Monday, August 07, 2006

Out on the wild and weedy moors

Sunday 6th August [Yorkshire]

We'd asked one of our hostesses to make a suggestion as to which of Whitby or Scarborough, both near-ish seaside towns, would make a better dog-friendly day outing. She said Whitby, but said that we should drive via Goathland and visit Mallyan Spout waterfall.

As it turned out between York and Goathland that day, we had to deal with the traffic vortex that is the Pickering Steam Fair. It wasn't clear until we had passed anorak central, that the crawling traffic for over 30 miles had been caused by a single manually-operated traffic control to allow trainspotters into the fairgrounds.

Mallan Spout turned out to be a delight. Goathland (which I later learnt was the scenic backdrop for TV series Heartbeat) is a pretty little village, and from beside the Mallyan Spout Hotel we followed a walkway down to a shaded creek. We quickly passed the 70ft waterfall and criss-crossed the stream via a series of bridges, before returning to the pools near the waterfall for some plodging. As we drove out of Goathland we could see many people were in town for the day - probably brought in by steam train. Apparently the station is used for the Hogwarts platform in the Harry Potter films - although that train-route is up near Fort William in Scotland.

We drove into Whitby, whose harbour was the entry point for Dracula in Bram Stoker's novel. Among the thousands of people choking the streets today were many goths, suckered in by the town's literary past.

A little to the south is Robin Hood(')s Bay, (photo above) which proved to be slightly less challenging for car-spots (ie we got one). We walked down to the old village, one of the end-points for the 192 mile Coast-to-Coast walk. Obviously a considerably less efficient crossing than the 90 mile Hadrian's Wall route I embark on tomorrow.
Despite the appalling odour of rotting seaweed and its flying fanbase, the beach was busy with sand-shovel wielding holidayers. I'm sure Bondi would have appreciated a second swim that day but the stench made me keep a firm grip on his leash. We retreated to a nice cafe higher up in the village.
Our next stop for the day was Dalby Forest, where Chris had spent many innocent childhood vacations, and he found the collision of memory with changes made over the succeeding twenty years very confronting.

Finally we stopped at the picturesque village of Thornton-le-Dale. Once voted Yorkshire's prettiest village, it put on airs with the insertion of the -le- into its name. I noticed some other northern towns with similar affectations: Hobble-de-Hoy, Higgle-de-Piggle Dea..

Traffic back to York was horribly slow: we and many others were stuck behind an army transporter taking home an armoured tank displayed at the Pickering fair. I'm sure we would have made better progress across north-east Yorkshire in the steam age. As it was we just got back in time to slip Chris onto his own train back to London.

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