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Fade to Grey–Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay

14 Oct

Whitby morning stroll (2)So what was today? Up early to see the sun rise near the Abbey, and a gentle walk along the top of the cliffs as a foretaste of my later adventures.

After a socially distanced breakfast (by virtue of there only being me eating breakfast) it’s off on the bike, destination Robin Hood’s Bay, known locally as ‘The Bay’ or ‘Bay Town’. The first part of the route is pleasantly To Robin Hoods Bay (10)gravel and cinder track, and there’s even a little bit of sun. But both of those soon peter out, and I decide that the best way to get to the Bay is to simply walk it. And the sunshine has been replaced with skies that challenge an artist’s palette of greys – carbon and graphite battle it out with battleship, platinum and gunmetal to paint the sky in leaden tones.

To Robin Hoods Bay (18)The few folk I do meet express surprise at the presence of a bike, but understanding dawns when I explain that I’ll be able to take the easy way back.

Cliff top views are interspersed with drops down for little streams and brooks to reach the sea, and the bike has to be hoisted over innumerable stiles and gates. But it’s still a beautiful day, the calming rush of the waves is never far away along with the call of the gulls – a robin puts in an appearance, reminding me suddenly of my father.

Robin Hoods Bay (4)Round the corner and somehow a bullock has escaped his field. He takes fright as I approach, even though I try and give him room, and rushes headlong down the clifftop path. I’m expecting him to make it to Robin Hood’s Bay, but he’s equally afraid of another walker coming in the opposite direction, so I skip off the path to let him wander back and rejoin his herd, albeit with a fence in between them.

Whitby (5)I slip and slide down the muddier paths, landing on my backside more than once, but eventually rounding the corner and down the hill into the bay. It’s actually quite busy here – everyone seems to have a dog or two, and I seek to avoid the crowds by climbing the cliff path before grabbing a very pleasant carrot and coriander soup at a kiosk and then heading back down the old railway line towards Whitby.

Whitby (7)Time to recharge my batteries (the phone, the camera, me) before another ride out – this time up the cliffs to the north of Whitby before grabbing some supper (no cooking facilities in the hostel, so it’s sandwiches only) and retiring to be the only person in the place again…



More than a feeling..or, is this the road to Hull?

13 Oct

IMG_2124Out of Oundle, and we’re pretty swiftly into the Fens. For those of you not familiar with the East Coast of England, it’s flat. Really flat. Like someone’s taken a celestial steamroller and crushed all opposition beneath its wheels. Then man has come along and peppered a few farm houses here and there, the occasional hamlet desperately clinging on to passing trade and subsidised farming. The day is beautiful and sunny as if it’s welcoming me out on my little adventure.

So, first stop Boston. This town where the tidal rivers Witham and Haven merge is a strange amalgam of tidal river port and farming community, and always makes me feel like I am closer to the sea than I really am..or further inland than I really am. Where I come from rivers stay in their place unless it rains heavily, and rarely, if ever, go down to mudflats and sandbanks.

IMG_2127But this town is where the fun starts.. finally heading north down wonderfully winding B roads and lesser known A roads, and the Fens turn almost instantly into the gently rolling hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds, almost as if someone has crumpled the sheets on a well made bed. There are windmills both old and new, and towns with wonderful names like Mavis Enderby and Belchford. Later on I will regret not visiting Wetwang, or the abandoned village of Wharram Percy, but I have to press on, heading north into a sombre sky. The sun has passed, and a steady mizzle has me feeling glad that I’m in a car today.

The road unfolding in front of me brings a strange and deep peace that settles into my mind, my heart, and even into my bones. At the moment there is nothing to decide, nothing to juggle – no pressure, no demands. I don’t feel guilty about what I’m not doing, or wonder if I should be somewhere else. There’s just me and the open road, crunching miles under my tyres. A brief stop in the old Roman village of Caistor and then it’s on to the Humber bridge.

A moment of panic when Waze tells me that it’s 70 miles to my next stop, and I assume the bridge must be shut.. then I remember that I’ve told it to avoid toll roads and we’re only a couple of miles the other side of the estuary, over the bridge. I’ve crossed with this bridge before, but this time I have a real sense of vertigo and dizziness crossing under the high pillars that hold the catenary wires, and I have to focus hard on the road ahead.

IMG_2134The Wolds of the East Riding of Yorkshire bring more wonderful roads that wind and dip and swoop and bring deep tranquillity back in a heartbeat.. I can see why the bikers like them, and so I take a diversion of a few miles cos that’s what the book suggests, and stop for coffee at the Seaways biker haunt. It’s a bit short of trade today, with just one scooter riding local in the shop, but the pie and the coffee are good, so I’m heading toward the coast and Scarborough.

IMG_2144I’ve never been to Scarborough, so it’s time for another diversion to a windswept and rainlashed sea wall. You have to be keen to be out today, but there’s plenty of takers – dog walkers, ramblers, young couples strolling romantically if determinedly hand in hand.

The last leg takes me round the edges of the North York moors and roughly up the coast to Whitby. While I expect to return to Robin Hood’s Bay the next day, I decide that a stop is in order, pausing just long enough to get a couple of photos before jumping back in the car. You never know what tomorrow might bring, so it’s best to take memories when you can get them.

IMG_2150Finally, it’s into the hostel, sitting quietly in the shadow of Whitby Abbey on top of the hill above the town. It’s almost ethereality quiet – the kitchens are closed and everyone is staying in their own space. But rooms are good value – a twin is less than £30 a night. I get settled – the room is spartan but comfortable,, and I’m reminded of a monk’s cell, if a monk’s cell had bunk beds.

Time for a walk down the hill into town – fish and chips by the sea seems to be appropriate, and I take a stroll down the harbour wall, the twin lighthouses at the end flashing red and green to guide the trawlers and fishing boats in to harbour. A gentle stroll round the town turns into a high energy climb back up to hostel.. time to write this blog before I turn in for the night. Tomorrow promises sunny spells…

Peterborough – Boston – Horncastle – Louth – Caistor – Barton-Upon-Humber – Pocklington 0 Fridaythorpe – Foxholes – Scarborough – Whitby

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