Friday evening I headed northbound. I couldn’t see much out of the window as the rain poured down. Four things stuck in my mind as I passed through the picturesque villages of Yorkshire, ducks shaking off the water on a village green, a soggy hare hopping on to find shelter, lots of birds on wires and a warning sign for Frost Damage.
When I arrived at my hotel in Scarborough they gave me a card to a room, where upon entering I found a man’s jacket hung up, a sports bag on the floor and night clothes laid out on the bed. Back to reception, I secured a card for the correct room. Room 315 not 415. I had a shower, got dry and lay down in a bed that tilted backwards and headed off to the Land of Nod, funnily enough I saw a sign for a place called that on the way here.
The next morning I awoke to the sound of seagulls. There was light rain. I had a stroll across the bridge to take a few photographs.
I set off to Whitby. As I arrived I noticed there were many seagulls scouring the area for scraps of food. I was hungry too, I popped into a greasy spoon cafe for breakfast and a pot of tea for one, then headed off to the Abbey. As I walked along the little cobbled lanes of shops selling trinkets, Whitby Jet and paintings, I saw an interesting little stall. Candle Boats. I had to buy one! The man selling them was really friendly and told me how he imports them from India. They came with instructions and he said his phone number was on there and that he would be getting a website soon.
I climbed the 199 steps to the Abbey. At the top I took my camera out briefly to take a few shots. I quickly put it away as it had now started raining heavily.
I walked swiftly through the churchyard. I went to pay to go in and ended up chatting for quite a while to the man behind the counter. We talked about several different topics, other English Heritage places I’ve visited and that he’d visited, him wanting to go to Glastonbury in a camper van. I informed him that I have a ’68 VW camper shell that I hope to get on the road this year. After a while, I decided to make a move, as I felt I could have ended up there chatting to him for hours.
First I went to the Cholmley family mansion which now houses the visitor centre. I did a rubbing on a metal plate and stamped a border on it. The centre contains many intriguing items from Anglo-Saxon, medieval and Cholmley periods. There are interactive screens where you can find out more information and question historical figures. There’s also a film to watch. Then off outside I went.
Here I was at St. Hilda’s Abbey, walking in the footsteps of Caedmon the cowherd, who transformed into an inspired poet whilst working as a herdsman attached to the monastery of Whitby Abbey and of course Bram Stoker who set part of his Gothic novel Dracula here. The ruins are just as magnificent as I remembered! I took a few photographs and went to shelter in the part of the Abbey that still has a roof.
The rain wasn’t stopping, so back down the 199 steps I went. It was time for something to eat. Knowing fish and chips always taste better at the coast, that’s what I’d decided upon. I walked along the streets to find somewhere. It had stopped raining now and the sun made a brief appearance. I took a photograph of myself next to a gate with two whales on it. They reminded me of the Fail Whale on Twitter. I passed a Greengrocers with carrots hung up outside. I saw a few places but they were takeaways and it had now started raining heavily again. I walked on until I came upon a restaurant called Royal Fisheries, it had won awards and I could sit in, this seemed like the perfect place, or perhaps that should be perfect plaice? I saw that the portions were rather large, so managed to blag a senior citizen’s portion with bread and butter and a pot of tea for one. It was very tasty and the staff were friendly and extremely helpful.
As there was still a heavy downpour, I made the decision to go to the pub I saw earlier. It was called The Station Inn and on the chalkboard outside it stated it was “Cleveland CAMRA Pub of the Year”. The inside was adorned with railway memorabilia. I normally prefer dark ale, but decided to try Copper Dragon Golden Pippin. It was good, but not the best I’ve tasted. As it was still pouring outside, I asked the barman to pour me another. This time I opted for Black Dog Brewery Whitby Abbey, it had a fruity taste and I much preferred this one.
It was time to go to my next destination. Off to Flamborough Head over the North Yorkshire Moors, I saw no sign of Cathy or Heathcliff. Flamborough Head is one of my favourite places. The white lighthouse stood proudly in front of me. I took a few photos, as it wasn’t raining! Off to the beach down the many wooden steps. As I got closer it dawned upon me that the tide was coming in, so that would put pay to exploring the caves. Never mind, I thought, I’ll come back another time. One big step down and I was on sand. I walked up and down the small section of beach that the tide hadn’t claimed. I sat down on the concrete remains of the old steps. I watched as the swifts and seagulls circled above me. I took a few more photographs, then went for another walk and saw the swifts entering and exiting their nests high up on the chalk cliffs. I turned around and looked out to sea and saw something in the grey expanse that was also grey. It was a seal. Fascinated, I watched it for quite a while as its head bobbed up and down as the waves washed over it. It kept disappearing under the water and then would pop up in a different location.
Now it was time for dinner. Back I went through the quaint little Yorkshire villages, until I came to Middleton-on-the-Wolds and The Robin Hood Inn. I received a very friendly welcome and was told to take a seat and they would bring my food and drink to me. Great pub grub! I said thank you and farewell.
I headed back at a leisurely pace. Once I returned I had the best sleep I’d had in quite some time, I must get out and get some more sea air this summer!