I decided to start this adventure on a Sunday for a reason: it gets the ‘difficult’ day out of the way early on. Sundays are an odd day on the railways; trains will take much longer to get to their destinations and will often take weird and wonderful detours en-route.
Often, your train will in fact be a bus.
Sometimes it won’t even be that.
With that in mind I decided to start this trip with an amble across the Pennines. A short trip from Long Eaton to Sheffield allowed me to catch the trans-pennine express across to Manchester.
With snowfall on most of the peaks, and a sky that threatened more to come, the Pennines fitted the ‘Christmas Card’ billing perfectly. It made me wonder exactly what the highlands of Scotland are going to be like later in the week.
The train seemed to be filled with a mixture of students and travelling Manchester United supporters. As several of them reminded me, later in the afternoon there was the ‘biggest game of the season’ against arch-rivals Liverpool. Confidence seemed to be running high among the supporters on the train although a surprising number of them were planning on placing bets on Liverpool to win the match. I can understand the logic, having considered doing similar in the Ashes or when Murray was playing at Wimbledon – it at least ensures you get something out of the day if your side are horribly beaten.
I arrived in Manchester with two hours or so to wander round the city centre. The sky was heavy with rain although, for the most part, I managed to avoid it.