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Goathland and Grosmont Rail Trail
Author: Claire, Published: 07 Jun 2013 Rating :

North Yorkshire, N York Moors
Walk Type: History trail

Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty:
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A 4 mile linear walk along the old rail line from Goathland to Grosmont with the return leg taken on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, a heritage steam railway. This popular walk follows the route of the 1836 railway which began with horse-drawn carriages along the line. Today, the remaining cinder track gives chance to reflect on the history of the railways as well as an opportunity to enjoy a range of beautiful North York Moors scenery including ancient woodland, fast flowing becks and rolling hills.

The route is almost entirely downhill (the train doing the hard work on the return leg!) with just a short incline to contend with right at the end. There are no stiles on route, just several gates including a few kissing gates. The paths are all well-made and there is just one section alongside the river that becomes quite rocky with lots of steps within the rocks and tree roots. There are sheep on some of the paths so take care with dogs.

The frequency of the train service varies throughout the days and months, so check on the website before you travel (www. Dogs are allowed on the train for an additional charge. Allow 2 hours for the walk plus an additional 30 minutes for the rail journey.

It is easiest to start in Grosmont and catch the train to Goathland first, before walking back. This way you won’t need to worry about the speed you’re walking and whether you’ll miss the train. Grosmont Station is served by trains from Whitby or from Pickering. If you’re coming by car, Grosmont is accessed from the A169, which itself meets the A171 main road just a mile west of Whitby. There is a pay and display car park directly alongside the station in Grosmont (£5 per car per day in June 2013). Approximate post code YO22 5QE.

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Walk Sections

Start to Rail Trail Gate

Start point: 54.401 lat, -0.7124 long
End point: 54.4018 lat, -0.7171 long

Begin by taking the train from Grosmont to Goathland – just a 20 minute journey. This rail line was closed in 1965, along with many others following the Beeching Report. The restoration began with a group of local volunteers and steam enthusiasts from 1967. The project grew steadily and the first employee of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway was appointed in 1972. Today the heritage line employs more than 130 people supported by lots of volunteers. It carries more passengers than any other heritage railway in the UK, with more than 350,000 passengers a year.

Exit the train at Goathland and cross over the footbridge to reach the station buildings. Go down to the far end of the platform to exit via a gate. (If the station looks familiar it may be because it was used as ‘Hogsmede’ in the first Harry Potter film; or, because it appeared in the music video for the 1985 Simply Red hit ‘Holding Back the Years’).

Go straight ahead crossing over the road bridge, and then fork right up the paving stones set into the grass slope. Cross the driveway and join the paved path along the grass verge.

On the right you’ll pass Aidensfield Garage, made famous by the 1960s police TV drama ‘Heartbeat’. Alongside you’ll see an original Ford Anglia police car. The popular drama was first aired in 1992 and finished in 2010 with a total of 372 episodes.

Continue for just another 300 yards, and on the right you’ll reach a brick built building known as the Reading Room. Turn right immediately afterwards onto the road passing the main Goathland car park on the left. Continue past the toilets and a telephone exchange and turn left through a gate marked with a sign for Grosmont and Rail Trail.

Rail Trail Gate to Stepping Stones

Start point: 54.4018 lat, -0.7171 long
End point: 54.4082 lat, -0.7376 long

Keep ahead on the cinder track (the old rail line) and cross the road via a pair of gates to continue. Follow the track winding downhill through the beautiful woodland, with the trees casting dappled light onto the wild flowers below.

The Whitby and Pickering Railway opened in 1836. The railway, planned by George Stephenson as a means of opening up inland trade routes from the sea port of Whitby, was designed and built to be used by horse-drawn carriages. In 1845 the line was re-engineered to allow the use of steam locomotives, but this walk follows the original horse-drawn rail track. This section (from Goathland to Beck Hole) was too steep for the horses. Instead a water-driven winding station was used to haul the carriages up the steep incline. This was a dangerous business and a number of accidents occurred both before and after the introduction of steam. In 1865 the line was finally diverted to avoid this dangerous incline.

At the bottom of the slope the woodland gives way, pass through the gate and stay on the main path passing Incline Cottage to the right. This was once a pair of cottages for railway workers. You’ll soon come to a crossroads of paths, go straight ahead on the smaller path marked as the Rail Trail to Grosmont. Pass by the community orchard on the right (with each tree being under the care of a local school pupil). You will come to the river, Eller Beck.

Stepping Stones to Exit Woodland

Start point: 54.4082 lat, -0.7376 long
End point: 54.4172 lat, -0.7386 long

Cross over the river via the footbridge or, if you’re after a little more adventure, take the stepping stones to the left via the pair of stiles. These stepping stones are the remaining foundations of the rail bridge that spanned the river here. This point is the site of Beck Hole station.

Keep ahead on the main track crossing another small bridge and on the left you’ll come to an ornate carved bench commemorating the horse-drawn railway. The panel facing you shows bridled horses coming towards you and, as you pass, look behind to see the rear view of carved figures sitting within the horse drawn carriage.

Just 100 yards later you’ll come to a three-way signpost (be sure not to miss this). Turn right here on the footpath marked as the Rail Trail. Go down the steps and across the boardwalk and then go up the steps opposite and turn left onto the path. Pass through a disused gateway and keep ahead on the path winding through Buber Wood with the river flowing in a gulley to the left.

After another section of stone steps, ignore the footbridge over to the left. Below you’ll see the remains of an 1847 rail bridge that was washed away in the 1930 floods. Keep ahead on the main path signed to Esk Valley. You’ll reach a gate – pass through this to exit the woodland.

Exit Woodland to Whinstone Cottage

Start point: 54.4172 lat, -0.7386 long
End point: 54.4249 lat, -0.7369 long

Keep straight ahead on the raised cinder track between sheep pastures. Pass through another gate and cross the Murk Esk river on the steel supported footbridge. You’ll notice the original rail bridge foundations remain beneath.

The path continues through the arches of an avenue of mixed trees and beyond the next gate you’ll come to Whinstone Cottage on the right. Whinstone is a hard volcanic rock which was mined here from the 1870s to the 1950s. The hard stone was used for road building and dry stone walls.

Whinstone Cottage to Railway Sheds

Start point: 54.4249 lat, -0.7369 long
End point: 54.4307 lat, -0.7281 long

Further along pass through a gate into the hamlet of Esk Valley. Running perpendicular to the right is a long row of terraced cottages. These were built by local mine owners and rented to ironstone workers. A couple of fields further along on the left, look for the brick ruin, the remains of the ventilation shaft from the ironstone mine.

The track soon runs immediately alongside the current railway line and ahead you’ll reach a gate with the railway sheds just beyond.

Railway Sheds to End

Start point: 54.4307 lat, -0.7281 long
End point: 54.4359 lat, -0.7249 long

Turn left through the kissing gate to join the fenced path. Follow the path uphill alongside the railway sheds (the first and only uphill stretch of this walk). Pass through the gate and ahead there is a bench which makes a great viewing point. You can see down into the centre of Grosmont with the station at its centre and the views beyond stretch for miles into the hills the opposite side.

Turn right heading downhill. Pass through the gate and, immediately afterwards, fork left through a kissing gate. Continue downhill passing the church on your right. Just beyond the church you’ll merge with another path. At this point look back to see two arched tunnel entrances. The smaller one on the left with turrets each side was the entrance to Stephenson’s original horse-drawn railway tunnel (believed to be one of the oldest railway tunnels in the world). It is dwarfed by the one of the right, the double track tunnel of 1845.

Keep ahead over the footbridge across the river and you’ll come to the station ahead, where your walk ends. If you'd like refreshments after your walk, we can highly recommend the Geall Gallery and Artisan Cafe - turn left over the level crossing and you'll find the cafe on the left opposite the entrance to the station car park.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author Claire and may not be reproduced without permission.

8 responses to "Goathland and Grosmont Rail Trail"

This is our favourite walk we take every year when we visit Yorkshire. It's easy and the beautiful countryside is enhanced by lots of seats along the route where we have time to stop and stare! By the Hampshire Four 05 April 2018

By petersfield on 07 Apr 2018

Don’t be put off when signpost shows Esk Valley.

By violyn on 04 Apr 2018

Well written easy to follow walk. Completed today in both directions

By Stokerlady on 14 Jul 2017

We had a great time travelling by train from Pickering to Goathland. The sunny October day meant a really lovely stroll to Grosmont where we had lunch at the pub and caught the train back. Highly recommend this walk for all!

By Mustang51 on 05 Oct 2016

Very easy walk along well made paths. Easiest to walk from Goathland.
Beautiful views enhanced by the sights, sound and smell of the steam trains. Good walk for all.

By bigaljo on 13 Sep 2015

very easy interesting walk.Lovely scenery and great views of the Steam Trains. Well worth the journey.

By bigaljo on 13 Sep 2015

A great walk,we walked out from Goathland over the moors on the opposite side of the valley and then followed this route back.

By Marie Prime on 12 Aug 2015

Lovely walk.

By Riggers on 07 Apr 2015

9 images to "Goathland and Grosmont Rail Trail"

Image by: bigaljo
Uploaded: 13 Sep 2015
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Uploaded: 31 Jan 2017
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There are currently 8 comments and 9 photos online for this walk.

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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