North Yorkshire Moors

My latest Coach Trip was to the North Yorkshire Moors, again mainly to spot trains. Like on the cult reality tv show, a coach trip is a temporary, mobile community, that no sooner forms, but is cast adrift. I was greeted 7am on Friday morning down Madeira Drive (having spent a fiver on a taxi) not by a coach, but a swish Mercedes taxi, a 'feeder' to whisk me and a couple of Worthingites off to Reigate to rendezvous with the coach proper (which started off in Kent). With driver Terry and Tour Guide Andrew we did another pick-up in Staines, then it was up the M40 to Oxford services (surprisingly pleasant with water features, bullrushes and coy carp). On coach trips, you see a lot of motorways and their rip-off services!

Lunch stop was at Bakewell, in the Peak District, and it was raining. I sampled a Bakewell Pudding (they don't call them tarts in those parts!). After a very quick wander I settled in The Red Lion for a pint of Black Sheep. Shame Peak Rail wasn't operating on Fridays, but I think I did spot a plume of smoke in that general direction. Then it was off to nearby Matlock Bath, basically a long street full of cafes and amusement arcades by a river. I half fancied the cable car to the Heights of Abraham, but they were miles away (in retrospect I could have gone there using my bus pass!). There can't be many cable cars in the UK, must check! So, on to Days Hotel on the outskirts of Wakefield, by the motorway, and a strange meal of mushroom and stilton pudding - very peculiar taste in a very hard crust - and a selection of overcooked veg.

At 8am on Saturday we headed off to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and Grosmont station, where an East Lancs 'micky' 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier was waiting to take us off to Pickering, via Goathland - a village that features in hit tv programme Heartbeat, and also in Harry Potter films. Passing Grosmont shed, we spotted the star of the NYMR, A4 'streak' 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley. Also copped GWR 0-6-2T 5600 Class no. 6619 and 'micky' no. 45212 in the sheds as we steamed by - shame we didn't have time to explore further. We'd just missed 75029 heading out to Whitby, but spotted S&DJR 7F 2-8-0 no. 53809 at Levisham on the other line. Then it was back on the coach for 4 hours in York. By this time the sun was out and it was back to the heatwave. I got a bus to the NRM and, after a coffee and sandwich, and a glance at Mallard, the 2nd streak of the day, searched around for the re-streamlined Duchess of Hamilton. And there she was. I approached from the back of the tender, and she looked magnificent in crimson and gold. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would ever see a streamlined semi - the most beautiful locomotive ever built. Then it was back to the Minster on the road train and a pint of Liberty at the Lion and Lamb. Popped into the art gallery quickly (nice Lowry of Clifford's Tower), but it was too hot for sightseeing. Dinner that night was a very acceptable leek and potato tart.

On Sunday it was another 8am start, this time to Leeming Bar, for a ride on the Wenslydale Railway. Unfortunately steam doesn't start until 18 July, so we were pulled by a Class 47 diesel no. 47703 Saint Mungo. The ride was very scenic (but not quite as scenic as the NYMR) and we travelled all the way to Redmire and back to Leyburn, where we rejoined the coach to our lunch stop at Harrogate. No cheese! I was disapointed not to get to visit the Wensleydale Cheese Museum (with its Wallace and Gromit exhibit) at Hawes and couldn't find a whiff of cheese anywhere! At Harrogate I thought Bettys (no apostrophe required) was too posh and pricey for the likes of me, but stumbled across an amazing Wetherspoons in the old Winter Gardens, where a pint of Ruddles was £1.29! Then it was the long trudge back, with two motorway services (Grantham and South Mimms) to stop at. Luckily David Devant and His Spirit Wife was on my iPod to keep me company and help pass the time. And the feeder taxi driver very kindly gave me a lift to my door.

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