Day 22 – South Shields to Saltburn-by-the-Sea – 94 kms
I would have probably saved a few miles today if I hadn’t spent an hour rolling around Middlesbrough. Two major detours there made my life a misery.
From South Shields on, it was pretty well one town after another and if it wasn’t for the occasional ride along a seafront promenade, it would have been a ride through urban blight. I rode through many areas that were a mass of houses/shops/humanity. Some areas of Sunderland and Hartlepool were in, or had evidence of, some serious makeovers with very positive results. But upon reaching the sights and odours of Middlesbrough’s chemical processing factories and having to pass that malodorous blight for many miles, I was wondering why I chose this route? A quick look at a map shows that between Stockton and Middlesbrough there isn’t too much of an alternative. Then with the detours that diverted me onto the (shoulderless) A66 through the city with constant truck tankers passing me by at high speed even had Basil’s hands clasped in prayer!
But eventually we made it safely onto quieter roads to a the seaside resort of Saltburn where I will have a day off tomorrow. Otherwise after some rain last night, the humidity has gone and today was bright and sunny with a fresh wind from the Northeast – yes, a tailwind for Adam – say thank you!
By the way, after cruising the exterior menus of the Indian restaurants for half an hour last night, I picked a good one – the meal, service and surroundings were superb, I was very impressed – a little place like that put our so-called five star Taj Mahal (in Victoria) to shame.
Sightseeing tomorrow – more in a couple of days… Oh! I passed 1600 kms (1000 miles) today.
Adam K. & (I’m still shaking from the A66) Basil.
Day 23 – Rest Day – Saltburn-by-the-Sea
Not a well known place – why am I here? I can’t really explain my exuberance at being here. I can only say that if you ever want to reminisce a life experience, go back to your childhood. I spent two or three summer holidays here with my family, all before I was into double digits of age – another close family of friends used to meet up with us here too, so for us it was quite the event back then – no car, just an exciting train trip to the seaside and self-catering accommodation.
Upon arriving here now, I experienced so many vivid memories that present surroundings triggered, it was positively joyful. Yes, some things have changed, there are more people and cars here than I remember, but the Victorian seaside heritage of Saltburn cannot be hidden by quasi progress.
Many things have not changed at all… All the things that fascinated me as a kid, still do. The funicular lift up and down the cliff-side still functions as it has for decades. The pier that has been washed away and rebuilt so many times, that it seems as if the present cry for donations to rebuild hasn’t stopped since the Victorian days – it’s only about half as long as it used to be, but still impressive at over 680 feet. The beautiful five-story houses overlooking the seafront are still here and many have been renovated, or are in the process of restoration. Some of the shops still have the Victorian awnings from days gone by. The little hardware shop where I (my Mum and Dad) bought my bucket and spade to dig in the sand and make sandcastles with is still in the same place!
The railway once again stops in Saltburn after once by-passing such a small town – but generally, railways in Britain are in renaissance – finally some sense! The miniature railway through the Valley Gardens is still here, but the station is in a different location – I told the operator/engineer of that fact – he laughed and told me that if I remembered that, it was a long time since I was here – it was – almost 50 years ago! The real train used to terminate at the Zetland Hotel (now private residences) here – the upper class had their own platform after the peons (us) alighted farther down the track at the regular station. The station building is now restored/revived into shops etc., but it is quite the town centrepiece all the same.
Sand dunes and miles of sandy beach make for a perfect setting, the surfers and boogie-boarders have now found this place of shallow water and waves too. But for me, I have just enjoyed a fabulous trip down memory lane.
Adam K. & (the miniature train was almost my size) Basil.
Day 24 – Saltburn to Whitby – 48 kms
Even with a few side trips to a couple of interesting seaside towns, I couldn’t squeeze any more miles in today. But I will say that there are many hills between Saltburn and Whitby – some tough ones too, up to 14% grade. The worst grade for today was fortunately downhill at Lythe Bank – it was 25% and just over a kilometre in length with a few hairpin turns thrown in – the brakes got a good workout, but even with that nobody passed me 🙂
Weather was good again, but has definitely cooled off from a couple of weeks ago. Mornings tend to start out sunny, but threatening clouds seem to regularly roll in the afternoons.
Whitby was quite the zoo of people compared to the much quieter Saltburn. I got cleaned up at my B&B – the hostel was full here – then I braved the crowds and ventured down to the extremely busy promenade. After dodging the crowds and visiting some familiar sites that I remember from previous visits, a rain shower developed, so I found a quiet pub and hid there for a breather. I can’t believe the amount of people here, I always remember the place as busy, but it just seems that it’s wall to wall now. And the fish & chips shops – I’ll bet there’s over 30 here! Mind you, the fish is locally caught here, so it is quite good regardless.
Whitby’s a seafaring port and amongst other famous attributes, was the home of Captain Cook. Now besides being a very popular tourist seaside destination, Whitby is the location for scenes from a few TV shows and films. My main reason for coming here was not the crowds, but to take the steam train across the North Yorkshire Moors. The train runs to Pickering and back and stops at Goathland – which on the TV series “Heartbeat,” is the village of “Aidensfield.” The train station also was “Hogsmeade” in the first Harry Potter movie. So rather than riding my bike, a steam train ride in period coaches is definitely my plan for tomorrow – should be fun!
Adam K. & (I hope he takes me along) Basil.
Day 25 – Whitby to Pickering to Whitby, via Train
Oh the sounds and smells of the steam locomotive took me back many years to train travel in the 50’s and 60’s. The trip through the moors was wonderful – stopping at small stations and listening to the sounds of the steam whistle while travelling through the Yorkshire countryside was a real thrill for me.
I thought that there was only one engine, but discovered quickly that there a few different steam engines that have been restored and also a large amount of rolling stock. Some of the classier Pullman coaches are available for charter hire for various events and dinner and lunch dining trains – what a great way to celebrate something special.
On the return trip to Whitby, I got off at Goathland (in the rain – which stopped quickly though) and spent about an hour wandering around the village and seeing familiar sights that I have seen on the TV show “Heartbeat.” The village is just as picturesque as portrayed on television. The pub – in reality is called the Goathland Hotel – and is just as viewed on TV. I’m glad to say they served Tetley’s beer hand-pulled from the cask – it was quite special to sit by the fireplace in the “Aidensfield Arms” with my pint in hand.
Other features/buildings in the village are also authentic on the show, but I learned that other locales are also used – such as the Police Station which is not in Goathland, but actually in Otley and the Police house is in Askwith. I also stopped at Grosmont station and spent an hour or so there – the main restoration work of the trains is carried out in Grosmont’s engine sheds – interesting stuff, for sure.
So a wonderful outing on the train with some nostalgia for company. Tomorrow I get to ride the roads across some of the same countryside, but my grades will be steeper than the ones that the railway travels over.
Adam K. (He did take me along!) Basil.