Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Walk 126 -- Scarborough to Ravenscar

Ages: Colin was 63 years and 324 days. Rosemary was 61 years and 101 days.
Weather: Sunny intervals with slightly drizzly showers. Very windy, but mild.
Location: Scarborough to Ravenscar.
Distance: 10 miles.
Total distance: 1007 miles.
Terrain: Concrete prom for half a mile, then grassy cliff paths which were quite muddy and slippery. Undulating with deep wooded clefts.
Tide: Coming in.
Rivers: No.50, Scalby Beck.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: ‘Old Scalby Mills’ where we drank Brains ‘Rev James’ and Everard’s ‘Sunchaser’ the latter of which was very nice!
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: No.36 at Hayburn Whyke where the steps leading out of this deep wooded cleft had slipped making the steep route dangerous. We were directed on a short detour round the other side of some trees, but we had to climb the steep hill without the aid of steps.
How we got there and back: We were staying in a holiday cottage on a farm near the village of Rudston. With bikes on the back of the car we drove to Ravenscar where we parked at the disused station. To our delight, we discovered that the disused railway line all the way to Scarborough was a designated cycle track, as we had suspected. What’s more, it was all downhill! It was a very pretty route, and we enjoyed it enormously except for one stretch towards the end when it opened out and we had to cycle straight into a headwind.
At the end, we had our tea and then drove straight back to the cottage because Colin realised, part way along the cycle route, that he had left the bike lock keys behind! (I, too, had left my home-keys at the cottage, forgetting that the bike-lock keys were part of the bunch.) Luckily both padlocks were open so we were able to lock them up and do the Walk, but he had to drive all the way back to Scarborough in the dark to collect the bikes later on. We didn’t need that!

Three miles into this Walk, we had hiked a thousand miles since we left Bognor! As we started today’s trek the sun came out in celebration — we had listened to the wind and rain all night, and as we got up in the dark this morning we thought, “We must be barking!” But our confidence that the weather would turn for the better paid off, although we had to contend with some pretty high winds.
We continued northwards along the prom out of Scarborough. I looked over towards the beach and saw a bent old man striding along the sand with his dog. Despite the curve in his spine he was going at quite a pace. I wondered whether Colin and I will look like that by the time we return to Bognor at the end of this Trek! It made me stretch my own spine and march along with my head held high.
We passed a ‘Penguin Sanctuary’ and really felt for the sad little animals we could see in small wire cages. Having seen penguins — thousands of them — in the wild, we know that these delightful little birds are not really land animals. They are awkward on solid ground, but get them in the sea and they will ‘porpoise’ for miles moving very fast and efficiently. When they are tired, they flop themselves up on to a nearby iceberg where they can rest safe from predators. How can you reproduce that kind of environment in a zoo?
We found a seat out of the wind nearby where we ate the first part of our lunch. Then we went to a delightful pub which was right by the footbridge across Scalby Beck. After refreshing ourselves with some absolutely delicious real ale (those of you who claim you “don't like beer” should try Everard’s ‘Sunchaser’ — it is nectar!) we crossed the wooden footbridge and climbed to the top of the cliff. Scalby Beck was racing due to all the rain we have had recently, and the view was impressive. So was the view along the clifftops, the way we were about to go. What made it difficult was the muddy path which was quite slippery, and the strong wind which was blowing us towards the edge. It was not easy walking.
About a mile further on we were amazed to find that someone had pitched a small tent on an exposed knoll! It was March, none too warm, we have had a lot of rain and it was very windy up there. We had been told locally that a young man ‘with learning difficulties’, who was known to go cliff-walking, had been missing for a month and we had been asked to keep a lookout for him. We did wonder if the tent was his, so we looked inside. There was just a sleeping bag in there. The door had become partially unzipped and a couple of the pegs had come loose, so the tent was beginning to flap about a bit. But there was no way it had been there for a month, not in those weather conditions! So we rammed all the pegs in really hard, zipped it up properly and left it. We were puzzled as to why someone would pitch a tent in such an exposed place — sure to come to grief.Further on we met a man walking his dog. (He said the tent definitely wasn’t his!) Since there was a scarcity of people about in such a windy place, and we were very nearly at the thousand-mile mark, we asked him to take a photograph of us together ‘looking tired’ in order to mark this milestone. The first time he failed to push the button on the camera down enough and the picture didn't take. He seemed to think that this was some kind of paranormal experience, and proceeded to tell us a long tale of how he once took a photograph of some girls and several extra people mysteriously appeared in the print. He seemed terrified of ghosts, and kept warning us against them. I reassured him and persuaded him to try again, this time pushing the button down fully. The picture took that time — we were pleased and he was quite relieved!The views were spectacular, enhanced by the flowering gorse which was so bright it almost hurt our eyes!The clifftops are by no means flat. We had to descend several clefts, but why does there always seem to be more steps to get up and out the other side than there are to go down?We sat in a sheltered cleft to eat the second part of our lunch.The wind, the mud and the undulating terrain made for slow progress, even though we were thoroughly enjoying the Walk. The lighting was superb for photography, and the rock shapes were quite artistic.When we eventually got to Hayburn Whyke we thought we were much further on. We were, both of us, beginning to flag by then. It was a very deep wooded cleft with waterfalls in the stream — quite beautiful. I was ahead of Colin, and found a nice rock to sit on to eat my chocolate. Colin said it was ‘too soon’, but I felt I needed it then. It was quite a steep climb to get out the other side, it felt like climbing a mountain! The original path, with lots of steps in it, had slipped so it was fenced off. A new path had been temporarily staked out, this was further and didn’t have any steps in it. It was slippery in places with the mud, very steep, and I opined that we would have been better off with the broken steps. It was quite a haul to the top, and even Colin admitted that he was tired.
We still had three miles to go. It seemed to take forever! Many times in the past, when we are nearing the end of a Walk and I am fatigued, I have tried to explain to Colin that it is less tiring to set a steady pace and keep to it than to constantly stop and look at things. I always reach a certain point on a Walk where I am not interested in anything (unless it is rivetingly different or exciting) except getting to the end of the Walk. Well, today Colin felt like that. He admitted he was tired, that it was a bit of a slog and he actually appreciated my need to keep a steady pace without interruptions. At last! I think anyone who does a lot of walking will understand what I mean — you may have noticed that there is often less photography towards the end of a Walk because I can’t be bothered to stop and take out my camera.
According to the map there are some paths nearer the sea than the Cleveland Way on this stretch, through the woods undulating halfway down the cliff. We had already decided not to use them because we were too tired, and we didn't see where they went off through the hedge to our right anyway. We came to the conclusion that everybody else felt the same way as we did, and these paths had become overgrown and obliterated. The path just went on and on — we were looking for a sign ‘TEA ROOMS’ which we had reccied out in the morning as being the place where we turned off the coastal path to our car park. It was almost dark before we came to it.

That ended Walk no.126, we shall pick up Walk no.127 next time by the ‘TEA ROOMS’ sign on the coastal path at Ravenscar. We walked inland a hundred yards to the old station on the Whitby to Scarborough railway where we had parked our car. (I had taken the photos there in the morning, before we had started our cycle ride.)We gulped down our tea, then drove straight back to the cottage at Rudston because we had no keys to unlock our bikes. It was 8.45pm before we arrived. I tried to persuade Colin that the bikes would come to no harm overnight, and we could pick them up in the morning on our way to Ravenscar. But he would have none of it, and drove all the way back into Scarborough to collect them. As a result, it was 10pm before we had our evening meal.

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