LEJoG Day 2 .. A day to test the nerves Carlisle to Wick

DAY 2 is dedicated to Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide

(SoBS  Its okay to talk)

“Things come to test us!! If it goes wrong, it will be today”

My saying for today became so true after the first train of the day from Carlisle to Carstairs, I knew for LEJoG to finish on time and be perfectish the second day would be the hardest one because past Inverness there are not many trains to  get you to Wick.

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Day 2 would be about 435 miles long and involve a few trains, should have been 4 but it became 5 as I will explain later. By the end of the day I would be 20 miles from completion and John o Groats, weather was very warm and enjoyable even though I only saw from inside a metal box (train). I again had a poor nights sleep but woke up feeling fairly confident everything would be okay (didn’t want to stress too much), arrived at Carlisle Station early for my train, Patrick from the Arkale Lodge had done me a packed lunch because I was missing breakfast so Day 2 was go,go,go ..first train 0652 to Carstairs left on time .. yes going to be a good day .. well it lasted about 20 minutes when the guard announced trains towards Glasgow & Haymarket were cancelled because of Overhead Line Damage. NOOOOOOO!!!! don’t do this to me please, it was what I had dreaded even in the 8 months of planning.. LEJOG maybe be LECARSTAIRS.

Working on the railway my disruption head kicked in, National Rail Enquiries bail me out please, so away I went googling the possibilities to get to Inverness in time to board the 1400 train to Wick which I had to do no matter how long it took or route I had to go because if I didn’t get that train at 1400 I would be stranded in Inverness, trying to find a hotel and still having to pay for the one in Wick. I found a route from Motherwell to Glasgow Central then Glasgow Queen Street to Inverness .. at the time I found it there was no other choice but to go that way and arrive in Inverness at 1329 (SUCCESS), then good news the guard announced that a Cross Country service would stop to pick anybody up that was going to Haymarket or Edinburgh .. and Breathe Out .. there was a god and he worked for Cross Country, you may ask why was that train going to Haymarket but Trans Pennines wasnt, well Cross Country run diesel trains and the TPE was electric so that was the reason we couldn’t go forward on their train.

Now I still knew it would be a testing day because anymore problems along the way would put even the part of the journey in jeopardy that was why I planned to travel a little earlier and as you know that didn’t happen, but at least I made it to Inverness for my connecting train with 28 minutes to spare. So last train of the day on the most remote rail line in Britain, The Far North Line from Inverness through some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen, when we went past Dingwall which probably was the last main part of civilisation until Thurso and that is the 23rd station on the line and only the 3rd staffed one too, Inverness, Dingwall & Wick being the others where rail staff work. The whole trip to Wick on the Far North Line is 4 hours 22 minutes long so I reached Wick at 1840 (late and just about summed up the day since Carstairs).

The train was only 2 carriages and I thought it wouldn’t be busy but it was, it seemed a lot of people were travelling to Thurso, The line up to Wick goes from 2 lines to single track several times along the way so my train had to wait for a few minutes while a Southbound train went past us heading back to Inverness. Anyway there I was at with my home on wheels (holdall, rucksack & laptop) thinking I cant wait to chill out and eat some proper food at last when a guy called Jonathan who had travelled up from Dingwall came to me just before Georgemas Junction, he asked me about my T Shirt and the charities on it and what was I doing, so explained everything when he told me that it was the Prostate Cancer bit that caught his eye because  he had suffered the disease and he was only 33, we got talking more and a couple of people who were sat round me listened intently as I talked about how I set off from Lands End the day before heading for John o Groats. He asked if I had a collection tin which I had and could he take it through the train for me, remember this is a complete stranger I had only just met, so I gave him the tin and a lady sat behind me gave a generous donation Judith was her name and other people were throwing coins into the tin, I will open the tin when I get back home on Thursday night.

Arrived at my B&B for the night Harbour House, my room overlooked the harbour and out towards the sea, it had been sunny all day and the sunset was awesome and all I needed now was the Northern Lights to happen, but I was to be let down with that one. I had a poor nights sleep again, don’t know if it was the adrenalin or too much going through my head about Day 3 and the last leg to John o Groats but I saw the moon rise about 330am, I was stood in the window looking out towards the sea and saw this bright orangy yellow light appear suddenly, I have never seen anything like it and again another first, also about 0430am I saw the sunrise which again I havent seen nothing like it even in Wolverhampton.

Day 2 finally completed and after a challenging day it was time to check out the most northern Wetherspoons in Britain The Alexander Bain and to get a picture of the Cask Marque for my mate Richy, a real ale enthusiast who collects them, a bit like train spotters collect numbers (im doing that for my LEJoG not because Im a spotter lol but for my records and stats which I will post when I have sorted it all out).

Big day tomorrow Wednesday but a lot shorter day, hope the weather is good for the last leg.

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Author: the tykester

Married with 2 big kids and 2 step kids and 2 grandkids and 1 step granddaughter, live in Willenhall West Midlands, support Barnsley FC. I work for Virgin Trains

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