To Heck and Back

Hmm. Yesterday morning saw me settled on the bus, feeling that – rail replacement bus services notwithstanding – I had things well in hand. I had a lunch packed, my knitting to keep me busy on the coach to Edinburgh, and would be arriving well in time for our Pop pub session. I’d even had a stern word with myself about being over cautious with my bus times and decided that half an hour was plenty of slack between the bus’s scheduled arrival in Lockerbie and the rail replacement service departure. It was a Saturday, the bus had arrived well on time, and all was going to plan.

knitting work in progress

From my mouth to God’s ear, of course: for the next thing that happened was we happened upon a police road block. The main road to Lockerbie was closed and would be for some time, so the bus was going to have to find another way. Off we set, into unchartered territory, down a winding lane and then another, past the hamlet of (I swear I am not making this up) Heck, which appears to be less a place and more an excuse to put up a comedy road sign, and back up to the main Lockerbie road after a five minute or so detour – still plenty of time to catch my train. Phew.

Except that the road was still closed ahead, so round we went again, back to the original road block, back down the winding lane, skipping Heck this time and heading into even more unchartered territory, on what turned out to be about a 10 mile detour along increasingly narrow (and now quite congested with detouring traffic) roads. After a pause while a volunteer was found to help the bus back out of a wrong turning, always an exciting procedure, the driver confessed he wasn’t entirely sure where he was going and a navigational committee of passengers formed to get us finally into Lockerbie ten minutes after my Edinburgh service was due to have left.

All was potentially not lost though – the coach might have been delayed so I still had a chance, except that, as the bus stopped at the stop before the station, the chair of the Passenger Navigation Committee paused as she alighted to give the driver some further advice, a process which seemed like it might take forever. At that point, a bus stop worth of people who had been waiting 20 minutes for the Bigtown bus crossed the road to enquire about when their service might arrive, at which point the Brompton and I bailed out and sped off to the station just in time to witness the Rail Replacement coach sail out of the forecourt without me, despite frantically waving to get the driver’s attention. He’s probably wondering even now what he’d done to get the middle-aged lady on the clown bike so worked up …

Still, I made it and, while I was more than ready for my post-Pop beer by the time I arrived, in the end it was just an hour’s delay and a funny story to tell. Sadly, I found out later that the road was closed because of a fatal collision – it’s a notoriously dangerous road, and not just for cyclists (indeed I know of very few cyclists locally who would ride on it). That puts my petty problems into perspective and reminds me to be grateful that I made it home unscathed.

5 Responses to To Heck and Back

  1. Ruth says:

    I think that Heck needs a wee bit of acknowledgement of its’ royal history. Unsuitable roads for buses all the same, and the fourth fatal accident in our area this week. http://royalfourtowns.com/folder-1-home-page

  2. disgruntled says:

    Thank you Ruth – clearly I need to go back to Heck under happier circumstances and do it justice

  3. scsmith4 says:

    Every time we head out West Cumbria way, my mother steels herself for me to yell “Zap! Kerpling!” as we pass the sign for Pow.

  4. welshcyclist says:

    Perspective is everything I just wish the drivers in my neck of the woods could relate to that. Too often they lose patience and pass far too close for comfort, on roads not built for two opposite streams of traffic let alone the additional lone cyclist commuting amongst them. Cycling through Neath is not for the faint hearted. Cheers,

  5. disgruntled says:

    @SCSmith – It’s the same thing every time we go past the “Holy Chambered Cairn [Batman]” sign
    @Welshcyclist – someone even tried to overtake the bus on those winding roads, which was a bit scary to watch

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