The number 41 to Preston stops at the end of our street and conveniently has a departure from town at exactly 09.30 which is when my bus pass becomes valid for the day.
It's a fast run down the A6 to Preston with only a small diversion to serve the market town of Garstang en-route. There was time for "tea-and-two-toasts" in the cafe in the iconic 1960s but soon-to-be-demolished bus station at Preston after which the fastest way south is on the 125 to Chorley and Bolton.
Not for me though. I got the 109 to Chorley, which follows an indirect route via Leyland (where most British buses were built at one time) solely because it is operated by a local operator, Fishwick.
|A Fishwick bus at Preston Bus Station|
At Chorley I rejoined the 125 route to Bolton from where I got a 22 to Stockport. A marathon run of over two hours through the western and southern suburbs of the Manchester conurbation. The 22 crosses the Manchester Ship Canal at Barton Bridge and this marks the very-pronounced divide between the rather run-down, post-industrial areas of the north (Bolton, Eccles, Salford) and the leafy, prosperous southern suburbs of Urmston, Chorlton and the like. By now it was mid-afternoon and the rush-hour traffic was beginning to build. Our driver was doing a heroic job in keeping to time (although I'm always sorry to see that even bus drivers go through red lights nowadays). I was going to complement him on his work when we arrived, but at the last minute, being unaware that I was the last passenger on the vehicle he went straight past Stockport bus station and took me round the block and into the bus garage instead! I've been in plenty of bus garages in my time but this was the first one I've ended up in by accident. (He explained that he'd thought the bus was empty and was finishing his shift so saw no point in going into the bus station).
After that there was just a sedate ride on the 384 to Marple, a walk to the boat and, as I was in danger of overstaying my welcome on the visitor moorings a short hop down to High Lane.