Day out: Whitby

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Whitby Harbour (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

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.)

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

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.

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199 steps (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

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.

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Whitby Harbour (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

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.

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Whitby Abbey (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

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.

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Whitby Abbey (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Easter weekend

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Baddesley Clinton (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We decided we wanted the whole of the bank holiday weekend off, so that’s what we did.

On Friday we drove down to Warwickshire and joined the National Trust. We’d worked out that if we paid a joint membership for the year, we’d get our money back after visiting just 5 properties. Baddesley Clinton is an old favourite of mine. It’s an Elizabethan moated manor house and I remember when it was taken over by the National Trust in the early 1980s. I knew the poet would love it too, and he did.

Before visiting the property we decided to wear the dog out first by going on a short walk in the surrounding area. One of the volunteers at the property gave us a map to follow, but it was pouring with rain, the map soon got soggy, and we were joining the walk part-way around. Needless to say, we got a bit lost, but we did have a great walk in the surrounding woods (once part of the Forest of Arden, I believe) and we discovered some badger setts that seem to be in use, judging from the dog’s reaction.

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Baddesley Clinton (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We were gone for about an hour and once we’d dried ourselves and settled the dog in the car (it was wet and cool and he was sleepy anyway), we went to visit the house and join the National Trust. Afterwards, we enjoyed a very expensive piece of cake and small bottle of pop each in the café (we didn’t get much change from £10 – apx $15) and headed home via my parents, as they’re only about 15 – 20 minutes away.

On Saturday we didn’t do much, but because the shops would be closed for Easter Sunday, we did nip out and get a new floodlight for the garden, which the poet fitted on Sunday afternoon. On Sunday evening we went for a walk to the lake so he could measure the depths. The dog had another great walk and the poet lost some line, a float and a weight when he caught a tree branch …

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Rievaulx Abbey (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

On Monday we decided to go to Rievaulx for a short walk around the area. The idea was to visit the terrace as it’s managed by the National Trust, but parking was so bad there we drove down instead to the abbey, which is managed by English Heritage. We had a bit of a snack in the car park, then off we tootled on our walk, which took almost 2 hours in the end, to walk about 2 miles, due to stopping to take pictures.

Along one section of the River Rye, we thought we might see dippers. Instead the poet was rewarded with a grey wagtail. I’d sat on a log while he tried to capture shots of some little grey birds that were flitting around. I  had no idea it was a grey wagtail he was paddling after!

Much of our walk was along the River Rye and through picturesque villages and hamlets. When we got back to the car we had a bird’s eye view of a birds-of-prey demonstration that was just starting, so we settled own to eat the rest of our picnic while we watched that. We’d thought to visit the abbey when we got back, followed by the terrace, but it was already 4pm by the time we’d eaten, and we decided to head home and come back another day, and another day, and another day.

It was lovely to be out and about in the fresh air, even if it was raining on Friday. At least we had glorious sunshine yesterday.

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Grey Wagtail, River Rye, Rievaulx (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we arrived home I was greeted with a new job from the lovely new Spanish clients, and news of many more to follow in the coming weeks. They asked me for my availability, and I gave it to them. That means that this week I now have a lovely big job in from lovely already boss, along with 2 smaller jobs already in from him, and a series of work from lovely new boss. And it’s pudding week as we apparently get married in just 24 days before heading off on our funnymoon. (I have a 14 day settlement on most jobs, but the lovely new boss always pays on completion.) I’d best crack on.