With another wet and windy day in prospect, we set off once more for the Blackpool North station. We had thought to go to Carlisle but that would be quite a long journey and given the weather conditions, it seemed hardly worth it. Instead we chose Barrow-in-Furness.
The Manchester train took us to Preston where we picked up a connection for Barrow. Especially on the second leg, the view from the train was very attractive with sea, rivers and lakes. The countryside was green and there were cows, horses and sheep with lambs.
When we disembarked in Barrow, the grey skies, wind and drizzle were there to greet us. How nice it would be if the sun were to break through from time to time but this seems unlikely to happen on this trip.
As it was just after 11 when we arrived, and thus too early for lunch, we have stopped off for coffee on the way to the town centre. What wonders are awaiting us there? Will we stay a while and explore or catch the next train back?
After our coffee break, we went for an exploratory walk. Such was the weather that Tigger bought a hat and I bought gloves. We had not thought it necessary to bring cold-weather clothes with us on a trip in May.
We then discovered the Barrow Market Halls and went in for a look. Less lively than some of the markets we have seen, this one is nevertheless a good one with a broad range of goods. We found a haberdashery stall where I bought some beads for making bracelets.
We had to decide whether to lunch here in Barrow or in Lancaster where we intend to go next. While deliberating on this important matter we spotted the Che Vita Italian restaurant and enjoyed a good lunch there.
The rain had now stopped and this encouraged us to explore a little further. Unfortunately, we missed our train to Lancaster and as it would be some before the next, we instead took the Carlisle train. We could not go to Carlisle itself, however, because by the time we arrived, the last train back would have departed, leaving us stranded.
We planned to leave the train at Whitehaven. There were two trains back from there so we could spend a greater or lesser amount of time in the town as seemed appropriate once we had had a look at it.
Apart from any visits to towns, the journey itself was worthwhile for the varied and beautiful landscapes we saw along the way. This is one of the advantages of public transport: you are not distracted from the view by having to drive.
Whitehaven seems to be a quiet little town, with a harbour, as its name suggests. We had the choice of taking the next train out or of staying a while. In the event, while exploring we missed the first train and had over an hour to wait for the next. While I am sure Whitehaven is a pleasant enough place to live in, there doesn’t seem to be much to invite the visitor for a long stay. We thus repaired to the local Wetherspoon’s pub, The Bransty Arch, for coffee and dessert. This filled in the time agreeably until the 17:39 for Barrow-in-Furness.
The clouds have finally parted a little allowing a pale sunshine to filter through. As the train skirts the coast we can even see some people kite-surfing. At least they have plenty of wind to power them.
There are also houses along here on the beach, though some resemble shanties more than houses. I can’t help wondering whether their owners fear damage or flooding from storms.
It is pleasant to see sunlight on the sea at last though the air remains hazy and distant views fade into mist.
At Barrow, we found our next train, for Preston, and there, our final connection for Blackpool. By now night had fallen and the darkness outside was occasionally relieved by the lights of the stations through which we passed en route.
Leaving Blackpool North station, we walked into the by now familiar gale blowing from the sea. Most winds come in gusts but Blackpool’s wind is continuous and we walk right into it to reach our hotel. The sudden calm as the hotel door slides shut behind us is a relief.