Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Exploring the Moors

Just as in Scotland, Yorkshire is for walking. There are more brochures in the Info Centre about walks than you can possibly imagine. After our climb in Skye I was a little bit reticent to set off on anything too demanding but the walks from the National Park headquarters looked tame enough and we were keen to see the famed ‘white horse’ of Sutton Bank. The scariest part of this trip was the journey up to the park. The road signs warn of a 25% gradient and that’s certainly what it felt like.

The walk itself was easy enough, (if you didn’t look down the embankment beside the path), but it was bloody cold. The Yorkshire wind is biting. It makes your eyes water and your nose run and it burns your lungs if you try to take in too much at once. I was wearing 5 layers of clothing so by the time we’d covered the 2 miles to the horse I was starting to steam up but my extremities were still freezing. 

The horse itself was a bit disappointing from the top so we turned around and walked back. A cup of tea and some slice refueled me enough to take another short walk to a spot deemed ‘ the best view in England’. I’m not sure about that. It looked a bit like the view from Mount Shadwell on a clear day, albeit with a few pretty villages included.

James Herriot declared this 'the best view in England'.
From Sutton Bank we ventured a little further to Helmsley, another picturesque Yorkshire village. There were lots of shops selling nothing in particular but we enjoyed looking at the architecture.

On the way home we viewed the white horse from the bottom of the valley, a much more satisfying view.

The next day we followed the same path via Sutton Bank (so I got to go up the scary slope again), through dozens of little villages called, amongst other things, Suttonunderwhitestonecliff, Hutton-le-Hole, Kirbymoorside, Brompton by Sawden, Ugglebarnby and Mole-beneath-the-horsesbackside (yes I made the last one up) to Whitby on the West coast. The wind was blowing a gale again and it was pretty hairy up on top of the moors. This area is very reminiscent of the Desert Road in NZ, desolate and brown but spectacularly beautiful in its own way.

The town of Whitby is absolutely gorgeous. The beach is accessed via many, many steps from the cliff top above and is bordered by some pretty beach boxes that no doubt are very busy in the Summer. There were just a few hardy souls and their dogs today and the sea was wild and treacherous looking. Geoff and Taine played what might be the easiest and most boring mini golf course I’ve ever seen at the top of the steps but the man running it was lovely so I didn’t mind forking out the money so I could listen to his accent.

We stopped to have a look at Captain Cook’s statue but it started to hail so we high tailed it down into the town. The streets of Whitby are clearly ancient, just wide enough to fit one car if you suck your breath in while you drive through and they lead down to a busy harbor port, where the water is as calm as it is crazy on the other side. We watched a lot of families crabbing from the dock and it wasn’t hard to imagine Captain Cook setting sail from here as he went off to claim Australia for the Commonwealth.

Captain Cook's statue
Whitby Harbour
Lunch was at Alexander’s fish shop and this was my third (and best yet) experience of British fish and chips. This time I went for cod and it was excellent. There was a sign on the counter apologizing for using beef fat to cook the chips but I couldn’t have been more grateful for the cholesterol laden, hand cut, just like my mum used to make, delicacy. As an added bonus the meal came with a pot of tea (3 cups worth) and bread and butter. We also added some mushy peas because it seemed the thing to do. They were, um, mushy.

Another beautiful view of Whitby can be had from the car park by the abbey. We didn’t go in (we’ve expended our budget for ruined buildings) but we parked and got blown about from the opposite direction for awhile.

Scarborough is just a few miles down the road and going there gave us another chance to annoy Taine with our singing, ‘Are you going to Scarborough Fair?’ There was no sign at all of parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme but there were a remarkable number of penny arcades. We spent half an hour and 5 pounds worth of two penny pieces trying to win a plastic rubric cube in a slot machine. It’s not possible to explain the fun had in this exercise so I won’t try.

Penny Arcade - Just one more coin!
By then the afternoon was nearly over so we hightailed it back to Thirsk so Geoff could go for a run before dark while Taine and I fed the ducks by the stream behind our cottage.

We splurged and went to one of the local pubs, The Three Tums for dinner. We may not have won the rubrics cube in Scarborough but it was Steak Night at the Tums so we dined like kings for 22 pound, including a pint of lager each.

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