Yesterday K and I embarked on one of our usual train trips which took in the fantastic route of the Leeds/Carlisle railway, one of the most picturesque train journeys that you can travel on in Yorkshire, and one that I have longed to make for quite sometime.
The day before didn’t bode well as we had some snow in the afternoon and evening, which left me quietly muttering to myself questions such as ‘Why whenever we are going anywhere does it have to be like this?’ but luckily by the time morning arrived it had brightened up considerably, the snow had not settled, and so it was ‘all go’ for another day out! (k the weather forecaster had been quietly confident that we would get a clear sunny day, and as is usual with her forecasts she turned out to be correct, again! Hmm, I am seriously considering at this point loaning her out to the metrological office.)
After setting off from our local train station at 09.33 precisely, we landed in Leeds station as planned, and following a quick toilet break we made our way onto platform 5C to board the Leeds/Carlisle train. We were journeying with some more members of Crew, which is the local support organisation run in our authority for post heart attack care. There were only eight of us making this journey together from Crew. I was quite surprised that there were so many available seats on the train and we took advantage of this and spread ourselves out to enjoy the journey in comfort.
I was very dubious about taking photographs from inside the train of the emerging views. I couldn’t really see that they would turn out to be okay taken from through the train windows which weren’t very clean, but I have been pleasantly surprised with the results. Okay, they are not as good as we would have obtained by being outside of the train obviously, but nevertheless they do capture the stunning views of the Yorkshire Dales that this particular line passes through.
We arrived in Carlisle at 13.29pm with the entire journey from Leeds having taken approximately just under two and a half hours. Not bad considering that the train stopped at most stations on the way. K and I had taken our lunch with us, her a sandwich and myself a piece of pizza from our favourite bakery shop plus some drinks as well. We did this to save time as we only had just under three hours to spend in Carlisle and didn’t want to waste time searching for a cafe or restaurant in order to have some lunch plus we couldn’t guarantee that there would be a trolley service provided on the train.
I asked someone where the Castle was (as this was a must see during our short visit,) and we then followed the directions and signposts to the Castle. First of all we visited the Castle shop, where a very able sales lady behind the counter persuaded me to join the English Heritage which would then allow us to be able to visit other places that we like to visit. So in future such favourite sites such as Scarborough Castle, York Minster, and the Jorvik Museum will be either available to us for free or at a much reduced rate.
However, this all took time as there were forms to fill in in order to join, and subsequently meant that we had less time to explore the Castle than I would have wished. We did manage to climb up inside the keep to the topmost floor, but because of the inclement weather (fairly windy) the actual battlements had been closed off. (This was accompanied by the usual mutterings, grumblings and curses under her breath from K about having to climb all the steps which also slowed our progress somewhat as she mounted the keep one small step at a time with numerous pauses in-between for a mutter or two.)
When we exited the Keep I asked K the time and she replied that it was 15.30pm. Our train was due to go from Carlisle station at 16.18pm, and as I had not timed how long it took us to arrive at the Castle from the station I felt that we should begin to make the return journey. So, we ended up only looking round the keep and didn’t get chance to see the rest of the Castle. By this time it had also begun to rain plus being very cold as well.
By the time we arrived back at Carlisle station it became evident that K had looked at her watch wrongly as it was only 15.30pm. So in order to kill time waiting for our train, we went into the only cafe on the station to have a warm cup of tea and thaw out. K also bought a sandwich to eat on the train for her tea. I didn’t do the same as I knew that I would already be feeling the consequences from having the piece of pizza on the journey here and I didn’t want to ‘push my luck’ by including any more wheat and gluten! Whilst we were in the cafe, an announcement came over the tannoy that the Virgin Pedello train was due to arrive, so I quickly picked up my camera and dashed out to take some pictures of it arriving. I would normally never get the opportunity to do this in our neck of the woods as it only runs up the West Coast main line from Euston station to Glasgow.
When it was time to board our train we made our way to the platform where we were instructed by the train staff to board the first two carriages as the third one was broken down and had all of its lights off, so was unavailable to ‘walk through’. But it wasn’t until the train had actually set off that another of the train staff informed us that if we needed the toilet the one in our carriage was broken, and that because we couldn’t walk through the middle carriage to use the next available working toilet, we would have to get off at a station when the train stopped, get on the back two carriages, use the loo, then wait until the next station to get off again and then return to our own carriages!
What a palaver! So K and I decided that if we really couldn’t wait then we would get off and make our way to the back two carriages for the toilet but then stay there. As it happened we did manage to hold out until Leeds which was an absolute wonder on my part, especially as the driver had the heating system turned off with the result that I didn’t remove my coat the whole journey home. So the return journey rather spoiled the day somewhat. It might not have seemed quite as bad if we had been able to look out of the train window and admire the at glorious scenery in order to take our minds of things, but as it was so dark outside you couldn’t see anything! I actually expected K to go to sleep during the return journey but she stayed awake which was unusual for her.
Apart from that, we had a wonderful day and have vowed to repeat the journey in the future, especially as with K’s Disabled railcard we can make the journey for £13.85 for a Day Ranger ticket, which allows you to make the entire journey and also ‘hop on and hop off’ as many times as you wish. You can find out more about this and for tourist information for days out using the Settle –Carlisle Day Ranger ticket at www.northernrail.org with more info about the places to visit on route at www.golakes.co.uk www.historic.carlisle.org.uk and www.yorkshirevisitor.com for info about the Yorkshire Dales.
I am now looking forward to making a return journey when the weather is more favourable.