Posted in Railways on Monday 8th May 2006 at 10:00pm

It all started out so well! A drizzly and miserable scene at Highbridge station this morning. Out on my normal morning commuter train, which was strange. It became incredibly busy once we left Weston, reminding me why I was so happy to stop commuting to Bristol a few years back. Arrived at Temple Meads in plenty of time to get coffee, before the timely arrival of the 0928 Glasgow service. Found a seat in the quiet coach and watched in disbelief as the entire train filled up around me! A little slack running up Filton bank and a long wait outside Parkway left us around twelve minutes down - but by Cheltenham we were gaining ground, and were easily back on time on departure from Birmingham. More overcrowding, with a constant traffic of complaining people trying to find reserved seats in completely wrong carriages, and generally moaning loudly to everyone and anyone except the Train Manager. Finally settled into the journey around Warrington, with some weak sunshine breaking through and some patches of blue sky above.

First heard rumblings of trouble from a Freightliner driver travelling north 'on the cushions'. He exchanged words with the Train Manager about something which he'd heard was "twelve o'clock" but was now "not until four o'clock". The meaning of this cryptic exchange soon became clear - over-running engineering works at Gretna meant nothing was moving between Carlisle and Lockerbie. The final stretch of the journey into Carlisle was spent trying to get information, and enjoying stunning scenery in bright sunshine. The Virgin staff knew nothing of the ScotRail service to Stranraer or indeed of what arrangements had been made for their own transfer, so it was down to chance.

Citadel station was in chaos when I alighted. Our arrival, soon followed by a service from London meant a huge queue of passengers heading for coaches to Lockerbie, for onward connections into Glasgow. Joined a much smaller queue for a service to Dumfries, where we too would meet an onward train. Made my now customary call home from Carlisle and settled in for a hot and uncomfortable bus ride to Dumfries. On arrival found an SPT 156 waiting. Followed instructions and hopped aboard, but it soon became clear that they'd not thought of people trying to make it to Stranraer for the ferry. After some explaining to the guard - who didn't think a 90-minute wait unreasonable at first - ScotRail agreed to provide taxis from Kilmarnock.

After some slapstick high-jinks as a fellow passenger tried to insert his bike into a Skoda taxi, on our way West and South along the A77. Despite missing a stretch of new track between Kilmarnock and Ayr, the journey was amazing. The road hugs the seashore through rugged terrain, with a misty of view of distant Ailsa Craig out to sea. The driver pointed out interesting locations as we passed, including the caves where Scotland's last cannibals lay in ambush beside the road. Finally arrived in Stranraer - only a little later than planned, and not on a train - but happy to have completed the first day's travel despite the problems.

Checked in to the excellent Lakeview Guest House, and wandered out into the town. A strange, deserted feel. Gangs of teenagers roamed with nothing to do, lines of them sitting on the harbour walls, dangling their legs over Loch Ryan. The local pubs were singularly sinister and unwelcoming, and there appeared to be no real beer in Stranraer. Found a curry house and enjoyed perhaps the worst service I've ever received in a restaurant. The waiter seemed put out that I wanted a table, and didn't really want to take my order at all. In fact, he appeared not to care less if people paid, as a couple of early diners left after an almost free meal! The food was, it has to be said, pretty good and the portions were truly immense. The waiter looked amazed that I hadn't finished the mounds of food he brought to me, so perhaps the locals have impressive appetites? Walked off my meal with a stroll back to the Lakeview. A strange little town - rather like Holyhead, it lives and dies by the seaport - but just now it feels like it might go either way!

Movebook Link


I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

Link to Instagram MikeGTN's Twitter SHOFT Facebook Page Lost::MikeGTN RSS Feed

Buy Me a Coffee at

Become a Patron!

Navigate Lost::MikeGTN

Find articles by category
Find articles by date

Search Lost::MikeGTN