Friday, 3 July 2009

The Journey Home

Having left Starcross at Church Minshull I then had to make my way back to Hereford, without a car of course. Research on the internet had showed a bus service from Church Minshull to Crewe, from where there are regular trains, but Church Minshull marina isn't actually in Church Minshull! Its a good two miles away along a "B"-road, with no pavements and quite a bit of fast moving traffic and I had to option but to walk.

I knew that buses left the village for Crewe every half-an-hour, but the timetable just said that they stopped at "Church Minshull", without being more specific - although from the route details it looked as if the stop was likely to be at the far end of the village. The walk took longer than I expected - the canal may be flat around here, but the roads certainly aren't - and by the time I reached the village outskirts it was only 5 minutes or so before the next bus was due. I found a bus stop - on the wrong side of the road and obviously intended for buses heading the other way, towards Northwich. Quite often in these circumstances the stop for the other direction is just round the corner, but there were no corners...and no other stop in sight. Just as I was wondering what best to do along came the bus, so I stuck my hand out and - yes - it stopped. The driver looked a bit surprised, but took my fare and off we sped to Crewe.

Crewe station is a long way out of town and therefore a long way to walk from the bus station. The very useful Train Tracker text messaging system run by National Rail Enquiries told me that the next train to Hereford was at 16.09. It was now 15.45 so I decided I had plenty of time to find another bus, rather than walk any more as the fast walk to the bus stop had taken its toll!. The enquiry office was "closed for 10 minutes" according to a sign on the door, but as I was scouring the information boards outside a bus pulled in showing "Crewe Rail Station" on the indicator, so I jumped on, paid £1, and -- sat there for the best part of ten minutes before departure time! Still, not a problem I thought, it can't take more than 5 or 6 minutes to get to the station.

I'd reckoned without D&G Buses shift change times! Halfway to the station the bus diverted onto an industrial estate, made a quick tour and pulled up outside the depot, whereupon the driver decamped and left us to our fate. By now it was after 16.00 - but still no worries, along came the relief driver and, by 16.03 we were on our way. Approaching Crewe station I got up from my seat ready to jump off as soon as the bus stopped opposite the station entrance. "Don't stop this side, mate .....We go round the roundabout first and then stop outside!" Needless to say, the traffic lights on the roundabout were at red (both sets) and it must have been 16.07 or even 08 when we eventually stopped. Fortunately, I know my way around the station at Crewe and I arrived on the platform simultaneously with the Hereford train. Ninety minutes later I was back in Hereford, the whole journey having taken a little over three hours. But if I'd taken just two minutes longer to walk to Church Minshull or if D&G Buses' drivers had been just two minutes slower in changing places, it would have been a very different story!

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