Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

… because “Ships, Trains, and Hiking Boots” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Barrow-In-Furness is not exactly high on the list of UK destinations for most people.  A history of iron ore and slate mining in the region, then smelting, and eventually ship making… sounds pretty, doesn’t it?  An obvious choice for a couple of nature loving walkers.  Ah, but we had been going through a cold snap for a bit (yes, temperatures had been hovering around zero!), so a scenic train trip to nowhere in particular seemed in order.

Barrow, a town of fewer than 60,000 people is at the southern tip of the Furness Peninsula, almost directly across Morcambe Bay from our little home away from home of Heysham.  The train journey was beautiful.  I was that nerd moving from window to window, trying not to miss any good bits.

Barrow train 20160115_095628

Carnforth Train Station

Barrow train 20160115_101354-1

Crossing the River Kent.  After having walked to Arnside and having seen the train cross the viaduct, it was nice to see the estuary from this perspective.

Barrow train 20160115_101414

So close to the mountains of the Lake District.  So close.

One thing I will say for the Brits is that they know parks.  We usually hit one up everywhere we go.  In addition to the usual sweeping lawns, mixed beds of trees and shrubs, boating lake, and bowling green, Barrow Park featured a great little glass house with the winter display in full bloom.  A very welcome shot of colour on a fairly cold, grey day.

Barrow train 20160115_112312

Barrow train 20160115_111739

Enough of all the pretty greenery, flowers, and the lovely pavillion.  It was cold out.  Off to the museum.  We weren’t really expecting a lot from The Dock Museum.  We were wrong.  We had about an hour to go through what we thought would be a dinky little collection of plaques and pictures of the docks and shipyard.  Oh, man!  We should have planned for more time.  I’m afraid this was one of those National Lampoon European Vacation tours.  We missed an entire floor (shame faced)!

Barrow train 20160115_131824

… such a sucker for a stone wall.  The museum sign takes back stage, I’m afraid.

From the hunters and gatherers who first came to Cumbria about 12,000 years ago, the Vikings, the Romans, and on through to modern day, the museum’s displays offer a tremendous amount of information.  Artifacts, pictures, and models keep the industrial development section from being the dry, dull stuff I was expecting.

Barrow train 20160115_134831

Mining in the area produced iron ore, slate, and lime-stone.  Of course, a railway was built to transport those goods to the port.  From the port, well you need ships, don’t you?   From a settlement of 152 people in 1841, the town grew to a population of over 18,ooo in just 30 years!  Not only did shipbuilding take off, but submarines were also built in Barrow.

Fantastic displays portrayed the effect The Blitz had on the area.  The shipyard, steelworks, and railways made Barrow an obvious target for the Germans in April and May of 1941.  For the most part, it was homes and businesses in the town that were hit. Newspaper clippings and photos brought a real human element to this time in history. One display, in particular, talks about a child who never made it to his auntie’s house; he had been going there because it was thought to be a safe location.  That story hit me in the gut.

As much as I wanted to stay longer, we had a train to catch.  The morning train to Barrow was almost empty, so we were more than a little surprised when groups of men began filing onto the train.  We were even more surprised to see them with carry bags of cans (Canadian translation: plastic shopping bags full of cans of beer).  Some even came on with open cans in their hands; other passengers didn’t blink an eye.  The ‘blokes’ settled in, cracked into their drinks, and filled the car with friendly chatter and a party atmosphere.

Insert pictures of guys openly consuming alcohol clearly not purchased on the train, brazenly taken by someone other than this polite Canadian who would never dream of being so rude.

As the train took on more revelers at the next few stops, a woman took the one empty seat at our table, and was clearly part of the group.  She explained that she and her coworkers were celebrating a colleague’s last day of work.  The group all work for the ship building company in Barrow and they were simply heading to the city for a night out.  She assured us, when asked, that it is quite common to drink on the train.  She was more than a little entertained by our description of Canadian liquor laws.  We had to explain that this would never be done in Canada – not so openly, and certainly not legally.

Clearly, we have a new item to add to our list of “When in Rome… British style.”



17 thoughts on “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

  1. So very interesting and it sounds like you had a great day.

    Did they at least offer you a beer?

    When we went to Denmark last year we took a train from Copenhagen to fredericia ,where Jack s family lives. We had been travelling for more than 24 hours and were very tired and very hungry. A family came on the train and commenced to have a picnic. They did not offer us even a sandwich. Next time I will be smarter . FYI in Denmark they drink beer wherever they want and often.

    AND I want me little garden at my condo to look like that garden. I may be an average quilter but I am a terrible gardener.

    Off to fabricland sale today. Cannot go to the USA so will use my very nice Canadian dollar to get a few things

    Stay well and warm and keep exploring. How is the fish man, did he come back?


    Sent from my iPad



  2. Hi Leah,
    I’m really enjoying your blog. The photos and commentaries are great. It brings back many memories of my year in England. Keep them coming!


  3. The fish truck did return! Trout and swordfish this time. Very good, both.

    No, nobody offered us a drink. Too bad!

    Happy shopping!


  4. I wondered first why you were astonished by beer drinking travelers, but then I noticed that you are this polite Canadian and everything was clear. Outside of Quebec it’s “hard” to get a beer. I mean to buy just ONE bottle in the alcohol shops and as I guessed it was better not to share in public in the train I didn’t buy more 😉
    I hope you noticed how much I enjoyed reading this article. It’s great and I am looking forward to your next adventures.


  5. That stone wall is one to envy! [now plotting ways of convincing my Boy Wonder that we NEED one and that he is more than capable of building it!]


  6. Your observations about buying beer in Canada are dead on. I will say, things are changing a bit. I can now buy imported beer in singles. I call this “fun beer.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks Leah! Sounds like you’re having a blast. It reminds me on my own trek through parts of England and Scotland. You do a great job with your words to describe what we can only see through them.


  8. It was fun to see the train stations. It reminded me of the old relics that were common in small Town Saskatchewan when I was a kid. Of course, our stations were much smaller.
    And then following that, there was that blast of colour from the greenhouse. Nice variety in your photos.
    And what would your blog be like without a stone wall? As you know, you captured my full attention on that one.
    Enjoyed your trip on the train.
    From your slightly biased Mother

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks, mom. You know you are with me on every great walk, admiring each wall, and examining every plant specimen I have never seen before!


  10. Pingback: Island Hopping to Angelsey | travel. taste. create.

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