Posted in Railways on Saturday 16th January 2010 at 9:14pm
The end of this week has seen the world beginning to get back to normal after it ground to a halt during the protracted cold spell. Work had become commonplace once again, and despite some lingering snow on the trip to Nailsea on Thursday, I woke this morning to find a miserable rain falling. I wasn't unhappy, as this at least meant an easy walk to the station. These early in the year trips are always rather odd - nothing has quite got moving yet, and aside from the odd novelty from the December timetable change, it's become a time to visit old haunts and to get out and about despite the cold and the lack of organised events. Just as the year ended I'd booked today's trip - a fairly routine run out to Lincoln, returning via Sheffield. I hadn't been to Lincoln for about fourteen years by my reckoning - and for some reason, that trip was one of the more memorable of my jaunts - staying at a B&B at the top of a steep hill, and discovering the pleasure that a walk through a deserted city centre can be on a Sunday morning before a much diverted trip home. Of course, if things had gone to plan I'd have been here a little before Christmas on a railtour - which inspired this visit once that trip was cancelled.
Today's out and back trip wouldn't have been possible back then without a very rushed itinerary. However, I did of course aim for the early train off Highbridge as usual, and changed for the 07:00 to Birmingham which was thankfully running as planned this week. My journey up was sleepy - and I wasn't sure if this was because I'd been to the pub last night, or whether I was perhaps succumbing to a cold which has been circulating around our office. Dozed my way up to the Midlands, which made the journey fly by. Strained my eyes for the Class 70s which were supposed to be at Stoke Gifford to no avail - perhaps one day soon I'll pass by in daylight! Time for breakfast at New Street, before catching the 08:49 to Nottingham. Surprised to find football fans joining this train, bound for Peterborough. Not too busy however, and I enjoyed a pleasant dash up to Derby, a reversal and then into Nottingham with a good few locos passing during the trip. Lots more football folks at Nottingham and a sizeable Police presence too. Tried my best to look totally uninvolved in things and headed directly to the East Midlands 158 which was waiting to leave for Lincoln. My first trip on one of these much refurbished units was favourable, except for the intense heat on board. Whiled away the rather dull trip over the featureless fens listening to a young mum's talking and storytelling with her daughter. Perhaps one of the high points was the flat crossing of the East Coast Mainline at Newark, which is still a strange and rather worrying idea even now! Soon found myself crossing the High Street in Lincoln at the busy level crossing.
It's fair to say that this wasn't the weather for tourism, and I noted the cathedral at the top of the hill was shrouded in mist as I stepped out into drizzly Lincoln. I didn't remember the first part of the walk, but memories soon began to come back as I turned into the High Street and began to recognise landmarks. Much has changed here, particularly along the river banks, where wide vistas have been cleared and new shopping centres and walkways created. The developments have been completed in a fairly sensitive fashion, and I had a pleasant hour or so wandering in the busy city centre. Eventually retreated south of the level crossing and found the cinema I'd visited during my previous stay was now a J D Wetherspoon pub. A little research done later indicated that it had closed in 1996, and thus not long after my visit. Also noted the impressive St Mark's development. When I last visited, the history of Lincoln's railways hadn't quite sunk in - but this time a memory was sparked and I went hunting for railway relics. Managed to find a fake signal box of modern construction amidst the shops and car parks, albeit with an original BR sign for Lincoln St Marks on it wall. The station building also remained, among the new developments. Decided to head back to the station to get a much needed coffee and to find my next train. Spent a little while at the High Street crossing on my way back, watching the gates close twice in quick succession to let trains pass. Noted the closed High Street signal box too, now empty following the resignalling.
My next train departed from platform 5b at the far extremity of the station. Lincoln Central always strikes me as a sort of overgrown rural station, despite being a fairly respectable size. Found 150140 ticking over and awaiting departure for Adwick via Sheffield. Soon underway, leaving Lincoln behind and spotting the strange cabbage-like plants in the four foot which I'd spotted on a tour which came this way a few years back! This route was a little more interesting, passing thorough the rather forlorn town of Gainsborough before passing under the East Coast Mainline at Retford. Lots of activity still evident in the yards at Worksop too, with the train getting busier as we entered the suburbs of Sheffield. Having found myself here almost accidentally last week, it was strange to be back in Sheffield so soon. Shopped a bit and people-watched on the fine (but still oddly slippery) station concourse before heading to my platform for the 15:54 which was due to take me directly back to Bristol. Another on time arrival, and a quiet and pleasant ride south despite the daylight fading fairly swiftly once we were underway. Read and listened to music while enjoying the journey, feeling a bit sluggish and below par however. Realised I'd probably been right all along about catching a cold!
It was good to have a day with very little concern or excitement, where pretty much everything ran on time and I could just relax and enjoy the ride. Last night I had a fascinating conversation with Mr Solomon about travel, in particular why we both do so much of it and whether the trip is indeed more important than the destination. It almost always seems like it is for me these days.
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.