Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Long un-Winding Road

Decided to tackle part of the long straight section of the Scarborough to York line yesterday, between Seamer and Malton. There's a whole string of stations which were closed by the LNER, way back in 1930, to speed up journey times for all the Wezzies heading to the coast.

I got the bus (Coastliner - double decker, modern, smelled of granny feet) to West Heslerton, which, apart from a sign advertising a Beer Festival, seemed to be an area of virtual nothingness, just masquerading as an actual village. The old station itself was off the main road, down a long flat lane between fields. Within about 5 minutes of getting off the bus I saw so much roadkill I didn't even bother photographing it all - suffice to say it was mainly crows and rabbits.

The station house at Heslerton is currently being renovated, but considering it's not been used for 84 years that's only to be expected. After posing about to take the required photo (without attracting attention from the men clambering about all over the station roof), I did a swift U-turn and heading back in the direction I had just come. My OS map of the day (Howardian Hills and Malton, to give it it's full title) advised me there was a footpath branching off to the main road, cutting off a corner. I found the stile - already unpromising as it was virtually buried in rotting old grass-clippings, and made my way across the field. Alas, my way was barred by an electric fence, and then a wide drainage ditch. I think I may need a more up-to-date map.
I eventually retraced my route back to the Beer Festival sign - noting that some of the roadkill from earlier was now considerably flatter - and turned eastward along the A64. There is a footpath alongside the road, but other than that, there's not much to say about it. It's just a main road. Nothing more, nothing less.

The only feature of note at this point seems to be, every so often, little marker posts warning of electrical cables overhead. Pictured right is a particularly surreal example, which literally crosses the road and then doesn't go anywhere in either direction, like a surrealist art installation deliberately placed to irritate drivers of high-sided vehicles. 

The next place I passed through was East Heslerton, which was somewhat more interesting than West, in that it at least had some buildings - quaint cottages and houses clustered round a very attractive church. I believe it's something to do with Sir Tatton Sykes, of Sledmere, but can't confirm as it was all locked up (despite the presence of a sign by the gate proclaiming "Open to All", albeit upside-down. Perhaps it's a secret code?)

A taste of things to come?
A further long stretch of A64, dotted with the occasional bungalow or farm shed, lead me to the outskirts of Sherburn- my planned half-way mark - and I was getting quite hungry, especially when I saw the name of the cul-de-sac by the village shop. Obviously it was an omen, so I called in. They had quite a range of pies on sale (no Old Pigeon flavour, thankfully), but surprisingly none of the pork variety! I settled on chicken, bacon and mushroom, and after navigating my way past an old lady blocking the doorway with her wheelie zimmer-frame thing, I can honestly say it was a very tasty pie.

The station at Sherburn (not Sherburn station - I'll explain later) is, once again, a far hike from the actual village centre, but it was quite pleasant. The sun was shining, there was the aroma of freshly mowed lawns, and it is generally quite a pretty place. I passed another nice church (St Hilda's), and there was a gurgling stream beside the road. I think Sherburn is actually quite underrated - if you're speeding along the A64 heading to the seaside you probably don't even realise it's anything more than a set of irksome traffic lights...

But anyway, this leads me to the station. Weaverthorpe...
Weaverthorpe?!?!?! Seriously?
Yes, Weaverthorpe. Another bit of irritating renaming, courtesy of our good friends in Victorian times. Unfortunately for the good villagers of Sherburn, the North Eastern Railway already had a good supply of Sherburn stations, scattered across England, and one day they decided to rename them all, so on the 1st of April 1874 it became "Wykeham". 

To make matters worse, the village of Wykeham (about three miles away) then got a railway station of it's own (on the Pickering to Seamer line - I've been there, it's nice), so it was renamed again in 1882, after Weaverthorpe a totally different village 5 miles in the opposite direction, high up in the Yorkshire Wolds. Gotta love those Victorian decision makers...

"Youtopia" - don't Google it at work...
But anyway, back to the journey. Sherburn is not really famous for anything, apart from it's the site of the longest building in Yorkshire - a factory (Ward's) which makes (presumably) very long things, out of metal.

And speaking of long things, just outside the village is the sign pictured right. It's the very discrete advert for a very "special" sort of holiday venue. If you plan on visiting, don't forget to take you car keys to throw into the bowl... nudge nudge, wink wink... 

I resisted temptation, and carried on along the roadside to the next village - Potter Brompton - which is a centre of the pig-farming industry - I was very pleased to see some local wag had altered the sign appropriately. This does of course mean that the village stinks of shit, but that's a small price to pay for bacon.

Next and final stop, after avoiding flying balls on the golf course - not that sort - was Ganton, which, unlike the other two stations of the day, the intervening years have not been kind to. There's a nice big goods shed next to the level crossing, but the main station house and platforms have been flattened, and replaced a modernist 1960s/70s monstrosity, the only plus side being that most of it is now obscured by a leylandii hedge.

Ganton: It's a bit crap... (Even my hair is protesting!)
To make matters worse, when I walked back up to the main road for a quick pint in the half-hour 'til the bus back home, I discovered the pub doesn't open 'til 6.30pm! How rubbish! And it looked so inviting too! Curse you Ganton Greyhound!

1 comment:

  1. I did Google it, unfortunately. There's only one thing I can say. Juliet Bravo.