I was up with the crack of dawn as is usual when we are setting off anywhere, showered, dressed and hair done at 06.30am. K was also up early and after we had checked that we had everything that we needed for the day out including our packed lunches for the train, we set off to catch the bus to take us to the Railway station. The platform soon filled with expectant and eager travellers (and of course lots of train enthusiasts all waiting patiently with cameras and cine cameras at the ready.) I was so excited. After all, our last trip on a steam engine pulled excursion had been four or five years ago on the Flying Scotsman.
Eventually and right on time, 6233 the Duchess of Sutherland came puffing round the bend and alongside platform 8. She was pulling 10 coaches in all, and we were in Coach G. We all eagerly clambered on board and found our respective seats where we all stashed our coats, bags and other paraphernalia onto the luggage racks above before settling down for the journey ahead. Our next pick up point was to be Wakefield and from there we would be continuing onto York and then Scarborough.
As is usual when a chartered train pulled by a steam locomotive is pulling a train, the whole journey was peppered with train enthusiasts lining the route with their cameras taking photos of the engine as it roared past, and people with young children were waiving to us, so of course we all took the opportunity to wave back. (with me giving my usual royal wave as I always do on these occasions.) You really do feel like royalty as you ride on these steam train journeys, and it always amazes me how they know which route to wait along so as to catch a glimpse or a good photograph. This one that we were travelling on this Friday was actually the first one to take place this year doing the Scarborough route.
During the journey we were all really well looked after by the train staff, with a tea trolley, present and gift trolley, a raffle (to be drawn during the return journey) and the chance to win a prize to ride on the footplate and drive the Duchess of Sutherland yourself! Yippee! You can guess that this Granny bought some tickets! I bought K a Duchess of Sutherland polo shirt and I bought my usual fridge magnet. Apart from a stop to take on some water where we were all amused to see our engine go steam past us all in reverse, (and then luckily steam back again to continue the journey) we made good time and arrived in Scarborough at 13.06pm, dead on schedule. We were all informed by the staff to return promptly at 17.00pm thereby giving us 4 hours to enjoy Scarborough and take in the sights. Of course, I took the opportunity to take a few snaps of the Duchess as she stood there looking all pristine and smart in her maroon livery.
Eventually we tore ourselves away and exiting the station, we made our way down to the seafront via the winding steps route and from there we walked slowly along the front towards the harbour. It was a beautiful day, we really were lucky because it was warm enough to be without coats. We stopped to watch a man making some sand sculptures of a bear and a crocodile, then we continued on to the harbour walk to the lighthouse. Lot’s of people were making the most of the warm sunshine, sitting on the many benches watching the boat trips out into the bay, so we stayed there for a while to take some photographs of all the boats moored up and the boat rides.
Eventually we began to make our way back along the front to my favourite ice cream parlour for my usual ‘seaside’ treat of a Knickerbocker Glory. K didn’t want her usual chocolate sundae and she just had a chocolate milk shake instead. When we emerged from the ice cream parlour, the Sea Rescue helicopter was hovering out in the middle of the bay and we watched them winch someone from one of the boats who had obviously been taken ill or something, either that or they were doing some practice exercises. Eventually we made our way back up into the town centre where we continued on to the Rotunda Museum of Geology. I have never been before, in fact I didn’t know it existed until the other day when I was constructing a fun quiz for my Spaces friends and it came up in one of my Bing searches about Scarborough. There are certainly some very interesting exhibits inside, but I did feel that it was geared more towards the children rather than adults.
Soon it was time to saunter back up to the train station. We had a toilet break on arrival and K bought herself a steak pasty for her tea on the train. I wanted to take the opportunity to get some more pictures of the Duchess of Sutherland before our return journey began whilst she was stood stationary, so we walked along the platform to the far end and as they were allowing passengers to take a look around the cab, I climbed up as well so that K could take a photograph of me peeking out! It was so hot in there with the firebox open but I was in seventh heaven! Of course my lovely daughter also took a picture of me climbing back down rear first!
Dead on time at 17.06pm we set off from Scarborough for our return journey, and again the whole route was littered with railway enthusiasts (many with very expensive cameras set up on tripod stands) trying to get that ultimate shot of the Duchess as she steamed past. Honestly it must be so gratifying to be the engine driver or one of his mates on one of these steam train excursions! All those people making the special effort to wave at you or take a photo as you steam past! I wouldn’t be able to stop grinning from the minute I set off to the moment I finished! Its just as exiting being a passenger on one, and I do encourage anyone to make at least one journey on a steam pulled charter train in their lifetime.
Despite having to make a diversion during the return journey when part of the intended route was having engineering work done to it, we arrived back in Huddersfield more or less on time. Then it was a fond farewell to all of our other fellow passengers, and as there wasn’t a train due to our town we set off to make the short walk up to the bus station for the bus home. We had enjoyed a wonderful day both weather wise and journey wise, and we certainly hope that it won’t be the last. More pictures to follow in my SkyDrive.