Friday, 21 March 2014

First day of spring 'Beer By Train'

Class 323 electric train of Northern Rail at Manchester Piccadilly

We last did this on 3rd November 2011, the famous Leeds to Manchester real ale trail. High time for another go. This was our itinerary:

Outbound to the start of the trail:

Wilmslow depart:          10:17
Man Piccadilly arrive:    10:43
Man Piccadilly depart:   10:57
Leeds arrive:                 11:52

Inbound on the trail: 

The pub to pub train options increase as the day goes on, depending how long you spend in each pub. The highlighted trains (in red) are the ones we actually took. 

Leeds dep.

Dewsbury arr.

Dewsbury dep.

Huddersfield arr.

Huddersfield dep.

Stalybridge arr.

Stalybridge dep.

Piccadilly arr.

Piccadilly dep.
Wilmslow arr.

Scarborough Taps, Leeds

A local Northern Rail class 323 train took us to to Manchester Piccadilly where we caught a Trans Pennine Express to Middlesborough as far as Leeds, our first destination. These trips are nothing if not consistent and the first pub stop of the day was the Scarborough Taps just across the road from the station

John, Malc, Ivan, Peter, me, and Frank in the 'Taps' waiting for lunch. Sid, from North Wales, a 'Beer By Train' virgin like John, Ivan, and Peter, took the picture.

Trans Pennine Express (TPE), which provided our transport today between Manchester and Leeds, and back to Manchester. These quiet, fast, comfortable trains are in danger of going south in 2015 when the TPE franchise expires. Chiltern Trains have approached the train leasing company to take them after that date.

After lunch and a couple of pints of excellent ale we returned to the station for the 13:25 train to Dewsbury. Frank, Ivan and me reached the platform only to note the absence of Malc, Peter, Sid, and John. Our Trans Pennine Express rolled in a couple of minutes early, and left on time, still minus the four missing members.

Those of us who are Beer By Train veterans remember the infamous Ray Bull. On that trip he got another pint in at Dewsbury shortly before our train was due to depart for Huddersfield, so we left him behind. On arriving at Huddersfield, there was Ray on the platform, pint in hand, having caught a later but faster train which had overtaken ours!

The West Riding, Dewsbury

Today, something similar happened. The four miscreants had gone off piste. They had spied an earlier local train and boarded that. They arrived on their 'all stations stopper' ancient scrap-yard-dodger train a few minutes before we rolled in in our comfortable express! They just had time to get pints in and do a 'Ray Bull', greeting us on the platform with raised glasses as we arrived!

At Dewsbury Ivan got religion, and is here being comforted by a nun over the evils of alcohol. It didn't stop him falling asleep on the Stalybridge - Manchester train at the end of the day and waking up in Birchwood!

After imbibing a pint or two at Dewsbury, and rescuing Ivan from itinerant nuns, we proceeded by our next Trans Pennine Express train to Huddersfield where the many railway paintings there, and the railway memorabilia collection was admired as we supped a couple more pints of their excellent selection of real ales.

Head of Steam, Huddersfield

Next move was to Stalybridge, with just time for one pint and a sausage roll there before the final Trans Pennine train of our day took us back to Piccadilly. Where we lost Ivan.

Stalybridge Station Buffet

Frank and I sat together on this leg and saw Ivan board at the far end of our coach. We waved him to come and join us but he sat down where he was. On reaching Piccadilly (our train was running a few minutes late) we had about a minute to make the 18:08 connection to Wilmslow so dashed off the train and up the stairs. Our connection had gone, and by then Peter, Malc, John, and Sid had joined us on the Piccadilly footbridge. Where was Ivan? Frank and I had assumed he was close to the others and would get off the train with them (he was at their end of the coach), but the others hadn't seen him and assumed he was with us. 

We said our goodbyes to Sid who was off to catch a North Wales train home to Colwyn Bay, and sought the next train to Wilmslow, the 18:30 Arriva Trains Wales to Carmarthen. We'd just settled in our seats when my phone rang. It was Ivan, "I'm in Birchwood", he said. "No one woke me up! The next train back to Manchester is the 18:50". I did a quick calculation. He'd be delayed about an hour in total. "Get on that train, then on to Wilmslow, we'll see you in an hour or so in the Bollin Fee".

The Bollin Fee, Wilmslow

The final pint of the day was being enjoyed in the Fee, together with a well priced evening meal and we were expecting Ivan to walk in at any moment when he phoned. He was at Manchester Oxford Road station!

Why was he there? Why wasn't he in the Fee by then? I'll find out when I see him. I hope he got home OK!

Postscript: He did! Not far behind us.


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