bus route will be altered as follows: the usual route between Glossop and Whaley Bridge until Horwich End Crossroads where it goes via the B5470, running non-stop through Chapel-en-le-Frith before taking the A6 into Buxton. During this time, there will be no service to Fernilee or other stops on the A5004 Long Hill.
12:21, June 27, 2022
From 2022-07-01 to 2022-07-04, Midland Classic will be operating a Timber Festival Special service between Lichfield and Moira or Coalville via Swadlincote. This will be numbered X10