Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Sunday 13 January 2019

Goathland to Grosmont Rail Trail

USA Class S160 locomotive 6046

A simple 3.5 mile walk along side the North Yorkshire Moors Railway

Amazing scenery with the sounds of steam engines chugging up the gradients makes this an awesome walk. The route follows the Esk Valley through woodland and open pasture in this idyllic Yorkshire setting. The return route can be a ride on a steam railway which appeals to most people, and with a steep gradient to scale it provides all the sound and excitement associated with steam trains.

Goathland to Grosmont Rail Trail - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

  • Start location: Goathland 
  • End location: Gromont 
  • Distance:   miles (  km)
  • Total Gain:   ft (  metre)
  • Total Descent:   ft (  metre)
  • Min Height:   ft (  metre)
  • Max Height:   ft (  metre)
  • Walk Time:  
  • Walk type: Linear
  • Walk Grade: Moderate
  • Terrain: Footpaths


The following maps and services can assist in navigating this route. There are links to printed maps and links to downloadable GPX route data for importing into navigational software and apps.



Middlewood Farm, FylingthorpecampsiteView in OS Map | View in Google Map
A family run touring site within a short walk to Fylingthorpe village and Robin Hoods Bay

Route Verification Details

  • Date of Walk: 2016-09-15
  • Walk Time: 09:30 to 11:30
  • Walkers: Griffmonster, Kat
  • Weather Conditions: Bright sunny warm day

Walk Notes

Steam railways seem to have a charisma that draws most folk to stand agog, in awe of these iron beasts. A steam engine is full of sound and action, with steam spitting and whistles blowing making them appear to be living and breathing creatures. Although I have little memory of steam engines running on the national rail network, as it was pretty much before my time, I do nonetheless have a distinct recollection from an early age when my dad took me to the embankment opposite the railway sheds at Wellingborough to witness the steam engines in action. This shed was full of the British Rail 2-10-0 beasts, the largest engines on the whole network and still a personal favourite when it comes to steam traction. This must have been the last days before the steam age faded, to be replaced by the era of the diesel.

I guess being brought up with such visits, plus countless railway excursions, the seeds were planted for a lifetime fascination with the railways. I wouldn't consider myself a train spotter these days but any chance to visit a heritage railway is never turned down. It is not just the steam engines that are an attraction, but the more familiar diesels of my youth that are full of old memories. These days, mainline trains just do not seem to have the character of those years ago, when even the humble diesel had its distinctive sound and one could appreciate the power as they strained to haul their heavy loads along the tracks.

So with a week up in Yorkshire, walking the coastal sections of the Cleveland Way, one could not miss out on an excursion to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR). As we only had one short day, then the chance of both a walk and a train ride was something that could not be refused. Although the coastal areas were covered in dense sea mist, the Esk valley on the Yorkshire moors was bathed in glorious sunshine. This was such a relief as we had thoughts of seeing very little of the landscape of the Yorkshire Moors and although nothing would have prevented this little excursion, it would certainly have not provided such a great day as was experienced. Note for the future, never trust the coastal weather went venturing inland!

The NYMR advertise the Rail Trail between Goathland and Grosmont as a recognised walking route between the two stations with handbooks available for purchase from the station to provide more information about the trail. Although a circular route can easily be defined, it is a far better choice to walk in one direction and then return using the railway. The distance is only three and a half miles but the scenery is magnificent and one can spend casual time in taking in these delights as well as the railway scenes. On this occasion an ageing gentleman out walking his dog provided a half hour of snippets of history, personal experiences and notes of the landscape which was very well appreciated.

The Rail Trail follows the original track bed of the Whitby and Pickering Railway, a line that was inaugurated by Royal Assent in 1833 and constructed by none other than George Stephenson, the man who built the renowned Rocket locomotive. This line had a steep incline up from Beck Hole to Goathland which the locomotives obviously struggled to pull load up. Some years after the railway company had been amalgamated into the North Eastern Railway in 1854, the decision was taken to reroute the line to a more favourable incline, a route that would included the building of Goathland Station and is the present alignment of the railway. There are plenty of reminders of the old line including commemoration plaques and information boards.

Grosmont offers a tea room, a pub and the railway engine sheds, which are publicly accessible through a short foot tunnel from the platform. A visit to the sheds certainly cannot be missed and one can while away the hours admiring the rolling stock that sits on shed. There is also a viewing platform within the shed, although on this occasion little could be seen in the gloomy light, the result of a power cut that was affecting both the villages of Goathland and Grosmont.

The best option on the direction of the walk is to proceed from Goathland to Grosmont and then take the train to return. This means the train has to rise up the incline and put up a good head of steam to get up to Goathland. There is nothing better than the sound of an engine heaving itself up such a bank. If, like myself, one needs to be as close to the experience as possible then one can hang ones head out of the window and arrive at Goathland, hair windswept and full of soot, face dirty and contented grin across ones face. On this occasion we were treated to being hauled by former GWR 2-8-0 locomotive 2807, a visitor to the NYMR which had arrived as a guest for their 2016 Autumn Steam Gala.

heading up the incline
heading up the incline


Easy to follow trail between the stations at Goathland and Grosmont that is fully documented in a booklet available from NYMR

Leave Goathland station car park and proceed straight ahead down the road. After 300yds, turn right onto Beck Hole Road and proceed past the car park. Just before the road bends around to the left, there is a kissing gate on the left leading onto a footpath. Take this and follow the path down. It crosses another road and continues on a cinder track.

Keep to the track until it bends sharp to the right. At this point continue straight ahead on the footpath. The path continues through a wooded area down to the river. At this point there are two possible routes, an easy route which goes straight ahead or a more challenging route across the bridge which then continues along the opposite bank. The two route meet back up shortly after.

The path leads out of the woodland and through the valley with views of the rolling hill. Continue straight ahead where it passes the old chapel and the terrace of cottages. The path then runs alongside the railway for 300 yards before veering off up a hill. Turn right onto the track at the top, then take the next path on the left which leads down to Grosmont station.

Beck Hole
Beck Hole


The Station Tavern, Grosmont View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Front Street, Grosmont

Situated adjacent to the station, this pub was built in 1836 when the railway line was constructed from Whitby to Pickering. This is a family run pub with a traditional bar and a separate dining room. A patio area outside the front of the pub provides fine views of the steam railway and Grosmont Station.


What better place to put a pub, right next to a station so that thirsty travellers can partake in a soothing ale. And this is just what we did, spending the 30 minutes wait for our train consuming a fine ale. Although there was ale offerings from the local Whitby brewery, we opted for the Lincolnshire brewer Brewsters and their Hophead, a well hopped session beer. Top class, tapped fresh from a new barrel.

Railway through the hills
Railway through the hills


History of the North Yorkshire Moors RailwayView in OS Map | View in Google Map

It was George Stephenson, the steam engine pioneer that first proposed a railway line to take goods from the port of Whitby to the inland towns down through to Pickering. He had been requested to report on possible routes for a railway with the intention of increasing the dwindling trade at the port. A railway would open up the goods from the sea to potential new customers inland. The proposal was accepted and received royal assent in 1833.

The railway was completed in 1836 giving 24 miles of single track worked by horses. This included a steep 1 in 15 incline over nearly a mile of track from Beck Hole up to Goathland which required a rope mechanism to pull the trains up the gradient. A rope would attach a train in each direction using gravity to assist the train going up. A water tank was attached to the downward train which would then be emptied and attached to the next upward bound train.

In 1845 the railway was absorbed into the York and North Midland Railway who rebuilt the line as a double track and extended it through to York. This opened up the industrial regions of the west Riding as well as making Whitby accessible for holiday makers. The present day stations along the route were also constructed and finally steam engines substituted the horses. The Beck Hole incline still required additional assistance to haul the trains up and a stationary engine was installed at Goathland using an iron rope to pull the trains.

In 1854 the railway merged into the North Eastern Railway and once again the Beck Hole incline came under question. Eventually in the early 1860s the decision was made to reroute the railway to its present alignment which negates the steep incline, allowing steam engines to ascend unaided.

This line lasted through the merger to the London and North Eastern Railway and nationalisation into British Railways. However the dreaded Beeching Report of the 1960s declared the route as uneconomic and it was earmarked for closure. Although the last passenger service ran on 6th March 1965, freight operations continued for a further year.

The line had only closed for a year before The NYMR Preservation Society was formed with ambitions of purchasing the line. After a lot of fund-raising and effort the line was purchased and so began the start of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. The line has since become a major tourist attraction, earning many awards over the years. The section from Grosmont to Whitby was retained as part of Network Rail tracks on their Whitby to Middlesborough line. However in 1987 negotiations with the main line authorities were rewarded with through trains being added to the timetables.

Diesels at Grosmont
Diesels at Grosmont


Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on an image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: 2021-12-07

2017-10-05 : Initial publication
2019-01-13 : General website updates
2021-03-17 : Update website improvements and removal of ViewRanger reliance
2021-12-01 : Removal of ViewRanger links due to its imminent demise

  1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I scoured the internet for info on this walk and most sites want log ins etc, or are just blogs with selfies. this has a lovely map, useful info and a bit of history - so thank you!


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