North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Pickering to Levisham – Review
By Karl Hornsey
In these strange and tumultuous times, each and every one of us has sought solace from some of the simpler things in life, something reassuringly ‘normal’, relaxing or positive. And so it was that we found ourselves idling away a wonderful hour on the newly re-opened North Yorkshire Moors Railway route from Pickering to Levisham on a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon.
As in all walks of life, it’s all about taking small steps back to something like the norm, and that’s certainly with the NYMR, who have taken every precaution possible to make sure their patrons can feel safe and secure while enjoying their fantastic service. While it was a shame that we couldn’t sample any of the food options that are usually on offer, it was simply a joy to see the service back up and running, the staff and volunteers able to go about their business doing what they do best and, most of all, to be able to enjoy the stream train journey, even if a relatively brief one there and back to Levisham.
There’s almost a family-run feel to the railway that is wonderfully heartwarming to see in action, in a location that wouldn’t look out of place in a Sunday evening ITV drama along the lines of Foyle’s War or Poirot.
For those wondering whether it’s safe to travel, then I can reassure them that that’s very much the case. Only a selected number of the tables and seats can be booked out, ensuring plenty of space for all passengers, with a one-way system in place around the station and a number of hand sanitisers dotted about.
There’s still almost a childlike wonder that comes over people when they see a steam train, and a quick wander around Pickering shows the influence that the railway has on the town, and it’s easy to imagine the amount of people drawn there by the number and variety of old steam engines that operate on the line from time to time. You can see it even now in the eyes of those who flock to take photographs of the trains and who wave as it winds its way through some of the most glorious countryside the county has to offer.
The journey took us gently out of Pickering, gradually gathering something of a head of steam (pun intended), but never to the point of not being able to take in the views that offered themselves along the way, arriving in Levisham around 20 minutes later. For steam enthusiasts, this then leads to one of the most fascinating points of the trip, as the engine is moved from one end of the train to the other in order to take us back to Pickering, in an operation that took around 15 minutes to perform.
And so it was that we made our return journey, feeling as though we’d also gone back in time somehow, to a world and a lifestyle that felt wonderfully, exquisitely far, far away from the one that has been so turned upside down of late. For anyone wanting to experience such a thrill, the NYMR railway, be it from Pickering or other stations such as Goathland and Grosmont, is back in business. And for that we should all be grateful.
Prices given are for The Optimist, running daily until 13th September. Tickets must be purchased in advance. A return journey costs £35 for an adult, £70 for a duo ticket for two seated at a table, £72 for a family of four at a table, or a compartment for up to six people is £150. Dogs welcome for £3, carers go free with a paying blue badge holder, and NYMR members get 50% off the advertised ticket price.
More info: nymr.co.uk