Travelling back in time

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Last year saw rail chaos in the north of England. At its peak during the summer months hundreds of trains in the region were cancelled every day; of those that ran, far more were delayed than were on time. The impact on my life was minimal compared with the horrific experiences endured daily by thousands of people who depended on Northern trains to get them to and from work. By way of compensation for some of my delayed journeys, Northern sent me several travel vouchers entitling me to free rail journeys. This small collection of freebies has remained in a drawer for nearly a year, so this weekend I thought I’d make use of a couple of them before they expired.

The first leg of the journey was to Grange-over-Sands.It was going to be a changeable day according to the Met Office, and as we sped across the viaduct at Arnside the bright sunshine of early morning was replaced by threatening cloud with the first of the day’s light showers appearing just as I alighted at Grange. I briefly regretted not bringing an umbrella, but the rain had stopped by the time I boarded the bus outside Grange Station to get to my next destination.

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Just 17 minutes later I alighted at Haverthwaite railway station. This once busy branch line of the Furness Railway transported iron ore to the industrial regions of the north west of England until the industry finally went into decline. Popular also with holiday-makers travelling to Lake Windermere, the station finally closed to passengers in 1965 and to freight trains two years later. From the time of the line’s demise, work was going on behind the scenes to purchase steam engines and carriages for preservation. These were stored at nearby Carnforth until a deal would be struck with British Rail for the line to be sold into private ownership. Seven years later, after numerous obstacles, objections and with the support of parliamentary lobbying, the purchase was realised and in 1973 the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway Company reopened the line. The station has been beautifully restored, developed and maintained; shiny red paintwork, window boxes, planters and shrubs offer a welcome contrast with the usual soulless modern railway buildings.

I had planned my day so that I would have an hour or so to spare before boarding the vintage train to Lakeside. Hungry by this time, I decided to try out the tea rooms for some lunch. Walking from the front to the platform I passed a huge pile of coal, obviously fuel for the steam trains. For environmental reasons, Haverthwaite and other vintage train attractions may not be around for too much longer as we seek to reduce our national carbon footprint. I wanted to ride in a train of yesteryear before the last of them are shunted off to museums.

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After a tasty and substantial lunch in the pleasant and reasonably-priced (if somewhat over-crowded) tea rooms I had just 10 minutes to wait before our engine, Victor, chugged up to the platform, whistle blowing and enveloped in an aura of steam. The returning passengers emerged, and it was time to board.

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Like the tea rooms, the train was mainly occupied by young and very noisy children, and I felt rather like I was tagging along on a pre-school outing. I tried to talk myself into a more tolerant, less grumpy mindset, but then another young family took the seats behind and started to sing with great gusto (the parents in particular) about the wheels on the train going round and round all day long. As always on such occasions I resorted to my trusty ear-plugs which remained in place for the next 20 minutes. Settling into my sagging but nostalgically comfortable seat, I appreciated the tints of autumn on display through the window as the train’s gentle rhythm merged harmoniously with the melodic sounds of Agnes Obel. The wheels on the train went round and round, the whistle blew and trails of white steam floated past the window and up above the pastoral scenery.

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Arriving at Lakeside station on the southern tip of Lake Windermere, it was time to leave Victor the steam engine and start the next part of my journey. I observed that almost all of the people with children were heading towards the adjacent Lakeside Aquarium; so that explained it. This must be a typical weekend lunch/ train/ marine life combo.

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I’m glad I made the trip, just for the experience, but I wouldn’t rush back. It was time to get in the queue for my next embarkation.

12 thoughts on “Travelling back in time

  1. shazza October 13, 2019 / 3:46 pm

    Oh no, it would be such a shame if the steam trains couldn’t run anymore, especially when they have been restored like this one has. I know, I know, I need to be more environmentally friendly in my outlook. Just makes me feel a little sad. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sandra October 13, 2019 / 4:07 pm

    This made me smile 🙂 Poor you! Lovely photos though 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. sustainablemum October 13, 2019 / 5:56 pm

    Agnes Obel would be the perfect soundtrack for this train ride, I love her music. It is likely that your fellow passengers were taking advantage of ‘locals’ reduction one of the few tourist attractions in Cumbria to do so, out of season if you have a CA or a specific LA postcode you can ride the train, visit the aquarium or the car museum or take a trip on the lake at a good discount. We used to do this quite a bit when my children were younger (but not preschoolers) as we home educate and this part of Cumbria is particularly ghastly in the height of the tourist season. I hope they didn’t ruin your day too much, they sound particularly annoying.

    You are so right that they could become a thing of the past, hadn’t even thought of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome to the Beautiful North October 13, 2019 / 6:23 pm

      The children were just being children. It’s me being an old misery. 😁 I suppose I had preconceptions of a quiet journey with old people recapturing their childhoods and a few enthusiastic train nerds ( strange that I should think that, as I am neither). I think you are right about the discount as I heard people talking about it when they were buying tickets.

      Like

  4. tanjabrittonwriter October 13, 2019 / 10:54 pm

    Train rides are a wonderful way to see and visit the country (but I would have preferred peace and quiet, too!). 🚂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Eunice October 14, 2019 / 12:05 pm

    If you’re a grumpy old misery then so am I, I really hate noisy kids. When I’m going to work in the afternoon there’s a particularly noisy bunch at the bus stop, with the mothers being equally noisy in telling them off – I will purposely miss the bus they get on as I just don’t want to hear it! Whatever happened to ‘children should be seen and not heard’?!

    When I read your first couple of sentences I thought at first you were talking about this year as there’s been train chaos/delays/cancellations for months – Michael almost missed his flight to Ireland a couple of weeks ago because his train was cancelled 😦 I love steam locos though this is one journey I’ve never been on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome to the Beautiful North October 14, 2019 / 12:31 pm

      Fortunately, I have only encountered one delayed train this year. That being said, I haven’t been travelling as much this year. For me, it’s the shrieking and screaming of high-pitched little voices, running around unsupervised and kicking and banging on the seats behind. I just don’t like noise, whether it’s adults, kids or very loud music. My ear plugs are well utilised 🙂

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  6. bitaboutbritain October 29, 2019 / 5:24 pm

    Lovely shots of Haverthwaite! I’m afraid I tend to be in the grumpy club too. One of the loveliest sounds in the world is children playing happily but, like everything else, there’s a time and place. You can’t blame the kids (normally) – but parents who want to share their children on public transport or in restaurants need to do community service or something.

    Liked by 1 person

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