UK rail trip – 2022
Day 7 – 9th April, 2022
Having finally adjusted to British time, I was up at around 08:00. I checked out, dropped my wristband into the restaurant below (which takes care of checkout in the less busy months), and crossed the street to the local Maccas. After picking up a couple of Bacon and Egg McMuffins, I made my way to Cardiff Central. Today, I’m catching the train to Swindon and then a bus to Devil’s End!
The train only took about an hour to get to Swindon. It was my first time on a Great Western Railway version of a class 800. Almost no difference, of course. After arriving at Swindon station, there was a bit of an altercation between the British Transport Police and a number of soccer fans. Soccer fans were throwing bottles and cans at the train, so there were probably fans from a rival club on the train. The altercation got so bad, the Police had to use their truncheons. Suffice to say, I kept my distance.
After leaving the brawl behind at the station, I made my way to the bus station to catch the bus to Aldbourne – a small village in Wiltshire. After making its way through the city surrounds (including the bizarre ‘magic roundabout‘, the bus was out into the countryside – which included some very, very narrow and steep roads! I’ve never been on roads as steep and narrow as these. Half an hour later, the bus arrived in Aldbourne. I hopped off the bus and walked towards the village green. I’d arrived at Devil’s end.
Devil’s End was the fictional name of a small village at the centre of events in the Doctor Who serial, The Dæmons. Which makes it a place I’ve been wanting to visit for many years. I wandered around taking several photographs.
With my photographs done (for the moment), I walked over to The Blue Boar (known as The Cloven Hoof in the Doctor Who serial). Time to get some lunch and have a pint. It was as small pub inside, but the walls were covered with many photographs – including the cast of The Dæmons from way back in 1971. For lunch, I had a steak and a pint of cider. While I was eating lunch, I was chatting to one of the locals, who had a part in playing an extra in the programme.
After lunch, it was time to return to the bus stop to catch the bus back to Swindon. I know I’m going to have to return to this place. Ideally, I’d love to stay overnight – but the rates at the other pub (which has accommodation) are a little outside of my cheapskate budget. 🙂
Arriving back at Swindon station, there were no soccer fants present. Nice not to have further disruption! I hopped on a Great Western Railway service to London Paddington – another class 800.
It was just on 18:00 upon arrival at London Paddington – and I still had to get to Birmingham, where my hostel would be tonight. Trains up the West Coast Main Line leave from London Euston. This meant catching the London Underground between the two stations. Thankfully, it wasn’t all that busy. The next available train to Birmingham New Street was a West Midlands Railway class 350. There was a slightly later Avanti West Coast service, but the arrival times into Birmingham New Street weren’t all that different. So, I decided to take the WMR service.
It was after 21:00 by the time I got to Birmingham New Street – and I still had to find my way to the Birmingham Central Backpackers hostel. Even with the assistance of Google Maps, it was quite tricky. Large stretches of one of the main streets was being dug up. I think the West Midlands Metro is being extended down the road. It was almost 21:45 by the time I found the hostel and checked in. Unfortunately, I was assigned a top bunk of three. Fun. I hate top bunks – particularly if it’s a triple bunker! I went out to search for dinner. I obviously booked a hostel in one of Birmingham’s nightlife district. A fair few bars and pubs about, with a lot of seedy people around. I grabbed a hamburger and chips at a local takeaway and then called it a night.