Catherine, from our Capability Brown Festival team, documents her public transport adventure to Scampston Estate in North Yorkshire.
I’m pretty ambitious when it comes to epic, cross-country public transport adventures, but when I volunteered to write a blog about getting from London to Scampston Estate in North Yorkshire I hadn’t quite realised what I’d committed to.
I’m Australian, and therefore consider combining the words ‘long distance’ with ‘England’ to be rather a quaint notion. So I threw ‘Scampston Walled Garden’ into Google Maps on my iPhone, booked some Virgin train tickets to Malton, and headed off on a sunshiny Tuesday morning.
It’s a good three hour journey to the beautiful Scampston Estate, one of the finest examples of a regency style stately home in North Yorkshire. The house overlooks magnificent parkland designed, of course, by Capability Brown, in 1782. My train departed from Kings Cross on the dot of 8:30am, and I was glad for the air-con as the day was already beginning to heat up. Upon reaching York and waiting on the platform for my connecting train, it occurred to me that I was in fact surrounded by children holding buckets and spades, and only when we all piled on to the Transpennine Express towards Malton did I realise that the train was going onwards to Scarborough and the beach. I wasn’t able push through the crowds of sticky fingered children and hassled looking parents to my allocated seat, so spent the 30 minutes or so overhearing games of i-spy, pressed up against the door. At least I had a lovely view of the passing countryside, which was drier than I expected and reminded me of my own sunburned country half a world away.
Two things impressed me straight away about Yorkshire and the lovely town of Malton. Firstly, the sandwich I bought from the first café I encountered cost £1.95, nothing like what I’ve become used to in London! And secondly, I only had to glance about confusedly for a minute or so before a bus station attendant in a high-vis vest asked me where I wanted to go. As an Aussie, I needed to ask him to repeat himself a few times as I wasn’t completely tuned in to the local accent – of which he was very understanding. I was very grateful for his help, as (horrifyingly) I couldn’t pick up any internet signal on my phone, and being completely reliant on Google Maps, I was close to panic by that stage.
The childlike joy of sitting in the front seat of the top level of a double-decker bus has not diminished with age. I was thrilled to occupy this prime position as we meandered our way past churchyards, charming pubs and open fields. I was also thrilled and somewhat surprised that there was Wi-Fi on the bus. Unfortunately for Scampston, the A63 cuts straight through their Brown parkland. However, it also means that the bus dropped me off a convenient 10 minute walk from the main entrance.
Although it was a long journey, with a little planning it’s completely do-able to visit Scampston for the day from London (or many other parts of the country) using sustainable transport. I spent a wonderful afternoon exploring the 80 acres of the naturalistic planting, sweeping vistas and ingenious lake series for which Capability Brown is so renowned.
As I settled into the comfortable air-conditioned train seat for the journey home I appreciated the fact of not facing a nasty long drive back through traffic. It was this pleasant thought that crossed my mind as the rocking of the carriage sent me to sleep.
To learn more about how the Capability Brown Festival is supporting Brown sites to embrace sustainable transport, join our online webinar on Thursday 29th September as part of the Landscape Institute’s webinar series or download Mr Brown's Green Directions, our Sustainable Transport Toolkit.
About the Author: Catherine Hempenstall is part of the Capability Brown Festival team and enjoys exploring the English countryside and thinking up delightful puns.