Day 1

 Birmingham to Birkenhead by train and bike

30 March 2023
Day 1

Start: Birmingham, England
End: Overnight ferry from Birkenhead to Belfast

Mission:Reach Birkenhead in time to catch the night ferry to Belfast

Trains: 5
Ferry: 1
Cycling distance: 73.5 km
Countries: UK (England, Wales)


Bike ride #1. To Bournville station in Birmingham (England)

0605 - 01610

Day 1 began, as most days do, slightly too early.

We packed up our things, locked up the house, unfurled the Bromptons, and were ready to "hit the road" at 06:05 for our first official bike ride of the #33rides project.

Five minutes later we were at Bournville station, clicking our heels with time to spare, as we were ten minutes early for our first train.

This was also our first introduction to a dilemma with which we would become very familiar: is it worth de-baggaging and folding the bikes for this train ride?

I can't remember what we chose to do on this first occasion. Of course, as time went on, we became world-experts in high-speed Brompton folding, unfolding, baggaging and de-baggaging. But back then at the start we were clumsy, slow, and all over the place. Luckily the 0620 from Bournville to Birmingham New Street was not a very crowded train.

Train #2. Bournville to Birmingham New Street (England)

0620 - 0633
Train company: West Midlands Railway
First class: none

This is our local train, our familiar little suburban commuter-shopper-shuffler that potters up and down the Cross-City Line from Redditch (or sometimes Bromsgrove) in the south, through the centre of Birmingham and out the other side towards Lichfield.

On a good day the hop from Bournville to Birmingham city centre takes 13 minutes, stopping at beguilingly-named Selly Oak, University and Five Ways stations before disappearing into tunnels for most of the final couple of kilometres into the stygian unloveliness of Birmingham New Street.

And today was a good day, so there we were, happy as Larry (who is Larry?), two of us, a pair of Bromptons, a pair of Interrail tickets, and a few spare pairs of socks, the world at our feet, and Birkenhead to the north-west.

So we jumped on a train going south-east.

Train #3. Birmingham New Street to London Euston (England)

0647 - 0809
Train company: Avanti  West Coast
First class: yes. Including free cooked breakfast.

When you buy an Interrail ticket, you're only allowed to use it in your "home" country for two days.

We decided to make the most of those two days. 

By going in the wrong direction.

Train #4. London St Pancras to Royston (England)

0831 - 0925

Train #5. Royston to London St Pancras (England)

1338 - 1429

Train #6. London Euston to Chester (England)

1502 - 1705

Bike ride #2. Chester to Birkenhead