|From the land of Robin Hood to Robin Hood’s
Bay…one Nottingham lass’s pilgrimage to North Yorkshire.
What is it about
Yorkshire that draws me?
I find myself asking this question constantly. Even now, when I am at my
beige beech effect desk, running up Excel spreadsheets on my grey computer
in my Magnolia office, I am dreaming of the green and purple moors, rolling
dales and Jurassic cliff faces cosseting tiny villages set against the
sapphire blue sea.
It was the North Yorkshire coast’s sharpness of contrasts which made me
first fall in love with North Yorkshire many years ago. Walking along the
coastal route from Whitby to Robin Hoods Bay I had a Julie Andrews moment,
much to the annoyance of my husband. I glanced at the sea which had a
picture book little fishing boat settled in the midst, then I looked to my
right and saw azure skies and patchwork fields of all the shades of green
you can imagine, and ahead of me was the ancient cliffs proudly standing
out. I couldn’t resist it, my arms opened wide my face took in the warm sun
and I twirled round exclaiming like an Evangelist “This IS Heaven”.
After my rapturous display of enlightenment I realised I had to try and
catch up with my husband who had now disappeared down the dip ahead
muttering something along the lines of “I don’t know who you are, mad
I agree, I may have looked barking mad, but how many thousands of people new
to this wondrous coastline have felt the same? Ok, so their sanity may have
prevailed, but what struck me in that moment was a sense of finding Home.
That elusive place very few of us find. Yes, I own a house in Nottingham,
and that is where I was raised, but whenever I am travelling up the road to
Yorkshire I always feel I am coming Home. I know part of my ancestry does
come from Yorkshire, so I like to believe that it really is a homecoming
whenever I head north. But whatever it is, I like it.
Now our children are older we like to take our tent and spend a week or so
up there, once, maybe twice a year. Our children share our excitement and
wonder at the vastness and majesty of the moor lands, of the partridges and
sheep who like to take their time crossing the unmarked roads and of the 33%
gradients which make me decidedly queasy, but bring about whoops of laughter
and cheers from the back seats of the car.
The most wonderful aspect of North Yorkshire is the unequalled variety of
things to see, do and experience. There are myriads of tiny villages which
comfort the urban traveller by reminding them that the rat race they have
just left behind does not have to be their one and only view of life; there
are walks to invigorate, walks to relax, and walks to see the wildlife which
you cannot find in the middle of a bustling land locked city. There are
steam railways and museums such as Rydale Folk museum which allow you to
taste the past at your own pace, and if it is the good old fashioned day at
the seaside you want you are spoilt for choice ….Scarborough, Filey, Whitby
just to name a few.
North Yorkshire has been blessed with views which are perfect for the
artist’s canvas and for the appreciative eye. Sitting on a hill above
Grosmont railway station, taking in the view from Ravenscar to Robin Hoods
Bay or simply sitting watching the fishing traffic come and go through
Whitby Harbour are some of my personal favourites. But a winner with us all
is that moment you come off the moors and see the gothic splendour of the
ruins of Whitby Abbey in the distance. This never fails to raise a cheer
amongst our kids and always sends a tingle down my spine as I momentarily
share the same sensation and thoughts that hundreds and thousands of
pilgrims felt upon sighting the Abbey in the distance.
A trip to North Yorkshire would not be complete without our own little
pilgrimage to Robin Hood’s Bay. That most complete of small fishing villages
which locals have had the good sense, commonplace amongst Yorkshire folk, to
stave off gaudy arcades and themed pubs. Robin Hood’s Bay and its residents
instead welcome us into a world of peacefulness and serenity and selflessly
allow us to join their world for a day or to.
Which leads me to the subject of Yorkshire people themselves? They have
an enviable combination of steadfastness and gentleness little found
elsewhere. Their straight talking does not offend, it simply informs; their
smooth languid tones mimic the rolling landscape and is easy on the ear, far
removed from the harsher staccato accent found in Nottinghamshire. They have
a dignified acceptance that they are part of their landscape and work with
it, rather than attempt to dominate it as we have done in our Urban sprawls.
Moreover they possess the quiet knowledge that they live amongst some of
England’s most beautiful landscapes, but have the self-assurance that they
do not need to brag.