Published: May 16th 2013May 16th 2013
As we crossed the North York Moors we spied a glimpse of the North Sea and coast far below us. A day later we could touch the sea in the town of Whitby where Captain James Cook apprenticed and began sailing. Having visited the beach in Hawaii where Cook's career ended, we were fascinated by the museum in the house where he studied by candlelight at night in his attic room. Whitby is also the location in Bram Stoker's book where the ship carrying Dracula's coffin crashed and the bat flew ashore. We managed to pass up the Dracula museum on the boardwalk but we didn't skip the pub advertised to have the best fish and chips in England.
We followed the coast north along a bike route called Coasts and Castles, seeing restored castles and ruins of castles on nearly every promontory. We enjoyed a sunny day, but the many sandy beaches were empty except for a few hardy groups of surfers in wetsuits. The route gave us views of rape fields in bloom on cliffs over the sea and many horses were tethered to graze on the dune grasses. We passed the Farne Islands several miles offshore and
home to many species of nesting birds as we pulled into the village of Bamburgh.
A lucky tip from a pub sent us to an unmarked B&B in a stone farmhouse. Our hosts, Charles and Barbara, welcomed us to Bamburgh Hall, built in 1697. We settled into two huge rooms in the third floor attic that were formerly their children's rooms. They ushered us into a comfortable sitting room and urged us to have a drink from the well supplied table in the corner. A fire was waiting for us when we returned from our pub dinner. Karen asked Charles about the oil portrait of the man on horseback and learned he was the grandfather, a "bad lad". The nearby portrait of the young woman was his "favorite illegitimate daughter".
We expected rain the next day, but planned to ride the three mile causeway, accessible at low tide, to nearby Holy Island before making a 30 mile run to the Scottish border. We loaded our bikes in the cavernous garage in the morning despite the rain. Poking our heads outside we were nearly blown over. Hoping that the wind would lessen, we cinched the hoods on our rainjackets
and Charles gave us a lift to the castle on the hill. We circled the castle with winds nearly knocking us over and rain stinging our faces. Is this really biking weather? A dripping Charles met us back in the garage after checking on his flock of over 1000 sheep and pulled up a "rather grotty" weather forecast: temperature of 1 C, 10 cm of snow, icy roads, and continuing winds. We had expected days like this in northern Scotland, but this stopped us in our path. We may be tough, but we are not entirely crazy, so we settled into the pub with hot drinks, found a hotel for the night and set back up the hill to explore the castle from the inside out of the wind.
People along the way often ask us where we are going. Now that we are within reach of Scotland, our answer seems more credible. One elderly woman urged us to take our vitamins. Our favorite response came from a fit young man who had biked 40 miles in the morning and was out for a 10 mile afternoon walk. "Bloody 'ell! That's more than I could do."
brought clear skies, snow on the hills, and no wind. On to Scotland!
[Posted from Kelso, Scottish Borders, Scotland]
There are more photos below