Walking it off

Ok I am the worlds worst blogger! A bit like the rural branch lines of yesteryear. Where I train may come by and then nothing for hours maybe days. Which nicely segues into the topic of todays post. This Saturday gone I went for a walk along the North Yorks Moors Railway line. Following the route from Pickering to Levisham Station.

This is something I had been thinking about doing for such a long time. I even brought a leaflet about walks along the railway. But never followed through on them. hmm maybe a pattern there?! But now with the help of the OS Maps app and the relevant maps for the area, I could plan a route with no friction. I have long loved maps and can happily spend hours pouring over them to see the changing terrain and the funny place names.

I have started collecting maps for some walks I have always wanted to do. Not necessarily walks by railways. But the more I think about it there are loads of walks that I could do along railway lines that are not too far from me. But I get side tracked.

So Saturday.. I had been thinking about doing a walk that took in the whole route of the NYMR and at 21.85 miles I thought that might just be too far for me in one go. So I decided to split the walk up into smaller chunks. With maybe a ride back down the Dale on a steam train. However looking at the map I could see that I could do a route to Levisham that was about 6 miles and the around another 6 miles home to Pickering. Being a bank holiday weekend, I knew that I needed to get there early if there was any chance to park reasonably. I also want to park in the Station car park as then the money would go to them. So setting off at some ungodly hour was required. It was bliss sailing up the roads with little or no traffic to a Sun drenched Pickering. The first order of business was to watch the first train (09:20 ) set off. It is early in the season and although it was a bank holiday the station was pretty quiet. I had expected more activity, but it was nice not having to be jostled around in order to get some imagery. I am not a proper photographer and on the whole more interested in the moving picture. But I think we have all been places where shall we say the more involved enthusiasts seem will stop at nothing to get “their” shot or footage. As the last coach rolled out of view thoughts turned to breakfast. So we pottered into town. It’s been a long time since I have been in Pickering and forgotten pretty much everything about it. However after a few moments we scoped out an open cafe that did some really good bacon sarnies and good coffee. Fuelled up there was nothing left to do than to set off walking.

The Journey

Leaving Pickering we followed the road out to New Bridge level crossing. From there you dive off through a quarry. I wasn’t sure if it was active. Further on an M.O.D approved firing range marked the start of a pretty steep climb along a ridge. I must admit that I’m not good at heights and had to employ ninja breathing habits to reach safer ground. But once at the top, the track opened out into a very big field and wide open skies. Some typical NYM terrain followed, with rolling hills and 360deg views.

Arriving at the picturesque village of Arncliffe on Newton where everything seemed to be asleep from the previous nights revelry, well at least in my head it was. We followed through to the far end where the path started to fall away. What I hadn’t picked up from the map was the compacted contour lines. Reaching the point where I had happily traced the route, I was now confronted with what felt like a shear drop of a couple of hundred feet. There was no way that was going to be an option so out came the map and with a sigh of relief, an alternative route found to arrive at the same point some hundred feet below. Looking up I’m not overly sure that I would have climbed up it. I am better at going up than down! With a short walk down to level ground although in wet conditions would have been “interesting”.

We arrived into Levisham Station with a couple of minutes to spare for the impending northbound train. I hadn’t really planned it to be that way but in the back of my mind, if we did arrive at 12:20 then we would get to see two trains if we took an hours lunch break. So once the quietness returned we sat down to a fine cuppa tea and our sandwiches. The kiosk at Levisham does some pretty fine cakes. Just like the ones I remembered from childhood village fetes/events where the village halls were decked out with a grand spread! Once fed and watered we were ready for the journey home. After an initial climb up the side of the valley, it was a gently amble down to around half way back. At which point we came across some adept chickens. When they saw us they set off with purpose and got to the footbridge that had a gate on it but nimbly hopped around it and then headed for the local farm yard. I complimented Farmer on his ninja chickens. Crossing over the line and before another climb up I took some pics of a railway cottage that oozed so much NER character and the sight of a station that disappeared not long after the line opened. 

I’ll go on a bit of a digression. There were so many modelling dioramas that I could have recorded. From the buildings at Levisham, to signals out in the countryside. The little bridges the line crosses and the becks that flow the water off the moors. There’s just so much. Then my mind wanders and there is a bit of a battle between what I am seeing now and what it would have been like when the line was active. Yes I know the two things couldn’t be further apart, but in my mind there is a link there. The fact that the purpose has changed for the line, life still goes on around it. The fact it was saved doesn’t lessen the purpose of the railway. I want to return to document some of the things that interest me. But that will have to wait for another day.

Whilst near Farwath, heard a train chuff by but couldn’t see it so it was noted that there were a couple of suitable places to view either side of where we were. So up we went and pretty much away from the line and out into open country again. It was pretty much all downhill back to New Bridge Signal Box where we had cross about 4 hours before. Again unplanned! As we crossed the line the buzzers went off and signalman prepared to swap line tokens. There was train booked out of Pickering at 4pm and we waited around to see if it would turn up. But both being tired and thirsty we decided to leave our last glimpse of trains to another day. Coasting back into Pickering with the sense of a wonderful day and walk, but happy for it to be over. We arrived back at the car thinking “Right, lets look at the next section.

I know there has been no modelling harmed in the making of this post. But it sparked off the mojo that for far to long has been missing. It was just the tonic I needed. I also realise that my interest is not the model, or the trains, it’s actually the whole picture and that I can’t experience it as it was is what drives me and I guess every railway modeller to do what we do.

Until next time..