Day 1: Lancaster to Liverpool

Tuesday, 21st April 2015

The decision as to where to start this trip came easily with the realisation that one of my local bus stops was actually on the route! Deciding which way round the country to go was more difficult with both clockwise and anti-clockwise routes having advantages and disadvantages, but in the event the odyssey began at 0953hrs on 21st April 2015 at Bridge Road, Lancaster on the Stagecoach service 89H (the H means it runs via Lancaster Hospital) to Knott-End-on-Sea.

The 89 is a very rural route across the flat lands of the north Fylde, reminiscent in many ways to the fenlands of East Anglia, and includes a lengthy circuit of Pilling village. Despite this we carried a reasonable road of twelve passengers into the large village that is Knott End.

This first bus brought me to the first estuary of the trip and therefore the first decision: round by bus or over by ferry? I chose the latter

The ferry to Fleetwood at Knott End
The ferry timetable is dependent on the tides, so I had time for a coffee before catching the second boat of the day at 11.40 over the River Wyre to Fleetwood. Bus Passes don't give you free travel on the ferry, but do allow a discounted fare of £1.
The tide was still running strongly, which made for some skillful manoeuvring at Fleetwood, especially as the boat has to be turned in mid-channel and backed onto the landing stage!

Starr Gate, Blackpool
The first ferry was followed by the first tram on the famous Blackpool tramway system from Fleetwood all the way to Starr Gate. Again my pass wasn't valid and I had to pay the full fare, which only amounted to £2.50 for a 12 mile ride.  Again, I'd had a choice: the No.1 bus follows the same route as the tram and would have been free, but this was likely to be the only chance on the trip to ride a tram and in any case the tramway runs closer to the coastline all the way. 

At Starr Gate it was back onto the buses - Stagecoach's 68 service to Preston and the first late-running of the trip with the 12.57 departure arriving thirteen minutes behind time. Because of this we made good time along the coast via St. Annes and Lytham in the first double-decker of the day. We were down to 11 minutes lateness in Preston and I just had time for a cup of tea and to buy a lunchtime sandwich to eat on the next bus: the X2 to Southport, which left on time at 14.50.  It had taken me four and a half hours to get from home to Preston, a journey that can be accomplished on the direct bus in 80 minutes!

Southport Town Hall
The X2 runs through to Liverpool, my destination for the day, but I alighted (good bus word "alighted" - it just means "got off") at Southport partly to break-up the journey but also becuase Arriva's service 47 follows a more coastal route into Liverpool.
At this stage in the journey I was still covering largely familiar ground and Southport was no exception, so I didn't feel the need to stop for a look around and instead got the next available service 47 - another double-decker and the first Arriva bus of the trip.

Livepool Lime Street Station: Destination for Day One
One of the joys of bus travel is earwigging on the conversations of fellow passengers and there were noticeably more scouse accents on this bus, especially once we got to Bootle, where we passed over the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.  Arrival in Liverpool was at 17.05, a little early to stop perhaps but as I was still close to home I wasn't staying the night and after a couple of pints and some fish and chips, eaten in the street, I caught a train home.

                                                                                              Day 2  Liverpool to Chester

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