On Tuesday I took the train to Whitby to visit the North York Moors railway. A Trans-Pennine Express took me from Manchester Airport to Middlesborough, from where I took the delightful Esk Valley line to Whitby. This must be one of the most scenic lines in Britain, single track with passing loops in the stations it initially climbs to Battersby then follows the valley of the Esk to the seaside town. Having checked into the B&B, I had a stroll round the town.
Here's an old friend; Steam Bus 'Elizabeth' on her home turf in Whitby. On 15th October 2011 she was at the Runway Visitor Park, and driver Vernon allowed me to spend time as her fireman (see relevant entry in the blog). This time I was a fare-paying passenger.
Maker's plate showing 'Elizabeth' was originally a Sentinel Steam Lorry
Her owner and driver, Vernon ('Vern')
The church on the south headland by the Abbey
Harbour entrance, with the old Whitby Lifeboat giving pleasure trips
I noticed a boat offering trips for £2.50, so just had to have a ride. Here out of Whitby and heading for Sandsend, the next town.
After about twenty minutes, we returned to Whitby; the Abbey is visible above the harbour entrance.
Next came a pint of Copper Dragon at a pub overlooking the harbour. The yellow boat opposite was the one I took a trip on.
BR Standard Class 4, 'The Green Knight' is approved for running on Network Rail metals. Here she is at Whitby on Wednesday morning ready to take us up the valley towards Pickering on the North York Moors heritage railway. The NYM metals leave the Network rail Esk Valley line at Grosmont, about five miles inland from Whitby.
One of countless crossings of the Esk as 'The Green Knight' powers up the valley from Whitby
A couple of vintage tankers just outside Goathland
North of Levishan 'The Green Knight' was detached from our train so it could work the next train north back to Whitby. It's the only locomotive in steam that day which has the equipment required to work on Network Rail metals. In the distance can be seen the smoke of that northbound train, and its engine will transfer to our train so we can continue south to Pickering.
....And that engine is 92214 (seen, above, at Pickering), a 9F ex-BR freight loco (though they also did sterling service on summer passenger trains - summer because they were never fitted to supply steam heating for the coaches). The only one of the class that carried a name was the last ever steam locomotive built for BR (in 1960), 'Evening Star', which was built at Swindon and therefore finished in Great Western green rather than black, and fitted with a GW copper chimney top. 92214 has been named 'Cock of the North' in preservation, a name which was actually carried by a Gresley locomotive of the London North Eastern Railway.
92214 as viewed from the leading coach of the train as she heads north from Pickering (working tender first; steam locos work just as well backwards as they do forwards). The sound was fantastic - the driver was working her hard and the staccato 2-cylinder bark form this immensely powerful locomotive was echoing off the valley sides making each mighty 'bark' a double one as the echos came back to my ears out of phase with what was emanating from the chimney top.
At Goathland I transferred to a southbound train (hauled by that most useful of locomotives, a BR Standard Class 4 Tank) back to Pickering. This is the view back from the rearmost coach.
This picture was grabbed as we passed the footpath that forms part of the Lyke Wake Walk, a long distance (40 miles) trek across the North York Moors, crosses the line. Back in the late 1960s I attempted this walk as a Venture Scout (with Alderley Edge troop) and the railway back then was an overgrown victim of the Beeching cuts. Restoration was still years in the future.
Pickering, and having run-around the train our 2-6-4 tank engine (seen here from the rearmost coach) couples on to the northern end to take us back to Grosmont, where I changed to a train hauled by 'The Green Knight' again for the final leg over Network Rail tracks to Whitby.
On the journey north from Pickering I was leaning out watching the big tank engine sway from side to side as it barked its way up the valley when a deer dashed down the bank, skipped across the track just in front of the speeding loco, and scampered up the far bank.
The final train from Grosmont to Whitby arrived in the seaside town at 17:00, so a full day on the railway had been enjoyed. If you like railways and steam it's a great way to spend a day; it might even become an annual event for me!