Sunday, March 26, 2006

Walk 124 -- Filey to Scarborough

Ages: Colin was 63 years and 322 days. Rosemary was 61 years and 99 days.
Weather: Mild and cloudy — drizzle at the end.
Location: Filey to Scarborough.
Distance: 12 miles.
Total distance: 997 miles.
Terrain: Concrete prom at the beginning and end. Mostly undulating grassy cliff paths which were muddy and slippery in places.
Tide: In.
Rivers: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: None.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We rented a cottage for a week on a farm near the village of Rudston — we had driven up from Bognor the day before. We planned to park in the long-term car park by Scarborough Station and catch the 9.25 bus to Filey because there are no trains on a Sunday. The car park was completely empty, tucked away behind high walls and would have cost us £4.20. We didn't relish paying that amount of money to have our car vandalised, so we opted for Plan B — to park near North Bay (where we intended to finish the Walk), trek back into Scarborough and catch the 10.25 bus. This we did, parking for free, but 10.25 came and went — no bus. Then a bus inspector turned up, told us we had missed the bus because we were waiting at the wrong stop! I showed him my information sheet printed off the internet from the very website advertised on the bus stop, and telling us to wait at Stand O, which we were. He was most apologetic then, asked if he could have the sheet and said he would ‘have it out with them’. We caught the 11.25 bus at the stand round the corner!
At the end, we had our tea and then drove straight back to the cottage in the rain.

It is the first day of British Summer Time, so we lost an hour’s sleep last night.
As we left Filey Bus Station, we met three men (one young, the others sort of middle-aged) who asked us where we were hiking to. When we explained about our Round-Britain Coastal Trek, they said they were doing the same thing! But they had only just started as they lived in Withernsea and had come up from there in five Walks. They said they were going to write about their adventures on a website, but they hadn’t got it set up yet. So Colin gave them his e-mail address, (we had not set up this blog at the time) and they promised to contact him as soon as they got the website going. We wished each other luck and off we all went — but we never saw nor heard from them again! I wonder how far they got.
We were two hours later than we had intended with the start of today's Walk due to fears of having our car vandalised if it was left in central Scarborough, and due to the mix-up with the buses. But four weeks after we had been beaten by the snow, we found ourselves once again on the seafront at Filey hoping, this time, to have a successful hike to Scarborough. (By the way, we have decided that we would much prefer to retire to Malvern in Worcestershire — where we lived for two years when we were first married — than to Yorkshire which is what we had been planning for the past ten years or so. To that end, our house has been up for sale for two weeks, but so far no one has shown any interest.)Today is Mothering Sunday, and there were lots of people out enjoying themselves on the beach and seafront — such a contrast to when we were last here. We came across a giant compass, were a bit puzzled by the words “GUIDING STAR” written in pebbles on the prom, and had words with a giant lobster! We felt that Filey was a friendly place (despite the lobster), and it has a nice sandy beach. Colin recalled that his mother used to talk about Filey which had the reputation of being a high-class resort. Before she was married, his mother was a nanny to the children of the Swallow family, who owned several department stores in the North of England. She once accompanied the children to Filey for their annual seaside holiday, and really liked the place.
Information boards are everywhere these days which is very interesting for passers-by like us, but do they have to be so wordy? We tend to read the first sentence or two, then give up as we can’t be bothered. At the end of the prom is a part of the beach known as Coble Landing. There a notice told us, in three long paragraphs, that men have been fishing from that spot for eight hundred years using yawls and cobles-boats that can be hauled up the beach because there is no harbour. A few yards further on another notice told us the history of the lifeboat station in no less than five paragraphs, but if we want to read accounts of some of their dramatic rescues we have to go to yet another display board. Sorry, we have a Walk to do and we are already two hours late!
We walked a bit along the beach, then climbed up some steps and found a seat to sit and eat our pasties. Although I had applied the usual glob of 'Powergel' to my arthritic toe this morning when I first put my boots on, the effects had worn off and I had to remove my boot and reapply some. That was a bit depressing as we had only just started the Walk.
Then we walked along Filey Brigg. There used to be a Roman signal station on what is now a narrow neck of land, but most of it has eroded away and fallen into the sea over the past two thousand years. There was next to nothing to see, we had to really use our imaginations, and the information board telling us about it was four closely worded paragraphs. I only found the diagram informative — it showed exactly where the tower was thought to be situated. However, I expect there are those among you — if you're still reading this journal after all this time — who are thinking, “She's a fine one to talk about verbosity!” I don't care! This is my journal, and I write down what I have found interesting along the way. You can just look at the pictures if you don't want to read it, or ignore it altogether. (I'm feeling just a little belligerent today — I don't know why.)
We walked out to the end of the Brigg, to a warning notice which told us that there was no access beyond this point — the path is marked as a public footpath on the map all the way to the end. So we walked on because we are not idiots, and can assess for ourselves whether a path near the cliff edge is dangerous or not. Filey Brigg is famous for its birds, and we could see a bird-watching hut at the bottom with a steep path leading down (this was all past the warning notice). But we didn’t go down because we would only have had to climb up again, and there didn't seem to be any birds about anyway. Perhaps it is the wrong season. Giving a last look back towards Filey and the way we had come, we moved back along the clifftop towards Scarborough.
In the middle of this triangle of paths we came across a stone sculpture / signpost. It told us we were at the end of the ‘Wolds Way’ which winds across the Yorkshire Wolds from the Humber Bridge to Filey (we didn't follow it because it goes inland), and at the beginning of the ‘Cleveland Way’ which follows the coast to Saltburn where we shall leave it because from there it goes inland to Helmsley.
The cliffs are quite dramatic at this point, but also very soft. There was evidence of recent falls. Sadly, on one of these fresh falls we came across a bunch of flowers and some flowering bulbs planted into the cliffside. We wondered what had happened to move somebody to leave this little memorial.
Only a few yards further, and we came across another item of interest. A notice — nice and short this time so we read it all — told us that the white post in the adjacent field was Filey’s ‘Rocket Pole’. Apparently the Filey Life Saving Rocket Company, which was formed in 1872, used to practice rescue techniques by firing a line towards one of its members who had climbed to the top of the pole! They continued doing this until the 1960s when modern technology rendered the company redundant. The pole was restored in 2001 as an historical feature.We carried on, the path taking us between farmer’s crops and the soft cliff edge with some quite interesting formations. At one point we unexpectedly came across a cluster of crocuses growing in the middle of the trail. We wondered if it was a relic of a memorial, such as the one we had seen a mile or so back, planted in years gone past. It was a bit nippy in the wind, so we sat on a stile hidden behind a bush to eat some more of our lunch. We decided to leave our pots of yoghurt until later on.
We descended past a caravan site and marvelled at some of the shapes of the soft cliff. We came to a recent landslide where part of the path seemed to have collapsed, but it was pretty easy to walk round, if a little gooey underfoot. A little further on, Colin was ahead of me and called out, “I've found the ideal place to sit and eat our yoghurt!” Since he was standing on a slight promontory in all the wind, I really didn't know what he was talking about. But when I caught up with him, I could see SEALS on the rocks below! We sat down and counted. There were three cows — we assumed they were quite young for they weren't very big — on the rock directly below us. Further out there was a big black bull with his harem of six, no seven - eight - NINE! Three more cows crawled out of the water while we were watching them, making sixteen in all!It was difficult to tear ourselves away, even though the seals weren't doing anything very much, but we had to because we still had a good many miles to cover. I had to reapply the 'Powergel' to my arthritic toe — it is a long time since it has given me such jip. We descended to Cayton Bay where we thought we saw seals again — but when we got closer they turned out to be surfers! Cayton Sands is a nice beach, but we were a bit annoyed that the path led us up a very steep hill then almost immediately down again just to get round someone’s private bit of land which they weren't using for anything, just put a fence around it. We then had to walk about a mile through woods which we didn't enjoy much because the brambles had gone haywire and it was too slippery to walk comfortably. It was muddy, steeply ‘undulating’ and there was a stiff climb out at the other end. There we met an obese youth who reassured us, “You'll be alright after a pint of Carlin’!” I noticed he didn't descend into the woods, but turned round and waddled back the way he had come — on the flat. I suppose he meant well!
We passed a golf course, then came out at South Cliff car park. We heartily wished we had parked our car there this morning because we were tired and fed up, and it started to rain. Our car was parked the other side of Scarborough, two miles further on. We stopped at a picnic bench to eat our chocolate, and I also took painkillers because I was having an attack of sciatica. That saved me having to take my boot off again to apply any more 'Powergel'. I was feeling quite miserable because of my aching back with shooting pains down my right leg, and because of my toe playing up. If either of these things get any worse I won't be able to walk any more — the price we pay for getting old, I suppose.
Not realising the significance of South Cliff car park (more about that in tomorrow’s journal) we descended to beach level and were puzzled by a big circle of concrete we had to walk round. As we entered Scarborough we were interested to see that the cliff had been strengthened with concrete and brick, presumably to stop the buildings on top sliding down as the hotel at South Cliff did in 1993. We walked through an arcade of pillars and came out next to a pleasant beach where we had watched children donkey-riding this morning. No sign of them now because the rain had intensified and it was cold, grey and miserable.
How we regretted parking our car so far to the north of the town! It was easy going on a paved walking surface off the road, but we were very tired and getting wet. We plodded on as the sky got darker and the rain heavier — past the harbour, round the spur with the castle on top (we hardly gave either a second glance) and half a mile along North Sands until the road turned inland. There, at last, was our car! We were soaked through and very cold.

That ended Walk no.124, we shall pick up Walk no.126 next time on the seafront half way along North Sands. (Walk 125 will be an historical day in Scarborough, catching up with all we have missed.) We had a much-needed cup of tea huddled in the car, then drove through pelting rain back to our cosy cottage near Rudston.
Seeing those seals was brilliant — it made the day!

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