An ode to the 060 coach route I’ve made this trip every other week for three years.
Manchester>Leeds. Sometimes it goes via Oldham or Bradford, sometimes it goes straight from New York Street in Manchester to Leeds City bus station. Most of the journey runs through the Peak District with only 10/15 minutes each side of the journey trundling through towns and residential areas.
When I’m heading out from Manchester it skims the outer parts of Ancoats. Memories from a summer street art festival are painted onto old mills and office blocks. I wonder how many people look out the window and notice these things, to me it’s a signifier that I’m about to leave the familiar streets of my home city.
Once I’m passed the neighbouring towns of Chadderton or Oldham, I’m suddenly into the green peaks. I’m on the highest motorway in Britain, I remind myself every time. I am vulnerable to high winds and extreme weather. I’m exposed to the most beautiful views the North has to offer. I take photos every time I’m on this route, because I simply cannot believe that this is how I travel to Leeds every week.
A little further on in the middle of the carriage way is a farm. The road forks to accommodate sleepy, grazing sheep unfazed by the hurtling traffic on either side. Used to the hoards of cars beeping and screeching and getting somewhere. They lie in this island of theirs, heads peaking out from grassy mounds. I’ve seen lambs grow to sheep, many times over in the years that I have regularly taken this route. Further along the route is a folly jutting out from a jetty outlooking a big lake. I think it’s a folly, I can’t really be sure because it’s hard to find out but I like to think it’s an old victorian building that has no purpose but to frame a grand view onto the water. Maybe it houses a generator. It always, however, signifies that I’m two thirds of the way to Leeds, or two thirds away from Manchester. I’ve seen every season pass through as I cut into the landscape. Today it’s currently shrouded in wintery fog.
When I enter Leeds, I feel like I’m in a town that isn’t mine, a borrow town, a town in kind. I get the local 52 out into the North of the city, looking out over the hill that Little London sits on and I stare down at the rest of the city and give a silent gasp towards the golden twinkling street lights. I could be anywhere right now. I smile though, because I know where I’m going, and it’s somewhere nice and warm, and above all things familiar.