It is a Mystery

Under the guidance of Rtn. Stuart Blackwell, our Mystery Tour operator, thirteen people blindley followed his instructions and had an enjoyable day.

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Mystery Trip No.12

I arrived at Sandbach Station on foot at 09:04, a minute early destroying my reputation for arriving just too late.  A 13 member team photo outside the greenhouse on platform 2 at Sandbach Station.

A train to Liverpool Lime Street arrives but we only travel as far as Alderley Edge. We are not picked up by a freight train hauling shipping containers, perhaps the residents of Alderley Edge don’t permit goods trains to stop.  An old train with wooden escape ladders arrives - destination Wigan, the guard has to kick the doors to open them. We didn’t stop in Stockport for refreshments at McDonalds, or leave the train at Piccadilly. Having seen the new Ordsall Chord Bridge, we arrive at Salford Crescent - not Wigan.

We then hop on a train to Rochdale, see the Ordsall Chord again, to arrive at Manchester Victoria Station - not Rochdale.  [The Ordsall Chord is an £85 million bridge that was opened in December 2017 to link Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria Stations - however it is not used by many scheduled trains, the good news is that its rust coated steel and concrete structure seem to have provided a canvas for the local graffiti artists.] Pause for refreshments and relay race involving the Radar key for the toilets. Stuart gets quite excited as a new very shiny blue Transpennine Express passes by without stopping.  But we find a late running train to Liverpool Lime Street - where are we going? We do arrive in Lime Street, about one hour after the first train of the day would have delivered us, but would we have seen so much of the Ordsall Chord? Quickly down two escalators under Liverpool to a secret tube line with the oldest deep level underground stations in the world, which happen to be within walking distance of the dockside. The Pier head and Liver buildings were stunning in the bright sunshine.  A modest lunch of all day breakfast (small or standard), traditional scouse and other feasts was followed by an acrobatic display from Stuart as his carer had a momentary lapse in concentration. Having witnessed the Mersey ferry sailing by and a ship in dazzle paint camouflage it was back to the underground train station.

A train to West Kirby, will it be time for ice cream and sand castles - no we stop at Bidston and change to a very slow train to Wrexham, some discussion by the railway staff as to whether a Fire Engine should be called to a trackside fire we had passed.  The Dee estuary was now in view, passing a steel works and airfield, welcome to Shotton and time to leave a train to Wrexham, to change platforms to catch another train to Wrexham - we had hit the edge of our permitted travel zone. Arriving in Chester rather than Wrexham there was time to put money in the chocolate machine, but no time to remove the confectionary. Apparently celebrations were taking place somewhere out of sight on our Virgin train to Crewe, 40 years of service to the railways by a member of staff. Arriving at Crewe I went off to explore the underground tunnels before re-joining the mystery tour on a train going to Liverpool Lime Street, which luckily stopped at Sandbach.  Stuart counted us all out of the station, collecting tickets and thanks for an excellent Mystery Train Trip Number 12.

Many thanks to Stuart for an excellent mystery trip.  This has set the taste buds for future trips to Liverpool, but probably, not to Wrexham.

(Rtn. Richard G. Hovey)