Friday, 27 September 2013


My Journey to John O'Groats begins with a 20 minute ride from home to to the local train station.  After shrugging off my morning torpor the initial ride did a good job of waking me up.  The bike feels good although it's extra heavy with presents for Jazzy & Bill.  It was Bills 65th Birthday yesterday so I wanted to take him something good.
my local station

rear view of the bike
looks heavy 

I arrived at New Street on time and sat with an expensive coffee till the Glasgow train arrives,  New Street station is half way through a rebuild and even though I am a regular visitor it can still be a little confusing, so I decided to head off to the platform early.  The Glasgow train was already waiting on the platform I was right at the front in carriage A so I made my way to the front.

People have asked if I am nervous or worried?  I can honestly say I am not nervous but I keep looking at the rear of my bike and wondering how well those wheels will stand up to the punishment to come (yes and my legs).

The train is amazingly spacious and the journey to Glasgow is proving to be a breeze,  on my way along the platform, the train driver "Richard" spotted me looking pensively and guided me onto the train and to the bike carriage behind his cabin.

Jumping forward the train is pulling off, I guess there is no turning back now :-)

When I first got on the train Richard offered to show me the drivers cabin and I got to sit in the drivers chair (see pics below).  The console reminded me of an 80's starship, I had the feeling of been on the bridge of the Battlestar Galactica, the little boy in me was very happy (I can see why Gosney likes trains..).  After my obligatory photo Richard guided me to my seat and after securing my bike I settled down to the journey proper.

Battlestar Galactica Bridge

Ready to take off


Most of the journey was spent writing my trip diary and watching the scenery go by, I read through some newspapers and a couple of chapters of the Moomins in Midwinter (essential reading).

Penrith Station with a crumbling building in the background
(anyone know what it is?)

Funny it didn't look so dismal passing through...

my bare feet, comfortable but an object of derision :-)

I am about 45min from Glasgow the clouds are grey and it's been raining, no doubt it's also cold outside.  I have managed a few pleasant conversations despite being in the quiet coach.  One of the cleaners sat down next to me and recounted the tale of a suicide the day before on the train track;  I think I must have looked unimpressed as he started to tell me even more macabre train related tales.  Eventually he ran out and I offered him my finished copy of the times purchased on board.  He told me I could come again, wished me good luck and disappeared to the other end of the train not to be seen again.

He did make one funny comment, claiming that, "I wouldn't load a donkey up that much".  I was beginning to feel sorry for my bike, and I am convinced that at some point it will exact it's revenge in punctures and mechanical failures.

There's a little girl keeps telling her mum that I am not wearing any shoes or socks, her mother just smiles and glances at me.  This was obviously not enough of a reaction for the little girl so she asked me why directly.  I told her hedgehogs had run off with them in the night.  This got a giggle from her and she told her mum I was silly; "out of the mouths of babes and all that", still bare feet feel so good :-)

I soon arrived into Glasgow station just time for a quick look round a photo and I headed off to Queens Street for my connecting train to Bathgate.  I passed through Glasgow briefly with a quick shot of the doctors telephone box!

Funny bumping into the TARDIS in the middle of Glasgow

Glasgow Central
A lovely train station

I arrived at Bathgate on time, Bill was waiting with a typically enthusiastic Scottish welcome and his ever present smile.  Jazzy had stayed behind she was concerned that I wouldn't fit my bike and three people for the journey up to John O'Groats.  From the outside it looked like she was right, but their Golf was deceptively roomy.  I had to strip the bags and wheels off the bike and then it fitted nicely with enough room for the three of us.  This was good news as I would have been disappointed leaving Jazzy or Bill behind.

After a good hug with Jazzy, some coffee and updating my blog, I am heading to bed for a rest before the final leg of the journey up to John O'Groats.  We are leaving at 12:00 midnight so that I can get an early start and put in some extra miles tomorrow.  The weather has brightened up, and I am hopeful of a mainly rain free day tomorrow, but the BBC weather forecast doesn't agree.

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