“Whale of a time in Whitby”

or how 21 Soles ventured North

When the club newsletter dropped in our email inbox on 7 March 2020 we were already excited about attending the Annual Dinner that evening. Rachel had written her Chairman’s Corner in Oz and Pauline and Alan announced that they would be leading a Walking Holiday in Whitby in 2021. I could find no reference to Covid. Oh Happy Days!

Thankfully P&A never gave up on the idea, our accommodation landlady Emma played ball and so, after much coming and going of participants, twenty-one of us arrived in Whitby on 5 May 2022 for “A week’s walking holiday based in Whitby on the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast”.

And what a week! The walks that P&A had prepared were excellent (would they be any other way with the dynamic duo?). We were treated to clifftop paths and beaches, stunning views, fishing villages clinging to hillsides, industrial history (who could forget Alan explaining how much urine was shipped into the Alum mines!), good weather (George was able to wear his shorts the whole week) and the best Fish’n’Chips in the UK (purportedly!).

Each morning we gathered in the Riviera dining rooms for breakfast and final guidance of what was happening that day. It would have been unsurprising if Pauline didn’t have a little indigestion, trying to eat her kippers and manage her “who does what” lists at the same time.

Those that chose to walk with the main group gathered on the pavement outside the B&B ready to take a bus to the start of the walk or to head off direct from Whitby.

For the record the walks were:
Day 1: Whitby to Sandsend (3 miles) to Runswick Bay (+ 5 miles) to Staithes (+ 3½ miles) – total 11½ miles.
Day 2: Glaisdale Station to Grosmont (4 miles) to Sleights (+ 4 miles) to Whitby (+ 3½ miles) – total 11½ miles.
Day 3: Whitby to Robin Hood’s Bay (8 miles) to Whitby (+ 7½ miles) – total 15½ miles.
Day 4: Staithes to Skinningrove (5 miles) to Saltburn-by-the-Sea (+ 4 miles) – total 9 miles.
Day 5: Robin Hood’s Bay to Ravenscar Circular – total 10 miles.
Day 6: Goathland to Grosmont (5 miles) to Goathland (+ 5 miles) – total 10 miles.

The cottages of Runswick Bay clung to the hillside as we approached and reminded Lesley of an Italian coastal village. Staithes huddled in its valley and Pauline was seemingly prepared to lie down in front of the Whitby bus as the last of the party hurried to make it up the long haul from the village. On our first visit to Robin Hood’s Bay, Rachel managed to set off an alarm. I’m too polite to reveal how she managed it but on our next visit walkers came armed with the 40p needed to use the “facilities” at the bottom of the village. Boggle Hole was a delight with the YHA nestling in the valley and tame chaffinches stealing crumbs from our cake.

Chaffinch sampling cake in Boggle Hole cafe

We encountered the steam trains of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway as they puffed up the Murk Esk valley towards Pickering. Sadly, no sign of Harry Potter in Hogsmeade (Goathland) station. The approach to Saltburn showed just how much industry existed along this coastline and the distant skyline of Teesside reminded us that it still does today. The clifftops provided some excellent birdwatching and sight of a few distant seals. Each walk was supplemented with a host of interesting information about local history and geography provided by Alan.

Such was the planning that only on the last day were cars called into use. They were generally left for the local seagulls to decorate. The local buses provided a very effective way of reaching starts or returning to Whitby and bus passes were much in evidence (to the chagrin of our young Chairman who had to pay!)

We dined together on our first evening in The Magpie Café where the food was ample and delicious and many of us returned to sample the wide range of dishes on offer (if we could get in). After that, notes were compared regarding where to eat; remarkably some even ate Thai, Indian or Italian. We had a charming little café opposite our B&B called Clara’s. Members were often to be found enjoying a deli ice cream whilst watching the sun set over the sea, which made for some good photo opportunities. Our Chairman, Carl, chose a higher perch in search of his perfect sunset shot. This meant climbing up the 199 steps to the Abbey ruins, but this was somewhat tempered by the fact that a micro-brewery stood opposite the ruins, ready to quench his thirst.

Sunset from Whitby opposite our B&B

Sun-kissed and a little wind swept we bade our farewells on the last morning before heading in a range of directions but all ready to meet again soon and reminisce about a truly wonderful walking holiday.

Our warm thanks must go to Pauline and Alan for all their hard work, planning and leadership.

Glyn Hayter

See a selection of photos taken by members by clicking here.

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