Thursday, 30 June 2016


My explorations of Yorkshire are still incomplete - one often forgets quite how big it is. I wonder how it compares in size with, say, Luxembourg?

Anyway, yesterday saw me and los parentos, driving about the moors in the rain. First stop was nothing to do with trains, but still quite interesting all the same...

After a very damp trip along the A170 through Pickering and Helmsley, with the assistance of 1933 map (I say "assistance", but the cartographer's skills were once again somewhat lacking - particularly around Snilesworth), I directed us as fair as Whorlton.

There isn't much of a village in Whorlton. Most of the residents died of bubonic plague several hundred years ago, but they left behind a rather nice small castle. It's not owned by English Heritage -there was no entrance fee, no toilets, and no opportunities to buy a packet of overpriced biscuits in the shape of Henry VIII's wives. Luckily I had no need for such things, and it more than made up for it in clambering opportunities. Luckily I was wearing jeans, so the nettles in the undercroft did not faze me!

The only other remnant of the village is a ruined church a short distance away. I think it was called Holy Cross, but my memory may be playing tricks on me. Its graveyard is still in use - the most recent headstone I saw was dated 1998. It has very impressive yew trees, and was very atmospheric in the pissing rain. 

According to a small sign attached to the chancel door (the chancel is the only part still with a roof, and is still occasionally used for services), it's been virtually abandoned since the 1870s, when a bigger church was built in the next village of Swainby - using stones nicked from the castle! Those Victorians were so enterprising.

But I digress. Back to railway business...

Those of you who travel about on Britain's major arterial roads on a regular basis will surely have seen trucks passing with the curious name "Preston's of Potto", and I have now seen their spiritual home! Potto village is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it place, but slightly further north, by the side of a disused level crossing on the former Picton to Battersby railway line, is a big depot, where the lorries sleep overnight. I think they're like a provincial Eddie Stobart.

Despite the goods yard being so-utilised, the old station building is now a house, with a fairly unglamorous view. I hope they've got double glazing, or maybe the reversing beeps fade into background noise after a while...

The next station eastward, on the way to Stokesley, was located roughly halfway between the relatively significant (for North Yorkshire) towns of Carlton-in-Cleveland, and Hutton Rudby, In there wisdom, the North Eastern Railway decided not to name it after either of them though, and chose that of a small obscure hamlet nearby. I imagine there was a lot of sniggering in the planning office that day.

The station building is now, again, a private house. The owners obviously like their privacy, as it is surrounded by a very high hedge, and large gates. Sensibly, they have chosen to call it "The Sleepers", rather than reference the actual name of the place, to stop the postman giggling.

I expect it's probably a very old name, with Saxon or Norse origins perhaps. Who knows? (I haven't checked on Wikipedia). But anyway. Ladies and gentlemen, I hear-by present to you...

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