Friday, 22 June 2007

Linlithgow to Falkirk - Decisions (In)Decisions!

Today's itinerary consisted of a train to Linlithgow and then walk with full-packs on to Falkirk. We (Carol and Gavin) met at the Edinburgh Waverley Station at 1030am - as we needed to book accommodation in Falkirk. The line at the tourist info was so long we decided to just head off homeless and sort it out when we got there. As our train to Linlithgow happened to be also calling at Falkirk, we were suddenly inspired to take this train all the way to Falkirk, sort out digs, drop bags, get the train back to Linlithgow, and have a nice stroll back to Falkirk, bagless.

All smooth to Falkirk, but when we arrived we soon discovered that seemingly every B&B in the area was booked. We finally found one, but unfortunately, it was half-way back to Linlithgow (in Polman). So now, added to days itinerary was a train back to Polman, find our B&B, drop bags, train (further) back to Linlithgow, walk to Falkirk, then train back again to Polman, sleep, then take morning train forward to Falkirk to start the next day's walk.

If all this sounds complicated that's because it was. The point was to walk south to north, not take trains all day east-west and back to east and so on. We dithered on the platform, then on the train, but decided at the last minute (last seconds really) to not alight at Polman but rather continue back to Linlithgow and start our walk, with packs, from there. If this seems a lot like our original plan, its because it was, exactly, our original plan (only two hours later). We would then take the train onward from Falkirk to Glasgow, where could stay at Margaret's vacant flat.

We set out at 1:15pm, a new record for latest starting time! Even with packs we made record time - 9 miles in little over 3 hours. The journey was as follows: go along the canal until it reaches Falkirk. The only points of interest along the way was the Young Offenders institution and the 620 meter tunnel in darkness.

Upon reaching Falkirk we were greeted by Keith, the railway ticket collector, in his small, tardis-like home. Keith turned out to be the Falkirk resident expert on everything from Scotrail, to William Wallace to Sponge Bob Square Pants. He told us when we might catch Sponge Bob on TV that very evening if the flat in Glasgow had cable or satellite.

Whether or not we had satellite or cable turned out to be fairly irrelevant, as there would be no Sponge Bob simply because the flat didn't seem to have any electricity. It turns out we needed a new payment card for power (inserted directly into the meter). Everyone we asked (including ScottishPower) replied with the popular default answer: just use the emergency power button, as you get £14 emergency power. The same advice must have been given the previous guests, as the emergency funds were also used-up. So we had £16.40 debt to ScottishPower to pay off before we could begin to think about hot water and light. (The shower was also electric run, so I couldn't even have a cold shower).

Things were again not so get the power card, we needed a 19-digit account number, which didn't know and were unable to locate in the flat. The staff at a local Londis corner shop were quite helpful, but in the end, we left Londis not with the required power card, but a flashlight and a number to ring the next morning. Thank goodness our three nights at the flat coincided with the longest 3 days of the year...

(Posted by: Gavin Weise) (nephew)


Jill said...

Gavin - as soon as I read the title I knew this was your bit. Just as well there weren't too many options along the canal, or you'd probably still be there thinking about it!
Seriously, glad you were able to do this for Carol and the family.

Lex said...

way to go Carol. and yes i as soon tyson and I read the the title we knew that Gavin was there..

congrats on smashing the goal.