Scarborough Line My Favourite Railway Journeys

Discovering Great Britain By Rail

My train operator today are Transpennine Express that are currently operated by First. They manage the route between Liverpool and Scarborough. The trains are typically the Class 185 Desiro trains and the newer Nova 3 trains pushed or pulled by a Class 68 locomotive. My outward journey is a class 185 Desiro. The track between York and Scarborough is currently not electrified so diesel or heritage steam is required for this route. However, one of the new Nova 3 trains pulls alongside me before my departure.

The Nova 3 trains consist of Mark V carriages that include a driving trailer at the end or front of the train, and locomotive at the opposite end. There are five carriages including 30 first class seats as well as 257 standard class.

My Desiro train however has only 15 first class seats and 156 standard class, but these figures are doubled when two Desiro’s are coupled together.

So at last, I can begin my scenic journey to Scarborough.

On the right side of direction of Travel you can look towards Lendal Bridge stretching over the River Ouse, as well as one of the Abbey’s wall tower. The track prior to Strensall is largely straight, so you will find that the train will pick up speed.

Watching a hot air balloon on the horizon, the flat agricultural terrain of the Vale of York begins to stream past the window. Remember my golden rule, to sit one side on the way there, the opposite side of the train on the return journey. Miss nothing. Another tip I can give you, if your train is locomotive hauled, sit at the very rear of the train. This is because you will get to see your locomotive out of the window on curves.

I mention the Vale of York is flat, but it doesn’t take too long before we reach the Howardian Hills which is an Area of Outstanding National Beauty. At the time the line was constructed, it was more cost friendly to follow the curvy path instead of boaring tunnels through the landscape. However, the problem with a curvy track is that it reduces the speed of the trains navigating them. In fact, you will notice that the train follows the natural path of the River Derwent until we reach Malton. If you are really vigilant, you can see Kirkham Priory in the distance on the right hand side of travel.

The Derwent is a river with an unusual ending as it meets the River Ouse in an upstream angle at Barmby On the Marsh. But in actual fact, it derives from Fylingdales on the North York Moors.

After crossing the Derwent, the train curves in towards Malton. Malton is the renowned Food Capital of Yorkshire owing to its locally sourced supplies. I will be alighting at Malton on my return journey so stay tuned.

Malton station is kind of a shadow of the station it once was, as it had roof and more than likely more trains. Back in 1845 when the station and the line was opened, there were also trains to Whitby, leaving the line at Rillington and heading towards Pickering which is now the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Sadly, the line was axed during the Beeching Cuts in the 1960’s.

A further line headed out towards Driffield in the Yorkshire Wolds but this eventually closed too and was only used for freight trains for some time.

Travelling away from Malton and accompanying Norton On Derwent, I’m taken back with the splendour of the hills at either side of the train on the horizon. On the right hand side of travel is the Yorkshire Wolds whereas on the left side you can see the Tabular Hills in the distance. Believe it or not, the North York Moors is sat upon the Tabular Hills.

On this section of the route, you will see some of the villages sat upon the A64. You might even see the Silo, local known as Knapton Silo close to West Knapton. But this is a very rural and agricultural area, mainly used for crop growing but you will undoubtedly see grazing cows, sheep and there are even pig farms in the area. I’d better lay off the bacon.

It’s not too long before we run parallel with the A64 to Scarborough before we reach sunny Seamer station. You’ll notice the Scarborough to Hull line merges. Ironically though, the station is more in the location of Crossgates, but regardless where it is, we have just a few passengers to collect before reaching Scarborough.

Like Malton Station, Scarborough Station was designed by railway architect George Townsend Andrews and opened in 1845 along with the line itself. I don’t think he envisioned it with the scaffolding though! At the time it was built, it was known as Scarborough Central, and you could once travel to Whitby from here upon the Yorkshire Coast line that was axed in the 1960’s. The disused route still exists today as Cinders Path, a public right of way.

The station is fantastic for theatre goers because you not only get the major dramas on the rail network, but Stephen Joseph Theatre is just across the road.

So OK, normally Scarborough town centre is a bustling retail area, but I am way too early for the shops this morning. Brunswick Shopping Centre is one of the main shopping malls found on the high street descending down to the seafront. Side streets feature bars, cafe’s and other businesses under the shade of the castle headland.

I’m making my way to the seafront down a flight of steps, better to go down these than up! At this time of year, the seafront is also bustling, but as I say I am early enough to literally get the beach to myself.

South Bay, not unlike York Station, features a long curve where you can face the Scarborough Spa from the Lighthouse, and the Lighthouse from the Scarborough Spa. But its not just the beach that is curvaceous, but the gardens above that also follow the shoreline. St Nicholas Gardens are found right of the Grand Hotel and lead up to a very Victorian themed part of Scarborough.

Next to the Victorian Grand Hotel you will find a statue of Queen Victoria and the Town Hall. And would it surprise you to learn that this is Grade II listed as well as the town hall behind? The town hall was originally St Nicholas House built in Jacobean revival style.

It’s also my favourite view over the harbour and lighthouse. And there is also a Victorian cliff tramway to the seafront. They have just had their carriages updated and they look fabulous!

You may not realise at first glance, but the Grand Hotel is built in a V shape in recognition of Queen Victoria. It was the largest hotel in the world but at the time of its construction. It had 365 bedrooms for days of the year, 52 chimneys for weeks of the year, 12 floors for months of the year, and it has 4 towers for seasons of the year.

The Cliff Bridge or Spa Bridge provides a great vista over Scarborough’s South Bay, and it was originally constructed for access to the spa waters found by Tomasin Farrar, the wife of a former Mayor. The spa waters were sold to the Victorians on their medicinal benefits which helped to put Scarborough on the map. The advent of rail travel made it easier for Victorian day-trippers to visit, hence how Scarborough became a popular resort.

From the south cliffs, you really get the feeling that you are watching the North Sea while the North Sea is staring back at you. Prior to the pandemic, as well as today, the South Cliff’s are undergoing restoration.