East Midlands Three in Seven: Day Two

Another enjoyable day out on the railways of the East Midlands. As with last Thursday’s spiel, all this is written primarily for my own (future) reminiscence. Anyone else is of course welcome to dig in if you feel so inclined, but it comes with no guarantee of satisfaction….

Willington Day Two

The plan…

  • Willington 10:25 – Derby 10:36
  • Derby 11:16 – Sheffield 11:44
  • Sheffield 11:53 – Doncaster 12:33 [Northern service Lincoln – Adwick]
  • …..or Sheffield 12:24 – Doncaster 13:04 [Northern service Sheffield – Scunthorpe]
  • Doncaster 13:37 – Cleethorpes 14:41
  • Cleethorpes 15:37 – Grimsby 15:33
  • Grimsby 15:45 – Lincoln 16:40
  • Lincoln 17:26 – Nottingham 18:30 (option for a stop off in Newark)
  • Nottingham 20:40 – Willington 21:17

Read all about it after the break…

Not such a good day for it weather-wise. I suppose it’s both predictable and poetic that it is (gently) persisting down as I set off for the seaside. The Cardiff – Nottingham train I’ll be on as far as Derby is more or less on time as it approaches Burton. Only three fellow Willingtonites await it this morning.

The Nottingham service is well loaded. This has been the first time on this mini-escapade I’ve had to stand. I could have easily got a seat alongside someone else, but as it’s less than ten minutes to Derby it’s as easy to stand in the vestibule. 

At Derby, a steady walk through the subway from platform 6 to 1 and the Glasgow train appeared very soon afterward to take me to Sheffield. Right time off Derby but it was a very leisurely departure — it wasn’t until Milford Tunnel that we seemed to have got into our stride. Another fullish train; I’m squeezed in, though as it’s one of the extra legroom seats I’ve managed to find myself in, it isn’t that much of an actual squeeze. 

Welcome to Sheffield

Once at Sheffield there was a quick stop for cash. Then straight onto the 11:24 for Scunthorpe. Question: Will I stop on this all the way to Scunny or have a break at Doncaster? Lack of coffee so far makes me favour the latter. Also this is inevitably another Pacer and it’s scheduled to stop at every village in South Yorkshire & North Lincolnshire, or so it seems. 

The journey out of Sheffield and the diversion through Rotherham is a study in Yorkshire’s industrial decline. The sites of factories and multitudes of siding connections which once lined this route are discernible in the undergrowth or have disappeared completely under retail parks. Aldwarke steel works remains as a sprawling site but it didn’t look busy — is it still operating in any form? All this kept a bloke a few seats away busy with his camera — derelict factories seemed to be his “thing” .

I got what seemed like the first view of green fields since entering Sheffield as we left Mexborough. Conisbrough seems popular with several folk getting on or off and with its castle over the river, I guess there’s a lot of history about the area I know nothing about.

Very soon after we were in Doncaster – well, after a brief wait for the platform.

Bacon Butty in SBs

It turns out Doncaster station has a a not unpleasant Starbucks on the platform – much more than the kiosk which seems to suffice elsewhere (notably not at Derby though). A bacon butty was called-for to keep me going. Looking at the options now,  I’ll be on the 12:37 Transpennine Express for Cleethorpes (1B37) which is currently three late leaving Sheffield. 

Over to Transpennine Express. It was a nearly right time departure from Doncaster with plenty of seats to choose from. For the first time all trip, I chose “the special seat”.

The north Lincolnshire countryside is remarkably similar to that of the south of the county. Flat. Wet. Arable. Wind turbines as far as the eye can see. 

North Lincs wind turbines

  • Medge Hall
  • Appleby Lincs

Scunthorpe – first time I’ve actually been here as far as I can recall (it’s possible I may have passed through on a childhood jaunt, but I have no memory of it). It’s unfair to judge anywhere just on what you see from the train. All I can say, therefore, is first impressions met expectations. 

Lots of rolling countryside beyond. 

  • Elsham
  • Foxton Sdgs ??

The two redundant signal boxes boxes at Barnetby are still there. Someone has had one of the name boards from Wrawby Jn box though. 

Sad to see the abandoned goods lines north of Barnetby. The reduction of traffic to Immingham docks being an indication of the rundown of our export economy?

  • Marsh Jn 

It is what it is, of course, but the prize for the worst scenic rail journey – probably in the world – is Grimsby to Cleethorpes! It is damp & grey as I arrive at Cleethorpes — 13:45 being an hour earlier than planned. Right, where’s the chippy?


Cleethorpes station

 Cleethorpes seaside

Cleethorpes Pier

Cleethorpes from the pier

I had a stroll around. The prom, the pier (recipient of a national best pier award 2016, apparently) and a bit of the town. Very much put in mind of a line from a Chris de Burgh song; something about an “out of season holiday town in the rain”. Those folk there were here were putting a grave face on it but they were fairly few & far between. The tea room on the pier appeared quite busy though. Turns out I’m really hungry enough for chips yet, so other than taking some snaps for posterity, nothing tempted me to stay longer than the next train out of here – the one I arrived on – at 14:26. I’ll see what Grimsby has to offer. 

Grimsby station

Over to the iPad 

I’m typing this on my iPad to marry it up with the main diary on my phone later. The poor thing needs a rest from all the snapping.

I’m in Grimsby. (See how I avoided the modern curse of beginning that paragraph with “so”. So, I’m in Grimsby…)

So, I’m in Grimsby and while it’s still mizzling a bit, I quite enjoyed my mooch round the town centre. I’ve got to be honest and say my first impressions weren’t positive. How many vape shops does one town need? Not that this singles Grimsby out these days of course. As I wandered around, the place grew on me. While it may not be the Bull Ring, I thought the main shopping centre was quite impressive – certainly as large as most city shopping centres and I’d say it gives both the Eagle Centre (whatever it’s called these days) and the Victoria Centre a run for their money. Well, maybe not, but not so far behind.

For all my disparaging comments about the journey between here and Cleethorpes earlier, I have to concede that Grimsby does have its picturesque corners. Anything that could be said against it can certainly be said for any urban area. On a positive note, I wasn’t asked for change once.

A picturesque corner of Grimsby

Another corner of Grimsby

Having done all the exploring of the town I cared to do, but still with 45 minutes for the Newark train, I headed back to the station. I made my first, and only, contribution to the Grimsby/Cleethorpes economy by buying a coffee from the really quite decent station buffet while I type this.

I think I made the right choice to come back here rather than try and kill time in Cleethorpes. While I’m in such a kind-hearted mood, I ought to also temper my earlier less-than-complimentary remarks about Cleethorpes too. It’s a bucket and spade destination and as it’s no longer summer. It’s clearly not going to present at its best at this time of year. It’s a universal fact that seaside towns always look as though their best days are behind them and in that context, the pier especially at Cleethorpes definitely seems to deserve its accolade. What attracts families with young children to the seaside is, frankly, never going to work for me at my time of life, so I shouldn’t criticise it for being what it is.

Moving on. The Newark train has arrived.

I retraced my footsteps before hitting new territory at Barnetby. The sun briefly tried to show itself and there was a fleeting glimpse of a rainbow over the Lincolnshire Wolds around North Kelsey Moor (as well as an old coach body in someone’s garden – not that this information is pertinent to my weather report).

Market Rasen is somewhere I’ve never been. It looks quite picturesque from the train.

Market Rasen from the train

  • Wickenby.

Lincoln cathedral comes into view in the distance.

Factory farms or not, it is striking how many people still work in agriculture. So many tractors busy doing their thing after the harvest has been gathered in. 

  • Langworth.

These random place names, by the way, are signal boxes. Deserted now as their function has all (?) been transferred to York. There have been several more on this journey whose names I haven’t caught in time.

It was a 16:38 arrival at Lincoln where the single car train (EMT class 153) got very busy – college students in the main, it seems. Next stop is Collingham. Where, to my absolute astonishment, only one person got off. New car park or not, it seems there are few Lincoln commuters living in or around Collingham??

17:09 – Newark Northgate (on time, I think).

Newark Northgate station


The lasting effects of the bacon butty at Doncaster finally wearing off, my second port of call at Newark (after taking several photos of and around the station) was the chippy on North Gate itself. A solid five out of ten – the pie could have done with being a bit less cold. 

The walk into the town centre was accompanied by the evening rush hour traffic virtually at a standstill in all directions. Situation normal, I suspect, regardless of two bypasses for the town. 

My destination was ‘Just Beer’, a GBG listed micro pub cunningly hidden in one of the multitude of “yards” which run down to the river. An Ashover ‘Turned to Stone’ to slake my thirst. The place was alive with witty banter courtesy of half a dozen or so local bar flies whom I suspect had mostly been in all afternoon. 

Just Beer Newark 

Neepsend ‘Sharp Shooter’. 

After a couple I went over the road to the Flying Circus (that has to be unique as a pub name?). Pentrich ‘Eighteen Seventeen’ – second Derbyshire beer of the evening. 

This place is even less busy than the micropub. Four customers, one of whom I suspect may be the landlord, and one of whom is busily tapping away at his MacBook. That all said, it’s a pub that seems to tick a lot of boxes. The beer choice is extensive — five real ales (of which only one is ‘meh’ and that’s Spitfire). The others include Magpie ‘Happily Ever After’ which is a local beer and Snake Eyes ‘Black Iris’. This, like the final offering, an eponymous house ale, is 3.8% – ruling it out of most circumstances. 

Away from real ale, there’s an interesting selection including — remarkably — Goose Island IPA on draught (or should that be ‘draft’ in this context?). At £3/pt that’s bloomin’ good value (the real ales are all £3.40 or £3.50/pt).

The soundtrack is a little louder than necessary but none the worse for that — a blues rock selection for which I again think we have Spotify to thank. Rory Gallagher as I type according to Shazam. They have a stage area for bands that looks well used and the posters suggest that this genre is very much their thing. I imagine there’s an awful lot of potential for a good night here. 

Newark Castle at night

To the station in plenty of time for the Matlock train (2A66) which was waiting in the platform (a 158 which seems misplaced for this diagram?). A scan of a discarded Metro to remind me of why I get all my news from Private Eye and off we go on time at 19:47. 

Something very large is under construction on the ‘country’ side of the station (what used to be a lorry park for the cattle market?). Couldn’t see what it is in the dark though. The preparations for the Obstacle Detection equipment at the crossing seem to be proceeding apace – the abolition of the signal box presumably being relatively imminent?

Beyond that, all I have to report is that it was all very dark — outside at least. Consequently there’s not a lot else to say. Home now and off out to do it all again (well, similar) tomorrow.

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