This wasn’t part of the route, we could have taken a connecting service from Bridlington but chose to follow cycle route 1 into “Britain’s first holiday resort”. It was sunny when we left at 8:30 but the wind had shifted round just as we were about to change direction so the headwind was now a chilly northwesterly. NCN 1 took us on a very quiet undulating inland route which crossed the railway several times. We’d booked advance tickets with bike reservations so were restricted to a single departure, so it was annoying to reach the station a few minutes before the 11:48 departed. Our timings were
Man Picc 15:05
Man Picc 15:50
Llandudno Jct 17:49
Llandudno Jct 18:21
making a total journey time of six minutes under six hours. Back in the eighties we could catch a through train with a nice guards van for the bikes.
I wonder what time the 12:57 Scarborough – Bangor would have got us home in 1984.
The class 185 Transpennine units are well designed for bikes, and despite the official capacity being only two, the 12:48 carried five for part of the journey. The conductor was easy going though he could have refused the other three, which is why we booked. My experience is that most conductors take a relaxed pragmatic approach to cycle carriage, Virgin being the exception, though it helps to avoid busy services. We lost three quarters of an hour festering at Manchester Piccadilly, then boarded the 15:50. Later trains are packed with commuters so it was good to get away before the rush. No fewer than six bikes were on board, two cyclists having to stand in the vestibule, and on a weekday train in October. These short diesel units are woefully short of capacity for passengers, bikes and luggage and make travelling in the peak a miserable experience. The flexible space works well when the service is lightly loaded but the tip-up seats may be occupied in the peak and the space attracts large suitcases. After another half hour’s wait at Llandudno Junction a weary class 158 unit rolled in, dreadfully shabby with peeling notices, scuffed paintwork and disgusting lavatory. Bike space on these things comprises a ludicrous cupboard that barely accommodates one bike, and on this occasion a glum young woman with a child in a baby buggy was occupying it so we stood in the vestibule.
It was a relief to alight and ride the seven miles home.