Just a short wander today - around two hours, so I could be back home in time to go to work.
Caught the (delayed) 09:00 bus to Thornton-le-Dale, which was lightly filled with pensioners complaining about said delay (Stop whinging! It's not like you're paying anyway!), and a couple of chavvy families heading to Pickering Game and Country Fair. The journey passed without any major mishaps, and I finally arrived around half an hour late.
Thornton was looking very pretty in the sunshine, and I passed by the old station as I headed south on foot, out of the village. The road is a relatively busy one, as it joins the A169 and the A170, avoiding Pickering town centre, and annoyingly it doesn't have a footpath, but I was very well-behaved and remembered the highway code (dredged up out of some dusty part of my brain - perhaps from when I was in Cubs?) and faced the oncoming traffic, every so often hopping into the overgrown verge to avoid a speeding white van.
With the village now far behind, it's actually quite a sparsely populated area. I think I only passed three small outlying farms and an empty touring caravan site, but after about 40 minutes walking I reached the old station at Marishes Road. The station was built in 1847, by George Hudson's York & North Midland Railway, on the short branch built when that company acquired the Whitby & Pickering Railway (now, of course the North York Moors heritage line). It was clearly never a very important stop though - the main building is basically a glorified crossing keeper's cottage.
|Marishes Road - barking dog just out of shot...|
Perhaps its general remoteness is why it's still so intact. The platforms are still there, and the wooden waiting shelter on the southbound platform - complete with a large mural painted on the back, showing "Tornado" pulling the "Yorkshire Coast Express" (Until recently, it was a representation of "Mallard" - perhaps even Marishes Road is moving with the times?). The only railway building which has disappeared is the signal box, but surprisingly, even that still exists (if you know where to look). It was moved many years ago, to Goathland (Aidensfield/Hogsmeade/whatever you want to call it), but has recently been on it's travels again, and can now be found at the south end of Pickering station, where it is apparently soon to be opened to the public...
My selfie taken, I turned back towards Thornton again. Rather than risking becoming an RTA statistic, I decided to head off-road - Scabby OS Map just manages to include the area in the very bottom left corner - and followed a footpath up the side of a farm. Sadly, Scabby OS Map is not massively up to date, and the path had been diverted along the side of a stream, through a large patch of nettles. My choice of shorts was evidently not the best of ideas. The nettles were soon complemented by thistles and the odd bramble, but I soldiered on, as I could see a stile ahead and then much clearer ground.
Triumphantly, I clambered over the stile, only to find myself in a field full of massive (and I mean massive - not just bigger-than-average - proper gigantic) cows. Apparently, the best way to keep cows away, and stop them swarming towards you, is to make a lot of noise, so I started singing a sort of "La la la" song (not the 1960s Spanish Eurovision entry by Massiel, I hasten to add. Although that would have been awesome). If anyone tells you this works, they are LYING! The cows actually started running towards me, and I was seriously considering vaulting the barbed wire fence into the drainage ditch, but I had a brainwave - Scabby OS Map came to the rescue! Cows do not like the products of Her Majesty's Ordnance Survey being flapped at them. Fact!
|The cows, once they had calmed down|
My improvised bullfighting motions certainly worked, and the entire herd (flock?) immediately turned and ran the other way! It sounded like something from "Rawhide", or that bit where Simba's dad gets squashed in The Lion King. The power of the matador swept through me. Perhaps the Massiel thing would have worked after all...
After the drama of the cows, I was quite relieved to get back onto a normal - albeit still a bit nettle-bedecked - footpath, which led me back towards the bus stop for home. When I got there, the next bus wasn't due for another forty minutes or so, so I called into Balderson's, by the village green, and bought a pork pie. I'm not sure if it was just because I'd had no breakfast, but I can honestly say we have a new leader - it was better than the one from Hinderwell (although cost 20 pence more, so perhaps that cancels it out a bit).
Obviously, with time to waste in the village, I had to walk along and have a look at the thatched cottage by the stream that they always have on jigsaws - not sure what it's called as the sign was hidden by creeping foliage. It's probably "That Thatched Cottage on the Jigsaws". I sat on a bench for a while, and smoked a fag in the sunshine, while the last of my pie crumbs were studiously ignored by the ducks.
Walking back to the bus stop again, I felt like I wasn't quite in the real world - Thornton-le-Dale is all so perfect it's like being in some sort of storybook dreamland, as evidenced by this man (right) tinkering with his shiny classic car, behind the almshouses (almshouses for goodness sake!). By the time I bought my small curd (repeat visit to Balderson's), I was almost certain I had fallen into an Enid Blyton novel.
Luckily, my return to reality was confirmed on the bus, when we got to Wykeham, when we stopped at the caravan site to allow the hen-party from Leeds to board.
"It weren't too early for wine - it were half eleven and it were rosé"
- "Eeh - we're off into t'country - you shoulda brung't Cliff Richard mask..."