All Line Rover trip Day 7: Yorkshire Coast, Moors & Middlesbrough

In September 2022, I travelled around Britain for a week and a half using an All Line Rover train ticket. This is the eighth of eleven special posts giving a day-by-day narration of my trip. I also wrote an introduction to the trip, discussing my plans and goals, before I left; and will follow up my day-by-day narration with standard posts about the nineteen individual map areas I visited on the trip which are new to the blog. [1]

Interactive map

Here’s an interactive map of my All Line Rover trip! By default, all 11 days of my trip are shown: press the icon in the top left to see the route for individual days of the trip only.

Key to colours: Purple = train, dark blue = metro/underground, pink = tram, green = bus, orange = walking, medium blue = ferry

Day 7: Yorkshire Coast, Moors & Middlesbrough

On this seventh full day of my trip, I wasn’t planning to cover a huge distance, and instead would be making my way up the Yorkshire coast on several slower train and bus services. From Bridlington, where I’d spent the night, I planned to travel to Scarborough, Whitby, and Middlesbrough before stopping for the night somewhere in the Teesside area.

Bridlington, looking out towards Flamborough Head, where I’d be walking later that morning!

I started out my day with a quick wander around Bridlington – it’d been getting dark by the time I arrived – which was pleasant enough, a smallish seaside town with the usual combination of chip shops, beach, functional fishery bits, small hotels and the like. Following that though, rather than getting straight on the train up to Scarborough, I caught the #14 bus a few miles northwest to North Landing, for a walk around Flamborough Head – I’d been trying to fit in a good few nice walks on the trip, and the somewhat more relaxed travel itinerary for today meant I had some time this morning.

Bridlington, Flamborough, and my morning’s walk! (Map from OS Maps online)

Flamborough head forms a very noticeable eastwards-pointing cusp on the map of Yorkshire, and had been on my list to visit for a while. It didn’t disappoint! My walk was along dramatic white clifftops the whole way around the head. The cliffs were dotted with little caves – I didn’t make the effort to go down to beach level to go inside any of them, but still, they were cool to see!

North Landing, with a few caves visible along the cliffs

It’s apparently rather a seabird hotspot too, and Mother Dearest would be pleased to know that in summer there are puffins to be seen – she’s wanted to see puffins for years, but has somehow never managed to catch them!

After a cloudy start, the sun turned up shortly into my walk, which was nice, and after a mile or two I rounded Flamborough Head itself and was walking southwest, back towards Bridlington, which I could see in the distance. I ended my walk in Flamborough village, getting the same #14 bus back into Bridlington.

Flamborough village

Back in Bridlington, I went into a corner shop in search of a snack and encountered something I’d never seen before – they had chocolate-flavoured slushies! I’m used to slushies being fruity or cola-flavoured only and kind of translucent, having a milk-based one just seems kind of out of place, like a milky fizzy drink. But I got one, and it was actually very pleasant, like an iced chocolate milkshake I suppose. I am a fan of the southeast Asian version of iced hot drinks, where an iced tea / coffee / chocolate / Horlicks etc. means a hot drink but with ice cubes in, so that what temperature you get depends on which bit of the cup you point your straw at.

After hurriedly picking up my bag from the pub I’d stayed in the previous night – I’d left it in a back room at the direction of the cleaner who’d been the only one around at the early hour I’d left for my walk – I headed back to the station to catch my first train of the day up to Scarborough.

Scarborough’s high street

I have to say, I really liked Scarborough! It has a lot going on at once. From the station I first emerged into a long, bustling, lively high street, I assume filled mostly with local-ish people out for some shopping, which just felt alive in a way a lot of town centres don’t – and it wasn’t even the weekend!

The seafront in Scarborough, with Scarborough Castle visible on the hilltop behind

From the high street, you have to descend some steep paths (or take the cliff railway) to get down to the sea, where I found my second classic English holiday town seafront of rhe day, with chippies and so on facing the wide beach. Looking northwards, you see up to Scarborough Castle, while to the south the giant Victorian spa hotels dominate the clifftops as the beach continues below.

Looking south from Scarborough’s seafront, towards the clifftop hotels

After a wander down at sea level, I climbed back to the town centre and found the Market Hall, which was great – there were lots of interesting little shops down in the atmospheric vaults below, and then the wide, open, galleried main hall with vendors all around and a big eating area at the back.

I settled down in the market hall for lunch, ordering a very reasonably-priced veggie lasagne and onion rings, not realising until it arrived that the lasagne already came with garlic bread and chips, resulting in my enjoying a quadruple-carb lunch!

After lunch, I went and lay around in the pleasingly 3-dimensional Valley Park – the park is formed by the steep banks of a valley with a road running down the middle, while another road runs across the valley on a high viaduct – for a little while, waiting until I got on the nex X93 bus to take me on to Whitby!

The classic shot of Whitby Abbey across the bay through the whalebone arch!

I feel I’ve unfairly judged Whitby in the past. Everyone talks about how great it is, and Vesper loves it, having been on family holidays several times in the past. When I last visited, back in 2016, I visited the abbey and wandered around town, and was a little disappointed relative to my high expectations. As ruined abbeys go, Whitby’s one of the less complete and architecturally impressive ones – compared to, say, Rievaulx fairly nearby, or some of the Borders abbeys. I think I was also disappointed by the museum, which had barely anything on the Anglo-Saxon abbey, which I’d have been most interested in.

However, there’s still plenty to love about the abbey – it is indeed in a very dramatic position on the clifftops, and I really like the way it stands over the town so thousands of people get to see it. And of course, there’s much more to Whitby than the abbey – the town is great, with steep little lanes filled with curious shops and so on. I retract my previous opinion: Whitby is very nice!

Looking north along the shore from Whitby

After just a short wander around town – but still long enough for me to change my opinion on its niceness – I got on another train, for the bit of travelling I was most excited about for this trip: the Esk Valley Line from Whitby up to Middlesbrough. It seems a bit random that Whitby kept the line through the moors to Middlesbrough, while losing the much more useful-seeming route southwards to York via Malton, and the coastal route south to Scarborough. I’d expect people want to get from Whitby to York – from where one can go onwards to Leeds, London or any of the populated areas to the south and west – much more than they’d want to go north, which is good only for Teesside, Newcastle and Scotland. I’m sure there’s a reason, but I don’t know what it is!

In any case, the Esk Valley is always included in the lists of most scenic British railway lines, so I was looking forward to it. I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint!

The journey was mostly through valleys with high moor on either side, which was just very pretty – I’m not sure it comes across that well in my photos, but I assure you it was good! Probably the second-prettiest rail line of the trip after the Settle and Carlisle, I think. The train also reverses at Battersby part-way through, with the driver needing to get out and change ends, which is fun.

The train deposited me in Middlesbrough, which I then had a wander around. The town centre was fine, pretty unremarkable – it wasn’t outstanding in any way, but also not particularly dingy or nasty, just… fine. There were occasional somewhat-high-rise buildings dotted in with imposing old ones and aging concrete blocks; it seemed pretty quiet on a Friday afternoon.

Two photos of Middlesbrough’s railway station ticket hall, which was quite impressive but which I couldn’t manage to combine into a panorama. And one of Middlesbrough’s 1880s town hall – it seems they’re using it as some kind of arts venue, which is nice!

Heading northwards to the riverbank, I saw the Tees Transporter Bridge, which was fun – I’d seen Newport’s transporter bridge earlier that year, those two being the only theoretically-operational transporter bridges remaining in the UK, though both are closed for repairs at the moment, meaning that, just as with Newport, I wasn’t able to cross either on the gondola, or by climbing up to the gantry. Oh well, it’s still cool!

The Tees Transporter Bridge. If I’m interpreting it correctly, I think that the carriage that the gondola usually dangles from is visible at the right end, but the gondola itself isn’t currently attached.

From the bridge, I headed back towards the railway station, making a brief stop to see the Old Town Hall, which unfortunately currently sits boarded up in the middle of a currently-derelict area, where all the surrounding buildings have been demolished for redevelopment that, so far, has not come, leaving the hall surrounded by overgrown paving, temporary fencing, graffiti, and not much else. There were still tourist signs pointing the way to it from the town centre though, which is nice!

Middlesbrough’s Old Town Hall

Getting back to the station, I caught a train a few stops westwards to Allens West, near the village of Yarm. There, I bought some dinner and checked into my B&B for the night, another busy day done!


[1] The individual map area posts will duplicate the contents of the special trip posts, but unlike the latter they won’t form a continuous narrative, since they’ll skip things I did in map areas I’ve already posted about. They will, though, newly contain narration of anything I did on previous visits there – since some of these are areas which are new to the blog, but which I visited before starting my blog in 2017.

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