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Published: October 18th 2020
Greetings! This is my fourth and final blog entry on my summer trip 2020, travelling in the north-east of England from Newcastle to Hull. I had so far visited some really quite amazing and special places, and on the second Saturday of my trip, I was once more heading with my backpack, and sword in hand, to explore another undiscovered part of this country for me – the northern city of Kingston-upon-Hull, or simply just Hull.
I had really enjoyed my time in the North York Moors National Park, particularly having chosen a lovely farmhouse BnB to base myself in. On the Saturday morning, I caught the country bus number 95 once more in Glaisdale village, back into Whitby again. I wasn’t there long, as I’d joined quite a long queue at the bus station for the half-hourly X93 bus to Scarborough. It seemed that the previous bus had been full, and a few people were wondering, including myself, whether we’d be able to get on the next one. When it did come, it was fortunately a double-decker, and we all managed to get on board, which was a relief. The bus to Scarborough passed through Robin
Hood’s Bay once more, where I had visited two days before, and then continued its onwards journey through the moors and country lanes. The journey was lovely, although there was really quite a loud lady, seemingly a few pence short of a pound, who spoke at the top of her voice to an equally loud gentleman sat next to her, also seemingly a few pence short of a pound. The conversation was clearly noticed by all passengers on the top deck as we made quiet eye contact with each other and chuckled, as their conversation was really quite amusing. She took around ten minutes to explain, for example, how she had gone for a cup of tea with a friend who had called across to her from over the road, and then on her way home was not sure if she’d make it in time before an accident was to happen, as she was busting to go to the loo. This was at the top of her voice.
The loud people got off just before we entered Scarborough, and we all had a little chuckle to ourselves. Not long after, I got off just outside Scarborough train station, where
Hull, East Yorkshire
it seemed I had a wonderful three hours to spend in town before my next train was due to take me to Hull. This would be wonderful, as long as I could find some place to stow my backpack and my sword, and unlike Middlesbrough, I was actually able to find a hotel just across from the train station which looked after my luggage for a fiver. Brilliant! I was free to explore!
Scarborough is another very popular northern seaside resort, and along with the likes of Blackpool, Skegness, Cleethorpes and Bridlington, makes up one of the northerners’ favourite summer beach getaways, particularly popular I think this year due to the number of staycationers. It is a town of around 60,000 people, and I found that along with Newcastle Castle and Glaisdale Dale earlier on in my trip, the municipality in which the town is located also has rather a repetitive ring to it – Scarborough Borough. As well as being a popular seaside resort, Scarborough is also known as having been the location of a renowned annual medieval fair, beginning in the 13th
century, and lasting up until the 18th
century. The fair was visited by tradesmen from
all over England, as well as nearby Scandinavia, the Baltic states and the Byzantine Empire. Throughout my visit to the town, the haunting medieval melody “Are you going to Scarborough fair?” was singing in my head in the background. I had previously been to Scarborough during a school Geography field trip way back in my teens, and was actually looking forward to seeing the place now as an adult. What struck me was its dramatic headland topped by a 12th
century castle, and the two bays, North and South Bay, to either side of it. I was looking forward to exploring further.
As with Whitby, the town was busy with British tourists, but due to its much more expansive size, it did not feel overrun or cramped. I enjoyed walking through the town centre, as the usual High Street shops soon gave way to quirkier seaside souvenir shops, including a rather creepy one filled with stuffed animals, and then the busy-ness of the South Bay beach. South Bay seemed to be the seaside hotspot, with candy floss, amusements and fairground rides, not to mention the really iconic Grand Hotel, majestically holding top position overlooking the middle of the bay.
I quickly escaped the tourist hubbub, and picked up one of the steep paths heading up to Scarborough Castle. I did not intend to visit the castle, not least because it was also a book-online-only affair, but was simply looking for some good views over the bays and town. At the top of the hill, and just outside the castle, I found the awesome views, looking southwards across South Bay and its seaside kitsch, and also northwards across the more peaceful and less touristy North Bay. I enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch on a bench high up on a cliff overlooking the latter, before returning back to town again, via a bus shelter as the heavens opened for a short while. It was a lovely short visit to Scarborough.
Around mid-afternoon, I caught my onwards train further southwards, along the coast, leaving North Yorkshire, and entering the county of East Riding of Yorkshire, formerly Humberside, and often simply known as East Yorkshire. Growing up in South Yorkshire, and having known about nearby West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire, I was more than happy in 1996 when there finally became an East Yorkshire, as the former county of Humberside formally changed
its name. I vaguely remember having visited the county a few times as a child, but this was to be my first full visit as an adult, and my first time visiting Hull. Once more, I was exploring undiscovered regions of my own country, right in my own backyard.
Just over an hour later, the train pulled into Hull station, and I was excited to be in a new city. My mission that day, however, was simply to make it to my BnB, and thus I caught a bus from the adjacent bus station northwards, along the absolutely horrid, ramshackle and nasty area around Beverley Road, three miles north, to the delightful Acorn Guest House. I have seen some rundown places in England, but the area around Hull’s Beverley Road just has to be the worst of them – many houses were boarded up and graffitied over, and on every street corner hung a group of very dodgy looking thugs. I found it depressing to simply travel through the area, and fortunately my BnB was located in a much nicer, leafier area further north, around the University of Hull. The Acorn Guest House was lovely, and I had booked
myself into its attic room, with a balcony overlooking the BnB’s extensive gardens to the rear. The owner was friendly, although very sadly one of her dogs had died just that morning, and understandably she appeared not to be what her usual self would have been…
After resting up a bit with a cup of tea, I headed to the nearby Co-Op, and stocked up on food which would last me for my time in Hull – I had purposefully chosen this BnB for, amongst other things, its fridge and microwave in each room, perfect for the self-caterer such as myself. Shortly after dinner, it was bath and then bed for me, to ready myself for my first full day of explorations in the area the next day.
And so on the Sunday morning, I awoke and prepared myself for the day ahead, having enjoyed another wonderful cooked breakfast of sausages, eggs, bacon, tomatoes and mushrooms – lovely! That day, I was heading to a nearby iconic sight, one that I remember just catching a very brief glimpse of on the way to Scarborough during the afore-mentioned school Geography field trip to Scarborough, but never having really gotten
a close-up look. The amazing Humber Bridge!
The Humber Bridge is one of a number of huge, famous bridges in the UK, and I’d say one of the three main ones, along with the Forth Bridge near Edinburgh, and the Severn Bridge near Bristol. It opened only in 1981, aiming to make the journey from Hull to Lincolnshire much quicker, and at just over a mile long, was at the time the longest single-span road suspension bridge in the world. Today it is now the eleventh-longest. I was looking forward to visiting, as I do really like bridges, and I had seen quite a lot so far already on this journey! I took a bus leaving Hull towards a town called Barton-upon-Humber, in the county of Lincolnshire on the southern side of the River Humber - Hull and East Yorkshire are located on the river’s northern bank. I got off in town, and headed straight to the river, for awesome views of this huge structure as it spans the river at this point. Nearby, I enjoyed a lovely stroll around the wetlands area of the Waters Edge Country Park and Visitor Centre, situated on reclaimed industrial ground after a
huge 1990s project converted it from one of Europe’s most polluted areas, into the wildlife haven that it is today. I later found out that Barton-upon-Humber is home to one of England’s oldest, Saxon church remains, with the tower of its St Peter’s Church having been built in the 5th
century. I did not know this at the time, and would have liked to have visited it if I had, but not to worry.
My walk took me northwards across the Humber Bridge itself, a truly exhilarating experience as the wind was strong, the River Humber flowed gracefully 30 metres below, and the two towers towered dramatically 155 metres above. On the other side, the atmosphere felt different to the south side – Lincolnshire on the south bank of the Humber felt much more rural and peaceful, East Yorkshire on the north bank felt more metropolitan and busier. I walked into the nearby Hull suburb of Hessle, where I took a bus back again to Hull city centre.
I had planned for the rest of the afternoon to explore Hull itself, and was really quite pleasantly surprised at what a beautiful city it was. With a population of
300,000, Hull is England’s tenth largest city, and I really knew very little about it before I arrived. It was originally founded in the 12th
century as Wyke-upon-Hull, the River Hull being a tributary river entering the Humber at this point. Soon after it was renamed “King’s town upon Hull”, later “Kingston-upon-Hull”, by King Edward I in 1299, after he acquired the town from a local abbey. Rather a mouthful, most people simply call the city “Hull”, and to my mind it does have to be said with a northern accent, otherwise it just doesn’t sound right! The city grew during industrial times as a major international port, and as such was bombed heavily during World War II – with 95 per cent of its houses damaged or destroyed, it ranks as the second-most bombed British city after London. In 2017, the city was awarded the title of “City of Culture”, and does have a sense of modernity and a pleasant vibe about it, despite it still being relatively unknown to the average Englishman, as well as the average outsider.
If my previous experience of Beverley Road was anything to go by, I did not initially have too high
expectations for my visit to the city centre of Hull, but I was more than happy to be proved wrong. After some delicious fried chicken at a central KFC, I spent a happy couple of hours exploring the grandeur of the Victorian city centre architecture around Queen Victoria Square and Queens Gardens, the lovely urban regeneration and gentrification projects around Princes Quay and Hull Marina, and onto Hull’s star attraction, the modern aquarium, The Deep. Sadly I was unable to book online tickets for a visit here, and there were no on-the-day tickets left to be had. The aquarium was built in 2002, with iconic architecture, and thousands of sea creatures, including seven species of shark. I was content to some extent to just be able to visit its gift shop at least, which housed a towering fish tank in the middle of it, and take some photos of the building’s wonderful external architecture. I then headed back into town again, via the really quite splendid and unknown 13th
century Hull Minster, and the huge, ultra-modern St Stephen’s Shopping Centre, before catching my bus back again northwards for another lovely microwave dinner, bath and bed at the Acorn Guest House.
I had thoroughly enjoyed my day exploring Hull and the nearby Humber Bridge, very pleasantly surprised at the unknown attractiveness and charm of the city itself, as well as the grandeur of the bridge.
The next day, my final full day on this trip, I had planned to explore a nearby point of interest, somewhere which I had learned about during my days of studying Geography in school – the Spurn Point peninsula. Spurn Point is a three-mile long, 50-metre wide, coastal spit around 25 miles east of Hull. It is one of Britain’s most striking geographical features, and I have been interested in visiting ever since those Geography school days. In actual fact, since I finished school in 1996, Spurn Point peninsula has actually become Spurn Point Tidal Island, after a strong storm caused a tidal surge to break through the spit in December 2013. I did not know this until I visited Spurn Point on this day, and I was actually quite sad to find this out. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my visit very much indeed.
After a bus into Hull city centre once more, I took another bus eastwards towards Withernsea, getting off at the small
East Yorkshire village of Patrington, to await another bus connection an hour later, and onwards to the village of Easington, gateway to the point. I spent an interesting hour exploring the quaint little village of Patrington, and its striking St Patrick’s church and spire. The East Yorkshire public transport service ends at Easington, and from there it is a six-mile walk all the way to the end of the point. As I didn’t really fancy a 12-mile round walk right to the end of the peninsula and back, as well as time not really permitting this, I was content with a six-mile round walk halfway along it – three miles along a very straight country lane to Kilnsea and the Spurn Point Discovery Centre a little further along, and three miles back again. The weather was just gorgeous, with sunny blue skies dominating the day. The gentle breeze from the North Sea also kept things cool, so it wasn’t too hot. I really enjoyed my walk to the point, around it, and back again. The area is famous for its birdlife, and most other visitors there were of the birdwatching variety, complete with tripod, telescope and camera. I spent time
in a bird hide just watching the waves lap the eastern shore of the spit, had a mournful look across the breach in the spit, where the old road which used to head all the way to the end of the peninsula was completely destroyed, and enjoyed the natural peace of the area. The air was filled with birdlife and sound, and had a very rugged, end-of-the-world feel to it. People in these parts call the area the “Land’s End of Yorkshire”.
In actual fact, the East Yorkshire coast of England, from Flamborough Head in the north to Spurn Point in the south, known as the Holderness Coast, is one of the fastest eroding coastlines in Europe. Annually, around two metres of land here is lost to the sea. Thus, on the east coast of the peninsula lies the ruins of a small village which fell into the sea a long time ago, and a number of nearby buildings, including a church called St Helen’s, lie derelict and abandoned. It was quite moving to see this.
Under normal circumstances, the visitor can hire bikes from the Discovery Centre, and even take a “Spurn Point Safari” atop an overland
vehicle to the end of the peninsula, but alas the c-word situation had meant such activities were not on the cards during my visit. I was content enough, however, with a lovely stroll around the peninsula, and after enjoying a picnic lunch on the boundary between the North Sea and the Humber River Estuary, I made my way back again along the straight straight road to Easington. From here, the next bus took me to the small, but popular, East Yorkshire seaside resort of Withernsea, where a ten-minute connection meant I was unfortunately unable to explore this little place before I was heading back to Hull again. Not to worry, I had really enjoyed my day exploring Spurn Point, to finally put a place to a name I had read in a Geography textbook all those years ago.
After arriving in Hull, I took my onward connection once more back to my attic room in the Acorn Guest House BnB, for my final dinner, bath and bed on my last night on this wonderful journey.
My initial plan was to take two trains back to London the next day, with a connection in Doncaster. I realised that I
simply could not travel through Doncaster, South Yorkshire, though, without setting foot again in lovely Sheffield with my lovely family, so I added on an extra two nights at the end of my trip for a wonderful family visit again in Sheffield at the end of the summer. I was so glad to have done this.
After two days of highly enjoyable family time in Sheffield, I took my final train for this trip back to London King’s Cross from Doncaster, and then back to my cosy little Victorian cottage again in Croydon via the Thameslink service to complete my summer journey 2020.
So what an unusual summer really, not just for me, but I imagine for the whole world. I have seen on TravelBlog that I am certainly not the only traveller at this time who has been inspired to explore more of one’s own backyard. Whilst I was really quite sad to have missed out on South Africa this summer, it was also quite a special experience for me to have done some real travelling within this country I call home. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever “travelled in England” before. It
has been really quite special to have seen my own country from a traveller’s perspective, to explore places on my doorstep that I’ve grown up reading about, but never really ventured to visit. While I hope that the year ahead will bring opportunities for me, and for us all, to explore further afield, if it doesn’t, I feel I won’t be too disappointed if I opt instead to explore more of this own country of mine. I have a couple of ideas for exploring more of England, as well as Scotland and Wales, but let us indeed see how the next few months pan out. Wherever it may be, I do look forward to writing up about further travels at some point again in the near future.
Thank you very much for reading and for journeying along with me, and all the best for now 😊
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