Wednesday, 30 July 2014

History, Meat and Roadkill

After a long, tedious journey on the bus, listening to some desperately irritating small children talking about poo and wee, I finally arrived at Nawton - a village whose sole claim to fame is that a tree grows up through the middle of the bus stop. Sadly, the tree appears to have been removed so the bus stop now just has a hole in the ceiling.

With my trusty OS map in hand, I set off down the nearest side road to the dotted line marked "Disused Railway". It wasn't the right side road. It led to a school gate and a field. I had a piss against someone's back gate (not a euphemism), then got barked at by a dog, got stung by some nettles, and went back to the main road.

Passing through the village, I was very disappointed to discover I had missed the "Grand Potato Weigh-In" - it having taken place last Saturday.

The old station turned out to be down a road called Station Road (!), next to a branch of Calvert's Carpets (who, incidentally, provided the carpet in my hallway). The weigh office (or maybe the coal office?) is still there, and the station buildings are all still complete - they appear to be part of a holiday complex of eco-bungalows, but I won't hold it against them...
Nawton - nice station, gormless face. Sorry.
I walked for a while along the A170, past some roadworks, and a selection of tractors being delivered to Pickering Traction Engine Rally - it starts tomorrow - then followed onto the old route, towards Kirkdale.
Reaching Kirkdale (where there was never a station. Or really, even a village...), I first of all had a look in the Saxon church - St Gregory's Minster - and lit a candle, and wrote in the book of people you'd like them to pray for. I'm not particularly religious, but it's got a very peculiar atmosphere.I think maybe memories of over a thousand years of people passing in and out of the building have left a sort of ingrained presence in the air.
After the church, the road drops down to the river - the Hodge Beck - crosses it by a ford, and then heads uphill again. Or that's what it normally does - today the river was totally empty, so I took the opportunity to walk along the riverbed, to see the Kirkdale Viaduct, which is normally hidden from all public viewpoints. 

There's something quite surreal about walking along a riverbed. There was even some riverbed roadkill - a desiccated-husk of a dead rabbit, mummifying in the July heat.

Viaduct thoroughly viewed, I retraced my steps to the lane - I passed Kirkdale Cave but Homo-Torch wasn't with me so didn't go inside, so I can't confirm any new discoveries of prehistoric hippos/rhinos/camels or the like.

The next village (maybe a town?) was Kirkbymoorside, just a short way further on. I knew already the old station was demolished, so to make the best of a bad job I had a mooch around the main street, looking for pastry-goods, so it wouldn't be a total failure of a place.

In fact, it was quite nice - it was market day, and unlike most British markets there was more variety than I expected. It wasn't the normal array of cheap sports socks, stolen electrical goods and cheap Chinese toys - there was a fishmonger, a cheese van, people selling meaty things... positively continental! And then, further up the Market Place I found the library - and unlike Helmsley last week, it was actually open, so I went in and borrowed a book just to prove a point.

I found a nice butchers' shop for provisions - it was after all, around 2pm, and I'd had no breakfast. I got a pork pie, a sausage roll and a Scotch egg, for the grand total of £2.30, and headed down towards the old station in good spirits...

Kirby Moorside. You fail. And your spelling doesn't even match where you are!
The loveliness of the town (village?) was almost forgotten. I hadn't realised just how much the station had been erased from the face of the earth. Until a few years ago, it was (albeit minus the track) still virtually complete, but now it is just a wasteland of broken rubble and concrete, surrounded by galvanised palisade fencing. Not cool.

Luckily the next stage of my journey took me through a field of fat, jolly sheep, which cheered me up somewhat as I continued eastward towards my intended destination. My OS map informed me at one point I was passing a sewage works, but it was well-screened behind a hedge (and didn't smell).

Walking through Keldholme there was another farm with further sheep, and I learnt a new fact: Sheep can cough!

Another stretch of main road followed - even more tractors being delivered to Pickering, along with the odd combine harvester - then after a bridge over the River Seven (like the number - not the Welsh border) - I reached Sinnington's old station.
After the wasteland of Kirby Moorside (no idea why they couldn't match the spelling of the station to the spelling of the town), Sinnington  was much better. Although also closed, it's much more cared for - there was a pensioner on a ride-on mower, trimming the lawns where the rails used to be, and a handwritten notice asking the postman to leave mail in the backyard 'cos a bird was nesting inside the letterbox. Splendid.

With my stations of the day now all collected there was time before the next bus to walk into Sinnington itself and have a pint in the Fox & Hounds - a beautiful old country inn, set between the village green and the riverbank, with a good range of taxidermied animimals in the windows.

At least, that was the plan. It was 3.15pm... 

Stupid rural pub-opening hours!

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Goin' Underground...

No new stations today, but keeping with the railway theme, Faux-Bro and I went out for an adventure, exploring the innards of the Yorkshire coast.

First of all we walked the length of Ravenscar tunnel - luckily this time round I had brought a torch. Faux-Bro had a torch too - his was a proper big manly torch, with two beams, all in black, from a hardware shop. Mine is small, pink and white, and if you press the button more than once it turns into a pink flashing glow-stick...

Looking out of the south portal
So anyway, the pair of us and my Homosexual Torch clambered down the side of the cutting, into the undergrowth. Sensibly, for once I was actually wearing jeans so the nettles didn't affect me, and for a change Faux-Bro was the one in shorts - but his legs are so hairy (practically knitted!) he didn't seem to be affected.

Ravenscar tunnel is in surprisingly good condition inside - all the guidebooks and websites advise against going in, because the bricks are reportedly falling out of the ceiling, but personally I think they just say that to put people off, as it doesn't really lead anywhere in particular, so you have to come out the way you came.

With our appetite for dripping gloom whetted, it was just a quick drive up the coast to Kettleness, to inspect the tunnels there. After parking up on what was possibly somebody's lawn, we had a short stroll - half a mile or so - along the clifftop path (part of the Cleveland Way) to the tunnel mouth. The path turns inland by a disused railway overbridge, and then climbs up some new-ish steps cut into the side of the embankment, onto the trackbed. Or that's what I first thought - the embankment at that point is actually the old route...

When the Whitby Redcar & Middlesbrough Union Railway was being constructed, back in Victorian times, the original plan was to run the line on a shelf cut into the cliff face, overlooking the sea, but before it was even finished, there was a big storm (or maybe a landslide) and the whole lot fell down on to the foreshore, so the plans were redrawn and the route burrowed underground instead. The embankment the aforementioned steps lead onto is actually part of that original failed line. The newer route is further inland, across a field of cows (or at least, a field of their shit).

Kettleness tunnel is longer than Ravenscar - with a lot more refuges constructed along the sides. Several of these have now got graffiti adorning them, which kept me entertained. Like a really dark modern art gallery, designed by Hell's Angels perhaps.

I was quite saddened that their wasn't more vintage litter scattered about - the main items seemed to be empty Carling cans, and Capri-Sun packets. There was nothing even half as interesting as the bones we found in Burdale... Perhaps the local residents are just less weird?

At the far (southern) end of the tunnel, the railway used to run on a shelf for a few hundred yards, before entering the much longer Sandsend Tunnel, emerging into daylight once more at - trumpet fanfare please - Sandsend... Alas, we couldn't go any further towards that, as the foliage and vegetation was just too jungley. And anyway, apparently the north portal of Sandsend tunnel has partially collapsed, and I have no wish to get crushed under several hundred tons of finest Yorkshire sandstone...

There being no alternative - except perhaps abseiling - we turned back and headed once more, through the darkness to the car.

Back in the sunshine I think we entered some sort of alternate reality, where the world seemed to have slightly shifted - perhaps the darkness had messed with my mind, but everything seemed just a little surreal. Or maybe it was when I lobbed the dead partridge over the cliff? Who knows?
We drove a bit further north and ended up in possibly the least politically correct scarecrow festival ever, in Hinderwell. It was like travelling through some sort of Little Britain episode, crossed with The League of Gentlemen, but entirely made of papier-mache and straw. I suppose that's the great thing about rural Yorkshire villages - they're far enough away from civilisation that they can embrace their weirdness!

Sadly the butchers had run out of normal pork pies, but the pork and apple ones I bought instead were an adequate substitute, and, of course, who can fault a place where you're greeted outside the fish & chip shop by a nightmarish vision of a shop dummy, blacked up to look like Diana Ross (presumably?) wearing a cheap jokeshop Afro-wig?
This will haunt my dreams...

We abandoned the car for a while, and walked along the main street towards Port Mulgrave - pausing to admire a rather splendid scare-octopus perched on top of a privet hedge.

Port Mulgrave is virtually a suburb of Hinderwell these days, but originally it was built to house the miners who worked ironstone out of the cliffside quarries. The ironstone was then shipped off from the harbour to be taken to blast furnaces elsewhere in the country. The quarries are all abandoned now, so the harbour is now falling to ruin.
A few fishing boats appear to be still based there, and the fishermen's huts are a curious collection - if they were taken away and reconstructed at the Tate Modern people would pay a fortune for them as works of art - but thankfully, here they remain, paint bleaching in the sun and salt-air, slowly collapsing into the bracken.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Ryedale Pie-dale

To take advantage of my day off yesterday, Mum-ra and I caught the bus out to Helmsley for a look around. The weather as we left Scarborough was cloudy, cool, and generally a bit grim, but the further we got away from the coast the better it got. Days like that make me wonder why British people actually go to the seaside on holiday - when I used to work for the Tourist Information service, it was quite common, on a damp rainy day, for people to call in and announce "It was lovely back at home" - to which I was unfortunately not allowed to answer "Why didn't you stay there then?"...

First port of call, on our arrival, was the library, to return a book I was carting around - it still being part of North Yorkshire this would have been perfectly acceptable (if not a little irritating for the staff), but alas, it being Wednesday, it was closed. Next stop was the Information Centre at the castle, to get a bus timetable for going back. They didn't have any left, and bizarrely the Tourist Information Centre has now, in any case, moved into a small discount bookshop in the main square. 

Return times found, we went off in search of something to eat. There's several eateries (pubs, cafes etc) around the market place, but they were all either (in my opinion) stupidly overpriced - I refuse to pay nearly a tenner for a sandwich and crisps - or had ridiculous names like "The Dainty Sugar-Coated Butterfly Tea Room" (or something like that). While hunting around, we crossed a small stream, with neatly-clipped grassy banks, and Mum-ra announced she would like to sit beside it, so we called into Thomas' Delicatessen, and bought fantastic freshly made sandwiches (and an extra pork pie, and a sausage of the day - both for me), waded the trickling waters, and munched away happily in the sunshine, listening to the church bells.
After our impromptu picnic lunch, it was time to get down to the important business of hunting out the old railway station, so after a quick stop in an antiquarian bookshop - very good transport section - I got the map out (North York Moors West - not as dog-eared as the East one) - and navigated through a pleasant estate of post-war housing onto the inevitably named Station Road.

Helmsley station used to be the most important intermediate stop on the North Eastern's branch line from Gilling to Pickering, but has been closed for many years - the last passenger train to call was in 1964, a special excursion from Scarborough. It has fared quite well though in the intervening years - the eastern ends of the platforms are now a nature reserve, while the station buildings are a rather large house. The goods yard is still in use, with piles of coal, and stacks of timber lying around - even the old signalbox survives, although I'm not sure what function it serves now...
Helmsley - the down platform needs weeding a bit...
With the railway lands thoroughly explored, there was just enough time for a couple of glasses of wine back in town - first of we baked ourselves in the courtyard behind The Royal Oak, then once we were thoroughly cooked, had another at The Feathers, facing the big pointy memorial by the bus stop.

The journey back home was uneventful - the combination of heat, chardonnay and pastry succeeded in putting me to sleep somewhere near Allerston, but I awoke shivering as we approached Scarborough - the scorching weather had still not reached the coast, which evidently had been wrapped in a cloudy blanket all day. Smugly satisfying.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Boozeless in Boosbeck

A relatively short walk yesterday - just over three miles, to fill in a gap on my map.

Accompanied by Llama (a person, not an actual llama), I got off the bus near the small village of Slapewath, and together we walked along the route of the former Cleveland Railway branch between Guisborough and Brotton.

The trackbed is a footpath nowadays, and, apart from quite a lot of dog poo, is pleasant enough. It's not got hugely exciting scenery, or any dramatic bridges, but there were quite a lot of butterflies flitting around, and a ruined lineside hut to inspect.

Llama relaxing
After a mile or so, the pith widens out into a grassy meadow, followed by the "Pit Play Area". Llama and I spent a good few minutes pratting about on the zipwire, and climbing frames and the like, and admired a very tanned shirtless-chav running by. He looked a bit like a footballer (or I thought he did anyway - Llama was undecided).

The Pit Play Area is followed immediately by the site of Boosbeck railway station, now a house approached by a cul-de-sac with the unlikely name of "Serenity Hollow". The serene illusion rather clashes with the Halal meat-product factory across the road...

White dog turd !
(sure they used to be bigger though...)
So, with the task completed for the day, we had a wander around Boosbeck village. We saw some council houses, some allotments, a rough-looking pub and an unattractive community centre. I had just commented to Llama that I was having flashbacks to the 1980s again, when the scene was completed with that famous '80s staple - the white dog turd!

Not seen one of those since I was at Birley Middle! 


Bovine rape not shown...
With Boosbeck now done and dusted, we headed north towards Skelton (on a better bus route). We crossed the Boos Beck - a scruffy trickle of a stream, after which the village is named - and followed the road up the hill to Skelton Green. 

Passing a compound of VW campers in various states of decay, and the Miners Accident Hospital, the pavement petered out, so we joined the Cleveland Way between fields of cows, and then headed down into Skelton. The next bus wasn't for twenty minutes so we mooched about, had a look in a couple of charity shops and bought some pastry products from Cooplands. 

If anybody is in the area at any time soon - please keep an eye out for Luigi the cat. See below...

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Wot no Grinkle?

Somebody once said "It is better to travel hopefully...", but I think what they actually meant was "It is better to travel with a pork pie in your stomach..." And so it was on Tuesday this week - JP gave me a lift, in the car, up to Saltburn, and we stopped for pies in Hinderwell on the way - hurrah!

I've been to Saltburn before, and I remember it being a lot mankier than it is now. I think everything in town must have been refurbished recently - perhaps because it's nearly the summer holidays - but I was really impressed. The cliff lift was working and the pier actually had people walking on it - certainly the first time I've ever seen that happen! They even had lifeguards, but as I was up on the clifftop, I couldn't tell if they were hot or not.

As I said my goodbyes to JP (he was driving back) - he pointed out a freight train, slowly trundling it's way along the top of distant Huntcliff - but more of that later... First stop for me was Saltburn's very own station, conveniently sited right in the town centre, and still in use as the terminus of the Northern Rail branch from Middlesbrough and Darlington.  
To be fair, the above photo really doesn't do Saltburn any justice - the main building is lovely, but isn't used by trains any more. The train-shed and original main platforms have been removed and replaced by a Sainsburys, and the various offices and waiting rooms are now used as shops and offices. The current tracks now terminate at what historically were the excursion platforms, but it's better than nothing I suppose - people certainly seemed to be using the area. There was much more of an air of prosperity than my next destination...

Walking away from Saltburn, I headed into the leafy gloom of the Valley Gardens, on the Cleveland Way. Although tarmac, the paths were very slimy and damp - it had been quite rainy during the night - but the local dogwalkers didn't seem bothered, nor did their dogs! After a short while, the path dropped down to the valley bottom, and crossed the beck, which was turbulent and muddy, and went underneath the Saltburn railway viaduct. I'm not sure if it's because of the enclosed location - virtually in a gorge - but looking up at it, it seems ridiculously high! I'm sure it looks higher than the Larpool viaduct at Whitby, and it's still used by freight trains occasionally.

As I approached Skelton-in-Cleveland, the Ordnance Survey failed me - a new road and housing estate had been built at some point in the intervening years since I bought my map (I think I was still at school, so it's been quite a while), so I just located a church spire and headed towards that. Eventually I reached Skelton's High Street, so was able to get my bearings properly - and oh my, what a glamorous place it is...

In a way, Skelton made me feel nostalgic - the cracked pavements and old red brick houses reminded me of growing up in South Yorkshire in the 1980s, so much so I found myself humming the music from The Full Monty as I meandered along!
The Big Tile Map has Skelton named on it, but doesn't have a little square blob to show it as a station - it just has the symbol for a castle. After a bit of research, I can only presume that's because it was opened to all traffic until 1902 (although goods were handled from 1875). Despite the confusion, I thought it best to take a photo of myself there anywyay - not that there was much to see. The stationmaster's house survives, but the platforms and everything else have vanished without trace...

From Skelton (or more properly "North Skelton", as it was known) I passed some allotments and some nice fat hens, then joined the main road for a while. I passed under a couple of railway bridges (one with tracks, one without), and then turned onto a public footpath across the fields, roughly parallel with the rail track toward Brotton. Looking back along the coast, I could still see Saltburn in the distance, and the cliffs heading away towards County Durham.
The outskirts of Brotton were heralded by a disused mine (Shafts capped in 1993, according to the signs) - and then another new road, crossed by a high footbridge which led into a field of Highland cows. Luckily the cows ignored me - possibly more distracted by the freight train I'd seen earlier returning to Teesside - and I was soon walking along a back lane, behind some down-at-heel terraced houses. One of Brotton's lesser know (!?) claims to fame is that it is the former home of the designer of the Rolls Royce "Spirit of Ecstasy". True fact. I saw the plaque and everything!

Brotton is built on a big hill. The lower part, where the former station is now a garage, is rough as proverbial arseholes, but the top part - technically Brotton Parva seemed quite well-off (comparatively). I think the top bit must be the old, original village - perhaps the air was better up there...
Brotton - rhymes with rotten...
Continuing through the nice bit, the road drops down the hill again, and the view is dominated by sea to the left, the big TATA (?) steelworks straight ahead at Carlin How. On the way down the hill, I saw a nice caterpillar (black, furry, glittery spikes - bit like an outfit at Whitby Goth Weekend, and reached another new road that wasn't on my map. There was a big roudabout, with a blue metal thing in the middle, which on first glance looked like some sort of modernist sculpture, but was actually some sort of industrial grabbing-tool, left over from the metalworking industry. Carlin How signalbox stood silently by the railway leading to the steel sidings - it's semaphores rusting in the sea air - and then I was in Carlin How itself. ot that there's much to it...

The village is basically a long line of houses facing the steelworks. As I passed the steelworks, I took a picture. A man across the road, in the entrance to the Working Men's Institute called across: "It's a shithole mate. I was there twenty fuckin' year". The Full Monty came back into my mind again.
Carlin How
The old station at Carlin How has been just about obliterated. I think I found the right spot - there was a small building with ornate chimneys slowly rotting away amongst the used cars, industrial containers and asbestos sheds which looked very railway-ish - maybe a former coal merchant's hut?

Crossing the zigzag
Rather than carrying on along the main road down to the bottom of the valley, I cross the bridge over the line, and walked down some steep steps through some scrubby undergrowth. Nothing special at first glance, but this was the site of the Skinningrove zig-zag. From Carlin How (later renamed Skinningrove), a branchline used to lead down to some ironstone mines and a bleak little harbour facing out to the Arctic. Because of the nature of the terrain, trains used to shuttle backwards and forwards down the hill changing direction several times, like they do in the Andes, but of course nothing remains, other than an occasional clearing, and an odd metal bridge over a lawn and some hen coops.

There's very little at the bottom of the valley - not the bit I saw anyway - so I rejoined the road, and made my way up the bank to Loftus...

What can I say about Loftus? It's a strange place. It's got a huge JobCentre (in the old Temperance Hall); most of the shops are boarded-up with those special sheets that are supposed to look like upmarket shopfronts, but most of them were broken or vandalised,; and the Station Hotel sells "Fakerbombs" at £1.50 from midday every day. The old town hall is impressive, and there's some nice old buildings that look a bit like Pickering, if Pickering was populated by people in shellsuits with dogs on ropes.
Loftus station - or as some like to call it "Bethany"!?
The old station in Loftus is a short way out of town, along the inevitable Station Road, and like the others today, still has tracks passing. The waiting room/booking office part has been knocked down, and the platform is long gone, but the stationmaster's house is still in evidence. In a change from the usual "Station House" or "Beeching's Folly" or the like, it's now called "Bethany"...

Carrying on the final leg of the journey, I carried on out of Loftus, past a vandalised church, an abandoned Methodist chapel, a selection of ruinous shops, a closed-down pub, and the derelict Arriva Bus depot - now masquerading, through the medium of the aforementioned faux-shop fronts, as "Virtual Furniture"... Poor Loftus...

My last old station of the day was (according at least to the Big Tile Map) was Easington - later renamed Grinkle (gutted I can't put "Grinkle" in the labels at the right!). Biggest disappointment of the day! The closest I could get was a locked gate, with a view of plain track and an expanse of ballast in the middle distance. Yes, Easington/Grinkle is probably the least inspiring of all the stations I've visited so far. Apart from the existence of railway lines, there is nothing to tell it was ever there. Boo!
Easington (or Grinkle) - Rubbish.
(Possibly slightly better than Hornsea Bridge...)
Disappointment was compounded when I walked into the village, and couldn't find the bus stop which the timetable listed as "Twizziegill View", so I had to make do with getting on the number 4 back to Whitby at a stop called "Church". All was made better though, by a trip to Wetherspoons with Gotho, for wine and meat. All's well that ends well :)

Friday, 4 July 2014

Scampering about

The day started off just as I expected - I was in a bus queue and already wanting to kill everyone. I was surrounded by whinging pensioners, jostling about in an attempt to get on the bus first. One in particular - a pinch-faced old harridan with all the appeal of a rusty spoon - was immediately on my hit list. Despite my having been waiting at least 10 minutes longer than her, she walked straight in front of me and plonked her shopping bag down by my feet.

When the bus arrived, I snaked my way past her - knowing she wouldn't dare complain - and went upstairs. I sat two rows from the very back, leaving loads of space around. Evil Harridan came and sat directly behind me, carefully draping her cardigan over the back of my seat, and then spent the next 15 minutes huffing and puffing and tutting to herself. Luckily, at Staxton, an old acquaintance boarded the bus - Pink-Haired-Pete (although in the 5 years since I saw him last his hair has changed back to normal) - and came and sat with me. He was going to York and wanted a full update on the intervening years, so the rest of the journey was spent laughing and swearing and bitching, and being generally antisocial, and Evil Harridan moved away.

First stop in Rillington was (of course) Turner's Butchers for a pork pie (Nom!), and then I had a look in the church. It always pleases me when churches are unlocked during the day. It's a similar feeling to when you make enticing noises to somebody else's cat and it actually comes over to you. Very satisfactory.

On leaving the church, I took the side road off the main A64, and wandered away from the village centre. Rillington is one of those pleasing villages with a small stream between the street and people's houses, requiring lots of little bridges for everyone's front doors. I imagine it's quite an impractical arrangement in heavy rain though, however picturesque.

Once the houses end, the road continues another half-a-mile or so to site of the old station, where there is a level crossing on the York to Scarborough main line. The station buildings aren't hugely impressive. According to old photographs there used to be a trainshed roof over the line (like at Filey and Pickering), supported by big brick walls, as Rillington was the junction where the line to Whitby turned off northward, and was originally considered quite important. The LNER didn't think the same though, so closed the station in 1930, and then the junction itself was removed in 1965 (Cheers Doctor Beeching!). In the intervening years, a lot of the buildings have been removed, so what remains is just a shadow of what is gone...

Forgot to mention - I had my hair cut the other day... (Rillington)
Doubling back a short way, I was passed by a couple of large agricultural vehicles - tractors with curious attachments on the back. As luck would have it, my intended route took me through the same field the tractor-things were going to, so I got to see how they worked. 

The first one, had a trimming attachment (probably not the technical term), and was carefully spiralling it's way round and round the field, in ever decreasing squares, leaving a long thin heap of neatly cut grass behind it. The second one was following in it's wake, and had what I shall call a Munching-attachment - a sort of hoover contraption, and was sucking up the heap of grass, and then pooing it out again in nice neat cubes. This paragraph proves I have never been to agricultural college...

After all that mechanical noise it was quite a relief to climb over the stile into the next field, where the only sound was the rustling of the barley and poppies, and the distant cawing of crows. I soon reached the railway again - just a pedestrian crossing this time, but within sight of where a pensioner got squished in his Landrover a couple of monthc ago. I was on my guard, but no trains came. The next field was along the alignment of part of the old triangular junction of the Whitby line - the north to east curve, which was only used very briefly in Victorian times and then taken away again. Nowadays it looks just like a field.

Crossing back over the railway tracks again, at High Scampston gates, I was back on tarmac. The lane led into the village of Scampston itself, which is very quaint and postcard-y. The church here was also open (hurrah!), and was decorated with flowers. It even had a carpet! Clearly if decorations are anything to go by, the honorable St. Quentins of Scampston Hall are destined to ascend heavenward pretty sharpish!

Just past the church is a building that was quite obviously once the old post office. It seems to now be used as some sort of candle-making workshop now, as there were big discs of wax slowly softening in the windows. Either that or it was really nasty cheese...

After the entrance to the Walled Garden (which I ignored for now), the village once more petered out, and I was back in farmland, but my next destination was already in sight. The mammothian edifice of Knapton Maltings was peering over the trees at me for a good twenty minutes or so before I actually reached it. Oh my God it's ugly! It looks like something in Russia that might be used for smelting uranium, or liquefying political prisoners, and is bizarrely edged at the bottom with a little ring of 1950s council houses, out in the middle of nowhere. I imagine all the back bedrooms must have net curtains... 

After the vast bulk of the Maltings, Knapton's little 1840s station building looks almost as small as a dolls house. Like Rillington, it was closed down in 1930 too, but hasn't been mucked around with so much - the only thing that's missing is the platform. These stations were never very busy, as they were all a fair walk out from  the villages strung along the turnpike road (now the A64). I often wonder, if they had kept them open, if new houses would gradually have crept out to meet them, or if they would still be bucolic backwaters, hidden away down leafy lanes, while the residents waited for the 843 bus, choking on traffic fumes on the main road. 
Knapton smells of toasting barley - not unpleasant, surprisingly...
Stations collected for the day, I headed south along the B-something-something back to the A64. At the junction, the grass verges were a hive of activity. A temporary gypsy (traveller?) camp was set up along both sides, with horses all over the place, campfires with kettles steaming away, hens clucking in baskets - some
tanned men chucking hay bales around greeted me jovially, and I was very disappointed to hear they didn't have comedy over-the-top "Oirish" accents, like they do on "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" (even though they're nearly always from Essex). The caravans weren't as traditional as I'd hoped either. I only saw one old wooden example - most of them wouldn't have looked out of place at your average Haven holiday park (and to be fair, most of the people at those look a bit gyppo-ish anyway). Not sure why they'd decided to camp there. Is it Seamer Horse Fair soon I wonder?

Not wishing to continue straight back to Rillington next to the constant stream of traffic heading to the coast, I made my way along a footpath into the grounds of Scampston Hall. It wound it's way through a small plantation of pine trees, and past a pheasant breeding ground, before coming back into the open air at the back of the Walled Garden. I didn't go in (if you've seen one ornamental rosebush, you've probably seen them all), but I took a sneaky picture over the side, of some sort of vegetable patch. 

The main hall is quite attractive, although fairly small for a stately home - certainly it would be dwarfed if placed alongside Castle Howard, or Chatsworth or suchlike. The grounds are very spacious though - they remind me of Holkham, in North Norfolk, but without the smell of rutting deers to offend one's nostrils - and there's a nice lake to stroll next to. 

I'm not sure if I was supposed to be doing any strolling in the grounds, or if I was trespassing. I didn't pass any signs saying "No Entry", and a man on a ride-on lawnmower passed and didn't shoo me away, so I think I was ok...

Leaving Scampston park, I was very soon back in Rillington. The bus back home wasn't due for another three quarters of an hour, so I had ample time to call in for a pint and pig-snacks in The Fleece. If it had been the evening, their Chef's Specials board looked very tempting: Black Pudding and Mozzarella Croquettes perhaps? Or Pan-fried Duck Breast with Lardons and Pine Nuts? The pork pie I had in the morning seemed like a distant memory...