Passenger Tales Pre 2014
A Grand Day Out on the Moorsbus By Judy Dixon
It was the custom some years ago when our young teenage daughter came to stay, she could choose what we did together.
Heather had become adept at reading the Moorsbus timetable and working out a new route each time she came. And so it was this bright sunny day in August a few years ago that we were on the way on the 128 to Helmsley, our furthest destination Square Corner! What a name, we were both quite excited!
At each stop on the way, our bus picked up a couple of ladies and as the rhyme says
“the ladies on the bus went chatter, chatter”. The Cropton Women’s Institute were on their day out -to Square Corner! As we approached Helmsley, the heavens opened with an almighty rain storm. I suggested we return home. No way! We all dashed across the road to catch a little bus to Osmotherley and Square Corner. As the bus climbed the hill to Rievaulx Terraces, the sun shone brighter and continued all day.
The bus wended its way through the wooded Bilsdale valley: from time to time gentlemen dressed for walking got on, their heads sunk in their anorak hoods while conversation went back and forth about families and friends as well as events that had gone and were to be. From time to time gentlemen walkers would spring up and jump off and be replaced by another.
At the top of Chop Gate, there were clear views across to Teesside, to Roseberry
Topping and Cook’s monument. Soon we were passing through Osmotherley, climbing a narrow road to a coll between two hills on the Cleveland escarpment.
The driver announced “Square Corner Terminus”. Out in the fresh air we admired the view across to the Dales and wondered at the number of people of all ages walking past on the Cleveland Way. I took a photo of the WI grand day out and the ladies all said ‘cheese’ beautifully. We all too soon had to clamber back on the bus to Osmotherley where we dispersed for lunch. Osmotherley was a fascinating place where the Post Office sold hiking boots and anoraks –it seemed that those on the Cleveland Way needed replacements when they reached there. The toilets doubled as a Tourist Information Centre with a long wall absolutely covered in most useful information. Another local shop had souvenirs from all round the world. Osmotherley had much more of interest which we didn’t explore but it is always good to have an excuse to return.
We all gathered around a large stone in the centre of the village to wait for the bus to Danby. This took us along winding lanes through Great Busby, Ingleby Greenhow, Battersby, Kildale and then up onto the moors to Commondale - what a collection of names! I would have liked to have shown Heather Kildale, where I lived during the War: the dairy from where we collected our milk is now a café…However, the timetable did not allow that. Heather and I alighted for tea and delicious cake at Castleton while the Cropton WI continued on to Danby for theirs. We returned to Pickering via Hutton le Hole. What had the weather been like in Ryedale? After the early rain storm, it had been a fine day but the news was that there had been dreadful thunder storms, hailstones and whirlwinds down the Yorkshire coast from Scarborough to Hull. Square Corner had been definitely the best destination for a grand day out.
Lost Bus at Blakey by Bill Breakell
Most pictures of Moorsbus show a beautiful landscape on a sunny day, usually with a splash of purple heather in the foreground. That’s most people’s memories of their bus ride too.
But at either end of the season the wind and rain can set in.
And the snow.
One October evening, after I assumed all the buses and their passengers were either at their ultimate destination, or nearly there, I had a phone call.
“A Moorsbus has gone off the road on Blakey Ridge.” It was a poor quality telephone line, and it ended somewhat abruptly.
It was warm at home, and I looked through the window to see the snow was blowing in on the sides of the road. I phoned the police with my brief message: they said they would go and investigate, would I go along as well? We came to the conclusion that, hopefully, no ambulance was required at this stage.
I met the police van at Hutton le Hole and we slowly headed north in convoy along the middle of the road – blue lights eerily bouncing off the snow drifts. Visibility deteriorated as the snow turned horizontal reflecting my headlights back at me and making every gorse bush and bank look like a missing Moorsbus.
Four miles on, where the map shows Stone Rigg, our lights picked out the reflectors on the back of a bus. Through the blizzard we could make out the flattened snow-packed heather leading some hundred yards off the road. The bus must have either missed a corner in the white-out, or skidded off the road and then trundled over the snow in a straight line.
With torches in hand we waded through the snow to find the bus cold and deserted. No-one around, not even a sheep.
Thanks to the police radio, messages were relayed back to headquarters and to the Lion Inn where, sure enough, driver and passengers were in good shape. They had managed to get a lift there to await further rescue and the onward journey to Teesside.
The bus remained there on the moor until the weather improved and, ignominiously it was towed back onto the road, and taken back to the depot.
I still travel that road and imagine the lost Moorsbus of Blakey.
Give Us a Push Please by Bill Breakell
The Moorsbus routes were literally a new departure for many buses, and their drivers.
This required a new approach for some of the ‘long-distance’ drivers, not only were the roads usually narrower than their normal town and city routes, but also they had new hazards to contend with. Sheep, tractors, grouse and other road users not usually found on the streets of Hull or Darlington. They also had quite a different group of passengers most of whom were on the bus for leisure, rather than going to work, or shopping. Many passengers will have fond memories of the core drivers, especially their friendliness and skill. Often getting onto the ‘Moorsbus rota’ became fiercely contested in the larger bus depots.
At the beginning of each season, some of the operators ran ‘ghost buses’ – training trips for new staff so they could learn the intricacies of the route, and simultaneously giving a day out for drivers’ partners and children who joined them on the exercise.
But the buses themselves were also more used to short, stop-start services in towns and cities, rather than the long journeys and steep hills on a Moorsbus day. When Moorsbus was first being developed in the early 1990s, there were vehicle breakdowns as buses overheated or developed other faults. This was frustrating for all – passengers, drivers and Moorsbus staff. And often the breakdown occurred many miles from the base depot, meaning that a replacement vehicle took a long time to reach the scene of the breakdown.
One Sunday afternoon, passengers bound for Hull found their laden double-decker struggling on its homeward journey. A few miles south of Malton one hill in particular proved troublesome and the driver asked those who could manage the walk up the hill to get off. Some even managed to give the bus a bit of a shove.
Bus and passengers were re-united at the top of Grimston hill and – slightly later than planned – the bus deposited its passengers at Beverley and Hull without further mishap.
Only on Moorsbus would you find that everybody took the day in their stride – drivers and passengers alike. There’s no record of the fate of the wheezing bus.