Thursday, July 3 Castle Howard and Rievaulx Abbey
Left Scarborough on the Seamer road. It seems all Seamer road. From the village I joined the Malton road via Staxton, and along the foot of the Wolds to Sherburn and Heslerton, East and West. There was a terrific breeze troubling me, but the road and scenery were quite good through Rillington. It got quite commonplace near Malton, a town with no special interest. Just beyond Malton, at the top of the hill on the York road, I turned right towards Castle Howard. Near Trigger Castle, on a grass-grown track, I had lunch on the grass – I am economising – then made off towards Coneysthorpe. The narrow road, now undulating, became very pretty, whilst the hedges were gorgeous. Honeysuckle heavily scented the air, wild roses were predominant, and amongst the tangle of bracken and nettles, foxgloves of different hues added to the colour scheme, and the fields blazed with poppies.
Coneysthorpe reminds me of a model village, old world. I turned through a gateway here, catching a glimpse of Castle Howard across a lake. It is a fine, domed building, but it seems to be more mansion than castle, and rather modern. It is residential. Now I was riding through a sylvan wood, a beautiful scene, and I saw above one squirrel and several hares. Rabbits were out en masse. I was in the park of Castle Howard, and amongst the Howardian hills, and the pastoral, wooded scenery was far above standard. Terrington was the next village, a picture set in fine surroundings. At the head of this village I turned right along a deteriorating road downhill, then left through more fine woodlands to Scackleton.
Now my ‘road’ became a mere track and descended steeply with a water splash at the bottom – the second this week. I negotiated the ‘ford’, then started climbing along a sunken lane to Coulton, where I joined a moderate road, which, in turn, put me on a first class metalled road at Gilling. Then on to Oswaldkirk, where I climbed a ridge, then started dropping spasmodically. Below me now, was Helmsley, and on the roadside was a large dilapidated stone gateway to the memory of Viscount Lord Nelson, and giving access to Duncombe Park.
A dash downhill brought me to historic Helmsley, where, for the first time in East Yorkshire, I saw a half-timbered house. This is no modern imitation, as a close look will reveal, and extremely beautiful it looks, with creepers climbing the ‘black and white’ walls, and the unusual (for a timbered place) red roof. It stands just opposite the ancient Market Cross. I took the route past the Castle, where a stream runs in the middle of the road, then uphill for two miles, and along a wooded path to a terrace, where I obtained a truly amazing view of ‘Ryedale’s Chief Jewel’, the surpassing beauty of Rievaulx. Then I descended down a steep path to the road, and soon reached the village of Rievaulx. I surveyed the extensive ruins of Rievaulx Abbey from near the post office, but I did not enter, as it was now 5pm, and I had yet to have my tea and travel 30 miles. Buying some postcards, I sat down by the wayside, and wrote one to Tom, then pushed the bike up a steep incline to the road again. Then two miles down to Helmsley, and the Kirkbymoorside road. Beyond Kirkbymoorside, at a village called Sinnington, I got a good tea at a little cottage.
Then a beautiful run to Pickering, through the narrow streets and on to the open road again. For some time now, the sky had blackened, then came a heavy storm. I sheltered a bit, but as it did not slacken, I donned my cape, and sailed off to Thornton-le-Dale. The villagers stared at me, I don’t think that they had ever seen a cyclist with a cape on but no headgear! The wind had now shifted, getting in front of me, and the rain was as hard as ever. I settled down to it, and did pretty well through Allerston, Ebberston, Snainton to Brompton. By now my feet had become sodden, and I tore my oilskin. Beyond Ayton, on the unprotected Seamer Moor, I struck a thunderstorm, and the rain came down in a solid sheet. Yet there was a queer fascination in it. Just beyond the boundaries of the road, a thick blanket of mist overhung, screening the valley on the right, and even the racecourse, which was not ten yards away on the left.
In front, I had just enough light to see the roadside and about ten yards of road in front and behind. I lingered a moment – I could not help it – and conjured up a vision of what the sea in front would be like tonight. I remembered the old slogan of Tom and I – “What should we do if it rains?” “Like they do in Wigan – let it”! I passed an abandoned motorbike and sidecar, then started rushing downhill. It was a queer sensation, rushing towards a black nothingness, which, however, never allowed me to catch it, always remaining that ten yards in front. When I entered Scarborough the mist had gone, and the rain was just showing signs of decrease. After some cautious going over the slippery tramcar setts, I reached Moorland Road and was soon having a change of clothing. Today has been excellent, but I’m getting a little fed up with Scarborough itself. 82 miles