Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

Exploring North Yorkshire Through a Lens


Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

Hello. My name is Phill and today I’m going to be taking a road-trip, but not by car or by motorbike, but by Coastliner bus on one of England’s most scenic bus routes, the 840 to Whitby. In 2018, the Coastliner route was awarded Britains Most Scenic Bus Route owing to its moorland and coastal views across North Yorkshire countryside. In this episode, we are going to be boarding this service and alighting at Pickering, Thornton le Dale, Hole of Horcum, Goathland and Whitby and discovering their attractions. We are also going to briefly explore the market town of Malton known as Yorkshire’s Food Capital and also where we begin our journey today. In our next episode we are going to explore Coastliners route to Scarborough, the 843. So let’s discover a scenic portion of North Yorkshire with panoramic views from the top deck of our Coastliner bus.

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Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

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Malton, North Yorkshire

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

Before we board our bus journey, we should certainly give our attention to the grand market town of Malton North Yorkshire. One of its main retail streets is Wheelgate, or the high street to you and I, featuring its high street retailers and banks. Malton is renown for being Yorkshire’s food capital, and as a market town it always has been associated with good food. Where else can you learn how to make the best Yorkshire puds by reading on a wall?

The well maintained former town hall stands as a humble landmark in its popular market square displaying its creamy Yorkshire stone common to the area it stands. A traditional market can be found every Saturday in the market square, but every second Saturday is extra special as it has specialist food stalls and street food available. Once a year, a Food Lovers Festival is held which is a huge Yorkshire event. Many people consider York when they hear the word Shambles, but the term simply means street of Butchers and Malton also has a Shambles too. St Michael’s Church, the church in the market place towers above the stalls below on market days and provides a focal point in the regular car park. Many of the other properties stand facing the market square in an almost circular fashion in their individual pastel shades that make the town centre attractive. This floral enclosure also features the Milton Rooms which is a performing arts centre and events venue. It also possesses the largest sprung dance floor in Yorkshire. The surrounding shops are specialist in their own field and there are also some perfect eateries providing some fascinating dining experiences.

Malton North Yorkshire
Malton North Yorkshire

Malton’s consideration for bringing colour through its pastel walls and strong floral displays really make this an appealing market town to visit, although I could be somewhat bias as it was my old stomping ground during the 1970’s. There are not many things that have changed for the better, but Malton is a work of art with a strong consideration for good food and drink.

If you have travelled on the 840 from York like I have, The Talbot Hotel stands as a welcoming smile as you enter the market town. This began as a hunting lodge during the 1600’s and by 1740 it became an Inn. Today it stands as a very impressive place to stay providing some traditional rooms but with contemporary features. Yorkersgate has further historic buildings including the Subscription Rooms which is currently the home of Malton Museum that educates visitors to Malton’s Roman past. However, its collections date back even further than this to Neolithic times. Almost next door stands The Lanes World-Wide Shopping mall that promises quality products at less than internet prices. The Palace Cinema features one of Yorkshire smallest screens yet presents the current movies. I’m even told that they serve drinks in proper mugs! How homely!

However, much of my childhood memories reflect R Yates and Sons who have been a rural store for longer than I can remember, starting with Ralph Yates establishing an Iron foundry in 1845 with just £5 in his pocket!

Probably one of Malton’s most predominant landmarks is St Leonard’s as it stands proudly on the hill top overlooking the market town below. The church is associated with Malton Priory that is on our bus route today and the monks at this priory where also associated with some iron age dikes we discover near the Hole of Horcum en-route to Whitby.

We are going to cross over the River Derwent technically into Norton On Derwent where Malton Bus Station resides. The bus station and depot runs alongside the river bank, snuggly fitted between the Derwent and Malton Railway Station, and you can easily forget that the river is there while waiting for your bus. The bus for Whitby typically stops on stand one. The railway stands as a competitor opposite like some king of transportation High Noon, yet the station was designed by George Townsend Andrews and greeted its first passengers back in 1845. The Bus Station and Depot is a relatively more modern construction and provides a services to Whitby, Scarborough, York, Leeds, Hovingham and Castle Howard to name a few. The railway once connected the Scarborough line to Pickering, Grosmont and Whitby but the line was closed during the Beeching Axe in the 1960’s. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway now occupies this route between Pickering and Whitby.

The Bus Journey to Pickering

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

Our Coastliner bus begins its journey by u-turning out of the bus station and winding its way through Malton’s narrow streets that were originally designed for pedestrians and the horse and cart during their heyday. Turning along the B1257 towards Old Malton, you should gaze to the right as we pass the site of a former Roman fortress Deventio which is now the Old Lodge that was once a Tudor mansion. As you enter Old Malton you will see the white tower of the former grammar school and you will also notice Malton’s oldest church Malton Priory. This dates back to 1150 when it began as a monastery for the Gilbertine Order. It was established by Eustace Fitz John who was the lord of Malton Castle.

However, a calling of a different nature are the two public houses known as the Royal Oak and Wentworth Arms. Each time their is an announcement “Our next stop is the Wentworth Arms” I want to reply “Good! Mine’s a pint”! This bus is also great for anyone who wants to visit Eden Camp which is a Modern History Museum and was the site of a former Prisoner of War Camp. The A169 to Pickering and Whitby begins just after the roundabout and makes its way through to rural landscapes of the Vale of Pickering that is snuggly situated between the Howardian Hills, the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Wolds. A vale is a large area of flat land and this brief area stretches as far as Helmsley and Pickering.

Also situated in the Vale of Pickering is one of the areas popular attractions, Flamingo Land which is by an large a theme park and zoo, but also provides holiday accommodation too. The route deviates for around a mile and a half to Kirby Misperton where Flamingo Land resides and double backs to the junction we left the A169. This just over a mile long excursion takes us through some arable fields which once housed the site of anti-fracking protestors. You will see as well as feel a narrow humped-back bridge before reaching the village of Kirby Misperton and the roundabout and Great War memorial as well as the bus stop for Flamingo Land. You might notice young staff alighting the bus here at certain times of day as well as theme park goers.

Back on the A169 you will notice the Bean Sheaf Hotel and Restaurant on the left as we return to our sojourn to Pickering where I am going to alight to explore this attraction packed market town.

Bus services are not longer the bumpy, hard-seated unpleasant journeys they used to be and these buses are equipped with comfy high backed seats, USB chargers and one bus I travelled on had wireless charging at each seat. There is free wifi available for when you want to get on, and there are more often than not stop bells at each seat for when you want to get off.

Pickering North Yorkshire

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

There is a myth to Pickering’s establishment yet with very little in the way of evidence to support the claim. It is said that Pickering began in 270 BC by King Peredurus who lost his ring, accusing a woman of steeling it. The ring was later found in the belly of a pike caught in Costa Beck, hence the name Pickering or Pike Ring. However, it more likely that it really began to take form in the medieval period although it has strong ties with both the Roman and Saxon era’s.

What you can substantiate is, like Malton, there is a grand Georgian hotel to welcome visitors to the town followed by the overshadowing tower of the church of St Peter and St Paul. I’m going to alight the bus at the Eastgate stop, the main bus stop for the town centre. I’m going to take a brief stroll, carefully crossing the busy road towards the hotel which began as a fine Georgian Manor House and still displays a sense of grandeur today. It also has a restaurant open to non-guests which I can personally testify to a good experience.

Before you enter the market town your eyes are drawn towards a large green space with a water fountain and seating area. If its time for lunch it would a great place to enjoy it, but unfortunately its not rest time for me as I have a market town to explore. Walking up Smiddy Hill I can already recognise Pickering’s purpose as a market town owing to its Victorian shop fronts ahead. Looking towards Birdgate and the Market Place it becomes even more apparent and attracting my curiosity. As a glutton for punishment, I decided to stretch my legs up a flight of steps to visit one of Pickering’s local landmarks, the Church of St Peter and St Paul that contains some very historic wall art inside dating back to the 15th century. However, the structure itself dates back even further to the 11th century as many churches do. Not unlike St Leonard’s in Malton, it is situated on a hill which solidifies its recognition as a major landmark as it can be seen for miles around. And of course, the clock heralds the times for all to see in the area.

However, it is far from the only historic structure as the castle open to the public under the care of English Heritage dates back to the same era. It was built after the Norman Conquest and made available to a succession of Kings in medieval times. However, the Bailey, or courtyard surrounded by a protective wall, and the motte or mound of earth where the castle keep sits, was developed from the 12th to 14th centuries. A good example of a motte and keep is Clifford’s Tower in York City Centre.

The Market Place certainly provides a plethora of independent retailers including clothing, chocolatiers, pet food, electrical, outdoor clothing, food, bikes and much more. There are also some high street retailers such as Yorkshire Trading a rural department store and supermarkets such as the Co-op and Lidl. And lets not forget the many eateries in Pickering to relax in and enjoy something to eat and drink.

Quite possibly the most popular attraction that puts Pickering on the map is the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Pickering is the starting point for the scenic moorland route to that joins the Esk Valley line at Grosmont and sojourns to the terminus port station of Whitby. However, Pickering station hasn’t always been a terminus station because as aforementioned it used to merge with the Scarborough line prior to its closure in the sixties. The section of line that remains open is one the most popular heritage railways in the world as it weaves through the contours of the Heartbeat Country and following the River Ask to the Yorkshire Coast. Pickering Station has a Euston Truss roof and fashioned to the 1930’s era. The station was designed by railway architect George Townsend Andrews and opened in 1847 the same year as York’s new railway station. The station has a very popular tea room on platform one and there is also a large picnic area outside platform two. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway consists of many varieties of locomotion both in steam and heritage diesel along with its accompanying rolling stock. It occasionally has visiting traction too. So although we are focusing on the bus in this episode, this historic railway stalks our journey all the way from Pickering to Whitby and it is not the first time we encounter it today. Even in the Hole of Horcum you can hear the historic whistles in the near distance.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway Pickering
North Yorkshire Moors Railway Pickering

However, the town of Pickering is not just about churches, castles, railways and markets, it has more. Beside the idyllic Pickering Beck you will find Pickering Memorial Hall and on the opposite side the popular Beck Isle Museum pertaining to Ryedale. The Beck Isle Museum contains varied collections and exhibits relating to the local area. It explores the people and the local traditions including agricultural, social, textile and trade and industry.

A little further along you will see Pickering’s War Memorial reflecting the people behind the names lost in the horrendous period of the Great War. The architecture in the area can grab your attention including the methodist chapel with its grand frontage.

Heading back to the bus stop, I walked past the impressive Kirk Theatre on Hungate that was a former Wesleyan Methodist Chapel until 1982 when it was transformed. It has links to York Castle Museum which was established Dr Kirk, and his wife is one of the founder members of the Kirk Theatre.

The bus stop is at both sides of the road in case you are heading back Malton direction, but as for me, I am going to board my next bus for a short two mile journey to Pickering’s aesthetic neighbour, Thornton le Dale. The journey takes us along the Yorkshire stone laced Eastgate and Thornton Road. However, it is like a boulevard owing to its carefully planted trees at either side upon its wide grass verges. On the left you will notice Cedarbarn Farm Shop and cafe and miniature railway. As the bus glides over the hill you begin to see your first signs of this amazing beauty spot at the foot of the North York Moors. The A170 ventures to the Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough and the bus rejoins the A169 to Whitby after tackling the steep ascent of Whitbygate, converging with the A road at the Fox and Rabbit.

If you are a lover of the classic car, you will undoubtedly notice Matthewson’s Car Auctions and Museum on the left. Alternatively, if you are a lover of food your eyes will be drawn to the fish and chip shot instead. You nearly always will get to see some classic cars parked on the forecourt standing proud for all to admire. This stands testimony to the fact that when you leave Britain’s most scenic bus route out of the equation, there is something for everyone on this route, zoo animals, theme parks, museums, heritage railways, scenery, and we haven’t even accessed the heart of the North York Moors yet.

The bus circles the historic market square which still holds a brass band on a Sunday. Another attractive sight is the Chocolate Factory that also has a premises in Hutton le Hole. The road and beck follows the circumference of the market place. In the top corner on entry, you will notice the two public houses The New Inn and The Buck. The bus stop for the Coastliner is at this stop for either direction as the stop across the road is for the East Yorkshire Bus services to Scarborough.

Thornton le Dale

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

Probably the most desirable view in Thornton le Dale is the jigsaw piece and chocolate box thatched cottage known as Beck Isle Cottage. The popular foot walk is sandwiched between the 17th century and highly photographed structure and the trickling Thornton Beck that begins its journey on the North York Moors venturing through the fringe of Dalby Forest. The water is typically quite clear so you can see what lies beneath it.

Many of Thornton’s structures are thanks to the Lumley family as Lady Lumley bequeathed her estate to construct alms houses and even a local school. Lining the A170 are a bakery, cafe, restaurant and ice-cream parlour belonging to Balderson’s that provide sustenance to Thornton’s many visitors. Although you are in a village, it feels more like a town but with the added attraction of the beck running through the streets at stone cottage level. A narrow footbridge takes you away from the busy market place to the lakeside or village pond. You will notice one of Thornton’s many weirs as you cross that gave the water momentum to power the mills that have once stood here.

The lake or village pond provides an attractive pull for all kinds of waterfowl including ducks, moorhen, and geese. You may even spot grey wagtail in this area too. The pond contains rare amphibians and has therefore been difficult to clean and I have personally seen people in the pond carefully trying to reduce the invasive pond weeds down to a minimum. Beside some picnic benches there is a further weir speeding up the course of the beck and it doesn’t just attract human interest too! The treelined pond also contains some works of art in the form of wood carvings situated around it. Imprints of many creatures found local to the area.

Burgess Weir Thornton le Dale
Burgess Weir Thornton le Dale

Thornton le Dale is a beauty spot that attracts many visitors during the course of the entire year as it looks good in all weathers and seasons. The market square still has its stocks and market cross that was Royal approval for a settlement to hold a market in medieval times. If your bus is late, don’t place the driver in stocks as its likely not his fault!

As aforementioned, Matthewson’s hold a Classic and Vintage Car Museum that is open to the public. The vehicles range from 1918 to the 1970’s so there is much memorabilia to behold! Today on the forecourt of the car auctions I was astounded to witness a former police car too.

You’ll still see the converted mill that once belonged to the Burgess family from Northallerton who once milled here. And don’t forget to go and see the criss-cross weir along the public right of way off Priestman’s Lane.

En-Route to the Hole of Horcum

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

Boarding my next bus I’m going to travel along Whitbygate and rejoining Whitby road to alight at another beauty spot, the Hole of Horcum. One of scenes I always enjoy when leaving Thornton le Dale is the attractive woodland in the summer that provides alight show as the sun shines through the trees and green leaves above, a spectacular show of light. As we hit the open countryside, I always keep my eyes pealed for albino roe deer as there are apparently two in the area. One previous experience I had was when the bus driver had to stop to allow one of these amazing creatures cross the road directly in front of us near the turn off for Dalby Forest. You can alight at the lane end of Dalby Forest Drive and walk to Low Dalby but I recommend walking through Ellerburn from Thornton le Dale instead as it is safer than walking on a busy road. However, Yorkshire’s largest forest can sometimes be visible in the distance on the right hand side of travel. The Fox and Rabbit Public House signifies you are in the Lockton area and you can alight here for food and drink if the mood takes you. It is also marks our rejoining with the A169 or Whitby road if you prefer. Now heading for open moorland, this is where the rural arable land ends because the land beyond is unfit for growing crops. This land is more for the hardy ling heather as well as the toughened woolly sheep that adorn it. Sheep are allowed to roam throughout the moors including its villages owing to a long standing common right with the Duchy of Lancaster. Villages such as Goathland we visit later tend to have as many sheep roaming around it than it does human visitors, and you may at times witness farmers gathering up the sheep using Border Colly’s and All Terrain Vehicles.

With the eyes meeting High Horcum Farm approaching, this denotes that somewhere there must be a Low Horcum Farm too, but hold this thought for now. You will know when you are approaching Saltergate Car Park where we alight for the Hole of Horcum by the trees being on the left and the open countryside on the right and the road is very straight. If you don’t intend to alight the bus here, keep your eyes pealed on the left for views of the Hole of Horcum, and have your smartphone camera or DSLR at the ready to take a snap. If you have a phone that takes video, I recommend pressing your phone against the glass of the window to steady your phone as you travel.

Hole of Horcum

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

The Hole of Horcum has its own legend where Wade the Giant scooped up some of the earth to throw at his wife after an argument. Well, at least some of it sounds believable. However, it is far more scientific and geological than that as it is more realistically a water sculpture of sorts. The bus stops are at either side of the road at Saltergate Car Park, and the area is very popular for ramblers as there are various walking routes including a 5 mile circular walk. You can also walk along Levisham Moor to Levisham Station to catch a train to Goathland and board the Coastliner there to Whitby or back to Malton. Today I’m going to take a 5 mile walk through the cauldron of the Hole of Horcum and back to Saltergate across Levisham Moor.

However you decide to view the Hole of Horcum, by alighting or through the glass of the bus window, you’re in for a very scenic treat. It is not as hard as you think to walk downhill into its basin owing to a crafted path.

Much of this walk is across a dedicated path through a heath that gently flows up and down across the hills. Of course, it is partially heather laced with Ling Heather too, which is hardy enough to endure the winter elements on the moors. On the top of the Hole of Horcum you feel a huge sense of space, but in its basin you feel enclosed by its attractive scenery and stunning views. In fact, this is one of my favourite walks in the North York Moors. It works best to follow the route clockwise rather than anti-clockwise to avoid the steep ascent back up to Saltergate Car Park, but either way it is achievable.

Hole of Horcum Levisham
Hole of Horcum Levisham

What might not be so obvious is that the Hole of Horcum is the birthplace of Levisham Beck which we largely follow to Dundale Griff, the ascent back up to moorland level. Levisham Beck is a tributary for Pickering Beck we encountered earlier. Walking further along and you will see the signpost for Dundale Pond which is one of two ponds on this route that attract Dragonfly. It it also a watering hole for livestock in the area. Dundale Griff is a little more easier on the limbs compared to the ascent back to Saltergate Car Park and bus stops in the Hole of Horcum, which is why I recommend clockwise.

Not only do we find grazing sheep, a good reminder to keep dogs on leads, but also some of my favourite, Highland Cattle. They obviously derive from the highlands but they come in all sorts of colours and even patterned at times. Their long horns and shaggy coats make them unmistakable and they are a delight to see. You will reach a signpost at the top of the ascent and we turn right for Saltergate. As mentioned you can walk to the Railway station at Levisham if you want to board a train to Goathland and meet up with the bus there.

The walk ranges from the Hole of Horcum’s heaths and heather laced banks to wooded areas by a trickling beck and then out into open moorland making this a varying territory. This adds to the overall interest in the walk itself. If you are not of the rambling breed, you may just want to venture down into the Hole of Horcum and make your way back up to the bus stop. Upon the Moorland you might notice some ancient dikes that derive from the Iron Age. They belong to a fortified farmstead and the monks from Malton Priory owned some of the land in this area.

I’ve now boarded my next bus service to the village of Goaththland. Heartbeat Country. The road enters what is known as the Devil’s Elbow owing to its steep u-turn down the hill at Saltergate. At the foot of the hill once stood the Saltergate Inn which is sadly now gone.

Looking back towards the hole of Horcum, you will notice the mound of earth which is a classic sign of the more robust materials being pushed upwards. This water sapping is ongoing and has been for thousands of years, which throws the Wade the Giant theory out of the proverbial window.

Now venturing across open moorland, it can be deceiving as you may not realise how high up you are owing to the flat open space around you. Shortly on the right hand side of travel you will notice an usual structure that looks like a giant speaker. This is RAF Fylingdales and its mission is to detect ballistic missiles so that a surprise attack never succeeds. Apparently, the radar is that sensitive it can detect debris in space too. It is also a major employer in the area with its 350 staff. However, it sadly doesn’t monitor the Coastliner buses to alert you when one is approaching unfortunately. You have to leave that to the Go! app or a paper based timetable!

The bus glides gently across the moors following the contours of the heather filled moorlands surrounding you. The best time to see the heather is late July and August as this is when they flower, leaving a purple carpet across the moors. This of course makes superb photography. The road flows down hill to cross Eller Beck of which is one of Goathland’s major watercourses. The streams of water runs through the rocky filters giving it a bronze or russet colour. We talk about the walk at the Hole of Horcum having a varied landscape, but much of the same thing could be said about this bus route. We’ve experienced the flat arable land through the Vale of Pickering, the shady woodland coming up from Thornton le Dale, the table top moorland on the Tabular Hills as well as the dips and curves on the North York Moors. We still have some coastal views to come too.

Goathland North Yorkshire

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

There are two ways into Goathland from the A169, the first along Moorgate until it reaches the roundabout at Mallyan Spout. The bus cannot proceed this way because of the low railway bridge so it takes the second turn off along Cow Wath Bank. This has not low bridges to worry about but a narrow over bridge instead. However, the descent is extremely steep and somehow these powerful bus engines are able to climb these steep ascents back to the A169. In busy periods these buses are carrying any number of people of all shapes and sizes up these steep moorland hills which always astounds me.

As the bus descends into Goathland, you can see Goathland station on the right hand side. Our bus driver has kindly paused the bus so that we can witness the steam engine just leaving the station. The first notable building other than the station you may recognise is that of the Goathland Hotel which starred as the Aidensfield Arms in ITV’s Heartbeat. Directly opposite is the so called “Aidensfield Garage” which is now a gift shop. The bus stops just prior to the village shops on the left hand side which feature not only gift shops but a rural clothing store and two tearooms as well as an ice-cream parlour. Prior to the pandemic there used to be classic Anglia cars including a mock police car that featured in the 1960’s police drama.

Long before Heartbeat, Goathland was popular with Victorian day-trippers owing to the Mallyan Spout waterfall and surrounding walking trails. Goathland Hotel stands testimony to this as it has a similar function to Aidensfield Arms as a pub and place to stay. Sandwiched between the pub and station is the Old Mill House and accompanying mill beside Eller Beck that once had a waterwheel. The station however has not only appeared as Aidensfield, but also in a Simply Red video, Hogwarts in Harry Potter and also an episode of All Creatures Great and Small, For Richer For Poorer. The village shops may pull in some Heartbeat fans owing to its retail memorabilia, but also the Tea Room has a very attractive garden where you can enjoy some lunch or just a simple beverage. You may recognise some other buildings such as Dr Trent’s surgery that eventually became the Police House in the series. Around the corner stands St Mary’s Church which also appeared in Heartbeat as well as Mallyan Spout Hotel which also has a cafe and tea room too. Did I mention that sheep outnumber humans in Goathland?

Like the Hole of Horcum, this has a multitude of combinations for doing a spot of rambling or walking in the area. You can take a walk from St Mary’s Church or beside the Goathland Hotel along the part of the original George Stephenson railway route to Moorgate. At the end of the treelined path, turn right under the railway bridge and make your way back to Goathland via the track to Birch Farm on the left. This takes you over a number of water courses and some very rugged landscapes. On the other hand, you might want to alight the bus at the bus stop outside Mallyan Spout Hotel for a shorter walk via the waterfall. The bus turns around at the roundabout and stops just outside the hotel. The new longer buses take a couple of attempts to get around but the older buses can do it in one! The path to the waterfall is on the right hand side of the hotel and is quite a steep ascent but is stepped at times to help you. However, there are some nice views on the way down and if you don’t plan on doing a walk via Incline Cottage, remember you have this hill to climb on your way back! When you reach West Beck, Mallyan Spout is a left turn where you have to negotiate some rocks. It is worth it as Mallyan Spout is a 60ft high waterfall which you can walk up to and touch. I even witnessed someone stand underneath it once! It is not the highest waterfall in North Yorkshire but after heavy rains it certainly is impressive. In certain conditions, the light often creates a rainbow in front of it which makes some very stunning photography. West Beck combines with Eller Beck forming the Mursk Esk which is a tributary to the River Esk we encounter later. Instead of climbing back up the hill, you may fancy a stroll beside the beck to Incline Cottage which is a former railwayman’s cottage on the original rail route. The ascent back to Goathland is more gradual and holds some attractive scenery. The same route also heads on to Grosmont where you could get the steam train back to Goathland to pick up the bus.

Journey to Whitby

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

I’m going to board my next bus to visit the port of Whitby, or should I say, the resort of Whitby. Granted both terms are correct. Don’t forget to look out for some recognisable structures on your way past out of Goathland. Leaving Goathland, especially on the top deck, feels like being on a roller coaster owing to the falls and climbs back to the A169. Once back on the A169, on a clear day you might be able to see the coast by now and even receive your first glimpse of Whitby Abbey on the horizon. Speaking of hills, it is not long before you meet a very steep descent into the settlement of Sleights known as Blue Bank. This really helps you to understand how high you have travelled upon the A169 but not really realise it at the time. However the views from Blue Bank are amazing and for me a feature I always look forward to when travelling on this service. It feels almost like being on a helter skelter and the bus is the matt you sit on as you enjoy the thrilling ride downhill.

Sleights North Yorkshire

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

Sleights is situated in the Esk Valley and this gives you an indication that the River Esk is not far in front of us. Fortunately, instead of using the river, there are escape lanes full of sand should you have a mishap coming down Blue Bank which is a 1 in 4 gradient. As you go through the village, keep looking on your right and you will see Sleights Hall in the distance that was constructed in the 14th century and was owned by Lord Ugglebarnby. However, by 1850 it had declined to ruin and was rebuilt to its present construction. The village has a post office and general store as well as toilets and other amenities. The majority of residences are crafted in creamy Yorkshire stone common to the area and makes these structures look all the more robust and aesthetically pleasing. On the left, you will see Esk Valley approaching and the railway which is now the Esk Valley Line from Grosmont and the River Esk follow the valley. The bridge takes the A169 over them and the views are impressive at both sides and on the right you will see Sleights station.

The bus now turns off the A169 once again through Briggswath and follows the Esk which is now on your right. The railway is also situated behind it on the other side so you may witness a steam train from time to time, or one of the conventional trains heading to Middlesbrough. Travelling further along this country road, the river will come into view and you more than likely witness a rowing boat or two owing to them being hired out at Ruswarp. By the time we reach Ruswarp, the Esk becomes tidal before it empties out into the North Sea at Whitby.

Ruswarp North Yorkshire

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

The unusual name of Ruswarp with a silent W comes from Rise Warp which is understood to have referred to silted land overgrown with brushwood. There are bus stops either side at the primary School and church, and if you feel adventurous you can alight the bus here and take a short walk between River and Railway into Whitby which takes you underneath the huge Larpool Viaduct which consists of around 5 million bricks.

The bus route ascends Ruswarp Bank Top which is better on the way down because you receive quite a view on the way as you descend. You will also see a Jacobean lodge on the right ascending upwards and left descending downwards.

It’s not too long before you encounter the opening scenes to Whitby and at the junction the huge concrete bridge is on the right which was constructed to relieve the swing bridge from heavy traffic. However, we turn left and you will see signs of a seaside resort just ahead of you.

The road descends downwards to river and sea level and you will notice the bus and rail stations on the right hand side. However, the bus surrenders its passengers on the opposite side of the road to the bus station which is useful as you now don’t have any busy roads to cross as you walk towards the town centre. To pick up the bus on your return journey it is currently the first stand from the road at the bus station at time of filming. It is currently shared with the town’s Park and Ride system.

Whitby North Yorkshire

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

As I am in the vicinity of Whitby’s historic railway station I am going to play devils advocate and take a peak inside. Again the station was designed by railway architect GT Andrews and engineered to be a terminus as the line completes its course at the port of Whitby. It opened on the 4th June 1847 and was renamed to Whitby Town in 1886. However, in 1924 is renamed back to Whitby. The platform on the right serves the conventional railway, the Esk Valley line thought to Middlesbrough. The platform on the left is for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and I have just been told by a member of staff that a steam train is about due. So I’m going to hang around and wait. You will see the original route map for the North Eastern Railway on the way out of the station to the car park. Where the Co-op stands, this was the site of a goods shed which was bombed during the war. Further along the platform on the right is what remains of an engine shed that now has a different purpose.

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway came about in 1967 after the line had been closed for some time as the line was closed in 1965. This group of concerned locals were given permission to access the line and form steam galas but only to members at this time for insurance reasons. This society of individuals grew and became a charity. In time, paid staff were employed and by 1972 it had around 100 permanent employees. Today it is is one of the worlds greatest heritage railway lines.

The HM Endeavour was constructed in Whitby but her main port was in Plymouth. What you see in Whitby is a mock of this famous ship that once ran aground in the Barrier Reef under the captainship of James Cook. The vessel is often referred to HM Bark Endeavour where bark is referring to the type of vessel. Prior to 2018, you would have found this vessel in Stockton On Tees. Since arriving in Whitby is now forms The Endeavour Experience and is open to the public where you can get to learn more about life at sea at the time of James Cook. There is also The Orlop Deck Restaurant to enjoy too.

Captain Cook is a famous name that is often tied to the port of Whitby, but he was actually from Marton, Middlesbrough. He first became a shop boy in Staithes before relocating to Whitby to become acquainted with the Walker family who were prominent ship owners in the coal trade, introducing him to becoming an apprentice in the merchant navy. He later became well noted for producing maps and he made three successful voyages in the Pacific. The Captain Cook Memorial Museum on Grape Lane was the home of the Walker family who took him on as an apprentice. If you enjoy history this is certainly a fantastic museum to visit. The building itself dates back to the 17th century and you are literally walking in young James Cooks footsteps when you visit.

Whitby Abbey North Yorkshire
Whitby Abbey North Yorkshire

Whitby has always been a port before it became a successful seaside resort and has always had a focus on fishing including whaling. Whaling is banned in modern times, but the iconic whalebones with a harpoon on top can be found next to the Cook statue on the west side of the Esk. The Esk divides the town of Whitby and the swing bridge links the east to west, but it also divides the harbour into the lower harbour and upper harbour which is more inland. The upper harbour contains the fishing harbour and marina whereas the lower harbour contains mainly the tour boats and lifeboats. Whitby’s history with ship building is refected in a statue beside the Esk. There are even sea fishing trips running from Whitby too.

It’s interesting to me how you can travel across the moors which at times can be devoid of human life except for the busy A169. As soon as you arrive in Whitby you can expect to find a bustling seaside resort that seems to draw humans from all over the world. But this is hardly surprising because Whitby contains so many attractions and the scenery is an attraction in itself.

Two Sides to Every Story

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

Aforementioned, Whitby is split into the east and west sides divided by the River Esk, so it stands to reason that some form of bridge is required to access either side. Whitby’s swing bridge has been around for since 1909 but the creation of a toll bridge was granted by King Edward III in 1351. So several bridges have existed here prior to the current bridge which was designed by J Mitchel Moncrief who later became president of the Institution of Structural Engineers. The current swing bridge was opened by the daughter of the Viscount of Helmsley who was the wife of a local MP.

On the east side you will find much of the old town including the old town hall that often has stalls within its pillars supporting it. Church Street contains many independent retailers including the famous Whitby Jet jewellers which were particularly appealing to the Victorians as much as they are today’s visitors. You will also discover the Jet museum too, therefore although the street leads to the church steps it mainly reflects its history in jet. However, not every shop front advertises jewellery but there are many other artisan traders here too. Grape Lane where you will find the Captain Cook Memorial Museum also contains some well established specialist traders too, and you are never too far away from an antiques shop. Antiques reflect history and this is fitting for Whitby as it contains an enormous historic past and its not always about the sea port.

Church Street is names such because it leads to the church steps or what is more commonly known as the 199 steps. Some can defy gravity and run up the stairs whereas as others require a good breakfast before even attempting such as task. Fortunately, I’ve had a full English breakfast in Malton this morning but I still had to take breaks, not just for capturing my breath, but to take in the stunning views over Whitby beneath. However, when you reach the top you come to realise that Whitby has a strong religious history too including St Mary’s Church. A church was built here around 1110, but it has been altered and added too since.

The more vigilant will have noticed a tall cross known as Caedmon’s Cross where Caedmon was a poet from Northumberland. He cared for the animals at the time of St Hilda as he didn’t know the words for the songs sung at the abbey.

The most noteworthy structure of course is Whitby Abbey which has an interesting history.

Whitby Abbey the Towering Landmark

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

You may have noticed that most abbey’s in the country are ruins, not because of their age, but because of the suppression of the monasteries or dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. He closed these religious centres down to redirect funds and they fell into disrepair. Although there had been previous structures, the monastic abbey was rebuilt in a gothic style in the 13th century which is what we see today. Where the transepts cross, a tower would have existed looking over the headland towards the Esk empties into the North Sea. The abbey is open to the public and under the care of English Heritage. It’s a good idea to use your mind’s eye to help you understand its enormity and the ruins make some interesting photography for landscape photographers.

After Whitby Abbey was dissolved in 1539, the site was leased to Richard Chomley and remained in the Chomley family until 1791. Therefore this particular building is often referred to as either Whitby Hall or Chomley House. The oldest parts are thought to be around the rear as it may contain stone from the abbey. The east side would have had a kitchen garden, walled to prevent theft. The west provides access to Abbey House Tea Rooms.

You can walk around the circumference of the abbey and abbey house and return downhill back to Church Street and the Swing Bridge. It also gives you some further views of the harbour and Whitby town.

The west side of the Esk is more about the resort with its amuseuments, eateries and high street shopping. It is also a viewing point for watching the sea faring vessels of all shapes and sizes entering and departing the harbour. Not only are fishing boats prevalent in Whitby but leisure boats even more so. There are boat excursions available for taking you out into the North Sea and at very reasonable fares. There is also some more themed boats including a pirate ship that capture the imaginations of a younger crowd. In Whitby’s heyday as a port it was precarious entering the harbour in stormy weather and the stretch of beach on the east side known as Colliers Hope was a soft landing for struggling vessels. And on that subject, you will see the lifeboat museum with its historic lifeboat tucked inside the double boathouse.

Malton, North Yorkshire

Exploring Coastliner Country 840 Malton to Whitby

Quite famous to Whitby are the east and west piers that are like guiding arms for sea traffic with their individual lighthouses at their tips. There are beach opportunities on the west which is larger as well as on the east side. If you’re not one for the sandy beaches of Whitby, perhaps the strolls along the piers are more your style. I always feel drawn to walking to the very tips of each every time I visit Whitby and look back towards the resort. You also come closer to the many boats drifting gently across the choppy waters of the North Sea.

Whitby certainly knows how to assist in piling on the calories with its many sweet shops, fish and chip takeaways and restaurants as well as other eateries available. The majority of them are sympathetically decorated internally and externally that gives Whitby a strong charismatic appearance. Despite the salty air, the resort is very floral too with its many hanging baskets and hayracks.

The lighthouse on the west side is obviously the tallest and although the piers where built around 1632, the lighthouse was constructed 1840 by the design of Francis Pickernell. It has been open to the public of late in good weather. And speaking of weather, it also has a weathervane on top to reveal the winds direction.

The east lighthouse was constructed much later in 1856 and is now disused. The stone column is shorter and the lantern section has a leaded dome. The additions to the piers were added around 1912 and are a relatively more modern construction.

Another world famous aspect of Whitby is the horror novel Dracula by Bram Stoker and there is a Dracula Experience on the west side of the Esk. If you are a little sensitive to horror, you might just want to browse some of the high street retailers instead.

Whitby also has a museum and art gallery set in the very stunning and tranquil Pannett Park. It is run by the Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society archaeology, social history, ceramics, Captain James Cook, fossils, paintings, photographs, militaria and toys & dolls. Pannett Park is set on the hill side and you can slowly make your way downhill through this stunning park. There are also some seating opportunities too so it is a great place to sit and enjoy an ice-cream or simply take things easy. In any case, the park is full of colour especially in the summer and you can still receive that sea breeze here too.

This park you may recognise as it is beside our bus route on the way in and out of Whitby and makes a relaxing walk back to the bus stop. You will notice Pannett Park on the left on entry to Whitby and of course on your right when departing Whitby on the bus. In honesty, I didn’t realise this was Pannett Park until today thanks to the help of one of Whitby’s ambassadors!

Well, I have really enjoyed my exploration of one of the country’s scenic bus routes which has taken me through market towns, heritage railways, the Vale of Pickering, the North York Moors, as well as the Tabular Hills, the set of Heartbeat as well as an appealing seaside resort of Whitby. The route certainly has a lot to offer and caters for most ages and tastes in some way or another. I’m just disappointed I didn’t get chance to enjoy an ice-cream!

If you are wanting to cover this route as I have, I recommend sitting on one side on the way to Whitby, and the opposite side on the way back. This way you will receive some different views on each journey and you won’t miss anything. Certainly bring some hand sanitiser and face coverings even if you have been vaccinated for Coronavirus. Don’t forget to bring your USB cable to charge your phone while travelling so you have plenty of power for uploading photos to social media or storing them on your phone as memories. If you planning on doing a walk on the moors, dress for the weather and watch out for adders on the moors by sticking to the paths. When visiting attractions, make sure that you don’t have to pre-book owing to the pandemic. But most of all, enjoy yourself on Britain’s most scenic bus route! Until next time!

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