The Cleveland Way – national trail around the North York Moors

It seems uncanny that Whitby is on England’s north-east coast and yet the sun sets over the sea.

The north east is a land of paradox and mystery. Here is an account of a fine, long walk in it.

From Whitby harbour wall, early July

The Cleveland Way national trail is an attractive sequence of inland moor and coastal cliffs in a horseshoe route from Helmsley up to Saltburn-by-the-Sea and down again to Filey.

We stick to national trails these days because local government austerity has left many of the country’s footpaths a roulette of miring, snarling, erosion and other obstacles – especially those with less affluent councils. We bought the official Cleveland Way book and two of the three Ordnance Survey Explorer maps it covers, planned stages, booked accommodation for 8 nights, gave advance notifications of vegan diet. We would stay on campsites with our usual B&B in the middle for electricity, drying, warmth, etc., and we’d eat in village pubs or town eateries. It is not the easiest route to walk without vehicle support because a couple of stages stop in the middle of nowhere. But you’re never too  far away from a village, so with some planning it’s straightforward.

Hold out for more photos below – you can’t recharge a phone on a campsite and you can’t use mine in the rain. Convergence isn’t working out for me really – I’d love a little camera again.

Day 0 – York preparations

We spent the afternoon and night in York where we finished shopping for the trip. A lot of outdoor shops are closing down in the north of England. Mountain Warehouse with its modestly priced goods survives. From experience I avoid that shop because the stuff it sells doesn’t bear up against the elements or heavy use. With food, especially breakfast, sometimes a long walk away, we picked up high energy, lightweight foods like Nairn’s On The Go oatcakes and coconut flakes. Then we walked York’s city walls, succumbed to The Botanist (mainly Northern chain specialising in herby, fruity, floral cocktails) where I had something with oak smoke. For lunch, falafel and salad lunch at El Piano, returning to our hotel, Mount Royale, for a dip in the pool at the bottom of the garden serenaded by a blackbird. It may have been Christine Oxtoby herself who surprised us with flutes of hospitable pink wine as we sat in her jacuzzi. Dinner on the roof of Las Iguanas, which has three vegan main course options. York is called a ‘cosy duvey city’ but it has a radical history including the massacre of its Jews.

Day 1 – Helmsley to past Sutton Bank. Views, weather permitting.

We left York before breakfast to catch two buses filled with schoolchildren which got us into Helmsley before 9. In Helmsley a bakery sold us coffee, big soft currant buns and a sandwich for Matt which we ate in the market square before setting off. We climbed into low cloud on the moors, walking along the edge of the escarpment – locally called banks – with the obscured inland Cleveland Plain on our left and the seaward moors on our right. Then we basically saw very little for the next several hours, deciding not to visit Rievaulx Abbey because the weather was not great – but the visitors’ centre is reputedly very good. We lunched at Cold Kirby which was indeed chilled by a north easterly wind. Being used to the warmth of the Gulf Stream on the South West Coast Path it was quite novel for us to see smoke from the chimneys in July. We glimpsed Sutton Bank, one of the finest views in England, in low cloud and opted to skip the white horse. At some stage one of my Teva reef sandals, which I walk in in summer because they are all terrain and dry very quickly, broke – unprecedented – so I had to change into my boots, which I detest. The visitors’ centre at Sutton Bank is lovely, including bird feeders in front of the cafe window, and helpful staff who will look up buses to a town selling new sandals the next day. We camped semi-wild at High Paradise Farm, a B&B which is miles from anywhere. The owner is a nice, very busy woman who had not had a chance to read our emails about vegan dinner, so gave us beans on toast, salad and beer, and let us leave our wet clothes on the warm hearth. The camping field was a semi-wooded area containing quite a lot of sheep turds, and deserted. It was raining. The cafe was beautiful and we could wash in its WC with our ration of wet wipes calculated for this purpose (they are heavy). That night the owner had a meeting in the cafe to plan hosting the next Yorkshire True Grit mountain biking challenge.

Day 02 High Paradise to Osmotherley. Pretty villages.

Woken by crows squabbling. This happened several times during the trip. North Yorkshire is also jammed full of pigeons – you hear them coast and moor. The weather was still not great, the going was very flat along the tops of the banks, and I don’t remember much of this stage before Osmotherley. Osmotherley has a shop which is for sale, and three pubs, one of which was out of action for months due to an oil leak next door. We had a chips and salad lunch at the Golden Lion where we had also booked dinner that evening, and read the highly impressive local business magazine for Teeside according to which the regions is teeming with entrepreneurship at all scales, including steel, engineering, hightech and football merchandise. There was even a substantial piece on microbreweries.

Then, still with our packs, we got on the bus to the fine market town and North Yorks capital  Northallerton to buy sandals. On the bus we were befriended by a UKIP voter (he brought up politics, not us) who upon finding where we were from congratulated us on visiting “proper England” (an unpleasant insinuation, and indeed we hadn’t seen dark skin since York) and asked us whether we were afraid of terrorism. This paradox of affable xenophobia was a feature of several the local people we met along the way, and something anybody following politics would expect in that part of England. It is both deeply intriguing and deeply repulsive to be taken into its confidence. We also noticed that hardly anybody we met on the path had a southern accent and that there was virtually no litter.

In Northallerton I deliberated Mountain Warehouse sandals which were uncomfortable and might not even last the rest of the trip, or expensive Ecco offroaders. I bought the latter without confirming what they were made of (revolting plastic-effect calfskin) so now I will donate them to charity. Worse, it turns out Ecco are terrible at offroad sandals – they slip, rub, take ages to dry, and therefore smell. Avoid Ecco and get Tevas. I’ve walked over 1000 miles in all weathers in Tevas. After buying next day’s lunch in Northallerton, we returned to Osmotherley (the Kipper was on the bus again, slightly tipsy, with a kitkat for the driver) and set up for the night at the very smart and well-appointed Cote Ghyll campsite. We are members of the Youth Hostel Association where the campsite is but the hostel itself was fully booked and out of bounds to us. We pitched our tent among many bunnies and crows, and hung our wet stuff in the drying room. It’s a good site.

We had a drink at the Queen Catherine and listened to local conversations. Some of the many moors mamils had converged there and were exchanging some dogging bants. I have the impression Osmotherley is one of the places the entrepreneurs and beneficiaries of the industries from the Teeside magazine choose to live and play. Dinner at the Golden Lion was one of the most nutritious and ambitious of our trip – a starter of avocado and walnut salad, and a substantial main revolving round a chickpea chillada. In Yorkshire today you’d better get used to the taste of chipotle (even, as I found elsewhere, if it is billed as harissa). Friendly service.

Day 03 Osmotherley to Kildale Camping Barn. Awesome storm.

Up at 6am because it would be a 22 mile day and we don’t average much more than 2 miles an hour because it’s a holiday not a boot camp. A gnomic BBC Weather forecast predicted a thunderstorm without rain. Near Cod Beck Reservoir I saw a froglet no bigger than a cricket, and a party of walkers who we would see for the rest of the day – its leader had spent the night at Cote Ghyll. Then through woods and out onto the moors with their neolithic signs and mounds, up and down the rollercoaster escarpment with the beautiful patchwork of the Cleveland plain below. A man leading a party of school children warned us about an electric storm. We were offered water by a sweet couple supporting a group walking the Coast to Coast to raise money for the North West Air Ambulance which costs a staggering £34,000 per month to fuel. The water was very welcome. It was a hot, strenuous day, water is the heaviest thing we carry and there was no opportunity to refill in 22 miles.

After getting stuck in amongst the walking party on a narrow track up to the Wainstones (above the village where the Kipper from the Northallerton bus said he lived) the second half of the walk was level but circuitous, a high route on a tramway and then moor road to Kildale. It was hot and close and the light was sulphuruous. Looking back we saw that the walking party had stopped and put up a large pink shelter. We didn’t see them again.

Across the plain we watched impressive tendrils of cloud unfurling downwards from a thunderhead sliced through by early evening sun. We could see the length of the escarpment we’d traversed that morning, some of it sunlit, some of it deluged. We walked briskly to try to stay ahead of the cloud, glancing frequently to our left. It seemed to be approaching us across the plain but we were on its edge. No rain, the weather forecast said. But escarpment and coast make their own weather. I was cheered to see solitary hydraulic digger clearing a drainage ditch until I realised we had to walk under its arm. It stopped, but had the operator seen us or would he suddenly swing into us as we edged past the cab? He waved and we passed, and soon the only sign on life on the sullen landscape was out of sight. A flash of lightning simultaneous with an insect flying straight into my eye was unnerving and I let out a shriek which irritated both of us. I thought about how our walking poles have plastic handles.

It turned out that we missed what was in front of us, lurking behind the brow of a hill. At the first sign of big drops of rain we had just struggled into our coats and put our pack covers on when sheets of water started hitting us straight in the body and face. Then, confusingly, the sheet water began to sting and bounce off the path and we were walking directly into a violent wind lashing us with hailstones as big as smarties. The skin of our legs and toes were exposed to the full force of the bombardment and as the pain became excruciating our thoughts raced – waterproof trousers? We could hardly see to get them. Shelter? None but the ditch, so we duly got into the ditch. Matt lay down and turned his face into his hood and I sat in a hunch with my pack angled into the onslaught and used the map case to cover as much skin as possible.

We can’t agree how many minutes we were there. I marvelled at the hailstones bouncing off the map case, flat on one side and domed on the other. Just as I was becoming both bored and afraid of having to stay there all night, the path became a stream, the ditch was inundated, my pants filled with icy water and we had to get up. Thankfully this heralded torrents of rain and it was no longer painful to walk. We had 4 miles to our campsite at Park Farm, Kildale and our best route off the moor was that route, so we waded the numbingly cold submerged path as the rain permeated our goretex (or in my case an expensive North Face woman’s cagoule which performed pathetically and for which I have since obtained a refund). When a furious-looking farmhand ignored us on a quad bike we realised we were not thought to be in any danger and I stopped wondering about the digger operator in his conductive steel cab. The hailstones stood in drifts on the verge of the track and we had to walk briskly to stave off the cold.

Eventually the rain gave way to golden evening sun and we walked down a road, off the moor road and through two meadows to reach the kindness of Kildale Camp Site at Park Farm with its majestic view down the escarpment and plain, its hot showers and its cupboard full of towels. We pitched, dried out, and got a cab into Stokesley. Astonishingly the cab firm regularly takes people to and from Heathrow, Cheltenham, and London. We expressed our disbelief. “When you get old your priorities change”, he said, further signs of money in the north east. We ate tofuless red curry at Y’Thai and had a pleasant drink in the Spready. Stokelsey is a charming little town outside the national park, about 10 miles outside Middlesborough. It is perfectly formed with a green and a shallow-bedded river with a packhorse bridge. I struck up a conversation with a man contemplating his roof. He told me he was planning to murder the pigeons who lived on it. On the way home the cab driver told us affably that there are too many gypsies in Stokesley. He is mistaken. Conduct is one thing but nobody can be too many.

Day 04 – Kildale to Saltburn-by-the-Sea. Cook’s monument.

Vista from Cook's Monument

We aired and dried our damp stuff on the fence of the camping field, tumble-drying the rest for a while. Our packed lunch from Park Farm, who have tiny kids, included Aldi’s version of Pom Bears and a little box of raisins. We walked through the quiet village of Kildale and up onto the moor to a large obelisk commemorating Captain Cook. Cook, who catalysed globalisation and colonisation, had been praised by the Kipper on the bus to Northallerton. There we met a 60-something solo Frenchman who was also walking the Cleveland Way. He carried a vintage camera, two long unmatched sticks, a strangely hung day pack and a quantity of plastic sheeting. He wove his way from side to side of the paths, gazing around him and up and down as he went. In this way he covered roughly the same ground in the same amount of time as we did, but hardly ever sat down for a rest whereas we need to take our packs off quite often or they hurt. He seemed to have no map, relying on the acorn waymarks. Being somebody who likes to know exactly where I am and what comes next, I found this immensely relaxed. We saw him miss a waymark and I became a little worried about him that day but we overtook each other a few times so all that looking around seemed to be working out for him.

We forwent the panoramic views of the Cleveland Plain from Roseberry Topping (the ‘Yorkshire Kilimanjaro’) and pressed on to Saltburn since it was 17 miles that day, with a hotel to enjoy and friend to meet at the end. The rest of the walk took us through plantations along the edge of the moors above the town of Guisborough with the Redcar steelworks clearly visible. The woodland was a little oppressive and wet, with squeeze stiles which didn’t accommodate walkers packs. After crossing the A road at Slapewath, we stopped in the Fox and Hounds pub, whose staff were lovely (we were mucky by then). The accents had changed and were now distinctly towards Geordie.

Instead of walking 3 more miles downhill through more woodland we got a taxi. I was apprehensive about Salburn – most people I know from Redcar became economic migrants to London. Google maps made it look horrible and there seemed to be hardly anywhere to stay. But the north east is a land of paradox and Saltburn is both prosperous and sophisticated, with its cliff lift, boutiques, bistros, smart little town centre and nicely done-up Victorian and early C20th  buildings. I am not sure who can afford to live there.

We stayed that night at the Spa Hotel in Saltburn where they had astonishingly given us the bridal suite (I think I know why – you can’t control the daylight and I think it is mostly for brides to get ready and to have their hair and nails done in the spa along the hall, rather than for sleeping). We enjoyed a hot shower with no timer and no draughts. A sofa. A bed. Electricity. Big towels. Privacy. There is nothing like a camping trip to make you newly grateful for the things you mostly take for granted.

We then walked along the sea front and took the water balanced Victorian cliff lift back up to the town. Saltburn is a place of boutique businesses and metropolitan tastes. We bought the next day’s lunch from Sainsbury’s and then had a coffee which quickly developed into a cocktail in The Sitting Room, Station Square, which has embraced the gin vogue. Our friend Georgina arrived on the train, she checked into the Spa and we had a good dinner at Jadoo, who know exactly what is vegan on their menu. Then more cocktail and a wonderful sleep.

Saltburn cliff lift

Day 05 – Saltburn to Sandsend. Including Staithes and a Whitby evening.

Breakfast at 7 with Georgina who was walking with us that day. The staff on reception at The Spa are friendly and helpful, but the note about the vegan breakfast on our booking was completely overlooked by the breakfast staff, and they seemed put out. The waiter seemed confused between gluten free and vegan (this happened at High Paradise too, but not so awkwardly). So I had to explain, and had no spread for my bread again.

A little after 7 in came Monsieur and I was relieved because this meant he wasn’t sleeping rough. We saw him again in Scarborough.

This part of the coast is Jurassic with a startling array of rocks. We set out in bright sun along the cliffs, touching down briefly on the beach at Cattersty, through the fishing-turned-ironstone mining village of Skinningrove then back up to the Boulby cliffs – the highest on the east coast. It was nice of Georgina to carry our water – we felt much lighter and made good time. Outside Staithes we could see the Corus steelworks, which are very beautiful to look at actually. Staithes is one of the few villages on that coast with direct access to the shore. Even with the prime viewpoint of Cowbar Nab closed (erosion?) it is spectacularly picturesque and it knows it. We ate lunch overlooking the harbour at low tide. The group on the next bench said they’d been coming for years, but it used to be a much sadder place than now. Promising. Noted with awe the number of women walking up and down the cliffs in flip flops.

Up out of the village and some up and down until we left Georgina at Runswick Bay with its impossibly soft-looking grey shale cliffs which are stuffed full of fossils but not your average English seaside scene (if you’ve ever been to Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset – the place with the oil well – it’s a bit like that). It was a Saturday and people were enjoying the beach. She got the bus back to Saltburn and we walked on to the Lythe Caravan and Camping site behind The Stiddy pub in a village above Sandsend.

We were in a little field with three neighbouring couples, one from Cleethorpes with a 26 year old motorhome they’d got for £2,800 on eBay, another from Liverpool, and a third from somewhere like Nottingham who had managed to knacker their young terrier with a 17 mile walk the previous day. All very friendly. In the showerblock (so lovely and warm) I met Heather from Stafford who was getting ready for a night out at the Whitby Northern Soul festival. We got the bus into Whitby. Whitby was hugely busy with 50- and 60-something Northern Soul fans from Teeside, all dressed to kill – plunging necklines on the ladies, newly close-shaved haircuts on the gents. Due to lucky timing we landed a table for two in The Four Seasons on Bridge Street, which sells good Turkish food and is vegan friendly. They were on their second or third covers of the night at 8pm.

We went to some pubs which were full of happy groups of people belting out different songs to the music on the jukebox. In the ladies’ toilet in one there was a machine dispensing tiny vibrators for £4. But because our feet hurt we couldn’t stand still for long, so walked out onto the harbour wall and watched the sun set over the sea, which confused us for ages since we were on the east coast. We took a very fast-driven cab back to The Stiddy for a drink and a chat with the campers gathered there. It was incredibly cold that night and the sky was still light at 11.

Day 06 – Sandsend to Robin Hood’s Bay. Peaceful clifftops.

We walked from Lythe to Whitby in bright sun, stopping for coffee at the very peaceful and comfortable Wit’s End Cafe in Sandsend (not sure how vegan-friendly) and then down onto the beach for 2 miles of low-tide paddling to Whitby, watching dogs caper and dig, and humans wade and wade and wade and still not get deep enough to swim.

In Whitby you have to pay for the harbour beach toilets. The Northern Soul fans were already eating and drinking. No end of chippies. There are that many friesian cows around it was surprising to see so much Cornish ice cream, and what is the point of proudly advertising that your cafe makes its own ice cream when the milk it’s made from comes from Jersey? We made an early beeline to Robertson’s on Bridge Street, which clearly states they fry in vegetable oil (not rendered beef fat), and whose staff know what is vegan on the menu. We had a lovely sit-down lunch of beanburger and chips, with good service. Matt had battered vegetarian sausages (the kind mostly made of mash in a sausage shape, rather than the Linda McC kind). More on vegan Whitby here.

Then up the 192 steps, past the ruined Abbey, resisting the allure of the microbrewery, and along cliffs I don’t remember to Hooks House Farm campsite, my favourite of the trip with its good clean wash block, sea view, and nice quiet walk down through the fields into the village of Robin Hood’s Bay.

Camping above Robin Hood's Bay

Robin Hood’s Bay is a winsome place with steep cobbled alleys and connecting houses. They say you could get contraband from the shore to the top of the village without it seeing the light of day. The Smugglers Bistro gave me pitta and houmous followed by bean chilli, and this low price, low skill meal mostly made of non-perishables, which I make myself when I have run out of inspiration, cost over £20. But it existed, and contained protein, so I could carry that blessed pack up and down the cliffs without getting malnourished.

Day 07 – Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough. Faded finery.

A cool, grey day, nearly raining. We had a good breakfast at Swell in Robin Hoods Bay, but they couldn’t make us sandwiches to put in our lunchboxes before midday. It was low tide so we opted to walk along the beach and come up at Hob Holes and the youth hostel. An entire local school was on the beach excitedly digging and rock-pooling. Sure the novelty should have worn off by now? Their teacher told me that many seaside-dwelling little children don’t get taken to the beach by their parents. I assume this is because the parents are busy. Maybe it’s because the novelty has worn off. We climbed the cliffs to Ravenscar in the rain and decided to have early lunch at the Raven Hall Hotel. An Eastern European waiter with a Middlesborough accent welcomed us to sit in the formal dining room, so we chose a discreet corner by the window and a warm hot water pipe. There were two vegan choices and I had a three bean (chipotle) chilli with rice. Matt had a ploughmans. On the way out we were disrespected by a woman whose dogs were disrespecting us. Dogs often object to us because they are small-minded about what they perceive to be deformed humans with huge lumpy backs and forelegs like sticks.

The walk took us along uneventful, peaceful cliffs cut by ever-decreasing gullies. The only things I remember are the bird colonies in the cliffs (gannets?) and a man walking a golden retriever who would run ahead and then sit stock still in the barley as if he thought he was camouflage. We left the path on the outskirts of Scarborough where we camped at the truly magnificent Camping and Caravanning Club site. We would stay in Scarborough for two nights,rather than camping in Filey.

It’s strange how many people we met seem to dislike Scarborough. Our neighbours in the tent next door told us there was nothing to see. There were no buses and our cab driver had nothing positive to say about the town either – he gave the impression it was near the end of a slow death. He took us to Pizza Express (vegan pizza now, including cheese) and back, and told us he had no fares in between. He said that nobody had come to Scarborough that summer, and once upon a time entire families had come to stay for two weeks every year. He told us the new indoor waterpark and swimming pool, insurance against poor weather, would cost £60 for a family of four. But as you will read, Scarborough has a lot going for it.

Day 08 – Scarborough to Filey. More peaceful cliffs.

The weather said rain in the morning clearing up in Scarborough, so we decided to walk this stretch in reverse. We got a bus into Scarborough, and from Scarborough to Filey, which took us out through the genteel suburbs of the north cliff and along the coast through the caravan parks. Contrary to the previous day’s briefings, crowds from the caravan sites gathered under umbrellas to get the bus into Scarborough. In Filey a passing local saw us looking doubtfully at a coffee place, and recommended the Coffee Shed, 7 Murray Street. They gave us a really good cooked breakfast in comfortable surroundings and are friendly to vegans (and also to locals, price-wise).

The tide was out and the rain had stopped so we could walk the length of the peninsula of slowly-disappearing Filey Brigg. The path is in the intertidal zone and I saw a little crab, which  compensated for being hit a glancing blow in the face by Matt as he flailed on the slippery rocks. A fishing boat lay a net in the bay which was a sad sight for me.

We got to the end of the brigg, saw the emergency telephone and realised we couldn’t climb the cliff there, so we headed back. A perky dog walker directly us to a badly eroded path up the cliffs, with a set of steps in the middle. We hadn’t seen such a badly eroded path before, and sadly it set the tone because it began to rain as we walked back along the bus route through the caravan parks 200 metres to our left. In such weather this stretch is uneventful to the point of banality. We encountered a solitary man from Kingston walking the route with an umbrella. He was camped at Whitby and like us had been caught out by the forecast which had changed overnight – it was now billed to rain for the rest of the day.

In the outskirts of Scarborough we had to walk along a road. On the road was a bus stop with a shelter like a shed. Within 10 minutes we were gently steaming on a bus back into Scarborough. Then, now very cold, we crossed the bridge to the station where you get more buses, and fortunately encountered a couple from the campsite who directed us onto an unadvertised bus which stops at the actual campsite. In the showers I could hardly undress I was so cold, and I remained there for some time pressing the button again and again like an addict. It had stopped raining but was cold and damp. We passed a lovely few hours in the rec room eating our lunch of rolls, crisps, salad and houmous while watching Konta v Halep in the Wimbledon quarter finals, mostly alone. Then we tried to eat in the adjacent Stonehouse pub in the old manor house. Stonehouse does wine slushies but they had run out of their only vegan option, and in any case they told me coleslaw was vegan. They probably meant gluten-free. We found Az, a Turkish place (formerly Taz until Taz-the-chain’s legal team threatened him), and walked there through one of the jewels of Scarborough, Peasholm Park. Our meal was good.

Day 8+1 Scarborough

We scraped the bottom for breakfast, having no other option than to return to the Stonehouse where my options were fried bread with hashbrowns, chips and a side of baked beans. These I consumed. If chronic diseases took the form of food, they would be on the Stonehouse menu. One of its offerings is pictured as a mug of ice cream on top of which rests a doughnut topped with whipped cream, sweets and a swizzels lolly. It’s like Jeff Koons made a dessert. I don’t even know how you’d eat it without a pestle and mortar. And what is completely perverse is that if you are above a size 8 you will need to back into the ladies’ toilet cubicles, they’re so small. I don’t mean to single Stonehouse out – there are plenty of places like that – it’s just when it’s the only place on your route, you scrutinise.

The tide was out and we walked along the beach of the north bay, watching more school parties.

North bay beach, Scarborough, school party in the distance.

In bright sun we picked our way along the edge of the sea wall, for some reason not paddling, only to find an unleapable rock pool between us and the steps so we did paddle then. The tidal range is high there and there were limpets half way up the steps. We climbed the peninsula to Scarborough Castle where we suddenly joined English Heritage. The audio tour is worth having and the whole place deserves at least two hours. We bought beer and cider from the shop and wandered the stages with them, reclining on sunny leas out of the rather horrible north wind. There are good views and that whole morning was really relaxing.

View of south bay from Scarborough Castle

In full chronic disease mode we wanted chips for lunch, and to eat them on the beach. There’s a strangely nameless chippy on Eastborough, around number 4, which fries in vegetable oil – it’s next to Rob’s Tattoo Studio, opposite the Turk’s Head, and has stained glass white roses of york in the windows. Good chips, eaten on the South Bay beach which was a different world from windswept North Bay. Then we went to a really good exhibition at the Scarborough Art Gallery on the history of trips to the seaside. There we saw pictures of Southend in the 1970s taken by Josef Koudelka.

That was Essex calling. We walked back along the north bay the way we’d came, with many backward glances to see if a kite surfer could manage to ground his kite, and back to the campsite to collect the packs they were looking after for us. We called the cab. The driver was listening to BBC Radio, and we had a conversation about a bad cyclist probably being from London, which evolved into a discussion about separatism. He told us that Whitby would like to secede from Scarborough and become part of Middlesborough (they can’t), and that Wales was part of England. I said that the UK was part of Europe, and seemed to get away with it. I would have liked to continue that conversation but we had to catch our evening train home.

In case I have given a different impression, I would happily make this trip again. The countryside is some of England’s finest, the beaches were uplifting, and the people are my people.

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