Day 1: Flight to Manchester – Accommodations and information
Leave house 1300; Depart RDU: CO(ntinental) 2763 (1450), arrive Newark (1625); Depart Newark: CO 20 (2000), arrive Manchester (0740) – May 5.
Cracker Jack and I laid over in Newark for 4 hours. The flight to Manchester is 6.5 hours with a gain of 5 hours so we arrived in the morning of the 5th. The flight was quite good but sleepless, those seats . . . Wes took another airline as he was not in synch with our arrangements having committed to the trip late but met us at the baggage claim where we picked up our “weapons,” as defined by airport security, which were our hiking poles and pocket knives which we couldn’t carry. We all wanted breakfast so we got our Sterling from an automatic teller machine and credit cards and proceeded to pay $16 for coffee, yogurt, a muffin and a banana – take a stash of food if this little markup is disturbing to you. The exchange rate was not good and the airport saw us coming.
With the gear all together, fed and a pleasantly discombobulated we headed for the adjoining train station. Where they would not give us our pre-purchased, discount tickets, dismissing us with an uncharacteristic, “Sorry, no refunds today.” We then bought a third set of train tickets at full price. The first set I got via the Internet, was for a train ride on the wrong day (my fault), refund “pending.” Ha! The trains are routine and reliable and we were on the way to St. Bees in no time (see inset). We have one train change and the country side view goes from big city grey to picturesque farms and villages with the first sighting of sheep, could have been millions of sheep. The trains are quite the thing really, simple, reliable, functional and through that delightful countryside. Young teens pop on and off whimsically, chattering away in all sorts of accents, taking a train is a form of entertainment for them.
We disembark and begin what would become our coming into town ritual, asking where in the world is the B&B and the best pub(lic) house. All the while we hope any steps we take are direct ones as there are only more steps to correct errors, steps which are especially precious and painful after 25 miles over dozens of styles though, over, around dozens of stone fences. We had no idea how “rigorous,” yet magical this thing would be.