We cycled to Bangor for the 09:22 Virgin Voyager service, standing in the vestibule with our bikes for the twenty minute journey rather than unload and struggle to hang our bikes on the awful hooks, changing at Llandudno Junction onto an Arriva Llandudno to Manchester service. Class 175 units are sensibly designed so you don’t have to lift your bikes up to a hook, and you can keep an eye on them from your seat. Problems only arise at busy times if passengers are in the tip-up seats when you load, or when they dump massive suitcases in the area. This train was very lightly loaded and as usual, most passengers alighted at Chester. I was surprised that no-one boarded our coach but not perturbed that we waited several minutes as some services do incorporate a lengthy stop at Chester. A fellow passenger disturbed my newspaper reading to express disquiet, and we looked out and noticed a couple of fitters examining the train. They were surprised anyone was still on board, as it had been terminated and was about to proceed to the depot. The replacement unit had just left for Manchester. The dozen or so passengers then alighted, the train despatcher apologised for his colleague’s incompetence in not informing the passengers and we sat on the platform to await the next service. This too was lightly loaded and after an uneventful ride we jumped off at Warrington Bank Quay, where we had only a few minutes wait for a Virgin Pendolino to Lancaster. This featured the customary enormous suitcases blocking the bike area so we had to shift them before unloading our touring bikes and manhandling them onto the hooks.
We had to settle for seats without a window view, the conductor asked for our bike reservations so we explained we’d missed the connection through no fault of our own. This is where the bike reservation system falls down, luckily there was only one other bike. Why do bikes need reservations when massive suitcases don’t? On the approach to Lancaster we three cyclists loaded our bikes and rather than ignore him I tried to engage him in conversation.
“Are you cycling far?”
Ah, the cameraderie of the road…
The lost hour didn’t seriously inconvenience us as we had only thirty or so miles to ride. We had our main meal of the day at the excellent Whale Tail Cafe then set off along the cycle track along an old railway line to Morecambe. This is a wonderful facility for locals, forming a spine between the two towns with signposted turnings to residential streets, shops and other facilities and was busy even on a weekday afternoon with bikes, mobility scooters and later with schoolchildren on their way home. After a quick look at the sea front, we returned to Lancaster and on through the city along the river bank. We’d got used to flat easy cycling in the warm sunshine but eventually had to leave the Lune and tackle some hills. We rode through the lovely village of Wray, too littered with parked cars for photography, and on through quiet lanes to reach Lane House Farm, our B&B for the night, at 6pm. It’s on the route and is very peaceful but with no nearby facilities, which is why we dined at midday and saved our packed lunch for the evening.
We’d ridden only 25 miles from Morecambe but had already crossed from the red rose county to the white. We’d take another three days to reach Yorkshire’s east coast.