Saturday, 29 March 2014

5,6,7,8... Whatever happened to Steps?

Behold! The first post to include an actual train journey!

But first - here's a picture of me looking like Mr Potato Head.
As can be seen, I still haven't decided what face to pull on the pictures.
I didn't have time to get any other pictures at Scarborough station this morning, as I was catching the 10:00 Yorkshire Coast Pullman (I totally made that name up) to Filey. Actually, when I boarded I noticed the train was called "Jane Tomlinson". Not sure who she is, but I'm sure she's very flattered to have a train named after her, even if it was just a Northern Rail 158.

The journey was uneventful, and took a mere 15 minutes or so. I've been travelling this particular stretch on a regular basis for about 20 years, and it's nearly always uneventful - the only two memories of note are the time we were delayed due to an abandoned canoe on the line, and the time we ploughed through a flock of escaped sheep, but I digress...

Filey station: Cleaner than it used to be
Apparently there's some sort of heatwave going on this weekend across the country. Clearly nobody has reminded Yorkshire. It's been cold and misty and damp all day, but I fortified myself with a Bacon, Sausage & Mushroom sandwich from Cooplands (and 5 cheese straws - Nom!) and a cup of tea at Mum's house, before heading off on my way.

The way out of Filey is, honestly, pretty boring, in a pebbledash sort of way, and I didn't even see any llamas through the hedge at the Animal Park. Gutted! However, near Muston crossing, I did manage to get a photo of a train (11:27 from Scarborough, if you're taking notes).

Seriously - what heatwave?
So anyway, Gristhorpe was totally deserted. It was like walking through a film set - or perhaps a closed down version of Beamish. It's actually really pretty (Might start a "Visit Gristhorpe" campaign) - I'm sure if it had a better name people would visit it. I believe it's of Scandinavian origins, meaning "Pig Village". Nice.

The old station (Closed since 1959) is quite a way through the village and out the other side, on a dead-end farm track, and surprisingly still has a manned signalbox, with proper level crossing gates and signals and everything, but still no people. The 'box door was ajar, but I couldn't see where the signalman was - perhaps using his new outside loo? 

Note to self: Use more hairspray...
The station buildings themselves are all still intact, and used as a house, but look a bit creepy. It looks like sort of place a witch might live, or maybe Josef Fritzl, so I didn't loiter for too long, and in any case I still had many miles left to walk, and another station to pose beside. But first, a rural interlude...

Right, I have a confession. This is probably going to sound weird and pervy - and it's not meant to - but I seriously love sheep. Not in a sex way - I'm not from Wales - I just think they're amazing! I like their noses, and their little twiggy legs, and their slightly demented eyes, and their general fat, cuddly squishiness. Sheep are awesome. (Actually, I think the one in the right hand picture wanted to kill me - I was quite relieved there was a fence in the way). 

The walk through Lebberston enabled me to indulge my sheep-admiring, as there was a veritable sea of them, as far as the horizon - or at least 'til the edge of the mist. Big sheep, small sheep, medium sheep. A cacophony of baa-ing!

Cayton station (closed in 1952) was something of a disappointment - it's only visible from the roadside, not from the platform side, so consequently looks like I'm just standing in front of a fairly ordinary house.

Cayton: A bit rubbish
The side facing the railway line is actually quite nice - when I used the line daily to go to college it was still visible, with very nice proportions, with a vaguely classical air to it - but sadly some bell-end the current owners have obscured it with massive fast-growing leylandii. Do these people not realise that God only invented leylandii to hide council houses, not nice buildings??? Bastards!

The only thing in Cayton's favour is that there is one of these visible from a non-trespassy location. I like the old North Eastern Railway's mileposts so much more than any others. I think they have character. This one - denoting (obviously) a quarter-mile point, reminds me of either some sort of prehistoric spear embedded in the ground, or a little man in a pointy hat. 
The whole-mile posts are square, with the number of miles (not just the fraction) and the name of the place they measure the distance from in raised letter at the top. Very sensible and practical. 
The half-mile posts are a bit like the one above, but with two points - one on either side - and look a bit like they've been given a bad centre-parting. 
The three-quarter ones are just awesome - they have three spikes, so they're like some crazy cast-iron disco-flower planted by the tracks. I reckon if mileposts had a party, the three-quarter ones would be the coolest to hang out with, and probably sell you the best drugs too!

So that was the main part of today's task done, all that was left was to head back home, through a dull bit of suburbia, over the new road (when will I stop thinking of it was the new road? It's been there at least five years now!), and past the cheapest, crappiest temporary bus stop I have ever seen in my life. Oh dear...

Friday, 28 March 2014

2, 3 & 4: A Trio in the Rain

Another bus to begin, followed by a pleasant (rainy and cold) nine mile stroll home.

Got the same time 128 bus as on Wednesday, and once again, it was late. Thankfully Gum-Woman wasn't travelling today, but there were still other people I wanted to attack. Seriously, why do people think it's acceptable to say "Don't worry, I'm not queue-jumping", and then do exactly that? Do they think the rain will magically excuse them? Perhaps I shall invest in some ear plugs, so I don't have to listen to other people's irritating inane conversations.

I was quite relieved to get off at Wykeham - it's, strangely, a place I've never been to before, despite it being so near to home. I've passed through it on the A170 many times, but never had a reason to stop and investigate.

The old station at Wykeham has been closed since 1950, when the line from Pickering to Seamer was shut, but the building is still in very good condition, being used as the offices of the Dawnay Estate. I had a mooch about and got the required photo, without being yelled at (I was quite possibly trespassing), and also disturbed a pheasant who was chilling out on the platform. Oops.

A different variation of my retard-face: Wykeham

Next stop was West Ayton just a mile or so along the road, which gave me the opportunity to photograph some good roadkill - possibly my second-favourite hobby.

The station in West Ayton also closed in 1950, and when it was still open was actually called Forge Valley, to avoid confusion with another location on the North Eastern network. For many years since closure it has been used as a Council Highways Department depot - indeed when I worked for NYCC many years ago, it's where we used to wash the mud off the Landrover - but it seems to have been semi-abandoned. There's various bits of machinery lying about in the yard, but no signs of actual people...

I'm smiling on the inside: Forge Valley

 ... which was great for me, because it meant nobody could laugh at my dopey facial expressions as I tried to get a half-way decent picture! Hurrah!

At this point, I had to make a decision - walk back into town (Scarborough) along the main road, or be a stickler for historical route-accuracy and head to Seamer, where the closed branch formerly joined the mainline to York. I'm crap at making decisions so I texted my brother and he said Seamer, so that's what I did.

It was raining on and off, which brought lots of pretty snails out onto the footpath. I didn't tread on any - that would have ruined my mood - and for some reason I was now singing a selection of ABBA songs to myself. Thankfully their were no other pedestrians around...


Unfortunately, when I got to Seamer I had just missed a train to Scarborough, and the next one wasn't for a further 45 minutes. Rather than hanging about on a windy platform (the attractive building in the picture is now someone's house, and passengers have to make do with a plastic bus-shelter-type structure), I walked the last couple of miles back home, and on arrival the cat hadn't been sick on the rug, or the settee, or anywhere! Result! 

Number 1: Pickering

So, a slightly delayed start - mainly because I hadn't even set this up last Wednesday when I took the first pictures!

But yes, an actual, physically delayed start too, thanks to the tardiness of the 128 bus. Now, I've generally got nothing against people over a certain age, but put me in a queue at a bus stop and that all changes. I haven't actually killed anyone while waiting for public transport yet, but I'm sure that day will come. My whole demeanor changes and I get a murderous glint in my eye. Perhaps it's since they banned smoking in enclosed shelters? Who knows.

Anyway, the bus eventually turned up, without me earning a criminal record - it would have been terribly embarrassing to splatter blood all over my mother, who was accompanying me - and the journey into Ryedale was fairly uneventful, once I managed to stop staring at the woman with terrible gums sitting at the front. 

Pickering station was open to wander around. There weren't any trains running, it being mid-week off-season, and sadly the cafe on Platform 1 was shut, so I couldn't have a pasty, but I was able to inspect the partially completed signalbox, originally from Marishes Road, but stored at Goathland for ages.

Not quite finished inside, but looking good...
Thankfully, the almost complete lack of other people meant I didn't feel a complete retard when taking the required photo of myself. I think I'll have to work on a standardised facial expression, preferably one that doesn't make me look quite so gormless/vacant/dead-behind the eyes...

Task completed, Mum and I decided to round off the trip with a celebratory glass of wine or three, and some tasty food in the Black Swan - I had the liver, it was amazing - then got soaked in a rain shower waiting for the bus back again. I don't think I like buses very much.

The First Post!

Once Upon A Time...

'Cos that's how these things start right? 

Well, technically this one started slightly differently - it was more of a good-idea-when-drunk sort of thing, which for a change, the morning after, still seemed quite good.

Basically, I was inspired by two other blogs - Merseytart, and Tubewhore (neither of which are even slightly pornographic, despite the names) - and thought I'd have a go at doing a similar thing. So, the aim of the game is as follows:

I, William Arthur, aim to take a photo of myself at every single railway station shown on this map:

 - preferably wearing some sort of old fashioned clothes, or at least a pleasant bit of knitwear. I will undoubtedly waffle on about nonsense too, and post extra pictures of other things too - perhaps hens (I quite like hens), or an artful shot of my sandwiches.

Of course, some of you may now be thinking "What a ridiculous idea - what if the station has closed down? What if it's been demolished?", but that's for me to worry about...