Monday, 6 October 2008 It's cloudy this morning; I'm planning to walk to Robin Hood's Bay, but wonder whether it might be wise
to wait until tomorrow. The tourist information office informs me that worse weather is on the way, however, so it's today or never. As
it happens, the clouds break as I climb the 199 steps up to Whitby Abbey.
It holds a dominant position on the East Cliff, visible from the street outside my guesthouse on the West Cliff. Viewing its ominous silhouette,
dark against the southern
sun, I can see how it might have helped to inspire Bram Stoker to imagine the gothic horror of Dracula. It was a Benedictine
double abbey, housing both monks and nuns. How convenient. The sun smiles in a clear blue sky now, and I take lots of photos.
It takes me a while to find the Cleveland Way from there--it picks up right behind the Abbey, but I miss the sign, I guess, and end up walking down the road a way before cutting through a caravan park. The footpath runs 109 miles, mostly skirting North York Moors National Park; I will do all but 103 today. Truth to tell, the six miles from Whitby to Robin Hood's Bay, a lovely walk along the cliffs, is plenty. My back is still bothering me, moreso when I walk, oddly enough. It's warmer than I thought it would be, and I end up with much outer clothing tied around my waist. Get a pretty good sunburn on my tattie heid, which will upset my dermatologist.
Robin Hood's Bay--the name doesn't seem to have anything to do with anything, least of all Kevin Costner--is an impossibly charming village spilling down a cleft in the cliffs. It reminds me a little bit of the Moray Coast towns of Gardenstown and Pennan, but with the twin advantages of not facing into the northern gales, and not being in Banffshire. Historically, it made its legitimate living from fishing, and a shady second income from smuggling. These days it cashes in by being, well, impossibly charming. I imagine it's a bit of a trial to live there--the place is always full of day visitors poking around the alleys. The canny residents have found various ways to part these visitors from their cash, and it's the publicans who get mine. Have a pint in the Dolphin, and another in the Victoria, back up the top of the hill, before catching the bus back to Whitby.
Dinner this evening is in the Magpie Café, reputed to serve the best fish 'n' chips in the world. It's good...but it's fish 'n' chips, after all. Maybe my cold keeps me from appreciating its magnificence.