Thursday, 26 June 2014

An Epic Trek

This week's PlatformCat trek was the most productive yet, thanks in part to my being the proud recipient of a Northern Rail Family & Friends voucher, enabling me to travel anywhere on Northern Rail for the princely sum of £6.00. Rather than just use it on a shopping trip to Primark (as I usually do), I decided to put it to good use. 

I boarded the 10am train to Brid, which was uneventful except for barely concealed disgust at the outfit of the girl sitting across the aisle - footless tights, with socks and Crocs! I was hugely glad when she got off in Filey, otherwise I may have been tempted to slap her round the face. On arrival at East Yorkshire's premier holiday resort (doesn't say much for the rest), I nipped down the side of Tesco's car park and waited for the bus to Hornsea. I've never been on this bus before, and I suspect not many other people have either. It runs twice a day (each way) at this time of year, takes ages, and - being a double decker - crashes through a lot of overhanging branches. Part of the route is rather circuitous too, between Ulrome and Skipsea, the direct road having fallen in the sea at some point recently.

Traditional British summer in Hornsea
I arrived in Hornsea just before midday, in a light drizzle. First impressions were not great, it was grey and overcast and most things looked closed - clearly it was never even in the running to take Bridlington's "Premier resort" crown. The old station (closed in 1965) was nice though, having been converted into attractive houses. There were a couple of information boards about the history of the line I was about to walk (originally the Hull & Hornsea Railway - imaginative naming...) and a big sculpture proclaiming it to be the start (or end, depending on your point of view), of the Transpennine Trail.

Hornsea (aka. Hornsea Town)
The first half mile or so of the path was quite sheltered by trees, which was a blessing as I hadn't bothered to wear waterproof clothing, but even though I got a bit damp it was fairly warm, so not unpleasant. The only downside was the amount of snails crawling about on the tarmac, so I had to do a fair bit of mincing about so as not to crush any of them. 

After the architectural niceties of the town station, the next stop - Hornsea Bridge - was a huge disappointment. As the name suggests, the line was formerly high up on an embankment with a bridge over the main road. Alas, the bridge has been removed in the intervening years, with the gap widened enough to build a roundabout and then what was left of the embankment has been almost entirely nibbled away to make space for an industrial estate. The site of the station is, as a result, a long thin lump covered in scrubby trees. Oh dear... 
Hornsea Bridge - even crapper than Scalby and Hinderwell combined!
A horse, in some fairly dull countryside
But no matter - after Hornsea Bridge, the town abruptly finishes so I was in open countryside. To be honest, it wasn't overly inspiring - the countryside round that area is as flat as a pancake, so that plus the fact I was in a shallow cutting full of trees didn't make for exciting views. It was still raining (so still on snail-watch), but it wasn't far to my next photo-opportunity.

Goxhill, as it was called at the time of the Big Tile Maps, was later renamed Wassand, to avoid confusion with the other, more importany (relatively speaking) Goxhill in North Lincolnshire. I doubt anybody noticed - according to it was only ever open on market days anyway, before eventually closing completely in 1953. It's surprisingly substantial though, considering how little used it must have been. That's the Victorians for you - ever optimistic.
Damp in Goxhill
There then followed another stretch of flat countryside, but at least by this point the rain had stopped, and the sun was breaking through the clouds. The surface of the path changed from tarmac to a sort of rough gravelly stuff, which seemed to discourage snails slightly, and made me very lad I was wearing shoes with tough soles.
Further inspirational views
My next point of call was in the village (more of a hamlet really) of Little Hatfield, so obviously the North Eastern Railway renamed it as "Sigglesthorne" as soon as they got the chance, after a totally different village several miles away to the north. Like Goxhill previously, this station is also a private house. The guidebook I was carrying stated that it was in a state of dereliction, with smashed windows, but was for sale for £60,000 - but my guidebook was printed 25 years ago... Perhaps I need a new guidebook?

Sigglesthorne. Nice station, stupid name.
The next station also continued the trend for illogical naming. Although it was reasonably close to the village of Withernwick, the North Eastern Railway decided to call it Whitedale. There is no village of Whitedale, it is literally just a farm! Even now, there are no other houses within sight of it, but it does have it's own bus stop right outside...
My out-of-date guidebook told me this station was "remarkable" in retaining not just the main station buildings, but also the wooden waiting shelter on the opposite platform. There's no sign of it now, as it has (I believe) been taken away by the North York Moors Railway, and can now be found at Goathland as far as I know... Stolen waiting shelters aside, I noticed it does still have the remains of its coal drops, mouldering away in what used to be the goods yard.

The next station (I'm not even going to try and describe the countryside in between any more - it was just too flat and dull for words!) was Marton, but within less than a year of opening was renamed Burton Constable to avoid confusion with other Martons round and about (another Marton, near Bridlington became Flamborough for the same reason). It stayed thus until the 1920s, when the North Eastern decided that Burton Constable was actually very similar to Constable Burton (not one of the cast of Hearbeat, but a village in Wensleydale), so it was renamed Ellerby, but that's not the end of the story...
Burton Constable? Burton Confusing more like...
Yes, the naming silliness does not end there. The next station shown on the Big Tile Map is... Ellerby! When Burton Constable was still Burton Constable, Ellerby was always just Ellerby, but was closed in 1902 so its name was reused by its neighbour to the north.
Ellerby. Just Ellerby. Nothing more, nothing less.
The station building here has been extended at some point in the past 25 years - the photo in my out-of-date guidebook shows it to be only about half the size of what it is now. I'm not sure if it's the far end or the near end, because it's been done quite sympathetically. Certainly the years have been kinder to Ellerby than they have to the next place I wandered to...
I almost completely missed Skirlaugh, as the guidebook said it had been landscaped as a picnic area, so overgrown platforms covered in nettles and brambles wasn't exactly what I was expecting! Admittedly I did see a bench off in the undergrowth to the west, but it wasn't exactly neatly manicured. Perhaps I'd caught it on an off-day?

Other people, almost visible in the distance
At this point I encountered, for the first time today, PlatformCat's arch nemesis, that dreadful thing known as "Other Pedestrians" - and the worst part was, they were walking in the same direction as me, a few hundred yards ahead, but ever so slightly slower, so I knew I would eventually catch up with them, overtake, and possibly even have to make pleasantries! And what's more, from their waddling gait, and tragic nylon-clad silhouettes I could tell they were the worst sort. Old people! 

Of course when I caught up with them, I managed to avert conversation by doing the traditional "Oh look, I'm reading an imaginary text message" with my phone, so I didn't have to make any conversation beyond an "aright". Thank god for modern technology.

Swine (not me, that building behind me)
After my splendid ignorance manoeuvre, I swiftly found myself at the next old station on the line, and just to prove I'm not making its name up, I had to take a picture of the village entrance sign too, 'cos otherwise I'm not sure even I would have believed it was real! 

Very disappointingly I didn't see any pigs, or a pork butchers, or anything even slightly porcine in the local vicinity. I think somebody is missing a great opportunity here...

After crossing the Holderness Drain (it really is as beautiful as it sounds), the scenery now started to become a little less rural. I could see the silhouette of Bransholme - Europe's largest council estate - on the horizon. Now don't get me wrong, I've never been to Bransholme, but being "Europe's largest council estate" is not something I would tell people, but they still do! It's like saying "Glasgow's scruffiest pub toilets", or "Birmingham's biggest sewage works". I personally would try to keep it secret.

Anyway, suburbia was creeping up, with a bit more litter, the odd bit of graffiti now and again, and more roads near by (in fact, any roads near by came as quite a shock). Soon the countryside was almost forgotten and replaced by people's back fences and sad-looking play parks. Didn't see any needles or used condoms though, so it could have been worse. 
Sutton-on-Hull - jogger pissing under bridge not shown.
The last stop before the city begins in earnest was Sutton-on-Hull. Evidently it used to be almost entirely made of wood, so has vanished without a trace except for the road bridge behind me in the picture above. My walk was nearly over - I was hoping to get the 16:11 train back to Scarborough, but alas it was not to be...

Going the wrong way...
My out-of-date guidebook and some seriously crap signposting conspired against me, so once the obvious railway path ended I very quickly got quite lost, and ended up wandering aimlessly around a pre-war housing estate! Luckily a pleasant lady realised my plight, and directed me back in the right direction - apparently I was accidentally walking towards the North Sea ferry terminal! Oops. 

On the plus side, it meant I got to look at some nice Victorian-era Hull & Barnsley railway viaducts, and as I had by this point I had missed the 16:11, it gave me a good plenty of time to call in at Primark...

Something to do with Phillip Larkin
I eventually found my way to Hull's main station - now known as Paragon Interchange 'cos they've sellotaped some bus stops to one side - and I had plenty of time to have a fag in the car park, and a glass of wine in the Pumpkin cafe by the buffers of Platform 3. Well, I say "glass of wine", it was more "large cardboard Costa coffee-cup of wine", but by this point I was truly beyond caring. I was tired, I was hot and sweaty, my feet hurt, my hair appeared to have turned into a bastard crossbreed of Andrew Ridgeley and Rupert Grint, and with getting lost I had done a couple of extra miles round the wastelands and industrial estates of East Hull... 

Hull Paragon
...But I could go home proud in the knowledge that 11 more stations could be crossed off the list. Eleven! Read 'em and weep, as they say... I have no idea what that actually means...


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