Wednesday, November 2, 2016

United Kingdom - Jim & Kaye

Well the "train" (model and 12" to foot) related activities continued but this time with my wife...

London Euston - Watford Junction

We made our way to Euston Station with all our clobber where I went to get Kaye’s Britrail pass validated at the ticket counter so we could catch the fast train - it was like an airport check-in queue. Whist waiting in the queue I was watching the departures board and noticed a train to Watford Junction - where we needed to go – was on platform 9.  So without thinking I took Kaye to platform 9 and without thinking we boarded a London Overground train to Watford Junction.

Later I realised that we took the wrong train.  There are three trains London Overground, London Underground and London Midlands fast train - the one we should have taken from another platform.  So the 20 minute ride took 50 minutes.....

Watford Junction - London Euston

This time we caught the fast train...

We took the underground to London Paddington

London Paddington - Penzance

We got to Great Western Railrod platform level at Paddington around 11.10. We had planned to get the 12.05 but it was booked out so 13.05 was our train.

I took most of the bags to the entry point and when it opened I was the second person to enter our carriage I caused a road block as I had 6 of the 8 bags. Still I got the big ones in the bottom section of the rack so no heavy lifts! After loading the baggage, I disembarked and stood on the platform till Kaye came along and we both boarded our first class carriage together.

The train ride was a pleasant way to spend a bit over 5 hours. I tried some French Syrah/Grenache blend on the train and it was very nice for a young 2015 red.

The train passes a number of estuaries on the trip through the West Country. The rain steadily fell during the second half of the trip and we were told by some locals it is affectionately known as "miszle" mist & drizzle.

Cardiff - London Paddington

At Cardiff Station where we sat in the first class lounge with a lovely hostess who offered us drinks nibbles and cake and tried to fill our small carry on bags with goodies!

We made use of the WiFi on the train during the trip and even got to speak to our daughter Amy via Facebook Messenger telephone for around 30 minutes – that was really nice.

London Paddington - Stratford

When we got to Paddington we had done our homework so no steps – lift to platform and step free transfers all the way to Stratford.

Stratford Station
We rode the Docklands Light Rail (DLR) to Greenwich to see the Cutty Sark and take a London Transport River Boat into London.

Stratford - Southampton - Stratford

At Stratford Station this time looking for the Jubilee line (platform 13 of 17) to get to London Waterloo Station.

At London Waterloo there were three sets of escalators to get to the Southwest train platforms. Kaye found our train on the departures board - "Poole platform 8".

Showing our Britrail passes we got on to the platform 3 minutes before departure. The doors in the carriages we tried would not open then I noticed a sign way down the platform – at another train passed the first one and about 300 yards away.

The whistles had started for departure I think that they took pity on Kaye hurrying with her walking stick so the train departed about 1 1/2 minutes late.  It called at 8 stations before ours Clapham, Farnborough, Fleet, Basingstoke, Winchester, Shawford, Eastleigh, Southampton Airport then Southampton Central where we disembarked.

After a day in Southampton we returned to Southampton Central Station where our train arrived within a few minutes for the return journey. I must say First Class seating with a nice French Merlot is just what I needed on the trip back to London.

London - Edinburgh

Stratford - London Kings Cross

Stratford Station. We needed platform 3 – the red Central line. I saw a sign to platform 3 and off we went to the other side of the station in the subway.  Well I should have been more careful reading all the signs because at the end of the subway which was around the corner were 3 flights of stairs and no lift - we were in the wrong subway. Turns out that there are 3 subways to the platform and only one has a lift. I carried Kaye's suitcase to the top of the stairs and as I was about to go back for mine a young man asked if he could help me. I accepted his offer, took two bags off and he carried the suitcase plus my insulin bag up for me. On the platform I put all the bags back together ready to board the train.

Well the first train was absolutely packed so no room for 2/3 of the people on the platform. The next one had standing room by the door and we were like sardines in a can - everyone pressed together.  We only had to go to Mile End - the next station - where we changed to the Hammersmith & City line to get to King Cross/St Pancras station.

Well I did manage to read the signs right this time so we took two separate lifts to get to street level before the walk between St Pancras and Kings Cross stations.

Kings Cross - Edinburgh

We waited until the platform was announced for our train then went with the masses to platform 1. Well our Virgin Trains First Class coach was about half full. Lunch and drinks are provided so Shiraz it was for me and black tea for Kaye. Well I choose chicken curry and I must say that I could have eaten a second plate as it was delicious. Kaye had the sausage roll and whilst it looked, and Kaye thought it tasted yummy, I reckon I got the better lunch!

The second glass of Shiraz was drunk as we passed through Doncaster. The train seems to be doing about 120mph most of the time.  The third glass after we left York and at least my tummy is holding together today unlike yesterday. The fourth glass at Newcastle on Tyne.

The Edinburgh Tram

We had a spare hour and a quarter before meeting our taxi who was taking us to the train station, so we hopped on to the tram and headed off towards the airport.

The idea was to see some areas we had not seen so far we saw Haymarket, Murrayfield Stadium (the home of Scottish Rugby) and Saughton where we hit our time limit for travelling outbound so got off and crossed to the other side of the tracks ready to catch the next tram back.

The tram back was very full with standing room only. Kaye was offered a priority seat which she took and two stops before we had to disembark I got a seat too.

Edinburgh - Inverness

The taxi driver took us to a hidden drop off point at Edinburgh Station which provided easy lift access to the platforms where we caught our train to Inverness.

The Scotrail commuter train train trip to Inverness was lovely. Many of the stations were in the Cairngorms National Park, which was enormous. Edinburgh Waverly station had 20 platforms but Inverness station has only 7.

Inverness - Kyle of Lochalsh - Inverness

We left our hotel about 10.30 and strolled to the railway station boarding the Scotrail train to Kyle of Lochalsh which departed at 11. The train passed through Beauley, Muir of Ord, Dingwall, Garve, Lochluichart, Achanalt, Achnasheen, Achnashellach, Strathcarron, Attadale, Stromeferry, Duncraig, Plackton, Duirinish before arriving at Kyle of Lochalsh.

We watched as they unload a wind turbine blade off a cargo ship and looked in the gift shop at the station and the lady who ran it said that today (15th August) was the first day without rain since 30th May. Lucky us!!

We rode the train back to Inverness getting back just after 8pm. Unfortunately for all us passengers in the front carriage that the air-conditioning had died and was unable to be repaired in the field. It did get quite warm and there were a couple of times where the driver got out at a station and had a walk around because he was so hot in his driver’s cabin. No air-conditioning for him either!

Strathspey Railway

Upon arrival at Aviemore we were introduced to a person in Strathspey Railway Regalia who welcomed us and upon boarding we were shown our own compartment – it could seat 6 people.  We were served Tea, Coffee, Scones & Biscuits for our journey to Broomhill station – also known as “Glenbogle” for those fans of “Monarch of the Glen”.

We were picked up again by Gerald and taken into the highlands and on to The Glenlivet whiskey distillery.

When we returned to Broomhill we were again shown to our compartment and served Tea, Coffee & Cake for the trip back to Aviemore.

Invrness - Wick & Thurso - Inverness

We left Inverness in our Scotrail train on time and passed through Beauly, Muir of Ord, Conon Bridge, Dingwall (those four the same as the Kyle of Lochalsh train), Alness, Invergordon, Fearn, Tain, Ardgay, Culrain, Invershin, Lairg, Rogart, Golspie, Dunrobin Castle, Bora, Helmsdale, Kildonan, Kinbrace, Forsinard, Altnabreac, Scotscalder, Georgemas Junction, Thurso and arrived at Wick.

At Invergordon it obviously was an area for manufacture and/or maintenance of oil platforms as there were more than a dozen in the estuary.

It was a nice ride as the train route follows the coast but weaves inland where we follow streams or rivers and climb through valleys then descend to the coast again. Between the hills and the water, it is mainly farming land.

At Georgemas Junction I noticed that they have constructed a new freight unloading facility complete with a 110 ton fixed gantry crane.

We went back down a branch line to Thurso to drop passengers then return to the junction and on to Wick.  After disembarking we walked into the main street found a cafe had a small bite and a drink. We wandered back up the hill to the station and arrived 10 minutes before the train left for the return journey.

The train was away on time and we were seated in different seats this time on the other side of the carriage.  The tracks have lots of jointed rail - so many clickety clacks – welded rail is just soo much quieter to ride on.  We went past the Glenmorangie distillery during the ride. Upon our return to Inverness around 8.15pm we dropped into the pub across the road from out hotel to get a bite to eat.

The Jacobite

The train was boarding 30 minutes before departure our tickets were for the first class carriage - carriage “A” which was right behind the locomotive on the outwards journey.

Our locomotive was 44871 and ex LMS 4-6-0 and our coach 42 seats as opposed to 2nd class that have 64 seats.  We were served tea, coffee & biscuits on the 42 mile outbound trip. The seven carriage train was packed.

Our Coach

The weather was “closed in” but the rain stayed away until we were pulling back in to Fort William on the return journey.  Scenery along the route through Benavie, Corpach, Loch Eilt, Locheilside, Glenfinnan Viaduct, Glenfinnan, Lochailort, Bleasdale, Arisaig, Morar and finally Mallaig.

We stopped at Glenfinnan

Then we continued on

We walked around Mallaig for about 45 minutes looking mainly at the harbor and all the fishing boats, not forgetting the lifeboat then we sat on a platform seat and the train crew were on the platform near us having a discussion, the engineer and fireman were chatting and apart from “taking many years” to know how to stoke the fire to get the best out of the engine during different stages of the trip they talked about shoveling 3½ tons of coal between Fort William and Mallaig.

Fort William - Glasgow

Taxi to Fort William station ready for the trip to Glasgow. At the station, there were people everywhere!! Sitting on the dozen or so available seats, sitting on the ground, sitting on their suitcases… anywhere they could find.  Most of them had backpacks – very, very large backpacks & rucksacks and quite a few of them had their walking poles also. Based on the number of people waiting in the station at the time, plus all the others who continued to arrive while we were there, we thought that this train would be packed. Initially we thought there were only going to be two coaches on the train back to Glasgow but fortunately there were four coaches, however as the train had departed from Mallaig, there were already quite a few passengers already on board heading towards Glasgow. Trying to get on board the train was almost like a polite bun-fight, with people trying to grab some space for their luggage and then someone else later moving the luggage. At least ours stayed on the train but not where we originally placed it.

The Scotrail train departed Fort William calling at Spean Bridge, Roy Bridge, Tulloch, Corrour, Rannoch, Bridge of Orchy, Upper Tyndrum, Crianlarich, Ardlui, Arrochar & Tarbet, Garelochhead, Helensburgh Upper, Dumbarton Central, Dalmuir and finally at Glasgow Queen Street.

The train once again traversed the Glens and lochs and along the coastal inlets as we went from the highlands to the lowlands.  The scenery changed from high mountains with glens between them and in the highlands there was a distinct lack of farm animals as it was very rocky and wet. In the highlands we saw snow fences and went through a snow shed near Corrour. It was very desolate.

Descending from the highlands there were a few cattle and sheep and the numbers increased the lower we went. We caught a taxi from Glasgow Queen Street station to our hotel

Glasgow - Edinburgh - Glasgow

Being the last day I could use my Britrail pass as my first use was 30 days ago Kaye wanted to ride to Glasgow and back. We made our way to Glasgow Central Station and found an entrance without steps and located a departures screen and found an Edinburgh train leaving in about 10 minutes but no platform listed. The station has more than one level so had to ask which level to go to. Station assistant looked at me funny and said once an hour upper level but every 10 minutes from Queen Street Station….

Kaye said that 11.17 did not appear on the timetable she had... turns out there are four Scotrail routes to Glasgow and we had not worked that out. All of Kaye's research had shown four or six stops but the one we caught departed Glasgow Central stopping at Uddingston, Bellshill, Holytown, Carfin, Cleland, Hartwood, Shotts, Fauldhouse, Addiewell, West Calder, Livingston South, Kirknewton, Curriehill, Wester Hailes, Kingsknowe, Slateford, Haymarket before arriving at Edinburgh Waverly – it was the 2nd class commuter service. So the one hour trip took over an hour and a half!!!!

We decided to have lunch in the Waverly Mall at the place that serves nice baked potatoes - we ate there before when we stayed in Edinburgh - then took the train back to Glasgow but this time to Glasgow Queen Street.

This train had a separate first class section and Wi-Fi so a couple of red wines along the way for me and tea for Kaye. We left Edinburg Waverly calling at Falkirk High, Croy before arriving at Glasgow Queen Street. This is a much faster service than what Kaye had looked up! It was surprising how different the scenery was on the two different train routes. First trip was quite urban and eventually becoming rural, whereas the return trip was mostly rural.

From Glasgow we traveled to Ireland and did not have any further train travel.  On my way home ti Australia, while Kaye went on to Europe, I had a stop over in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong - Stop Over - Jim

I arrived late at night and took the train to the city then taxi to hotel.  I caught up with a mate who lives in Hong Kong and we went for a ride on the Peak Tram and some commuter trams.

We took the Peak Tram to the summit

Below is a video of part of the downward ride - the buildings are vertical so it gives a good idea of the grade.

This is the last of the Holiday updates so things may get back to normal as I start to get back to normal routines.  To date I have not done any modelling since arriving home as these updates have taken a significant amount of time to compile (particularly the video editing).

I think things will not start in earnest until 2017 as our round robin end of year dinner is only a few weeks away.


No comments:

Post a Comment