Love a midweek break and to cut down on travelling time one not too far from home, so Burrs Country Park C&M site was perfect for us. Plus, there’s a couple of additions to this break too. First, and most importantly, Mr.Bs birthday and the other being we had train tickets for the Flying Scotsman which would be passing by the site over the next few days on the East Lancs Railway. Tickets also allowed us all day travel on the other trains too, so it couldn’t get any better.
As the site was only 40 minutes away we collected Pod from storage and were soon on the M60. We rolled into the site just before 2pm and expected it to be busy with the Flying Scotsman visiting but we were told this wasn’t the case. Also, we were given the option of pointing into, or out of our chosen pitch.
Through the gate we went and managed to find one that suited, we pitched nose outwards and this gave us a bird’s eye view of the railway track which was no more than 20m away. Think we have our set up sussed now so it didn’t take us long to set up, rain was expected over the next few days so the small canopy and pup tent went up too.
Darker nights seem to be crawling in so we hunkered down inside Pod instead of taking the short walk to the local pub. Think we can safely say we’re slightly obsessed with Pod, she’s so cosy, with the heating kicking in every now and then and the soft warm lighting from the reading lights covering the sofa, we couldn’t have wished to be anywhere else. Perfect for looking at the timetable for the steam trains over the next few days and to check out the Transport Museums opening times.
Woke with the sunlight seeping through the skylight and as we peeped out from under the blind on the big front window we were met with a blue sky and no sign of clouds on the horizon.
A quick check of the time showed we didn’t have long before the Flying Scotsman came steaming by, so up we got, demolished breakfast and took our position outside Pod with camera in hand in order to catch the moment.
The train was due to leave Bury at 9.05am so a few minutes after its departure the Flying Scotsman was heard tooting its way round the corner, she eventually appeared, followed by a huge plume of white smoke trailing along the sky line. As she glided past us the many people who had crawled out of their ‘van beds early to greet her were waving vigorously, this went on in both directions and all done with lots of laughter, smiles and cameras of every shape and size clicking.
She soon disappeared round the corner and we had just over 1 ½ hrs to go before she came back. In the meantime we were treated to another steam train ‘Witherslack Hall’ and a diesel train, the latter was a trusty old looking tug of a machine which growled its way along as it left the small station at Burrs. All brilliant to see and we thought lots of fun.
Transport seemed to be the thing on this trip as we decided to go to Bury’s Transport Museum, it would also give us the opportunity to check out the parking situation for our tickets on the Flying Scotsman the following day.
There were a couple of car parks, we opted for the one next to the train station, this was a maximum of £5.00 and covered anything over 3 hours. The car park across the road, nearest the Museum was more at £10.00 for anything over 3 hours, no brainier really, as long as we could get a spot.
From the outside you wouldn’t think the Transport Museum would be anything special but it was and we loved every minute of it. Entry was free but a worthy donation was sought and once you passed the entry point you entered a huge warehouse holding numerous buses, trams and cars.
Ground floor held all the transport and along either side were platforms from where you could look down on them or indulge yourself in dressing up, playing various engineering games, or watch a very informative short film about bygone times within the locomotion industry.
We’d definitely recommend it, everything was immaculate, there’s a lift between levels should it be needed and the staff were very informative and helpful.
Back at Pod we spend the rest of the afternoon watching the trains trundle up and down the track, all the waving from both sides was done automatically. It was great to see lots of smiling, happy faces as they rolled past the front of Pod, without hesitation everybody stopped what they were doIng and joined in the frantic waving.
Thursday arrived and it was our turn to do the waving from the train and hopefully catch a picture of Pod too. Our tickets were for the 9.05am train so we were up and out by 8am. Early you might think but we had no idea what the traffic and parking would be like at that time in the morning. We needn’t have worried, we arrived 20 minutes later and this gave us the opportunity to have a good mooch along the platforms. No sign of the Flying Scotsman so we waited with baited breath for the sound of her steam engine and for her to appear from either directions of the track.
We heard her ‘toot-toot’ first, then once we knew which direction she was coming from we scanned the rail lines and caught a glimpse of a white plume of steam rising into the sky a short distance up the track. The highly identifiable sound of steam motion got louder as she slowly huffed and chuffed up the track to the platform. Awesome sight to see and goodness knows how long it had taken to get her up to temperature.
Once hooked up to the train she idled for a short while as the steam surrounded her reminding many of us of childhood memories and giving that feeling of a time gone by.
With tickets in hand we waited patiently for the passenger doors to open and as soon as we saw other members of the public heading for the carriage doors we entered our carriage and found our seats.
The carriages looked worn but well maintained, in keeping with the era and feel of a steam train. Large wooden sliding doors and windows, plus springy red velour high backed seating with metal luggage racks above.
You could almost image the ghostly images of those who’d travelled before us, ladies dressed up in their Sunday best and the gentleman with their hats, curled moustaches’ and thick woollen coats, all full of excitement for possibly their once a year trip out.
With a ‘toot’ off the Flying Scotsman we felt the shunt of the engine as she began to pull all 8 carriages, we were soon in motion with her steam flowing overhead. Within 10 minutes of setting off we passed the Burrs caravan site to see Pod looking fabulous on her pitch and we couldn’t resist waving at all and sundry.
This continued at all the level crossings, bridges and hedgerows and it was brilliant to see the enjoyment people we getting from both inside and outside the Scotsman. Without any hesitation people of all ages responded, there seems to be something about a steam train, guess for many it’s memories and for others films such as the Railway Children and Harry Potter.
Once we reached Rawtenstall the Scotsman changed ends and within 15 minutes we were on our return trip to Bury. As the carriage was more or less empty we swapped sides for a different view, we sat back and enjoyed the wonderful rhythmic role along the railway track through the open countryside. Kind of wished it could of continued for just a little longer.
Once back at Bury station we hunted down the timetable and discovered the smaller steam train, Witherslack Hall was due in within the hour and would be going to and from Heywood. Just enough time to grab an egg and bacon barm from ‘Trackside’ the platforms café. The decorations and old signs they had on display inside made for some interesting reading too.
Witherslack Hall arrived on time and as it rolled in we managed to spot one of the carriages consisted of separate seating compartments with a corridor running along the entire length. We’re sure they have a specific name, but no amount of trawling the internet as enlightened us, but hope you know what we mean.
Anyway, on we got and walked through two carriages with fingers crossed that we would find an empty compartment, thankfully we did and once in we slid the door closed and entered our own little Harry Potter world. You have to have seen the films to understand.
On leaving the station this time we were on a slight incline and Witherslack Hall chugged away with all her heart, steam bursting from the top with every rotation of her wheels. She eventually levelled out and took us on a leisurely ride to Heywood and back, all done within 45 minutes but still brilliant.
Back at Bury lunch time was beckoning so we walked the short distance into the centre of Bury to find Racconto Lounge who dished up a perfectly delicious burger for one and toasted panini for the other.
Friday arrived, it might have been time to head home but not before we had the chance to celebrate Mr.Bs birthday with a scrummy steak fry-up and watch the Flying Scotsman for the last time.
We’d had a great time and it just goes to show, you don’t really need to far from your own doorstep to discover something new.