We’ve flown into Manchester Airport on our last two trips to England because it’s convenient to the places we’re headed to. Perhaps laid back isn’t the proper description for the atmosphere there, although that may be true when it’s compared to the legendary chaos at Heathrow (I don’t know about that, and have no intentions of finding out). My favorite aspect of the airport is its proximity to the train station—I can shake off the mental numbness I’ve accumulated on the flight in minutes and be on a train, on the ground, looking ahead to my destination.
This time, after passing through Customs and getting our bearings, we had an hour’s wait until the train to Ulverston departed—a good excuse for a latté inside the station and then a bit of skulking, paparazzi-style, with the NEX5n. As far as I could tell, none of the principal subjects were aware of me—I’m sure I seemed nothing more than another bored tourist, if they noticed me at all. I’m equally certain that had I aimed my full-sized DSLR at them I would have been very obvious, an intruder in their daily routine. That’s one reason I left the Canon at home.
And then suddenly I heard “Tickets’ please” and we swayed off towards Leeds through the tattooed brick backside of Manchester, where red and white are the graffiti artists’ preferred paints. It was much the same in the smaller villages we passed through, and I felt a bit sad that the old buildings—factories, most impressively, dwarfing entire blocks with their dark blood-red bulks—had come to such anonymous, pitiful ends, scribbled on by youths with (likely) no sense of history, or decorum. And not a single unbroken window.
The weather, wrapped in a gray winter overcoat, spit at us the entire way to Ulverston, but the train was quiet and we shut out any thoughts of rain on the Cumbria Way, where we’d be walking in two days. At the Ulverston station a young woman called a taxi for us and a short drive through town led us to our first B&B, Candlewyck.