Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Travels to Distant Lands

After what seemed liked eternity on Arriva buses - with a short break for pie acquisition in Guisborough - I finally arrived on the outskirts of Stokesley, for yesterday's new quest. First impressions of the place weren't overly good - there was a boarded-up church, a lot of roadworks, and a group of skanky-looking teenage chavgirls, eating fish and chips at the bus stop. 

With my pie safely hidden in my bag (I'd eaten the Scotch egg already), I strode off purposefully down the imaginatively-named Station Road, hoping the tracksuit-bedecked slappers wouldn't follow.Thankfully, they didn't, and soon the suburbs of Stokesley were left behind.
Stokesley - please excuse the grimace. The sun was in my eyes.
Stokesley's closed station is about a mile or so from the town centre, and is now some sort of office premises - it's all very neat and tidy, and even the signalbox survives, despite having closed nearly fifty years ago. Alas, the same can't be said for the Station Hotel, across the road, which is looking decidedly derelict - their Christmas decorations look like they've been up for rather a long time...

Continuing my wander, I turned off the main road down a farm track, and over a bridge across the abandoned railway line. My route then continued past a row of cottages, and through a field scattered with oddments of random unidentifiable junk, and a couple of rather skinny horses. I met the former railway formation again at what was presumably once a level crossing. The lineside fencing had disappeared in the intervening years since closure, but the pedestrian stiles remained, poking up out of the nettles, and covered in bindweed like some sort of rural art installation.

The village of Great Broughton was passed through almost without me even noticing, and I made my way along a minor road (or perhaps in this part of the world, it counts as a major road? I'm not sure...), heading east through a mixture of farmland and forest. The village of Little Broughton really did go unnoticed - apparently it was abandoned in medieval times, and it's remains are marked on the OS map, but I didn't see any sign of it.
Ingleby Greenhow was a more substantial place than either of the Broughtons. I called into St Andrew's church, and gave them a donation for a leaflet about local history, and then made my way up the main street, towards my next destination. 

I passed the pub (which surprised me with the fact it was actually open), and a rather grand Butchers shop advertising half-pigs for 85 quid. That'd make a hell of a lot of pork pies...

As the houses receded into the distance behind me, it started to spit with rain, but just as quickly the sun came back out again. Ingleby's old station (the North Eastern Railway never bothered with the "Greenhow" suffix), is now a pretty house, with neat lawns between the platforms where the tracks once lay. The goods yard, at the back, has been gravelled, and the coal drops remain, as storage sheds and garages.

After taking the requisite photo, my next destination was Battersby, where I was planning on catching one of the four westbound trains of the day. I had about half an hour, before it was due, and if I missed it, it would mean an extra three and a half miles of walking back to the nearest bus stop, but according to my OS map, it wasn't very far, if I followed the footpath across the fields.

Unfortunately, what the OS map didn't tell me was that one of the fields had a herd of cows in it, all crowding about just the other side of the stile... Since the cow incident at Marishes Road, earlier in the year, I'm hugely wary of them, so I considered turning back and walking the long way round, along the road, but that would have meant probably missing the train...

Decision time. Instead of running the risk of being trampled to death by walking beefburgers, I climbed over some barbed wire, into some nettles, and crossed a cow-less field instead, which then required a further leap over an electric fence at the other side, but at least I made it to Battersby, with time to spare

Battersby station is a strange place. It doesn't serve anywhere in particular - it's used to be a junction, but now is just an awkward reversing point, but at least means the driver of the Middlesbrough to Whitby train gets to stretch his legs and get some fresh air. It's also occasionally used by steam specials from the North York Moors Railway, and consequently still has a functioning water column at the end of the platform, which probably makes it unique, or certainly a rarity these days...

I caught the 13:16 train to Great Ayton, one stop away. I didn't have time to buy anything from the trolley, as the journey was short - so short the guard didn't bother coming through to sell me a ticket. Hurrah for freebies! 
Great Ayton - not such a great station though...
Great Ayton station is not very impressive, just a small 1970s-looking brick shed, on a single platform, but the village it serves is actually quite nice. It was the first time I've ever been there, and I was pleased with what I found. I was imagining a one-horse town, perhaps with a closed pub, but there was a museum, a good assortment of shops, even a tattooist and kebab-shop! (Next door to each other, not combined...)

In a small park by the river, there was also a restored Victorian cast-iron urinal, looking for all intents and purposes like a massive postbox. Alas, it was not in use, and the replacement brick-built loos over the road, although serving a useful purpose, were a bit smelly, and full of flies...

The day's wanderings were now successfully completed, and as the next bus wasn't for a while there was time for a cheeky pint in The Royal Oak, while I contemplated the long journey back home...

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