Tuesday, July 1 Goathland Moors, Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay
I left Scarborough this morning against a steady breeze. The motorcycle, ridden by my brother Norman, accompanied me. Through Seamer to Ayton, then Brompton, along which now familiar road we made moderate progress. Just beyond the latter village I met J. E. and his fiancée on a tandem, and spent half an hour chatting with them over our respective ‘adventures’. They were bound Scarborough-wards, but like all real cyclists, intended taking no more than a peep at that notorious resort. After leaving them the wind seemed to go stronger, as the winding road led us through Snainton, Ebberston and Penniston Lane to Allerston – all rather neat red roofed villages. These roofs give a peculiar charm to East Yorkshire villages. Soon we started dropping into Thornton-le-Dale, a really pretty, rural village. It is acknowledged by most to be the prettiest Yorkshire village, and as far as I can see, I believe it. We stopped for lunch here, at a cottage with creepers climbing all over the house, and beautiful roses framing the doorway. A stream ran down the street in front of the houses, over which – the stream I mean – are bridges, i.e. lengthy paving stones, which gave access to the flowery sidewalk and the dwellings. Lunch was had in a cool clean, neat little room. At 1pm we left Thornton-le-Dale for Pickering, three miles distant. The main road was like a winding, undulating byway, the hedges were ablaze with wild roses, and the air was heavy with the scent of honeysuckle.
At Pickering, a dwindled market town with an old historical castle, we joined the Whitby road. At first we rode through some glorious woodland glens, in one of which we stopped whilst my brother shortened the m/c driving belt. He did not seem to bother much about the scenery, attaching far more importance to his machine. When I congratulated him on stopping in such a gorgeous spot, he grunted, and said that he had never thought of that! Soon after restarting, the trees thinned out, and the moors came into being. Before long we had the road to ourselves, and better still, my brother took off in front, and soon the noisesome chug-chugging died away leaving me in a happy state of lonesome bliss.
The road climbed erratically, but the broad, open, free moors seemed all my own, and I revelled in it. On the summit of Lockton Low Moor the road turned, showing before me a deep defile, a jagged cut, as if someone had slashed a huge slice out of the moors, barren, deep, silent. The ‘Hole of Horcium’ it is called, and I know of no better, no more expressive name for it. Then came a sharp, stony descent, with a terrible double curve halfway down, to Saltergate at the bottom. Another climb, up over Lockton High Moor, a swift drop with a dangerous bridge at the foot, then a long walk uphill, on to Goathland Moor.
Among the wilds of these moors, one seems to be far away from the rest of the world, and for miles on end, not a sign of a building can be seen. Goathland, for wild desolation excels all the others. Came another swift drop to Brocka Beck and another long walk uphill, over Sleights Moor, where we reached the highest point, 930 ft. Long ago, the m/c had gone on in front, impatiently. On the left was a fine view of the green valley of Littlebeck, like an oasis in the wilderness, so to speak, and when I at length reached the edge of the moors – where my brother was waiting, a fine panoramic view of Eskdale awaited me, with the gleaming sunlit sea, away to the east.
Then came a long descent of three and a half miles, steep, stony, and dangerous in places, to Sleights, and down to the Esk, which I crossed. Here I waited some time for the motorcyclist. The ride that followed through Glen Esk to Ruswarp, was very fine, but I suspect that we only got the tail-end of a beautiful dale. From here, we suddenly swerved up a terribly steep and dangerous hill, then right, and we dropped easily into the very narrow streets of Whitby. Threading the crowded streets cautiously, we came to the west pier, at the Esk estuary, on a form of which we spent ten minutes idling in the sun and gazing out to sea. Then we passed by the quayside, where fish was being sold, then crossing the river, we entered the old part of town.
The chief interest of this coast, are the quaint, crowded style houses. It is charming in the extreme, narrow streets flanked by ancient, crooked, red-roofed dwellings, alleys, where only one person could walk in comfort and many steep flights of steps. Our road ended at a flight of steps, at the summit of which was our objective, the Abbey. The motorcycle had to go round by the road to get to the Abbey, and the crowds of staring natives, who had gathered when we had reached the end of the road, told me determinedly that I should have to go round too! One old chap got quite wild. “You can’t get that way! Its no use standing there”, he cried loudly. Could I not? A mule track led by the steps, but that was no use. What was wrong with the steps? I hoisted the bike up on my shoulders, and quickly reached the top without any trouble whatsoever. I must be used to it, for Tom and I get into all sorts of queer holes, and climbing a few steps is nothing, but the natives had, apparently, not seen anything like this before, by the way they stared and gasped in amazement! It made me laugh! Walking through the churchyard, I reached the Abbey entrance, where I bought some picture postcards and waited until my brother turned up.
We all entered the Abbey together (my parents and their friends had turned up) and a guide took us round. I have not space here to adequately describe it. The main portions are early English, built on Saxon foundations, and the present ruins date from about 1150 AD. The first Abbey dated from the 7th century, but it was entirely destroyed by invaders. Many interesting finds have been revealed by recent excavations, including human remains and coinage, some of the finds dating back to pre Roman times. During the recent war, a lot of damage was done by German shells, and now the ruins, which are not very extensive, are being preserved by the Government. When I was there, there was scaffolding round the south part, and workmen were busy on it. After exploring the Abbey (from where there is a wonderful view of Whitby and its surroundings, including a very fine coast), we entered the ancient church (built about the same period and used for a time as the Abbey church), and after a glance round we got on the road again.
The road to Hawsker was rather hard and uninteresting, and then we joined a rutty byway for Robin Hood’s Bay. About two rather dull miles, then we started dropping swiftly downhill, until we came in sight of a rugged, cliff-bound bay, and immediately after, a crowd of closely packed red roofs. They came into being so suddenly that we were quite taken by surprise. Came a terribly steep descent into the quaint main street, where a notice told us the way to the ‘Mariner’s Tavern’. Pushing our machines in and out of the quaint, very narrow alleys, we reached the said place for tea. We had a wash on a rocky verandah overlooking the sea, and tea in a neat, sailor-like room.
After tea we threaded the steps and alleys to the beach, where we spent over an hour. It seemed a shame to leave such as place as this, it so took my fancy, such a romantic, old-world place it is that smacks of the times, when, it is said, the whole village was engaged in the smuggling trade! It was superb. We returned to the machines when it became impossible to stay any longer. What a job we had to get that motor bike up that hill! All the village came out to watch, but no one proffered to help! But we managed it, and I saw it off – he was going the easiest way back, and I had arranged to meet him on the Whitby – Scarborough main road. I forced my way through Fylingthorpe and uphill along a doubtful looking track for two miles, onto the main road. Here I waited half an hour, but no signs of the m/c were to be seen, so, in the gathering dusk, I started back alone.
The next sixteen and a half miles over glorious, darkening moorlands, were very fine. The moors were cut across in innumerable places by deep ravines, the gradients down which were very steep, and up – steeper. From Flask Inn to Goat Inn, then through the pine woods to Burniston, Scalby and I reached Scarborough just inside lighting up time, 10.30pm. I discovered that the motor bike had been home an hour before me. Well, this has been another sample of the Yorkshire coast and moors, but that getting back every night is palling a little. 75 miles