We were supposed to be going for a walk on New Year bank holiday Monday, only a short one, around 2½ miles. But there was a LOT of traffic on the way, with traffic on the A64 just starting to build up on the opposite side of the road to us.
By the time we got to Whitby, found a parking space in the marina car park, and then wasted 30 minutes or more queuing at the car park meter and then trying to get it to work, the light was already going. (The meter wasn’t letting anyone use their payment cards, including us, and we were going to pay by phone until a kind soul with a pocketful of change came to our rescue with five pound coins in exchange for a fiver.)
When we started out, it was a gloriously sunny day. By the time we arrived, we could see the rain clouds creeping in from the sea. And the town was already very, VERY busy. It was past lunchtime and I was starving.
So before we could even reach the start of our walk, we also had to eat – and the first restaurant is already half a mile from where we ended up parking.
Suitably sated, we strolled through the town to the beginning of our walk, the 199 steps up to the abbey. On the way the poet was able to try out his new camera and his new lens.
The dog was very well-behaved, considering the amount of pedestrians that were out in force. He was more than happy to let “all these people who had come to see him” fuss and stroke him. And he “helped” me up those 199 steps.
We posed on the first stage with the sea behind us while the poet took a picture (not here, but it will be on FB when his picture is ready too), and I had to keep the dog on a tight lead in case he fell to the ground beneath us – it must be a fifteen-foot drop from that first “landing”.
At the top we had a breather while the poet wandered around taking more pictures. Then we made an attempt on the rest of the 2½-mile walk, having already completed a mile before we started.
The guide book we have is an older one and when we couldn’t find the path alongside the “last farm building on the left” to the Cleveland Way, we changed tack anyway. (The path that is indeed alongside the “last farm building on the left” has a shiny new “private” sign on it, so we’ll take a look at the OS map and see if it’s still a right of way before attempting it again.)
Because the clouds were rolling in now with a vengeance, we knew there wouldn’t be very much more “good” light for the photography. Plus, the traffic jam had meant that we were, and would continue to be if it was the same on the way home, a long time away from the house.
We wanted to get back to the chickens before the fox got there, and while they’re very good now at taking themselves to bed once it’s turned dark, we still need to close the door to keep the fox out.
So at the English Heritage car park for the abbey, we decided to head back to the car via Caedmon’s Trod. This is an easier staircase and it meant we wouldn’t be re-tracing to many steps.
I felt a bit over-dressed in all my walking gear and with a rucksack containing water for us and the dog if all we were doing was a short town walk. But at least we were warm.
As we walked around the other side of the abbey, the clouds did indeed pile in around us, and all of a sudden it was as dark as night. The banner picture below was taken seconds before the picture on the left.
The English Heritage visitor centre was closed yet the abbey grounds were packed – English Heritage missed a trick there, although I’ve heard of other English Heritage properties that were closed despite being advertised as open over the New Year weekend. (Whitby Abbey wasn’t advertised as being open, by the way, but other closed properties apparently were.)
The first part of Caedmon’s Trod from above is just a footpath, but it does join the steps before coming out in the town. There are some horses in a field halfway down, but the light had already gone for pictures of these to be any good.
On our way home we headed via Thirsk as the A64 was still very blocked, and there had been an accident on the A1(M). It took just as long to get home as it did to get there – but the chickens were fine. Next time we go we’ll leave the house even earlier in a bit to avoid this common problem. And next time, it will be the walk.