Fortunately, Virgin Trains allow you to print off the ticket as well (although they make it clear that they think you belong in the stone age if you do so). I'd done that as an insurance policy so I can at least show you a picture of the printed version of the ticket that would have appeared on my phone screen if I hadn't flattened the battery!
Why Stockport? Well, the West Coast Main Line is closed south of Wigan at the moment with trains from Scotland (and Lancaster) to London being diverted via Manchester. This gives a rare opportunity to travel this way in relative comfort on an 11-coach Pendolino, rather than being crammed into a 4-carriage Trans Pennine Express with several hundred other unfortunate souls. Not only that, but it gives an equally rare opportunity to travel across Manchester without changing trains.
|My train arriving at Lancaster|
In the event, I needn't have worried about battery power. There are no barriers at Lancaster and although my ticket was checked on the train on the way there, Stockport's barriers had been left open and there was no on-train check on the way home. The only problem was the bacon roll, which didn't arrive until we were nearly at Stockport, meaning I had to eat half of it on the platform!
Onward by busThe plan was a circular tour by bus, visiting Marple, Glossop and Hyde before returning to Stockport in time for a few pints and a bite to eat before the train home. There are frequent buses to Marple from the main road at the end of the station approach in Stockport, so the first stage should have been easy. But the A6 here is a four lane road and the nearside lane of the southbound side of the road was coned off as far as the eye could see, leaving the bus stops stranded and out of use. I ended up having to walk to the bus station and start the journey from there.
I know Marple well from multiple visits over the years on various boats, including Starcross, so having alighted in the town centre I walked up the last few locks of the flight to the junction to take this obligatory shot.
|The junction at Marple|
I went to get a sandwich for lunch and ate it waiting for my next bus, which arrived a few minutes before I expected it, forcing me to abandon the remains of my cup of Gregg's tea and rush to the stop. Of course, the driver had realised he was a few minutes early and we waited until the scheduled departure time before leaving, but you can never be sure of these things.
My next destination was the town of New Mills, on the edge of the Peak District, where I arrived at the town's minimalist bus station, which effectively has only one stand and no other facilities.
|New Mills bus station and the bus I'd arrived on from Marple|
Things almost went wrong at this point. Travelling with a bus pass means you have minimum interaction with the bus driver. Usually, you just plonk your pass on the card reader and wait for the "bleep" that tells you it's been accepted, after which you may - or may not - get a ticket without a word being spoken. So if I had boarded service 61 when it arrived, on time, at 13.30 I would have made a big mistake.
|Service 61 to |
GlossopI'd allowed an hour in Glossop. Long enough for a stroll through the town centre, followed by a visit to the market hall, where I expected to find somewhere for a cup of tea and a bun before getting my next bus from the stop outside. Easy!
Except that shortly after my walk around the town began it started to rain, so I changed plan and headed for the market first. I was somewhat disconcerted to find the building covered in scaffolding and feared that it had closed down and was being transformed into a Wetherspoons or something (in Lancaster it would become student accommodation) but then relieved to see this sign:
But then unrelieved to see that the market was only open between Thursday and Saturday!
By now the rain had become a veritable storm and I spent most of the remainder on my time in Glossop watching it from the shelter of the scaffolding platforms at the Market entrance.
And on to Hyde
|Stott's bus to Hyde|
Service 341 to Hyde is not, it has to be said, one of the most scenic routes in Derbyshire. For the most part it trundles round the Manchester overspill estates of Gamesley and Hattersley, being something of a "Heineken" bus in reaching the parts that other buses don't.
But it was a friendly sort of a bus with the driver obviously known to the regular passengers who engaged him in banter, until the last of them had alighted, when he struck up a conversation with me.
|An old shot of a bus crossing the bridge about 40 years ago.|
Highlight of the route however was the crossing of the River Etherow at Broadbottom Bridge. You come across it unexpectedly when, at the bottom of a steep descent the bus makes a sudden left turn onto the bridge. I'd have liked to get a photo of my own, but the 341 only runs once an hour and although I'm sure the driver would have been happy to "pose" the bus and wait for me to get a photo I wasn't prepared and by the time I'd thought of it we were over the bridge and away, so here's one I borrowed from Flickr.
Modern buses are actually a few mm wider than the one in this historic shot!
I'd included Hyde in this tour mainly to take a few photos that I was prepared for. Regular readers may not be surprised to hear that the subject was a bus shelter - although in my defence it is actually a listed building!
|The listed bus shelter in Hyde.|
Wikipedia says that it was originally a tram shelter and no doubt it's elaborate design was influenced by the fact it is situated outside the Town Hall. It goes on to say that:
Originally a tram shelter, the bus shelter is opposite the Town Hall. It has four main cast ironcolumns with crocket capitals and decorative pierced spandrels, and in between are intermediate columns with ball finials supporting a timber and glass screen. On the top is a glazed canopy with rounded ends, and elaborate cast iron finials.
Mind you, Wikipedia also says that it dates from "The 18th or early 19th Century", which given that Hyde's trams only started running in 1899 is about one hundred years out, so you can treat the above information with a pinch of salt.
Still, I was pleased to see it and even took another photo, this time with a bus on it!
After that, I caught the next 330 to Stockport for a couple of pints of Robinson's Bitter and the a first-class train ride home.