Friday, March 30

Rail Rover Reflections

Every year, somewhere around March time, I look to have a week off work and spend a few days exploring the wider Midlands rail network using a Heart of England Rail Rover. 2007 was no exception - here's what happened...

  • Monday - focus on Warwickshire, starting with a look at Warwick Parkway, a relatively new station built and run by Chiltern Railways. After a brief stop in Leamington Spa, I made my way to Stratford-upon-Avon to track down some canal photos and get some shots of the railway station. My final calling point was Wilmcote, a lovely Warwickshire village famous as the location of Mary Arden's House. I got some local photos, had a little walk along the canal, and settled down at the charming village station to wait for the train back to Smethwick. Rail Rover week was off and running!

  • Tuesday - and the focus shifted to Shropshire. I caught the local service from Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury, giving me a glimpse of the intriguing stations at Albrighton, Cosford and Shifnal. Next came a little walk around Shrewsbury, a few bus photos and some shots of the impressive rail station too. I then caught the train to Craven Arms, a quiet Shropshire town where I stopped off for lunch. The afternoon saw me head back through Shrewsbury and out into Wales, although I have to say wasn't particularly impressed by Ruabon - the station was grim and basic, and the village/town wasn't much better.

  • Wednesday - a bit of a mixture really, starting off with a visit to Hinckley for my first ever bit of Leicestershire exploration. I liked the town and got some good shots at the bus station, but the railway station was quite busy so I didn't get many photos of it, a shame as it looked quite interesting. Next up was Nuneaton, one of the highlights of Rail Rover 2006. The town was much busier this time around though, mainly because the market was on, but I still got a few local photos including a couple at the George Eliot Memorial Gardens. Lunchtime saw me in Stafford, a brief stay munching a pasty in Victoria Park, then the afternoon was rounded off with a visit to Rugeley and a ride on the Chase Line. Rugeley Trent Valley station was a bit of a bland disappointment, but I did find the Trent & Mersey Canal before heading through the town to Rugeley Town Station from where I then caught the train into Walsall.

  • Thursday - a later start saw me head into Crewe so I could explore the local line between Crewe and Shrewsbury. My first target was Whitchurch, another quiet Shropshire town with some considerable charm. I had a bit of trouble finding the bus station, and wasn't very impressed when I did finally come across it - a few parking bays on the side of a Tesco supermarket, and the one bus that was in had a big pillar in front of it meaning I couldn't get a decent photo, very annoying!! Had better luck at the railway station, where the 41 bus was on layover so I got still got the bus quota in anyway. The afternoon was spent exploring Nantwich, a Cheshire town that is well worth a visit. With two hours to kill I got a couple of bus photos, enjoyed a walk despite not having a clue where I was going, and then hovered at the train station admiring the signal box and footbridge.

On reflection, I think the week has been a resounding success - I've visited some great places, explored some intriguing stations, enjoyed the Spring sunshine and come away with over 400 photos, not bad for a few days work. Whats more, there's still so much I haven't done and so many places still left to visit. I wonder what Rail Rover Week 2008 might have in store?

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