UK rail trip – 2022
Day 51 – 23nd May, 2022
I checked out of the hostel at around 08:00 and made my way to Aldgate East London Underground station. I took a Hammersmith & City line train to Euston Square, walking the remaining short distance to London Euston. Today, I’m making my way back to Manchester. As it’s a Monday, I’m meeting up with my friend Gary. We’ve decided to drop in at the Head of Steam pub in Huddersfield. As previously mentioned, I’ve been wanting to go there for a while but never got around to it. After picking up my litre bottle of orange juice at the nearby Sainsbury’s Local, I boarded the 08:56 Avanti West Coast service to Manchester Piccadilly.
It was nice heading back to Manchester again. As always, it feels like going home. It was a full train this morning, so luggage space was at a premium. Thankfully, I already knew which platform it was departing from. So I proceeded down the ramp before it was announced. After settling in and the train having departed, I made my way to the onboard shop and picked up a bacon roll and coffee. A shame bacon and egg rolls aren’t as common over here as they are in Australia. But I guess it wouldn’t be as easy on a train!
It was only just after 11:00, as I wouldn’t be meeting Gary until 13:00, at St. Peter’s Square, I had plenty of time to drop my belongings off at YHA Manchester. So I caught a tram to Castlefield-Deansgate station and walked the rest of the way by foot. It was too early to check in, but they let me store my belongings so I won’t have to cart them around all day. After doing that, I took a long walk back to St. Peter’s Square. Along the way, I passed the old Manchester Central station. This used to be one of four main railway stations in Manchester. The others are Manchester Piccadilly and Manchester Victoria (both of which are still in use) and Manchester Mayfield (an overflow station for Manchester Piccadilly). Manchester Central closed at the end of the 1960s. After a period of dereliction and restoration, it was converted into an exhibition centre in the mid-80s and named G-Mex. Between 2008-2009, it underwent renovation and was renamed back to Manchester Central.
It was still only 12:30, so I had some time to pick up some lunch. I walked on towards Piccadilly Gardens and grabbed something to eat at Macca’s. I walked back down to St. Peter’s Square and Gary turned up on a tram shortly after. We then caught the next tram to Manchester Piccadilly and hopped on a Transpennine Express service to Huddersfield.
The train was quite full and we were lucky enough to find a couple of seats – thankfully around a table. A couple of other poeple were sitting across the table and they had brought too many biscuits (translated to American: cookies) with them. So they gave some of them to us. We chatted the half hour trip to Huddersfield. What a generous and charming couple of people.
Before we knew it, the train had arrived at Huddersfield. Even though the pub is accessible from inside the station on platform 1, we walked out through the main entrance. The Huddersfield station building is quite large. Silly me didn’t take any photographs. We proceeded to walk into the pub. What a charming interior it had! A couple of nice, large armchairs. I ordered a pint of cider and Gary had a coffee. We chatted away for nearly a couple of hours. Again, a shame I didn’t take any photographs. It was a fantastic interior. Oh well. I’m just going to have to go back again!
We hopped on a train back to Manchester. As I’ve said before, the Huddersfield line is one of my favourites. It’s been wonderful making a few trips along this line over the last 7, or so, weeks. I’m going to miss it. The scenery, the canal with the narrowboats on it. I intend to travel on that canal one day – maybe on my own narrowboat! As the train approached Guide Bridge station, it started slowing down. It was almost rush hour and congestion was starting to build. The train ended up arriving at Manchester Piccadilly about 15 minutes late.
After arriving back in Manchester, we sought out another coffee shop and chatted away for another hour or so. We then left and started walking through Manchester city centre. As we were walking through, there were a great deal of people around in Manchester City Football Club supporters gear. They had, after all, finished the season at the top of the ladder. So, this was their day of celebration, And what a massive celebration it was. Video screens were installed in some parts of the city. I stopped by a vendor in St. Peter’s Square and picked up a scarf. It was time to bid Gary until next time. Gary had some things to do and I had to check in to the hostel. It’s been great catching up these last seven weeks! Hopefully it won’t be another 15 years before that happens again!
I caught the tram for the one stop back to Castlefield-Deansgate and walked back to the hostel. I was able to check in by this stage. Unfortunately, the lift up to my floor wasn’t working this time. So, I had to lug my suitcase up a flight of stairs. By this stage, though, I was well and truely used to it! I entered my room and found a bottom bunk available. I sorted everything out and locked away what I needed to and then walked out again. I decided to take a walk along the Rochdale Canal.
After walking along a decent length of the canal, I returned to street level near Chinatown. I decided to walk by the place I used to work. Peterloo House had been knocked down last decade to make way for a new building. When I worked there, though, it was the Manchester call centre for Barclaycard. The new building is now an ‘aparthotel’, The lower floors are regular hotel rooms while the upper floors are more spacious apartment hotel rooms.
By this time, I decided it was time for dinner. I caught a tram out to East Didsbury and had dinner at a pub. Tomorrow, I’ll be leaving Manchester for the last time (at least on this trip!).