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.