Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Tram Riding in Manchester

An M5000 tram at Rochdale Railway Station tram stop
The Manchester Metrolink (i.e. tram) system was recently expanded, with new routes opening to Rochdale and Droylesden so yesterday I went for a little tram ride.
I wasn't alone: there were six of us meeting up from as far away as Kendal, Oxford, Sheffield and Knaresborough (and I wonder how many residents of those fine places would choose to spend the day in Rochdale or Droylesden). 
It was, in fact, a sort-of Starcross crew re-union as all of the participants have crewed for me at various times. It reminded me of an incident last summer when another boater, our paths having crossed for the third time in as many weeks, remarked on seeing a different crew member each time: "You do have a lot of partners!"  "Crew Members", I said, "is the phrase I think you're looking for.

The tram riders in The Baum: From Left: Martin, Bob, Mark, Duncan and Hugh
Naturally, tram riding is thirsty work. Our first port-of-call was the Baum in Rochdale. This was recently voted National Pub of the Year by CAMRA so perhaps our expectations were high, but we were disappointed. One would expect CAMRA's Pub of the Year to have top-quality beer for starters, but The Baum's was only average and although seven beers were on offer most of them were of a very similar style and taste. Worse, even the southern beers were served through ultra-tight sparklers that knock all the taste out of the beer and into the head (and I know a certain boater who wouldn't have stood for that!).  The pub itself was nothing special either - a modern pastiche of a Victorian public-house.

"In and Out of The Eagle"

After Rochdale we returned to Manchester and then caught another tram out to Droylesden along a route that closely parallels the Ashton Canal and, in fact, crosses over it at the top of Beswick locks. The tram riding part of the day ended in Eccles, where we called a refreshment halt in Holt's excellent Edwardian extravaganza "The Lamb"  situated conveniently opposite the tram stop. After a pint there we caught a bus to into Salford and visited another Holt's  pub: The Eagle in Collier Street and to my mind either of these two establishments would have made a far better "Pub of the Year".

After walking back into Manchester there was just time for a "quick one" in the Hare and Hounds on Shudehill (more Holt's : We like Holt's) before a final tram to Piccadilly and our various trains home.

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