UK rail trip – 2022
Day 53 – 25th May, 2022
I was up much earlier than expected. But that’s ok. It would give me plenty of time to grab something to eat and make my way to Cardiff Central. Today, I’m making a return visit to Aldbourne (Devil’s End). I checked out, dropped into Macca’s, which was just across the street, and picked up a Bacon & Egg McMuffin and a couple of hash browns. For the orange juice, I dropped into the nearby Tesco‘s. I made my way to Cardiff Central and boarded a train to Swindon.
The line from Cardiff Central to Swindon (and points further east to London Paddington) passes through the Severn Tunnel, under the River Severn’s estuary. This will be my third time through the 7 kilometre tunnel. A remarkable feat of engineering, it marks the boundary between England and Wales. After leaving the tunnel, the train ran normally through to Bristol Parkway – no track defect this time!
As it was fairly early on a Wednesday morning, there were no soccer hooligans on the station this time! As I exited the station, the station and maintenance staff were busy removing the now-redundant social distancing markers on the floor. They had outlived their purpose, as restrictions had long since been scrapped. I made my way to the bus station and waited for the bus that would take me to Aldbourne. I had about half an hour to wait. The bus took a slightly different route to Aldbourne, this time, as it was a different service. Suited me, as it was nice to see a little bit of different countryside. It didn’t take long to get there.
I arrived in town a little too early for the pub, so I walked around a little and dropped into the local deli, which also served as the local post office and included a coffee shop. Since I didn’t need to send a letter, or any smallgoods, I walked through to the coffee shop at the rear. Not a bad little coffee shop, either. I ordered a coffee and pulled out a railway magazine and read a little. After a while, I paid and moved on. I made my way through the village and up by the village green to The Blue Boar. It was just about opening time. Stopping for a photo, I then walked in and ordered a pint of cider and a steak. And then I decided to take some interior photographs. As you’ll agree, it’s a nice pub!
While I was having my lunch, one of the village residents dropped into the pub. I met him on my last visit and he remembered me from my visit back in early April. We chatted away for a bit. Soon it was time to leave and head back to London. I bid goodbye and walked out of the pub with a new cap: The Blue Boar Aldbourne. I started to walk back to the bus stop down by The Pond. I still had a few minutes so walked around and took a few more photographs.
I caught the bus back to Swindon station. On the bus to Aldbourne, my debit card wasn’t working for the ticket machine for some reason. As a result, I scored a free ride. Unfortunately, it was working properly for the bus trip back to Swindon. Oh well, you can’t win them all! 🙂 It will be a while before I get the chance to visit Aldbourne again. The next time, it will be by bicycle – probably not for another ten years though.
As I entered the station, I noticed that all the social distancing dots had been removed. The only evidence remaining was that it left circle marks behind. I suspect they’ll wear off in time. I boarded probably my last class 800 train for this UK trip, as I’ll be hanging around London for my last two days – today is the last day of my BritRail Pass. I looked out the window, taking in the view all the way to London Paddington. I’m going to miss it.
Upon arrival at London Paddington, I caught a Hammersmith & City line train to Aldgate East and walked the rest of the way to the hostel. I will be staying at Wombat’s City Hostel London for my final two nights. Apart from the Castle Rock Hostel in Edinburgh, it’s pretty much my favourite. I checked in and went up to my room. Sadly, no bottom bunk this time. Oh well. It was a full room. I sorted my stuff out and then went out for dinner at a pub not too far from Tower Hill underground station. Surprise, surprise, I decided upon a steak and a pint of cider (or two). After dinner, I walked across Tower Bridge and sat down on the Queen’s Walk for a while. Tomorrow is my last full day in the UK. I haven’t fully decided what to do yet.