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North Yorkshire Moors Steam Railway: Something for everyone

Posted by Katy Peck on 4 March 2019
Related property: Bell End Farm, Rosedale
North Yorkshire Moors Steam Railway: Something for everyone

Image copyright: Graham Staples 

The charming market town of Pickering is just a 15-minute drive from Bell End Farm. As well as its regular Monday market and monthly farmers' market, the town has plenty to explore, including the iconic North Yorkshire Moors Steam and Heritage Railway.

Built by George Stephenson and opened in 1836, the North Yorkshire Moors Steam Railway reopened in 1973 as a heritage railway, sending some spectacular steam and heritage diesel trains back and forth across 24 miles of stunning local countryside. Today it's Britain's most popular heritage railway, carrying 350,000 passengers every year. There are six stations that travellers can visit along the route, all with plenty to see and do. To make sure you don’t miss anything, we’ve picked the must-see highlights from each station.

Pickering Station

Pickering is a 1930’s themed station that’s like taking a step back in time. Make sure to take a look up to appreciate the station’s beautiful roof, which is an exact replica of the original design from 1847. The station itself has a charming gift shop and a traditional tea room where you can treat yourself to a tasty meal – the perfect fuel for your railway adventures

Image copyright: North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Don’t miss Pickering Castle, just a 5-minute walk from the station. The castle started life as a simple wooden motte-and-bailey castle, founded by William the Conqueror, and was converted to stone under Henry II. Take a stroll around the grounds and learn about how it was used throughout the centuries, from the King’s Room to the Chapel.

Also less than 5 minutes from the station is Beck Isle Museum, which has been called North Yorkshire’s answer to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It’s bursting with over 60,000 items, all bringing this bygone era to life. Each room is devoted to a certain aspect of Victorian life, from a cobbler to a kitchen and even a bar in a public house!

Levisham Station

Nestled in the North York Moors, Levisham is a 1912 styled station. It’s home to the Weighbridge Tea Hut, which serves snacks and drinks during weekends, bank holidays and special events. It’s also where you can find the Railway’s artist in residence, Christopher Ware. In his studio in the old stationmaster’s house, you can browse and purchase his works, including watercolour originals, prints and cards. Find more details and opening times on his website.

Levisham is the perfect place to depart the train if you’re looking for some beautiful walking routes through the Moors. There are many routes to explore from here, for all kinds of abilities. One of the beautiful landmarks you can admire include is Hole of Horcum – a huge natural amphitheatre 400 feet deep and more than half a mile across. Legend says this is where Wade the Giant scooped up a handful of earth to throw at his wife during an argument!

Skeleton Tower is another great spot to visit, and provides beautiful views to Newtondale and back over the railway tracks. It’s a great spot to unpack a picnic, settle down and relax while looking out for plumes of smoke from the passing trains.

Newtondale Halt

Image copyright: John Hunt

Trains only stop at Newtondale Halt by request, but it’s a truly beautiful and secluded woodland oasis, full of wildlife and lush greenery. Apart from the train, the only way to reach the station is via mountain bike or on foot, giving it a wonderful sense of seclusion. From the station, visitors can follow a 6-mile circular route which includes both an easy valley-bottom walk and a climb up through the trees. The upper section takes you through a deep woodland cleft overflowing with mosses, ferns and grasses.

Goathland Station

Goathland Station shot to fame as Hogsmeade station in the first Harry Potter film, and has also featured in TV’s Heartbeat. On top of this, it has its own shop and a tea room, perfect for a quick pitstop during your travels.

Beyond the station, Mallyan Spout Waterfall is around a 20-minute walk away. Follow the footpath close to the Mallayan Spout Hotel, and you’ll soon find yourself faced with this beautiful 70-foot stream of water. It’s been charming visitors since the Victorian era, and the walk includes peaceful woodland and spectacular views over the Moors.

Goathland also has several cafés and pubs to visit. Or, if you fancy something a little different, take a short walk down the ‘Rail Trail’ to the tiny hamlet of Beck Hole, where you’ll find the riverside Birch Hall Inn. One of the smallest pubs in the country, it has two small bar areas and a ‘shop section’ selling vintage sweets and treats. The pub is decorated with all kinds of curiosities which are sure to get you talking, and has a lovely riverside garden for punters to enjoy during warmer weather.

Grosmont Station

Image copyright: Dave Barry

Grosmont Station is where you’ll find the engineering heart of the North York Moors Railway. This is where the trains are maintained and restored. Guest can pay a visit to the Shed Shop, where it’s possible to take a look at the work currently underway on these magnificent machines. The station itself is 1952 themed, and also where the heritage railway ends and the main rail network begins.

Whitby Station

At the Northern end of the line, you’ll find Whitby Station. Brimming with history, the town is known for it’s quirky narrow streets and busy harbour, as well as the famous Abbey, where the date of Easter was decided on between the Celtic and Roman churches. The Abbey is a 10-minute walk from the station and well-worth a visit.

Image copyright: Philip Benham

Other not-to-be-missed attractions include the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, 5 minutes from the station. The museum is based in the house of the young James Cook, where he completed his seaman’s apprenticeship, and contains many fascinating exhibits on the adventurer and those who sailed with him. You can even see some letters written in the Captain’s own hand! If you fancy following in Cook’s footsteps on the open waves, there are also regular boat and fishing trips available from the harbour and, of course, no visit to Whitby is complete without a portion of fish and chips!

With a train from Pickering to Whitby taking just 90 minutes, it's easy to spend a day exploring everything the railway has to offer. From beautiful country walks to historical attractions, there’s certainly something for everyone. The Railway even holds experience days, including dining sessions (the curry train is particularly popular!) and photography workshops. Events taking place in 2019 include 'Behind the Scenes' days in May, 'Railway in Wartime' in October and 'Santa Specials' over Christmas. You can find a full timetable here.

Trains run daily between Pickering and Whitby between 8th April and 3rd November 2019. Fares very throughout the season, but you can find up-to-date timetables and fare information on the website, where you can also by return tickets. Services often sell out, so booking in advance is recommended.

After a long day exploring, you’ll need somewhere special to return to. With it’s great facilities and comfortable cottages, Bell End Farm is a great choice for couples, families and groups looking to make he most of the North York Moors National Park. To learn more about how you can stay here, just get in touch.

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Katy Peck

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