Warning Part 2: We enjoyed our time in Yorkshire immensely and thus once again this a longer than normal post.
Our Yorkshire exploration continued as we headed east to the Moors. After a fine time in the Dales, we were looking forward to expanding our time into the Moors. The area is one of the largest expanses of heather moorland in the United Kingdom. It is also located right in the middle of North York Moors National Park. With it being fall, the heather was not its usual brilliant lavender color. Even so, the countryside was still resplendent. It was also close enough to the coast for us to enjoy the ocean (North Sea) and coastal cliffs. For our stay in this area, we had hoped to do a couple more walks, explore the countryside, and visit the coast. The weather forecast was not very encouraging, so we decided to play things by ear.
Goathland is only about a 75 mile/two hour drive from Grassington. With it that close, we decided to experience the journey and make a couple of detours. We drove to Bolton hoping to see the Abbey and a famous bridge. But it was very crowded, so we skipped the crowds and toured the countryside instead. We made a stop to see Ripley Castle near Harrogate where we had a nice lunch in their tearoom. We detoured off the main road near Kirkbymoorside and visited the small village of Hutton-Le-Hole. It is a very picturesque village with a small stream running through the center. A nice place to get out and stretch our legs. We stopped in the town of Pickering and visited its railroad station to find out about the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and maybe take a ride later in our visit. Then on we went through the Moors over to Goathland.
Tea Room Lunch
Besides being a focal point of the National Park, Goathland is just 10 miles from the coast. Goathland is a small, simple village with a few shops, a pub, a church or two and a train station. It is known as the filming location for a long running British TV show called Heartland. It is also known for its steam train and station, but more on that later. It also had a wonderful little church right across the lane from our B&B. The church had beautiful stained glass; but what it is most known for is its “mice”. There are mice carved into the wood in the sanctuary in various places and they have a “mouse hunt” to search for them.
We stayed at Halmer Grange, a small B&B on the edge of town down a small gravel lane. Grange is another name for farmhouse. In this case, there was the house, but no farm with friendly hosts and large rooms. Just what we needed. We ate dinner our first night at the Witching Post in the nearby village of Egton. It was a dark drive back on the one lane roads through the moors.
We made a couple trips to the coast, coupled with drives across the countryside and through the National Park. Our first excursion was to Whitby, a coastal harbor and one of the larger towns in the area. The day started overcast and windy. Our drive there was across some lovely countryside.
By the time we got near the coast, the clouds had cleared and the sky was bright blue. Our first stop was at Whitby Abbey, built in the 13th century, but abandoned a few hundred years later. It is located high on a bluff on the coast and overlooks the town of Whitby. It really was spectacular. It is famous for the 199 steps from the sea up to the graveyard. Bram Stoker used them for inspiration in his novel, Count Dracula.
We made a quick stop at Sandsend to see the water and have a snack and then headed to Staithes. Jennifer had read it was a non-touristy coastal town and had heard of a good pub for lunch. Staithes is a quaint traditional fishing village. There are only local vehicles allowed in the village so we had a nice two mile walk from the cliffs to the sea, knowing we could look forward to walking back up on the return trip! The village was full of row houses and shops all cheerfully painted. Jennifer’s pub turned out to be perfect. We were looking for seafood and what better chance than at a pub called The Cod & Lobster. Great food and fun right on the water of the harbor. There was also a sun shower out over the water which produced a double rainbow.
The drive home could not have been nicer. The sky had cleared, the countryside was brilliant green, and the villages were classic Yorkshire.
We had such a nice time on the coast, we decided to make a second trip. We hoped for another nice day on the coast and headed a little further south to Ravenscar. It was pretty much mizzling all the way there. “Mizzle” is somewhere between a mist and drizzle. The views were nice, albeit a little too wet to be outside to enjoy them for long. Ravenscar has been dubbed “The Town that Never Was”. It is a small town located on a bluff. Back in the late 1800’s during the Victorian age, a group of developers set out to build a resort town to rival the best in England. There were roads planned and lots mapped and even sold, but only a couple houses were actually built because the long hike to the rocky beaches proved unpopular and so the development was just abandoned. It is a village with streets and sewers, but no houses. Quite the story!
We headed on to Robin Hood’s Bay. We actually have been here before, back in the 80’s when we lived in England. It is a larger village built on the hill down to the beaches and harbor. Like Staithes, there are no cars allowed, you park in a car park at the top of the hill and walk down. By now the rain had picked up, and the cobblestone streets were very slick. We opted not to walk down in the rain and just spent some time in the parts of town up at the top of the hill.
We had a nice drive back meandering through some of the back roads and countryside. We tracked through some of the remote parts of the national park. Some great views, villages and roads. In traditional Yorkshire weather tradition, the skies began to clear about 2:00 and we had clear blue sky for most of our return drive.
We enjoyed the moors area of Yorkshire, but I must admit, one of the highlights for me was the train. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway runs through the eastern side of North York Moors National Park from Pickering to Whitby. They run several full-size steam locomotives with restored passenger and dining cars. We elected for a short ride between Goathland and Grossmont. Besides being featured as the village train station in the Heartland TV series, the Goathland station is also the filming location for Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade Station. We made a couple stops at the station during our stay to catch views and photos of the trains as they came through the station.
We were lucky enough to catch the train a couple times as it come into and left the station. Wow, very impressive. There is just something about a giant steam engine barreling along the rails, steam bellowing and whistle blowing.
The morning came for our train ride and unfortunately pouring rain came with it. Thank goodness for the fireplace and tearoom at the Goathland station. We had hot chocolate and waited. Our route north to Grossmont was a short 30-minute ride through the wooded forests and green pastures of Yorkshire. Grossmont station was bigger, as is the town, then at Goathland. We had lunch there and boarded our train home. There was a problem on the tracks, so they substituted a diesel train for our return trip. Certainly not as nostalgic, but fun none the less.
Our days in Yorkshire had come to an end. We had a wonderful time. I don’t think we could have planned a better experience; dales, moors, coastline, expansive countryside, small villages, railroads, narrow roads, stone walls, and weather that changed every hour. We hated to leave, but it was time to move on to our last stop. Three days roaming around London before our long journey home.