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On a recent weekend away we went to the North Yorkshire Moors and stayed five miles out of Pickering. It was the first time we had been back since having the boys and felt at the ages of three and a half and two years old they would appreciate a trip to the railway. My eldest loves trains and we felt going on the train would be the ultimate treat for him.
----The History of the line----
The line was built in 1836 and was the Pickering to Whitby line. It had been planned by George Stephenson who later had a black five train named after him which I can proudly say I saw at the Steam Gala! The line unfortunately like many others in the country closed in 1965. It was in 1973 thanks to the North Yorkshire Moors Historical Railway trust Ltd it re-opened and has now become a large tourist attraction. Running between Pickering (where the line ends) to Grosmont and sometimes up to Whitby (where the line finishes) the line is said to be a total of eighteen miles long. The station we visited on numerous occasions during our visit was the Pickering Station and it was here we purchased a Guide Book which gave us plenty of information past and present.
----Pickering Station ----
Pickering station was the station we based ourselves at many times during our weekend away. It has been lovingly restored back to the old days. It is here unfortunately the line comes to an end. Once it used to go to Scarborough but now in the lines place is modern day life of a main road and houses. We felt the station had a lot to offer and we found ourselves on numerous occasions just sitting around the station enjoying the simplicity it had to offer. Unplanned we found ourselves there when the Autumn Steam Gala was on so my eldest son (and daddy!) were in their element. At the station there is a ticket office, a lovely traditional cafe, a large gift shop, an information centre, toilets and a lovely secluded picnic area. The station is very well kept and it is lovely to see large tubs with pretty flowers in at that time of year. The station is also home to a turntable and the carriage workshop.
We did use the cafe a couple of times buying a mug of tea and a bun. The prices I felt were very fair. As we wanted to sit on the platform our teas were but in the usually containers so we could carry them out. The cafe did look very busy and getting a table could be a bit of a struggle. It looked like a traditional tea room you would have expected to find at a station years ago.
Although the Information centre at the station is only small with large boards on the wall there is plenty to read about and there is also a small scale model of Pickering Station which both my son's loved looking at. We found there is plenty to read and you could spend a good fifteen to twenty minutes reading it all. There are a few bits for children to do but I felt ours were maybe a bit too small to appreciate it properly.
The time we enjoyed the station the most was on an evening after tea. As the nights have drawn in quickly we found viewing the station around six o'clock when it is dimly lit was fantastic. Seeing the last train come into the dimly lit station was something I would recommend anyone waiting around to see. We really loved our time at Pickering Station.
----The other stations----
Pickering Station is obviously not the only station along the line and on our trip on the train we saw the other beautiful station along the line.
Levisham is the next station you come to. Although we didn't get off the train here looking out of our window it looked lovely and quaint. In our guide book it does say it is ideal for walking and the village is about two miles away from the station platform. They do sell refreshments here too and I believe the artist Christopher Ware is based at the station.
The next station is Newton Dale Halt. The trains will not stop here a less you actually request it. There is nothing really at this stop it is mainly for serious walkers.
The station after this is Goathland and was our stop on our last visit. It will of course be well known to many people as the home of Heartbeat. The station is a stunning little place. There is a tea room, toilets and a gift shop. Also at the station is a traditional camping coach situation just off the platform for holiday rental. Stood on the platform you could just see it behind a gate and it looked very pretty. As I have mentioned Goathland is well known for the Sunday police drama Heartbeat. It is short walk from the station up to the village it's self and is worth it.
The line doesn't finish here it goes onto Grosmont station. On this recent visit we didn't go as far as Grosmont but in the past (before the boys were born) we have. Again there is a cafe, a gift shop, toilets, ticket office and a waiting room. As like all the stations along the line they have been lovingly restored back to how they would have been many years ago.
It wasn't until 2007 that the line went onto Whitby. There is a limited amount of trains that actually do go to Whitby so you should check they are running there on the particular day you intend to go. We have yet to go right through to Whitby but hopefully in the future when we return we will do so.
----Our train ride----
As I have mentioned on our recent visit we decided to take a ride out to Goathland and back. As it was the Steam Gala all the trains running that day were steam. I would highly recommend on busy days you maybe go to the station early and purchase your tickets we did this and felt a little smug when we arrived at the station fifteen minutes before and could walk through the crowds of queues. As my youngest son is only two years old we did have a pushchair. We were told we would need to go nearer the front carriages and we would find the guard carriage that held the pushchairs and wheel chairs. We expected to have to put the pushchair down but we didn't need to. The door opening was double the width and they had a ramp to put out allowing wheel chairs and pushchairs to be pushed up it. The carriage we sat in was lovely we had seats facing each other. The ride was lovely and the boys loved having the window open a little and hearing the train chug along. Hearing the train whistle as it entered and exited the station was fantastic, although to begin with it did scare my youngest a little! There is plenty of beautiful countryside to look at whilst on the train. There is just something about riding on a steam train it makes you feel all nostalgic and warm inside. Even though I wasn't born to enjoy it the first time it is wonderful I and my children can enjoy it now. The trains didn't quite run on time but then they never do these days in modern railways. I think the main reason though was the extent of the gala and how busy they were.
For about £3.50 we purchased the guide book from Pickering Station and usually I feel they are a waste of time but this one is a good read. There is plenty in the book, a total of 32 pages. The first section is great to read as you travel along the line as it explains what you will see out of your window. It then moves onto the history of the line itself, then the locomotives that belong to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and lots more. I personally really enjoyed reading the guide book.
As I have mentioned the weekend we went there was a Stream Gala on which was fantastic. We spent many an hour watching different locomotives coming into Pickering station and leaving again. There is a lot that goes into running such an event and you can see this but the staffs are still excellent too. Throughout the year there is lots going on so in future I think we will keep an eye on their website and it would maybe worth a look yourself if you happen to be in the area. There are diesel galas, railway in wartime, Santa special and much more. During the Steam Gala weekend they had numerous didn't locomotives running along the line which was heaven for thousands of train spotter. At the Steam Gala they also had the author of children's train book Christopher Vine at Pickering Station selling and signing his books. After walking past his display numerous times during the weekend on the last evening we found ourselves purchasing two books for our eldest son. He was a lovely bloke and we enjoyed talking to him.
The staff at the stations were faultless. They were all jolly and very willing to help. My fiancé took my son up the engine many a time just before it was due to leave the station and the workers were very happy to talk to him. We had a few good chats with staff members about various things the station and the trains and we found them all very enthusiastic.
Tickets can be bought from the station. We bought ours at Pickering station so I am not completely sure whether you can buy them at every station along the route. I felt the prices for a return are not too bad considering the lovely experience you have. The prices are as follows:
Pickering to Grosmont (day rover): adult £16 - child £8 - over 60's £14 and a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) £33.
Pickering to Whitby (day rover): adult £21 - child £10.50 - over 60's £18 and a family ticket £45
Children under five are free.
A day rover allows you travel unlimited for the day. You can get on and off at each station and explore the area.
On special event days like Galas prices do increase. For us this was the only thing we were unlucky on. We therefore only purchased a return to Goathland.
There is parking at Pickering station which will set you back five pounds for all day. I didn't feel this was too bad because if you are going on the train you will probably be making a good day of it especially if you but the day rover ticket.
The railway is open from April to the end of October everyday and also weekends and selected holidays during the winter months.
I would highly recommend you spend a day at the North Yorkshire Moors railway where every you start. Of course I would recommend starting at Pickering as it is a beautiful station and the town of Pickering is also worth a good look. My two boys loved the experience of seeing real trains. A couple of months back I took my eldest son to pick his daddy up for a modern day train station and he didn't think a great deal to the trains as he was expecting Thomas the Tank engine style trains. So to see them and actually go on one in North Yorkshire was an experience he hasn't quickly forgotten. As for me and my fiancé the experience was as good as the time before if not a little better seeing our boys faces when we told them we were actually going to go on one.
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North Yorkshire Moors Railway, known also as NYMR, is a great little steam train service across hte North Yorkshire Moors.
The service now runs from the coastal seaside town of Whitby, famous for it's Fish & Chips to Pickering calling at Grossmont, Groathland, Newton Dale Holt & Levisham. The route runs using steam trains which haul traditional carriages through the mountainess North Yorkshire.
There are some great fares available, with single & return tickets & also day tickets to get out & about exploring the moors.
They have special events from time to time with Santa Specials where Santa travels on the train throughout December & Gala Dinners where you can travel in style with a gala dinner served onboard, even Thomas The Tank Engine & friends show their faces now & again too.
NYMR is a great day out whether your a train enthusiast or you have young kids, I went on it years ago with my Nanna & Grandad for the day, it was a great day out for a little one.
The North York Moors Railway is located in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and within a few miles of some the of the major coastal destinations in the county, which makes it an ideal day out if you're on holiday anywhere in the area. The line runs from Grosmont in the north (which is 6 miles from Whitby) and Pickering in the south (7 miles north of Malton). The line opened in 1836, but was closed in 1965. Like many of the best of Britain's steam railways, however, it was not neglected for very long and it has been run as a preserved line since 1974. The 24 mile long line travels through some of the finest scenery in the area as well as stopping at some really interesting locations along the way - this is one of the big players in the preservation game in this country. So here is your guide to an ideal day out for all the family.
We start at Grosmont for a very practical reason, and that's the ease of getting there in the first place! Parking is adequate, if not plentiful, in and around Grosmont and there is the added attraction that the village still has a mainline railway station (of sorts...more bus shelter actually) on the Whitby to Middlesborough line with a more or less regular service. You would, in my opinion, be foolish to start at Pickering at the other end unless your criteria for a great family day out inlcude a) traffic jams and b) riding around to find an elusive parking space for half the morning.
So, you're ready to go, but there are a few things of interest around and about before you set off. Head up off the main street, for example, and have a coffee in the lovely little art gallery or take a stroll down to the engine sheds. Yes, I know it sounds dull, but it's worth a look as you can see them working on these massive engines really close at hand, which is rare nowadays. And they've got a fascinating little shop in the engine shed which is a neat combination of the usual Thomas the Tank Engine fare and genuine railway memorabilia. On your way back there's a little picnic area as you approach the station, but you won't be stuck for picnic spots on the way, so don't worry if it's too early for your sarnies! At the station, one of the things that most struck me is the contrast between the steam railway station (friendly staff, fresh food in the buffet, shop, toilets etc) and the mainline station (bus stop). It just made me wish I was old enough to remember a proper railway in this country...anyway, off we go....
For the railway enthusiasts amongst you, there is a massive 1:49 gradient up to the next station of Goathland. Even if you think that could win the prize for dullest fact of the year, it does mean that the steam engine has to work really hard and that means an impressive head of steam and a really nice choo-choo sort of noise. Please stop me if I get too technical, won't you? Your first port of call is Goathland. It has to be said that it really does play on the fact that this is where they filmed Heartbeat, and you can see lots of the locations which make up Aidensfield. If, like me, you can't bear Heartbeat and never lasted more than five minutes watching it, it is still worth a visit as it's a pretty little place (in that slightly bleak north Yorkshire way) and there are a couple of nice pubs and tea rooms to explore. If you're feeling energetic, there is a leaflet that guides you on a walk between Goathland and Grosmont, and I would heartly recommend it - it's not only a pretty walk, but you get some great views of the trains. But do Goathland to Grosmont, not the other way round - boy will you notice the gradient!! Talking of gradients, Goathland is easily accessible, but there is a steep climb up from the station to the village to watch out for.
If you carry on down the line you come to Newton Dale Halt, another one of those little halts that I always talk about but never actually get off at. It sits nestled in the forest and apparently is the station in England which is furthest away from a public road, so really is one for the walkers - there's no actual station there either, so best to pack the Kendal Mint Cake and have a wee on the train!
If you're not tempted by a walk, carry on to Levisham, my personal favourite station on the line. It's just a charming little station, not much there at all really, but a nice little spot for a picnic, either by the station or up the hill with the cattle if you want to work off what you are eating! Levisham station nestles in a valley miles away from Levisham village which is up a very steep hill with a very winding road, making the train the only sensible means of approach in my opinion. We did drive down to the stateion once, but it's difficult to comment on the journey as I spent most of it with my eyes shut..... My really big tip for travelling on the NYMR is abour Levisham - if you go there on an August Saturday afternoon they have a series of brass band concerts in the paddock by the station and it's great - take a picnic and chill out, then jump on the last train with the band! Fantastic!
If you can bring yourselves to leave Levisham, we do have one final port of call - past the trout farm and the castle on the hill is the town of Pickering. This is a useful stop, but I feel it lacks some of the charm of other places on the line, to be honest. It is an impressive station, the facilities are good, and this is a sizeable town with a charming main street and plenty of shops. But it's rather busy for my liking, so we have lunch (there is a pub directly opposite the station with a beer garden and decent food) and head back - I'm just a country girl, I guess! Anyway, tired and covered in soot that brings us to the end of the line - hope you have enjoyed the ride!
Further info is best found at the informative but not wonderfully laid out www.northyorkshiremoorsrailway.com
There are a range of fare option, but all-line tickets are a good buy:
They also have an impressive range of tickets for families of various sizes. One tip with fares - you get substantial discounts if you are a member and dogs go free for members - we were there for a week with 2 dogs and we actually saved money by joining. And you get a magazine through the year!
They have the usual range of special events - diesel weekends, dining trains, Thomas - but I'd especially recommend the War weekend (usually October) as they go all out for that - they even sell a booklet of advice if you're thinking of coming and dressing up!
Hope that has whetted your appetite for a fabulous railway and a great day out for the whole family
Thanks for reading
Whether you're a fan of Heartbeat or not the North York Moors Railway is well worth a visit. It runs 18 miles from Pickering in the south to Grosmont in the north, via Goathland, which is transformed into Aidensfield in order to film Heartbeat. Just in case you're unfamiliar with the place names here, this railway is situated almost on the north east coast of England, in Yorkshire. The line iteself is owned by the North York Moors Historical Railway trust who have run it as living museum since 1974. The steam trains and carriages are the originals, which have been lovingly restored providing a treat for the enthusiast and the interested observer alike. There is a gift shop on Pickering Station selling all sorts of railway memorabilia. The railway is open all the year round, although only at weekends during the winter when trains are limited and a ticket for the full journey from pickering to Grosmont will cost you £12 and will give you the freedom of the railway for the day. This is excellent value as you can hop on and off the trains visiting each of the villages along the way. We started in Pickering, travelled to Grosmont and then back to Goathland for a mooch round the Heartbeat area and then back to Pickering again. Pickering was originally a Celtic town and dates back to the third century BC. The Motte and Bailey castle has Norman remnants and the church has medieval frescos and effigies. There is also the Beck Isle Museum of Rural Life, which depicts the Victorian era by showing typical shops of the time. At the other end Grosmont is a typical little northern hillside village with the railway running straight through the middle of it. There are sheds here that house an exhibition of railway carriages and engines dating back to 1890. Goathland, which is the stop before Grosmont, is the village where Heartbeat is filmed. The Goathland Hotel also known as the Aidensfield Arms looks just the
same inside as it does on the television. I quite expected Claude Greengrass to come in and order a scotch! The only things they change for the benefit of the cameras are the modern optics and such like behind the bar. It appears smaller than it looks on TV, but apart from that it?s like stepping into Heartbeat. I'm a fan of the series anyway, but for ages after our visit I was saying things like 'I sat there, where PC Ventris just sat!' I would love to be able to go and see them filming. The village shops, post office and village green are instantly recognisable from the programme but don't go looking for the Police House as Goathland doesn't actually have one! Those scenes are shot elsewhere in Yorkshire. At the northern end of Goathland is the Mallyan Hotel, behind which is a steep, rough track leading down to Mallyan Spout, a 70 foot waterfall pouring over a mossy cliff. This is a quite a scramble taking about 20 minutes and remember what goes down has got to come back up at some point, but the views at the bottom are well worth the climb. The waterfall itself nestles in a little leafy glen and is very pretty, but to get a good view at the bottom you have to climb over some large boulders which are quite slippery due to the fact that they are constantly wet from the waterfall. The old goods shed at Goathland station has been fully restored and now serves as an excellent tea room. Just what you need after all that travelling and walking! The scenery all along the route of the North York Moors Railway is spectacular and if you add this to the delights of the various stops along the way it makes for a superb day out for young and old alike. The web site for the railway can be found at http://www.nymr.demon.co.uk/ and gives comprehensive information about the times, prices and history of the traisn.