Sunday, 18 June 2017

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

So, like any normal person, I decided, on the hottest day of the year, to spend several hours on a bus to visit a post-apocalyptic industrial wasteland. Yes - that's right: Middlesbrough!

The journey did not start well - the 93 was packed with pensioners, of course - one particularly irritating specimen, with teeth like old wax crayons, repeatedly announcing to anyone who'd listen that she "lives near the seafront you know". Thank heavens for headphones.

Once I'd blocked the surrounding chatter, I was fine. From Robin Hood's Bay as far as Whitby a very attractive young hiker came and sat beside me - he had very good legs - and then Gotho boarded in Whitby. The mood was lightened even further by a very jolly dog on the seat in front, who wanted to make friends and kept poking her head through the gap, like an excitable child on a school trip.

Not entirely sure about this
Once in the 'Boro, we exchanged some black (of course) jeans in Primark - the main purpose of the trip - and wandered up to the riverside. The Transporter Bridge was once again closed for lunch, but we decided to wait this time, and had a stroll along to the big sculpture thing that looks a bit like a giant version of one of those bags oranges come in. Not quite sure what it's supposed to be, but it's quite impressive all the same.

Back from the Grand Canyon
Once the Transporter Bridge had finished eating its sandwiches, we boarded. I hummed the music from Swan Lake, but it was completely lost on Gotho, as evidently he has never watched Billy Elliot. It's 60p each way, and is a surreal experience. It's not so much a bridge, as a ferry dangling on strings - very smooth and a lot quieter than I expected.

Pleasantly rural
Over the river, in what I presume is (or at least was) County Durham, is the old railway station at Port Clarence. It's been closed to passengers for decades now, but there is still a freight line running past at a slightly higher level, towards chemical works at Seal Sands. It's an odd place - minutes away from Middlesbrough town centre, but like a remote village from a different time altogether. There's the station building, a tiny little cafe selling bacon sandwiches, a row of railway cottages, and The Station Hotel, offering a week's B&B accommodation for £75 quid. Bargain.
Port Clarence

Old signal post
On the Big Tile Map, Port Clarence is at the end of  a branch line, with only one intermediate station - Gotho agreed we could walk along the main road and see if there was any evidence of it.

By this point, it was like standing in front of an oven. Gotho went in to a Londis with bricked up windows and bought a bottle of Goth Juice (well, Sprite, but Goth Juice is funnier). We passed a war memorial, a couple of rows of council houses with the requisite handful of shirtless chavs, and the odd dreary bus shelter with interesting graffiti - apparently whoever "takes it up the shitter" doesn't want this fact making known so has gone to the effort of scratching off their name...
Haverton Hill
Tumbleweeds just out of shot

And so it was 'til we reached Haverton Hill. The station remains consist of a bridge, and a bit of wrecked goods yard. Parts of the coal drops still stand, like some ancient relic - a bit like Haverton Hill village, most of which was demolished when it was realised all the industry thereabouts was poisoning the land under people's feet. Hurrah for the '70s!

Anyway. Photos taken, we retraced our steps - flying once more o'er the silv'ry Tees on a cat's cradle of blue ironwork...

And went to the pub. Goodo.

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