Steam’s up in North Yorkshire

What is the magic of the steam train?  I’m not sure, but if North York Moors Railway knew the answer, they’d bottle it.  Noisy, smelly, sooty – not the adjectives you’d normally associate with a top class tourist attraction, but on a sunny spring morning in Grosmont, the air positively thrums with excitement.  Celebrating 60 years this year, the North York Moors Railway is an unqualified success story.

“The Green Knight” arrives at Grosmont

I was enjoying the best of all possible worlds because I was riding the train from Grosmont to Goathland, and walking back, with my Nordic walking friends.  Arriving on the platform around 11am, there was an air of serenity and calm.  The view along the platform spoke of all the delights of England’s green and pleasant land.  Unhurriedly purchasing a ticket, I gazed around.  The pretty blue benches were inviting, but I knew that if I sat down I could be tempted to lose the remainder of the day.

A peaceful start at Grosmont

An empty platform

Delicious coffee smells filled the air, and a couple of my ever hungry walking pals wolfed down bacon and sausage sarnies.  A tempting array of scones and cakes sat on the counter of the café.

One minute the platform was empty, the next there was a bustle of people and cameras everywhere.  “It’s coming!”  Sure enough, a loud toot and a hiss heralded the arrival of “The Green Knight”, majestically rolling towards the platform.  The cream and maroon carriages gleamed.  Hastily snapping away, along with everybody else who wanted to capture a piece of the moment, I scrambled on board just in time.  “Tickets please”, that familiar cry, then we were enveloped in ink blackness as we chugged into the tunnel.  Jokes about “Murder on the Orient Express” were bandied around, till we emerged unscathed into the sunlight.

Where did everybody come from?

Arriving at Goathland

Milk churns in waiting

I felt unbelievably lucky to be witnessing this idyllic scenery on such a beautiful day.  All too soon it was time to alight at Goathland, carriage doors slamming and the guard scurrying about.  Reluctantly I left the gentle monster and was herded up and counted by our walk leader.

Another treat was in store.  With a fair level of fitness between us, it had been decided that we would walk to Mallyan Spout, and then join the popular Rail Trail along the River Esk.  Goathland is “Heartbeat” territory, the scene of a popular TV series, and as such always busy.  Many people simply ride the train and stroll around the village.  There are just enough public houses, shops and cafes to cater for everyone, and the village green is pure England.  Not for us the tempting benches.  I doubt if we’d have found a space anyway.

The pastoral scene on the village green, Goathland

Too-wit, too-whoo!

Always when you’re out walking, you know that if at first you’re heading downwards, there will be a price to pay.  There are many steps down to Mallyan Spout, and the scramble across the rocks to a viewing point can be challenging, but the amount of rain in recent times had guaranteed that the waterfall would be at its best.  So it proved.  Satisfied with our efforts so far, we stopped by the river for our picnic, and to exchange tips with passersby.

Sparkling River Esk

Mallyan Spout waterfall

Perfect for a picnic

Time to move on at a leisurely pace, because, of course, the climb was coming.  Several of the walkers are in their seventies but they’re a lively and determined bunch, and we had soon earned our reward of a level track to pursue our way back to Grosmont.  The Rail Trail is easy walking and can be accomplished by most people.  I love to follow a river, and the occasional glimpse and sound of a passing steam train has necks craning to see.  The grass verges were laced with tiny blue forget-me-nots and great swathes of wild garlic swamped the senses.

Before long we were looking down on Grosmont, and the trail ended by the Old School House, now an attractive restaurant.  A cool drink had certainly been earned and it was lovely to slip the boots off and while away an hour.  The gates of the level crossing heralded the comings and goings of the steam giants, but when we returned to the platform en route for the car park and home, all was again peaceful and quiet.  Just time for a quick peak in the “ladies room”.

A heat haze over Grosmont

A “ladies” with style

Numerous days out can be spent on and around the North York Moors Railway.  At this time of year, it’s just coming into it’s own. For timetable and details of events, see www.nymr.co.uk

39 comments

  1. Jo, I have just had a rather odd thought come to mind.

    What day were at Grossmont, would it by any chance have been 24th May?

    My post on Whitby day five (http://vicshill.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/a-week-in-whitby-day-five/) was about our day at Grossmont.

    T and I were sat outside The Station Tavern by the crossing, watching the world go by, when a group of extremely friendly bubbly women joined us on the tables outside, all with quite strong north east accents, they’d just finished a walk, and had called in for refreshments before heading home.

    1. Vicky, this is surreal! I’ve just checked my calender, and yes it was! I think I can remember the dogs resting by the table too. How bizarre is that? Don’t think I read that one of your Whitby posts, though I know I read some of them, because I remarked on walking through your caravan park.
      How strange is life? I’ll go and have a read now.

      1. Yes, the dogs were hot, and we were trying to keep them in what little shade there was. As we left, we struggled to get Jasp onto his feet and one of your group commented on him being an old dog.

  2. What a lovely day and a lovely post – sounds just like my cuppa tea – specially with the walk back afterwards! We stopped at Goathland when we visited Yorkshire and it’s a gorgeous little village with stunning scenery.

    1. So many lovely walks on the moors Suze. The train ride was an extra treat but we often walk on the northern edge of the moors. It’s less than an hour away.

  3. Hi Jo, these photos are stunning and weren’t you lucky to have such a sunny day? I love doing things like this when I’m back in Yorkshire, it’s dwindled recently due to the kids growing older and ‘not interested’ but will have to force them next time to remind them of their heritage! Thanks, Cath.

    1. Whereabouts in Yorkshire do you hail from Cath? I so remember that reluctant stage with James. He almost spoiled a holiday or two. I’m a bit more my own boss these days and taking full advantage of it, as you can see. Thank you.

  4. Oooooooooooooo I wish I’d known about this train before! We drove from York to Blackpool in December and stopped at Bolton’s historic station. Is it the same line? I loved everything about it. Now I want to take this train, it sounds fantastic!

    1. Hi Ana! There are quite a few steam lines in the UK. NYMR runs from Whitby on the coast down to Pickering over the Yorkshire moors. It’s a lovely part of the world, and I’m lucky, it’s on my doorstep.

  5. Everything about this trip looks and sounds beautiful. From Grosmont to Goathland, just amazing countryside landscape. It’s been a while since I rode a train. The last was in 2005 when I visited my sister in Connecticut. My most memorable when I was about 8 years old. This was in the Philippines. We saw a tree filled with fireflies, then at one point they had to blast a huge rock blocking the railroad. It was the most exciting train ride ever. Thanks.

  6. The steam engine brings back fond memories when I was growing up in Scotland. As young children, we would dare each other to stand on the bridge whilst the train went under in a puff of dirty smoke; I always chickened out!
    I watch ‘Heartbeat’ every week without fail, and I still love it – brings back more memories of home – a bit different to living in Oz!
    Thanks for taking us on a fabulous journey Jo, I really enjoyed it and your photos brought the place alive.

    1. Glad I could revive those memories Barb. I can remember doing something similar. I’d forgotten just how mucky the beasts are though! I had to clean my face about 3 times to get the grime off, and no, I wasn’t stoking!

  7. What a gorgeous part of the world and a great way to spend a day, I can see how you’re becoming addicted 🙂 I’m not a trainspotter but I do love travelling by train and the old steam trains are pretty magical.

    1. It was a really lovely day. The company was good too. Any luck with the logo yet? I forgot to say that you can link it back to your award blog post if you want to. (I haven’t yet!)

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