Western Howgills

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Saunterings:  Walking in North-West England

Saunterings is a set of reflections based upon walks around the counties of Cumbria, Lancashire and North Yorkshire in North-West England (as defined in the Preamble). Here is a list of all Saunterings so far.
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44.  Interlude: We Are Sorry for the Delay ...

I planned to take the train (actually, four trains: two there and two back) to walk in the Whitehaven region. On Tuesday I asked for a return ticket via Barrow-in-Furness and was advised that it was quicker via Carlisle. But I had my train schedule details ready for Barrow, so I stuck with it. According to the display, the train, which had started in Manchester, was on time – until, 15 minutes before its scheduled arrival, it appeared to be unable to escape from Preston Station. No explanation was forthcoming. The delay grew to exceed the time I should have had in Barrow to transfer to the second train. I asked the station guard if the second train would wait but he shrugged his shoulders. So I returned to the ticket office for a refund.

On Wednesday I asked for a return ticket via Carlisle and was advised that it was cheaper to get a ‘Cumbria Round Robin’ ticket via Carlisle and Barrow. It was the same ticket-man. He had omitted to mention this possibility the day before. I don’t know if he remembered me: I doubt that he registered travellers as people. Anyway, I had my train schedule details ready for Carlisle, so I stuck with it (even though it cost me £30, compared to £12 the day before). The train arrived at Lancaster on time. It then proceeded … to not proceed. It remained motionless in Lancaster Station. The delay grew to exceed the time I should have had in Carlisle to transfer to the second train. After 25 minutes it was announced that we were waiting for a new train manager, whatever that is. What had happened to the old train manager? Or was the new one late for their shift? After 40 minutes passengers for Carlisle were advised to get off and catch a different train (most passengers were heading for Edinburgh with no doubt more pressing engagements than me, just going for a walk, but they had to sit and wait). So I got off and returned to the ticket office for a refund.

I suppose I should count myself lucky that both the failures occurred with the first of my planned four trains. If it had been any of the other trains I might have been marooned in somewhere like Workington or Barrow. But surely we can do better than this. The service is not exactly speedy – taking 2½ hours to travel the 90 miles or so from Lancaster to Whitehaven – so the least we should expect is reliability. The inexplicable (or rather, unexplained) failures are bad enough but, worse, all the staff seemed resigned to them. They hadn’t caused the problems, which were only to be expected anyway. Maybe they have adopted the attitude and competence of our Secretary of State for Transport, Mr Grayling.

The two following items:
     46.   To the Point of Winterburn Reservoir
     45.   Thoughts from the Towpath (Bilsborrow to Preston)
The two preceding items:
     43.   The Red Screes - Wansfell Question
     42.   Appreciating Meg and Lucy
A list of all items so far:

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    © John Self, Drakkar Press, 2018-


Top photo: The western Howgills from Dillicar; Bottom photo: Blencathra from Great Mell Fell