2015-05-03 53 -3
A little walk southwards from Hightown railway station, passing through the estate roads and onto some dirt paths. The location is slightly off a path, laying a little way into a field. To the west is a very close shore, to the south is what appears to be a golf course, and to the east is a train line.
The plan was to board a train at Wigan Wallgate going towards Southport. I would then board a train at Southport going towards Hightown. I would then walk south to reach the location. I planned to follow my smartphone map and track my location using my smartphone's GPS.
This was my first expedition. After looking up some more recent locations in my local Manchester graticule I noticed how infrequently the meetup point came anywhere close to me. By looking elsewhere I saw that this day's Blackpool graticule location was on land and within a reasonable distance from my hometown. I thought, "why not", and without any proper planning (besides checking the train times and prices and making sure I wasn't entering a restricted area) I left my house. This was at around 12:15. I arrived at the bus stop down the road and realised I was 25 minutes too early (with it being a Sunday.) Instead of heading back I decided to go into the pub across the road for a nice pint. After leaving the pub to wait for the bus again I realised that I had no change left, only notes, because of the cost of the pint. In my area it isn't very common for bus drivers to have change for £10 notes so I reentered the pub to ask for change. That's when I looked out of the window and saw that the bus had already pulled up and was driving away. With another 30 minute wait ahead of me I decided to phone for a taxi... and of course once the taxi office told me I had a fifteen minute wait I saw it necessary to order another pint. After waiting 25 minutes for the taxi I came to the conclusion that it simply wasn't going to come and decided to call the expedition a failure. To numb the pain of failure I ordered a third pint (I was drinking Strongbow Dark Fruit if you must know.) Immediately after getting my drink I received a confirmation text that the taxi was right outside. With lightning speed I downed the pint. Tears filled my eyes, not from the beauty of the moment or the anticipation of adventure, but because carbon dioxide is quite painful to gulp down fast. Feeling woozy I stepped outside my known parameters and entered a world filled with even better known perimeters. Just before I entered the taxi I looked up to see that yet another bus had pulled up to my stop. The time was now 13:10 and I had spent close to an hour of my expedition a few yards away from my house getting slashed.
"To Wigan Wallgate please", I told the taxi driver who took me straight into the town centre. I paid my £4 taxi fair and entered the train station. However just before ordering my tickets I was struck with confusion. Where the hell was I going again? I knew I had to get to Hightown but couldn't for the life of me remember how to get there. Smartphone out > Internet on > Open internet > Google: 'Trainline' > Search: 'Wigan to Hightown'....... Southport! I was going to Southport first. However I also noticed that my power was at 15%, and with the upcoming need to use a GPS service I knew that my battery wasn't going to last very long. With all the elements of a good plan making their way slowly towards my liver I ordered the tickets and boarded the train.
The train ride was pretty uneventful, except for the impending loss of bladder control that was surely coming my way. I had three pints in me all sloshing around, and I came close to jumping the Southport ticket barrier in an effort to reach a toilet. Even then there were no toilet facilities about. This is a major train station! We aren't talking Bryn, we're talking Southport here. I eventually found relief in a shop that will remain unnamed (which I used again on the way back.) I purchased a can of Monster energy drink and boarded the train to Hightown with a few seconds to spare.
I experienced, again, another uneventful train journey. I played a couple of songs through my headphones during the journey. Once the train came to my stop I looked at my phone. 7% battery. Damn you Lemon Demon! After opening my GPS and setting the target location I began a fairly short walk towards it. I was in Hightown and I noticed two things about the place:
1- This place is posh. I mean really posh. Some of driveways had fountains. Some of the fountains had driveways.
2- My gosh there's a lot of cyclists about. They should call this place Biketown. Or Cycletown. Or "Poshville: Cycling Town." I felt like some right scum walking around Poshville in a black hoody and jeans. Jeans, I kid you not! I did not blend into that estate well. I was as natural as a herring trying to blend in with a packet of crisps in a field of wool whilst wearing latex short with flame symbols on the back. Although thinking back this might have all been in my head. No one mentioned anything and I was still pretty tipsy.
By following my GPS I arrived at a dirt path right next to the location. The time was 15:45ish. There I saw a man sitting on a bike, staring at the area. He didn't seem to have any intention of moving and I was pretty sure he was there for the same reason I was, but with this being my first expedition I didn't feel confident shouting, "Hey! Are you geohashing? I am too ROFL!" Therefore I did the only logical thing: I walked passed him to avoid conversation and acted like I was going somewhere else and was passing by the target location due to coincidence. This led me to a brick wall with no exits. After turning around I saw him cycling up. Was I about to be hurt? Or worse, talked to! Quickly I whipped out my 4% charged phone and pretended to have a phone conversation with somebody.
"Yeah", I said to nobody, "I'm just around here. Do you want me to come up there or should I be at the thing with the do-dahh. Just make sure to bring your flux capacitor because mine got eaten by a bear last Tuesday morn."
I think the man bought it because he certainly didn't ask me any questions. I returned to the nearby path and looked intently out into the shrubbery where the location was pinpointed at. The man then cycled passed me and seemed to lurk from a distance, watching me watch the location and drink my Monster. I'm sorry my friend if you just wanted a chat but I was just way too nervous and shy. After he left I walked forward to the point and felt like an idiot as I was now surrounded by cyclists in a random field of straw (or whatever it is), staring at nothing. After a little fiddling around and a quick google search on how to take a screenshot with an android phone I found the spot, stood in it, and collected some evidence. My power then ran out completely and I returned home to a concerned Fiancée asking, "How could you go out and meet strangers and have your phone turned off!"
Today was certainly unique.
With this being my first expedition I wasn't sure what pictures to take or how to name photos. I will work on this for next time.
| Marsh earned the Land geohash achievement
| Marsh earned the Public transport geohash achievement