Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Apologies in advance for my rubbish hair

Yesterday's travels make one realise just how vast Yorkshire is (or how slow public transport is, depending on how you look at it). Despite, travelling for over an hour and a half from home, by bus, I was still in the same county (or at least, I would have been up until the '70s, when they pissed about with the boundaries). Yes, Yorkshire is at least 8 times bigger than Switzerland. I believe on the International List of Country Sizes (?), I think it is somewhere between Kazakhstan and the Belgian Congo. Or at least, that's what it feels like when you're on a bus full of pensioners. 

Luckily I had my terrible i-pod to block the tedious conversations, so I wasn't driven insane (shame you can't smoke on buses any more), so the dulcet tones of Pitbull, Nina Simone and Dusty Springfield serenaded me as we glided slowly northward.
I was joined, as we paused in Whitby bus station, by Gotho, as he wished to have a look at Guisborough Priory. I turned off Pitbull, Nina & Dusty, so we could chat - I was particularly amused by Gotho's mistaking lapwings for puffins. He has clearly been a city-dweller for far too long! 

First impressions of Guisborough were surprisingly good. It wasn't nearly as rough as I expected (It is, after all, practically Teesside). The Market Place was busy with people doing traditional English market-things - stalls of fruit vying with cheap hair extensions and knock off DVDs - but alas it being a Tuesday, when we arrived at the Priory it was closed. Note to self: Check opening times in the future.

Guisborough Fail.
The old station in Guisborough is a delight to behold - if you're a fan of car parks, new roads, 1970s doctors' surgeries, that is... The only evidence of railway history is a bit of mucky old wall, along the edge of Fountain street. Oh well, perhaps more success would be had later in the day...

After a short walk beside the cricket and rugby pitches, the former railway lines have been turned into a footpath, called the Branch Walkway. We followed it through some dull suburban housing, out to Hutton Gate, which is quite complete, but very difficult to photograph, being almost totally surrounded by bushes and trees. Apologies to the owners for walking halfway up their drive.

Hutton Gate. Nice house. Sad hair.
Beyond Hutton Gate, the trackbed is private, so the Branch Walkway has to divert onto a minor road, then past a farm, and finally onto a Forestry Commission logging road. The woodland is all very neat and tidy - it's obviously quite well used by the public - lots of young families with pushchairs in evidence - and random pictures of characters from "The Gruffalo" are inserted at random intervals amongst the trees.

Although the path was quite busy (for a forest at least) nobody was using the "Bousdale Trim Trail" - a series of wooden exercise facilities, with severe notices explaining they were for exercise only, and should definitely not be used for any sort of fun, on penalty of death by firing squad, by order of the Fascist Republic of Redcar and Cleveland. (There may be some paraphrasing here).

Eventually, we arrived at Pinchingthorpe station (which should be spelled, without the "g" in the middle - spelling was clearly not a strong point of the North Eastern Railway), which is adjacent to the forest Visitor Centre.

Pinchingthorpe - Not quite what it seems...

The Visitor Centre provided refreshment, in the form of crisps, and has a wide array of stuffed animals on display, which partly made up for the total lack of roadkill seen so far. I think the goofy hedgehog was my favourite. Gotho liked the giant fibreglass wasp on the wall - it was certainly preferable to the badly-behaved children swarming around in the cafe area!

The visitor centre, as well as providing information about the woods, via the medium of taxidermy, also had a display board on the history of the railway itself - which averted disaster! Although I had got a photo of myself at the old station, I was unaware that was the "old", old station, which was replaced by a "new" ,old station in 1877, just 200 metres to the west! Eek!

Pinchingthorpe (number 2).
After taking the replacement picture, at the second (but still no less closed) Pinchingthorpe station, we headed back into town along the main road, without getting run over (despite Gotho's pessimistic lack-of-proper-pavement predictions). 

The priory was still closed (it was, after all, still Tuesday), so we managed the next best thing: a pub! And obviously, to complete the nearly-Teesside experience I just had to have that tasty local delicacy known to all as a Parmo. Very tasty. Hurrah for Guisborough!

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