2 weeks, 2,2oo miles – aka Our Honeymoon – Part 1: Highlands to North Yorkshire

Our trip around the UK was ambitious.  We had already decided to cut out London and the South East due to time constraints, disappointing a few friends along the way, and missing some of the attractions of the capital city and my old stomping ground.

The trip originally started as a crazy idea to see a few people who weren’t able to make our ‘Big Day’ earlier in the summer, and have a bit of a holiday at the same time.  We planned on seeing parts of the country neither of us were familiar with. Lots of friends had asked if we could meet up, stop off or stay over in various places in the UK, and these, along with a few bookings with Airbnb, determined our route.  Broadly, we headed south down the East side of the UK and back home to Scotland via the West side.  Our choices of where to stay when we weren’t with friends or family were based on being in areas of outstanding natural beauty, so we chose National Parks: Northumberland, The North York Moors and The Peak District. Areas we normally drive though on a north to south trip but rarely stop in, for the rush to get from A to B.

We had 2 nights in Northumberland, close to Hadrian’s Wall, a place we’ve often seen on the signposts on both the east and west of the country, but not a place either of us had ever been to.  We chose a sunny Sunday morning and trundled to find a place to wild swim, namely Broomlee Lough.  Despite over an hour’s trudge we didn’t manage to reach the water due to the rough terrain, and as we got closer, the boggy ground as a result of the previous day’s heavy rain.  Instead we spent a happy few hours rambling along Hadrian’s Wall and footpath.  I say rambling, some of it was quite strenuous, especially as we were carrying wet gear.

The place was busy with tourists.  I’d always thought the vast open skies of Northumberland would be sparsely peopled, tourists or otherwise, and was surprised by the volume of walkers, both serious and uncommitted, like ourselves. We enjoyed the mix of history and wildness and vowed to return for a longer break.

On our way down through Teesside we stopped in Redcar for lunch at a natural food deli and were delighted by the quality of the food and level of service.  An unassuming place, they were clearly popular and we queued for a table.  Sadly not all our dining experiences were as memorable, or at least, not for the right reasons.

A dip in the water at Runswick Bay, with the thermometer hitting 26 degrees, was a welcome respite before we checked into our barn accommodation at Glaisdale in the North York Moors National Park (NYMNP); a converted barn on an organic livestock farm, and our home for the next 2 nights.  The place was remote and beautiful; only 20 miles from Whitby yet as far away from people and civilisation as you might want to be, on what was after all, a sort-of-honeymoon.

As the distance between our stops was considerable, and we were effectively doing the length of the UK – twice – we’d taken the decision to keep our forays local and cut down on car miles. A trip to Goatland, less than 10 miles from where we were staying, and home of the North York Moors Railway, provided plenty to see and do, and some superb walking   The last time I was there only a handful of visitors were there, mostly railway enthusiasts, so we were surprised to find the parking limited and costly, and the place heaving with people.  Apparently Goatland is the place the 1990’s TV series ‘Heartbeat’ was filmed.  Not only had I never seen ‘Hearbeat’, I’d never even heard of it.  Clearly plenty of other people had.  The main focus seemed to be taking pictures of the village shops and an old Ford Anglia Police car parked outside the Post Office.  Tony did have his photo taken with the car.  After we hightailed it to the station and then onwards to Darnholm and a pleasant circular walk around the village.

After a restorative sandwich, we headed on another jaunt to find the Mallyan Spout: a towering waterfall that has formed a ravine with 70 foot vertical walls.  It should have been less than a mile, but in typical fashion for us, we missed the sign and carried on towards Beck Hole, another Waterfall a couple of miles further on.  We ended up walking 6 miles instead of 2, in blistering heat.  The tea and cake at the Mallyan Spout Café was justified.  Later I enjoyed dabbling my feet in the icy waters of West Beck, as the heat left the day, and Tony sat and contemplated in the peace.

For somewhere so close to our holiday home, we spent longer than was strictly necessary getting back.  We weren’t lost, we were admiring the scenery, and the place names.  North Yorkshire is not alone in its variety of interesting place names, but in a competition it would be close to top spot.  Fryup was a couple of villages along and other delights included Westwang, Bugthorpe, Huggate, Fangdale and Sinningdale.  We added the NYMNP to our list of places to visit again and continued south.

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