Thursday, 6 October 2011

Dinosaurs, smugglers and the C2C

Just a quick blog and photos on my day out to Robin Hood's Bay and Whitby.

There is no better place on the East Coast of Yorkshire to spend an afternoon than Robin Hoods Bay and Whitby. My intention was to go to Whitby first and then on to Robin Hoods Bay but Whitby was so busy as the warm sunshine had brought the hoards out.

Also the tide was out which meant that the scaurs (derived from a Norse word meaning ‘rock’) at Robin Hoods Bay would be exposed thus giving much better photo opportunities than Whitby so I headed a few miles down the coast with my new Lumix GF1 at the ready..

Robin Hood's Bay was very busy as well, the car park at the top of the main street was full and I only just managed to get into the main car park. Most folk were off the same frame of mind as me, making the most of the summer like weather.

The Bay Hotel

I don't know which is harder on the knees, walking down the steep street to the Bay or walking back up. One thing for sure is that it is easier on the lungs going down! Being a good boy, I resisted a call of The Bay Hotel AND the ice cream van parked on the beach. I had a grand walk along the bay just taking photos and generally enjoying the warm autumn sunshine.

The Bay Hotel

The Bay Hotel is the end (or the start if you are doing it the opposite way) of Wainwright's Coast to Coast walk. A walk stretching almost 220 miles from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood's Bay. The good Mr Wainwright recommended that walkers dipped their booted feet in the Irish Sea at St Bees and, at the end of the walk, dipped their naked feet in the North Sea at Robin Hood's Bay. There was also talk that a free half pint in the Bay Hotel awaited anyone who completed the walk but I don't know how true this is.

Scaurs, Robin Hood's Bay

Robin Hood's Bay

Robin Hood's Bay

Robin Hood's Bay

A bit farther around the bay at Ravenscar, dinosaur prints have been found as this area was once a large estuary where three-toed carnivorous theropods and plant-eating sauropods roamed the mudflats for food. Footprints of three- and five-toed dinosaurs have been found in Burniston and Jackson's Bay. Scary stuff!

Scaurs, Robin Hood's Bay

Scaurs, Robin Hood's Bay

On my way back up to the car park, I explored the many narrow streets and alleyways which are a trademark of the place and possibly the reason why it was so popular with smugglers in the 18th century.

Robin Hood's Bay

Robin Hood’s Bay was reportedly the busiest smuggling community on the Yorkshire coast. Its natural isolation, protected by marshy moorland on three sides, and it's myriad of alleyways and ginnels offered  aids to this well-organised business.

Cobbled street, Robin Hood's Bay

Smuggling at sea was backed up by many on land who were willing to finance and transport contraband. Fisher folk, farmers clergy and gentry alike were all involved. Fierce battles ensued between smugglers and excise men, both at sea and on land, and Bay wives were known to pour boiling water over excise men from bedroom windows in the narrow alleyways. Hiding places, bolt holes and secret passages abounded. It is said that a bale of silk could pass from the bottom of the village to the top without leaving the houses.

Alleyway, Robin Hood's Bay

The North Cliffs at Robin Hood's Bay.

It is amazing how quickly the tide comes in, within the space of half an hour most of the exposed scaurs were covered by the sea and the beach (as such) had emptied..

Looking across the bay to Ravenscar

Long shadows on Robin Hood's Bay and Ravenscar

The sun started to go down behind the surrounding high ground and I just had enough time to take a few more photos before the Lower Bay was covered in shadows.

The Lower Bay from the top of the main street.

A drive into Whitby, which was still busy followed. I parked by the harbour and just had a wander up to the lighthouse passing the Magpie Cafe, famous for it's fish and chips but wasn't tempted as being dive-bombed by dozens of seagulls whilst trying to eat a fish butty is not my idea of fun.

I'd had a pleasant day out, the East coast never lets me down.

A journey of two halves.

It was one of those all too frequent occasions when the weather forecast had a big wad of thick cloud and rain hanging over Cumbria whilst ...