The North Yorkshire Moor Steam railway is very popular indeed. Run largely by enthusiastic volunteers, it runs from Whitby to Pickering and back again. Over the years the offer has expanded to include the option of dining experiences in the Pullman car, and the popular Silver Footplate Experience, where you can have the chance of a lifetime to drive and fire a steam locomotive (no passengers though) You can even rent out some of the refurbished station houses for the week if you feel the need for more steam train exposure. Nostalgia is big business. People love the old trains and the different engines seem to be quite famous. I’m not sure I can tell the difference really apart from the names on the front (although I would probably recognise Thomas the Tank..) but I can see that there is something appealing about harking back to a more romantic age when no one was in such a hurry, and life was just a little bit nicer.
Just add water
A visit to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway is like taking a step back in time. It’s all very E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children – ‘get off the LINE Bobby!’ From the smoke and steam pouring from the engines to the cosy wood-panelled carriages and jolly conductors, it all looks like fun. We started at Grosmont, which is a 1952 style British Rail station and is home to the engine sheds where the locos are restored. We set off in our well upholstered carriage sprawled across wide plush seats. These trains have three seats in the same space that four seats are crammed into our ‘modern’ ones and are a lot more comfortable. We had purchased a ‘Day Rover’ ticket for £19 which isn’t that cheap (although it was a Bank Holiday) The rover ticket was slightly ironic we felt, as there is only one line there and back and only a few trains a day so roving anywhere wasn’t really an option. Our journey was only about ten miles long so mile for mile, this was probably one of the most expensive train journeys in the world.
Carol the conductor
We steamed through the world’s earliest horse-drawn passenger railway tunnel, built between 1833-1835 by George Stephenson and past the Sir Nigel Gresley named after one of England’s most famous railway engineers. The train chugged on through the picturesque countryside. So far so good. We walked up and down the whole train looking at the different carriages from the different decades. Some had comfy velour headrests from the 60’s, the seventies ones were all stripes and melamine back panels, and the older ones had elegant lamps you could dim and individual compartments where you can close the doors and shut out the rest of the wicked world. After we had done this, which took about twenty minutes, we did get a bit bored though and there was another hour of very slow travel to go.
A funny little basin you’re supposed to wash your face in!
I reminisced about my favourite railway poems. Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat has one of my all-time favourite lines in it about a train bathroom and I took great delight in making sure I took plenty of pictures of that ‘funny little basin, you’re supposed to wash your face in.’ Thank you T.S.Eliot. I also love The Night mail by WH Auden which we read at school… ‘This is the Night mail crossing the border bringing the cheque and the postal order..’ Postal orders! Even cheques will soon be a thing of the past. More nostalgia. Suffice to say that one the way back, we made sure we had plenty of supplies including fine wines from the new Lidl in Pickeringand the journey went a lot faster.
Beautiful beach huts
Back at Whitby we explored the north side beach where the multi colored beach huts are. There are lots of them here and the surfers and plucky holiday makers were determined to make best use of them despite the blustery conditions. They are very close to the shore and regularly get battered by the unforgiving North Sea. Some of them were damaged during storms earlier this year and it wasn’t exactly calm the day we were there. However, the British public are a stoic lot and they turned out with their coats and windbreaks and in some cases duvets, in order to make the most of the bracing August ozone.
It’s not that cold really!
The lifeguards were in a jolly mood out looking for lives to save and keeping an eye on the ever hopeful surfers who were struggling to stand up on some rather mediocre grey waves.
It’s not Hawaii, so wet suits are a must.
Surfing Yorkshire style
We also stopped further up the coast at Saltburn, another bay popular with surfers, and I updated my acquaintance with the knitted characters attached to the pier by the secretive Yarnstormers who come at night and decorate the railings when no one is watching. Their theme this year was the World Cup and little knitted footballers representing the different countries were sitting gazing out across beach. The Japanese people were looking like they understood everything as they gazed into the Horizon while the knitted Cameroon character has button eyes which I believe is a tell tale sign of drug use in knitted people.
There was even a knitted footballer’s wife. I love the creativity and the wit of this street art, what’s not to like?