Hot on the heels of our trip earlier this week to the National Railway Museum in York, we thought we use our increasingly useful 'York Pass' to take a nostalgic steam train ride on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. A stunning steam train journey from Pickering towards the picturesque Yorkshire seaside town of Whitby.
Maybe it's the whiff of the steam engine's smoke that passes your nose as you peer out over the heather covered moors, or perhaps it's the sound of the squealing brakes as you head into the blackest of tunnels.... or even the friendly stationmaster who greets you before your start the journey but whatever it is about a steam train experience for kids, they should bottle it!!!
Met with grinning faces throughout, it was easy to see that both girls loved every second of this truly fantastic way to spend an afternoon in the North Yorkshire Moors (see our 5 Tips for a Weekend on the North Yorks Moors here)
Hurtling past stations on the 1hr 45min journey from Pickering to Whitby, you're met by stations with evocative names like Grosmont, Levisham or the scene of the original Hogsmeade station in Harry Potter's films at Goathland. (If you love Harry Potter, have you visited Alnwick Castle or the Harry Potter Experience in London - both are well worth the entrance fee!!)
The carriages may not be quite as luxurious as the ones we found on the world famous Flamsbana Railway in Norway..... Nor does it have the gradient of the funicular trains on some of the UK's highest peaks (i.e Snowdon). But for us, it provided a blissful way to enjoy the views across the sweeping moors enroute to Whitby whilst discussing just how we'd find the answers to our latest Treasure Trail (see our Pembroke Castle article for our last attempt)
Perched high on a cliff, it's easy to see why the haunting remains of English Heritage's Whitby Abbey were the inspiration for Bram Stoker's gothic tale of 'Dracula'... But as we were keen to solve our 'Curse of the Vampire' treasure trail.... we'd need to conveniently start our search just outside the railway station some distance below below the Abbey.
Containing some 17 clues, this fun and informative Treasure Trails puzzle kept both girls engaged on our lengthy walk across Whitby... The walk will easily pass the 10,000 steps as you head off in search of clues to solve the eventual location of a missing spell book that will help you 'ward off the vampires'
Not only did it provide a fun opportunity for the girls to see Whitby's sights, it also helped provide lots of background information on the inspiration behind Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'..... taking you up past Royal Crescent, Captain Cook's 'Resolution' statue and up the cobbled streets towards the 199 steps to Whitby Abbey.
All that walking from the West Cliff to the Abbey offers a great opportunity to catch glimpses of the seaside location of Whitby.... from it's bustling harbour to the fantastic view up the Yorkshire Coast.
You'll soon find yourself glancing upwards over soaring gothic architecture, or creeping through smugglers tunnels in the narrow streets of Whitby..... or gasping for breath as you haul yourself up the steps to the Abbey... but it's a great place to explore!! If we'd had more time we might have stopped for a spot of crab catching on the harbour side or even grabbed an ice cream and headed down to the beach via the lift (yes it really has a lift to the beach!)
However, for those families that love a good treasure hunt, you and your kids will be happily puzzled by the range of clues that need solving... some using dates or numbers in stones or words from signs... all jumbled up and requiring some good old problem solving (a perfect road schooling opportunity to add to these 'Top 10 Roadschooling Experiences')
If like us, you've eaten the entire contents of your packed lunch, and need further sustenance... then the array of 'fish'n'chip shops' in the cobbled streets leading up to the Abbey are the perfect place to grab a few minutes rest... before heading up to find the clues hidden in the graveyard above Whitby.
With Halloween approaching, we've already picked our pumpkins (see article here) so we can't wait to see more of Whitby Abbey. Aiming to grab some more creative writing inspiration to add to our Harry Potter Experiences in London....... Visiting at night to meet the Victorian undertaker or hear the Resurrection Man tell us a spine-chilling tale or two about grave robbing. Before we get to hear the story of Dracula brought to life within the illuminated ruins of Whitby Abbey... (see details of English Heritage's half term events here or read our blog about the evening in Whitby)
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