It’s over a year since I started my personal challenge to visit all 76 stations in the East Midlands Ranger Area (EMRA for short). So far, I have ticked 33 of the 76 stations off the list. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19, I won’t be ticking off any more for the foreseeable future. At the time of writing, the trains are still running, but I think my little day trips aren’t really essential travel, so I won’t be making any for a while. It’s a strange and scary situation for everyone, but I am hoping that it is all over sooner rather than later.
One thing that I have noticed from all the trips I have made since last year is how much more confident I am about travelling by train. At first, I was worried that I might miss trains or end up stuck somewhere, but it has almost become second nature now to plan these trips and go on them. I also hated the responsibility of being the one to press the button to open the train doors when they stop at stations, but I don’t mind doing it it now.
Planning the trips is one of the fun parts of what I am doing. I like to go on Google Maps and also Wikipedia to research the surrounding area of where I am planning to go to. I also like to plan the train trip meticulously as well, including finding out which platform my trains will be leaving and departing from. I always try to find interesting things to do and see in the places that I go to. A couple of times, though, I have literally just gone to places, had a quick walk around and then got the next train back home, just to tick off the station. Bulwell in November was one of those times. No disrespect to the place, but I was there on a wet Saturday morning when nothing was open and there wasn’t much to see. I was thinking about possibly riding the Nottingham Express Transit (NET) trams sometime, so I might end up back there one day, as it is one of three stations which serve both trams and trains (Nottingham and Hucknall are the others).
Some people (myself included) sometimes moan that trains are late or cancelled, but I haven’t had any major problems in the last year. On the aforementioned trip to Bulwell, my train to Nottingham was delayed due to a speed restriction caused by recent storms and the resulting floods, but I caught the next available train to Bulwell. There haven’t been any other major delays that I can think of. It’s inevitable that things will go wrong on the trains, but the train operators can’t do anything about the weather or trespassers on the railway, or most of the other things that delay trains. It’s important to remember, that, even though it can be frustrating, the train operating companies want their trains to run on time; they don’t delay them just to wind people up.
There have been so many highlights and things I will remember for a long time on my travels. Cromford was an amazing experience, even on a wet February day. It was even better when I went back in September. Glorious sunshine and the stunning scenery on the Cromford Canal trail left me wanting to go back again, and I have already started planning a third visit for later this year, when this crisis is all over.
Other highlights have included my early morning trip to Long Eaton back at the beginning of January this year. It was just glorious, and I often think back to it whenever I’m on a train that goes past Long Eaton. I liked that it was dark, in the early morning and that I was one of hardly any people that were around Long Eaton at that time. It was peaceful, although slightly frightening, particularly when I walked by the canal in the dark. It was illuminated by nearby houses and street lights, so I was in no danger of falling in.
I also liked the trips that took in many stations, such as the circuitous route I took to visit Narborough back in June last year which involved changing at Tamworth, Nuneaton, Narborough, Leicester and Derby stations. I have wanted to do a big day trip that takes in many new stations using the East Midlands Day Ranger ticket, but I could never find the time to do it. Maybe when this has all blown over I will try.
Anyway, I will wrap up the blog post by reminding you, the reader, to look after yourself, keep following the health advice and look out for other people during this time of uncertainty. Thanks, as always, for reading. Here’s some pictures of railway stations that I have visited:
From the top: Whatstandwell, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Bingham, Aslockton, Barrow-upon-Soar, Cromford, Spondon, Bulwell, Blythe Bridge, Long Eaton, Oakham, Hucknall, Bleasby.