Sunday, 20 October 2013

Day 6 Part 2: Carlisle to Dundee

The X95 is a L O N G route running from Carlisle through the Borders to Edinburgh. Over three and a half hours and it must be 100 miles, mainly through open countryside. Whilst First did provide a modern vehicle it was more of a bus than a coach – as our knees will testify. Michael in particular (despite being under height for his weight) managed to get himself wedged in many uncomfortable positions during the trip.  A tad more leg room would have made it so much better…. Plus heaters that could be turned off… and passengers who could live with the concept of having a window open.

First Bus X95 (the uncomfy bus)

Scottish borders v1.0
That said it was a glorious ride with the highlights of Crossing into Scotland – and to prove it a photo of the sign was taken.  To be honest we thought we had entered a while before that when I took a photo of a sign which we thought was the border.. so one photo must be in the right place.

The X95 takes in Hawick, Selkirk and Galashiels before heading north (going in the right direction now we are) towards Edinburgh.  Galashiels is a scottish borders town with a population of around 13,000 which lost its’ train service thanks to Dr Beeching.  It is now getting it back thanks to Alex Salmon! As we went north you could see all the work being done to rebuild a railway where it was 50 years ago!!!  Major earthworks that, had it been a motorway, would have caused uproar. We mused that when they did a very similar exercise in Cambridgeshire they didn’t put a train back, but built the Cambridge Busway – which if you have been keeping up was around Thursday lunchtime (Before Wetherspoons in Peterborough – another name check Tim – worth something in the pot!!)

Scottish borders v2.0... probably the real one

Why not the Galashiels Busway – running through fields with no obvious housing. We felt there were many similarities that if it worked in one place could work in the other!  As it is, come summer 2015, a new 30 mile branch line will re-open in Scotland.. and Dr Beeching will turn in his grave!

Onward into Edinburgh… in search of a tram… but none were seen – only the tracks they leave behind.  Hey – are they missing a trick – why not send the Edinburgh tram to Galashiels?

Stagecoach X54 to Dundee
Arriving at Edinburgh, we had kept all our connections and so awarded ourselves with a coffee and a wee. Not wishing to spend 20p at the bus station for the convenience, we opted instead for the nearby coffee house, where we spend £4 for a couple of coffees but had our wee for free!. The convenience of it all was a little limited though – Michael only gave me 8 minutes to do both! Then it was back to the bus station to catch the X54 onward to Dundee.  This was a coach – leather seats, a little worn but comfortable and a power point and wifi… although the power point didn’t work.  Michael muttered legroom, but he always does!  An enjoyable rumble around the delights of the Forth Bridge, Dunfermline and Glenrothes. Being from a family with roots in Scotland (Howat is not an English name eh!) I love being in and around Scotland. However, darkness and mist descended once again – and I have to say this may not have been a bad thing!

During the journey, another choice piece of earwigging was to be had – apart from the domestic behind us! The best was two guys in front of me (who had perhaps a little too good a time in Glenrothes). Man 1 to Man 2: “I was brought up a gentleman. I wear trousers… you can wear whatever you like, but I wear trousers!” Man 2 to Man 1; “Yeah, I wear trousers and shoes!”. Man 1 back to Man 2, “Yup, me too… trousers and shoes. It’s the way I was brought up!”

A moment of clarity? The real Forth Bridge

Over the Tay Bridge the mist cleared and we arrived in Dundee – as per our plan.  Hotel found and into… That is right Tim... another evening in Wetherspoons… although we notice in Scotland they do not let you set up a tab!  (But they still serve food until 11pm). Tomorrow is easier going, but we will have another breakfast box to keep us company… mental note to find the location of Gregg’s!

As a bit of an aside; one thing that has amazed us is how many people are reading this blog – and where!  Greetings to our followers in Rwanda. Is there anyone out there further away than that – if so get in touch.  As for donations I am sure we will accept anything – even Kuwaiti Dinars!

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