Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Giving My Regards to Broadway

It wasn't until today that I discovered that the update that I thought I'd posted from my phone last week hadn't gone anywhere.  No wonder I was getting so many texts from well wishers asking if I had made it yet. It seems that whilst Google are quite capable of informing GCHQ and the NSA of my every move, they can't be bothered to inform the readership of this blog. 

Anyway, to recap a bit, I walked Wainwright's Coast to Coast walk of approx 192 miles, plus an extra bit to Broadway.  The gory details and how to send sponsorship money is covered in the last few blog entries.  Here are a few photos from the final day of walking the Coast to Coast, which was the fifteen and a half miles from Grosmont to Robin Hood's Bay:-
Spontaneously combusting sheep ahead?
The road out of Grosmont climbs for some distance at a gradient of 1 in 3.  As I was returning to Grosmont that evening, I had left my ridiculously heavy backpack behind at the B&B.  Even up a 1 in 3 slope, relieved of that burden, it felt like I was walking on air.
Falling Foss waterfall near Littlebeck
The first road sign to my destination.
Only three and a half miles to Robin Hood's Bay. Wainwright of course decided that you shouldn't take the direct route, but go a few more miles out of your way along the coastal footpath.  To get to the coastal footpath, you have to pass through 'Bottoms Lane'.  You couldn't make this up!
I thought I was making a bit of an arse of myself in doing this.
A bit of the coastline
At last, Robin Hood's Bay is in sight
You're supposed to take your boots off and get your feet wet...  not a chance!
It was time to cast the pebble I'd carted along with me from St Bees into the sea and collect a fresh one to take to Broadway.
The pebble from St Bees (note the dog in the sea)
The dog in the sea spotted me throwing the pebble into the sea and chased after it, unsurprisingly he failed to find it.  When I collected a fresh one to take to Broadway, he stood there expectantly waiting for me to throw that one for him to chase.
For all I know he's still there waiting
Me, taken by a passing stranger, just before heading into the bar of the Bay Hotel for some refreshment
So how did I get back to Grosmont that night?  Well if you walk back up the hill (yet another 1 in 3), you can catch the X93 bus to Whitby.  From Whitby, you can catch one of the North York Moors Railway's steam hauled services back to Grosmont.  75029, Green Knight (once one of David Shepherd's locos) was the motive power on the day.
75029, Green Knight in the sun at Whitby
The only other steam in operation (they seem to have something of a shortage right now) was the B1, 61264, which for reasons that were unclear to me had been renumbered 61002 and named Impala.
61264 AKA 61002, Impala
So that was on Thursday, fast forward to Sunday and once more I was at Toddington for a cleaning turn.  I had sent a postcard to the steam loco dept addressed to the mess coach at Toddington.  I noticed that it had failed to arrive. 

Over the weeks leading up to the coast to coast, I had stocked up on bags of jelly babies every time I went to the shops. They're useful hits of sugar if you need a bit of energy whilst out walking. I had ten bags of them before I set off.  On leaving home, I had removed five bags in order to save space and weight in my backpack.  Upon arrival at the start point at St Bees I forgot that I had done this and removed five more bags.  Consequently I had set off with no Jelly Babies at all in my backpack... doh!  When I got back to Toddington I had ten bags of jelly babies to get rid of. I put a couple of bags out for general consumption when the first tea round happened:
George bites the head off first
Howard about to scoff one whole
Don't ask, I have no idea what Ian was up to!
In my absence doing the coast to coast, I received an email saying that it had been arranged for me to do a phone interview live on Radio Winchcombe.  Heaven knows why, and I was struggling to imagine who might be up at 09:00 on a Sunday and tuned in, but if you were I apologise for the incoherent rambling.  I was definitely well outside of my comfort zone.  Just because I have a face better suited to radio, doesn't mean to say that I'm actually suited to radio.  Where was Ian Crowder when I needed him?
Foremarke Hall, my steed for the day
Queuing for the ash pit, 2807 then Foremarke Hall
Eventually I set off on Foremarke Hall in the company of George and Ian for the day
Platform 2 at Cheltenham Race Course Station is starting to take shape
George usually complains that I only show photos of him eating biscuits, so here he is doing what he does best:
George in 'the office'
If George had fallen for Ian's booby trap, he'd have probably complained about that too:
Could be painful
Ian kindly threw the shovel in my direction for one round trip.  I seem to have now swung back to where I started and had the water and pressure gauges a bit too high.  I didn't blow off, but it was a close run thing on a few occasions.  

The final task for the day was to take the walk from Laverton to Broadway and deposit the pebble collected from Robin Hood's Bay as part of the ballast.  Several people had suggested that they'd quite like to accompany me on that little jaunt, but in the end it was only Tina that could make it.  George for instance was keen, but it would have left Foremarke Hall without a driver which wouldn't have gone down too well.  Tina joined us on the footplate at Toddington for the run up to Laverton where we got off to start walking (NB, there is no platform at Laverton and the general public can't alight here).  I will be murdered slowly, horribly, and painfully for this next photo, but it's far too good not to share;
Tina, the twins and Foremarke Hall at Laverton
No, it isn't twins!  Tina has a white raincoat which she was keen to make sure stayed white whilst on the footplate.  She just stuffed it under her top to keep it clean.  Note to self, wear a cricket box when next visiting the railway.
Ian operates the ground frame as George drives Foremarke Hall into the passing loop
Once Foremarke Hall was on her way back to Toddington, Tina and I set off to inspect the trackbed for the two and a half miles to Broadway.  The track itself stops after only a few more hundred yards from Laverton loop.
Lost in the undergrowth, but this is the end of the line.
We encountered five bridges along the route in varying states of distress. Renovating/replacing the bridges will form the bulk of the cost of reinstating this section of the line.
The first bridge, looks ok from this angle...
but it's coming apart at the seams... the bridge that is, not Tina
The second bridge didn't look too good either
The third bridge didn't look too bad
The fourth bridge left something to be desired.
There are few original GWR buildings along the line.  One of those is the former goods shed at Broadway.  It is now owned by a caravan park and has acquired a few modifications along the way.
Broadway goods shed
Tina spotted the legend 'GWR' written on one of the internal walls through those non-original square windows at the front.
The fifth bridge, the busy B4632 runs under this one
Finally after the fifth bridge, we had reached Broadway station itself.  The 'Broadway Area Group' have made excellent progress in reinstating the platforms.  There is still the station buildings and signal box to go of course.
The platforms at Broadway
All that remained for me to do was plant the pebble that I had fetched from Robin Hood's Bay as a piece of ballast:
Me with the pebble from Robin Hood's Bay
Fresh from the footplate, I wasn't exactly looking my best.  When I asked Tina 'does my hair look a mess', she instantly replied 'yes'. No attempt to sugar the pill at all. Sometimes people can be too honest.

With the walking part of the coast to coast walk finally finished (total raised and photos will appear later), it was back to Toddington for a well deserved much needed cup of tea and then to help out with disposal of the locos.  Normally this would be an uneventful process, but all the good wheel barrows obtained for the gala had disappeared.  Tina struggled on with a particularly ancient example and failed to get it up the ramp onto the ash pit:
Tina losing her grip on reality the wheel barrow
Chris who was in the pit shoveling out the ash from 2807 thought that I was leaping to Tina's aid and was disappointed in me when I whipped out my phone to grab a photo instead.  The age of chivalry is long past I'm afraid.  The only other wheel barrow around was the one I got stuck with. It had seen better days.  It only had the one wheel, but that didn't stop it steering like a supermarket trolley:
Note the wonky wheel
Whilst the wheel barrow could just about be propelled when empty, when fully loaded with ash it just locked up solid and refused to go anywhere.
Pushing hard, going nowhere.  Story of my life.
Those last two photos were taken by Tina who was getting her own back for me not having come to her aid when she was struggling with her wheel barrow.  Serves me right I suppose.

Thank you to all who have supported me in my fund raising efforts, either with kind words of support or by sponsoring me.  Special thanks are due to Steve Sperring who dealt with the financial aspect of the exercise and to Tina in helping me ferry my car to Broadway and joining me on the Laverton to Broadway section.  Not that I'm averse to my own company, but after 192 miles of walking solo, it was a very pleasant change to have somebody to converse with.  Many thanks too to George and Ian for a great day on the footplate and for dropping us off at Laverton.

Finally, it's nice to end on a particularly high note.  Whilst I was away, Steve Burnett passed out as a driver and on Sunday, Phil Grange passed out as a fireman.  Congratulations to both of you.  No photos of Steve have surfaced from the day itself, but here is one of Phil just before being examined:
Phil looking cool, calm & collected before his firing exam

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