"Thomas the Tank Engine"

Trip Start Sep 22, 2012
Trip End Oct 19, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Lonely Planet e-book lists the North Yorkshire Moors Railway as a good activity in this district - even for non-trainspotters or children - so we decide on a day outside the built-up cities and head for the beach instead... by steam train!

It is a half hour drive out of York to Pickering to buy a £22.50 return ticket for the one hour return trip. We leave on the 11am train that pulls carriages of upholstered six-seat compartments and hang out the windows like kids. Hilary is pronouncing this the Best Day So Far so l am guessing we didn't do Puffing Billy enough during her childhood!...

There is an option for a midway stop at Goathland station - and we learn it was the location used in the first Harry Potter movie when he first arrives at Hogwarts. Without planning any of this, we seem to be doing a Harry Potter pilgrimage trip, having already seen 'his' cloisters.

Needless to say, Platform 9 3/4 is going to be obligatory at King's Cross station...

Goathland was also the venue for the filming of 'Heartbeat' although none of us have watched it.

The next train takes us through the North York Moors and on to Whitby. The countryside is a mix of plantation timber, possibly spruce, and open moors thick with brown bracken. Occasional fields hold black-faced sheep that are certainly NOT merinos. They look even stranger with full-length wooly tails!

Whitby is a sea-side fishing village north of Scarborough, made famous by Simon and Garfunkel's song. Debris is washing down the river after the recent floods and dredging is underway. The swing bridge opens to let the barge filled with mud out. Little fishing boats and cray pots populate the jetties.

There is a ruined abbey overlooking the town but we stick to the streets and grab lunch in The Humble Pie - recommended by some locals on the train. The pies (steak and stout or lamb, leek and rosemary for us) are huge and delicious as are the mash and pea served with them.

We explore the narrow streets of the old town and notice jewellery shop after shop selling "Whitby Jet" pieces. Jet (as in jet black) is a semi-precious black 'stone' made from fossilized Monkey Puzzle wood found washed up on the local beach. Earrings average £40. Again l am tempted but resist...

It is dark by the time the 5.30pm train returns to Pickering but we are all happy. We need only a pizza for tea and a wash to get the soot out of our eyes and ears.
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