Thursday, 3 May 2018


Further adventures with Thom - no particular plan in mind, other than driving about. Basically I enjoy any excuse to mess about with the SatNav, and Thom is a willing victim travelling companion.

First of all I programmed us to go to Muker, in upper Swaledale, but changed my mind, and we switched it off altogether. I had my yellow 1930s Bartholemews Touring Map, so we wouldn't get completely lost... First diversion was Redmire, current terminus of the Wensleydale Railway and also loading point for Ministry of Defence artillery trains, but alas there were no tanks (much to Thom's disappointment), and heritage trains weren't running either. The dogs were were pleased to have a run about on the car park though.

Redmire (Apologies for Hat Hair)
The main station building is now owned by the Scouting Association, and sees (during the season) trains coming up the valley from Leyburn and Bedale, but it was formerly a small intermediate halt on the line from Northallerton on the ECML to Garsdale on the Settle-Carlisle, and closed to British Railways services in the 1950s. I'll have to come back again by train one day.

Just around the corner from Redmire, is a place who's name should be very familiar to Game of Thrones fans - the small village of Castle Bolton. Curiously, the castle in said village is named the other way round - Bolton Castle. It's a great place to visit. The castle is huge, and a good combination of ruinous and restored - I was particularly enamoured of Mary Queen of Scots' bedroom - with other interesting attractions in the grounds, such as
wild boars, falconry displays, a vineyard and a dyer's garden.

There's a very well-stocked gift shop - I was seriously considering buying a drinking horn, but eventually decided on a handmade jug instead - suitable for mead or wine I reckon. 

We didn't make use of the tearoom, but hopefully, if there's sausage on the menu, it isn't the same as those on Game of Thrones... Ouch.

After an hour or so, we tootled off, further up the valley, passing some nice waterfalls, a good selection of fighter planes, and a hell of a lot of sheep. Next stop was Hawes - but not for cheese, I can't abide Wensleydale cheese (or Cheshire, if you're interested). The old station there is now the Dales Countryside Museum, and was formerly the boundary between the North Eastern and Midland Railways. The NER provided all services eastbound and the Midland all to the west.

Hawes (with added hat)

There's a train parked in the platform, with three carriages used as exhibition space for the museum. I had a look inside - quite an interesting array of things including old church fittings, taxidermied animals, and a curious musical instrument known as a "Serpent". It was only as I exited the carriage nearest the engine that I realised I was supposed to have paid... Oops.

We made a speedy getaway up to the dale head, and then zoomed along the reasonably flat road across Mallerstang Common, all the while running parallel to the Settle Carlisle line. No trains passed us, sadly, but there were some cool viaducts to look at, and we got a chance to explore the ruins of Pendragon Castle. It's fairly small - more of a fortified manor I suppose - but the dogs (and Thom) appreciated the chance to stretch their legs and have a wee (that part, Thom didn't do...)

Last station visit of the day was Kirkby Stephen - later renamed Kirkby Stephen East. I had actually been here once before, in the late 1990s, when the station was abandoned, used only as a bobbin mill for a long time. Now it is run by the Stainmore Railway company, and is being developed as a museum with train rides available. Alas, it being a Wednesday in May, it wasn't open to look round, so I had to make do with a rather dreadful picture of myself outside the main gate.

Kirkby Stephen

Kirkby Stephen (East) used to be a fairly major junction. Trains from County Durham, across the Pennines, could continue west towards Tebay on the West Coast Main Line, or could turn northwards, up the Eden Valley towards Appleby and Penrith. Nowadays however, they can only go couple of hundred yards, then turn back, but the plan is to extend the line as far as finances allow. They have recently built a large modern engine shed, and have constructed a traditional water tower, using the tank from Wharram
(on the Malton to Driffield line), and reclaimed bricks from Barras...

Ah, yes... Barras... my nemesis...


But wait! On the return journey, we called at Barras again! Hurrah!

And this time I haven't deleted the picture in error, and it isn't foggy so it's even possible to see the background! Admittedly I look like an extra from Last of the Summer Wine, but you can't win 'em all...

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