Sunday, 13 April 2014

We Could Have Done It - On Friday

See "We Could Have Done It - Yesterday" (read again)

The fbb's travelled by car yesterday from East Devon to Abergynolwyn; but, in theory at least, this complex cross country journey is possible all the way by public transport. If (and it's a very big "if") the Transport Direct [TD] schedule had worked, the fbbs would be on a service "H" bus to Exeter St Davids station.
Another of the TD foibles is the amount of time allowed for interchange; sometimes too much, sometimes too little.
Nine minutes to make it from the bus stop (top right) over the footbridge to platform 5 at Exeter St Davids seems very generous, even for a slightly arthritic fbb.
Quite how buses get to the other stop next to the rail logo and inside the building is something of a mystery. Thank Network Rail for that conundrum! But we are on our way!
After a whole 25 minutes recovery time (and pray we don't need more; there is no second option) we set off again.
From Welshpool westwards the lie may have lost most of its stations but the scenery is still there and the ride is a leisurely 2 hours and 20 minutes of visual enjoyment.
The train stops at Newtown and Caersws although some of the closed stations are now private houses. There is a vociferous campaign to re-open Carno!
But our Arriva Trains train rattles past and deposits us at Machynlleth before splitting; one unit for Aberystwyth and, in theory, the other for Pwllheli. The line north of Barmouth has been closed for many weeks with replacement buses making a slow journey even slower.
Note that the "all stops" bus takes only 5 minutes longer than the "express"! Storm damage to the line received less publicity than Dawlish.
Then there is Pont Brewit! It is north of Harlech.
Buses will continue to replace trains on a vital railway link for longer than envisaged, the Daily Post can reveal. Engineers had hoped to complete the new railway bridge over the Afon Dwyryd between Llandecwyn and Penrhyndeudraeth in time for the May timetable change. But Gwynedd Council, which is managing the replacement of the 154-year-old Pont Briwet, said the railway bridge is likely to be operational by “early summer”. A council spokesman said: “The contractors are currently reviewing the work programme for the project with the aim of accelerating progress on the rail bridge."

But our Abergynolwyn schedule commands us to leave the train at Machynlleth ...
... and walk 2 minutes to the "bus depot" (below, bottom centre).
fbb reckons that would be more of a sprint!
Fortunately we have 54 minutes to make it; time for tea and a bun in the station caff. Lloyds coaches is a quality local operation based in the former Arriva depot.
Indeed, Lloyds have effectively replaced Arriva throughout the area. The X27 links Machynlleth with Dolgellau via the A487 ...
... and the foot of Cadair Idris, but we alight at Minffordd, which is, effectively, a pub in the middle of nowhere.
We've got 40 minutes to wait here with  no shelter. Let's hope it is one of the three or four days a year when it isn't raining up here in the mountains. Our next bus leaves from this little reversing area to the left of the above location ...
... whence we shall trundle down the valley to our destination.
Assuming fbb's earlier departure from Seaton, taken to avoid early collapse of the whole schedule, the journey would take 10 hours and 3 minutes.

"Car? Shame on you! Why not use the wonderful UK public transport network that you enthuse about so often?" Guess why!

Had they been travelling tomorrow (Monday 14th April) a more juicy solution would have presented itself. Instead of alighting from the train at Machynlleth, stay on board till Tywyn.
Leave the (unstaffed) station ...
... walk down he road past the co-op (suppliers of comestibles to holidaying fbbs) ...
... and catch the last Talyllyn train of the day to Nant Gwernol.
Arrival at the terminus is only 9 minutes later than the Transport Defunct time.

Then it's only a short walk through the woods ...

... carrying two large cases; two bulging soft bags; a large crate of computer stuff blogging for the use of; duvet, sheets and pillows for the king-sized bed; assorted towels; a collection of "useful" books and maps; and, the straw that would have broken the camel's back, Mrs fbb's handbag!

Nope - the fbb's will always go to Abergynolwyn by car until they're too decrepit to drive. Thereafter, they probably won't go!
 2 of 9 Easter Oddities 

Today is Palm Sunday in the traditional ecclesiastical calendar. The story is familiar, recording Jesus' joining in with a pre-passover procession and being welcomed enthusiastically. But it's what happened on the next day that provides our second oddity.

The next day, as they were coming back from Bethany, Jesus was hungry. He saw in the distance a fig tree covered with leaves, so he went to see if he could find any figs on it. But when he came to it, he found only leaves, because it was not the right time for figs. Jesus said to the fig tree, “No one shall ever eat figs from you again!”

Now that is odd! More later.

 Next bus blog : Monday 14th April 

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