Friday 21 September 2012
Today started out with a nice sausage bap and cup of tea at Southampton Airport’s airside café. The flight to Leeds was, as usual, slightly ahead of schedule, arriving into the airport at around 8.00 am.
My original plan was to get the bus to Leeds and then onward to Scarborough; however, as it was raining steadily and there was a half-hour wait for the bus, with nowhere to go and nothing to do around there, I decided to get the next bus, no matter where it was going, and work things out from there. Bradford was the destination and the bus journey seemed a lot quicker than the previous time I took that bus but fortunately, there were only a few minutes to wait at Bradford Interchange for a train onwards (to Leeds, my original destination). I changed at Leeds onto a direct train to Scarborough, seemingly a long way away from Leeds.
I was intending to have a look at Filey but the train timings just didn’t match up and I had limited time. Scarborough is an odd seaside town, with it being on two different levels due to the fairly high cliffs. The first sight one sees on walking out Scarborough station is a massive and very ‘brutalist’ monolithic municipal building and after that is a high street, complete with the usual shops one expects to see. This meanders on for a while and the chain stores gradually change into independent smaller shops. No sign of the sea yet though!
I had dinner in a very nice café in the lower end of the high street and this boasted a nice view of the sea! Fish and chips, bread and butter and a pot ‘o tea for £6.00, now that’s good value compared with a lot of places, although finding fish and chips in somewhere like Scarborough was never going to prove too much of a challenge.
After dinner I found the lower part of the town, where the seaside part of the town is. This is a nice promenade at the bottom of the cliffs and the land side had the usual assortment of amusement arcades, tacky gift shops and cafes, while the other side had a harbour/marina. Further South was the actual beach, which looked very nice.
I went up to the North end of the promenade and round a headland with the remains of a castle on top but there were major building works in progress so not much to see. I climbed the path part way up to the castle for some great views, although it was a bit of a rabbit warren of narrow paths and steps that didn’t seem to go anywhere.
A bit pushed for time, I went south along the promenade and took the cliff railway to the top of the cliffs, although I was a bit disappointed as it didn’t seem to go very far. Next to this was another cliff railway, in a derelict state and obviously closed. I don’t know what the need for two almost adjacent was. At the top, near the aptly-named Grand Hotel, I went across a bridge that spanned a valley, or chine and again, offered good views.
Back outside the station, I got the Arriva X93 bus towards Whitby. £7 for an all-day ticket between Middlesbrough-Whitby and Scarborough was good value and the scenery of the North York Moors was splendid. Before going to Whitby itself, I wanted a look at Robin Hood’s Bay. This is a delightful village on a steep hill that winds itself towards the sea. The bay itself, at the bottom of the hill, is stunning but as tempting as the adjacent pub looked, I was in a hurry so climbed back up the hill and got the next bus onwards for the short journey North.
Whitby is a very nice small town with a fishing harbour like many places in Cornwall. It has an active fish market and a myriad of fishing trips on offer. There is a large column on one of the harbour jetties (presumably used as a lighthouse) and there are also two other attractive navigation towers. I thought I’d stop in one the many pubs by the harbourside but the one I chose (The Ship) was very dead. The other one I tried, by the station, seemed to be a bit rough so I didn’t hang around.
I then continued on the bus route, across the bleak splendour of the North York Moors, towards Middlesbrough. Most Northern towns and cities appear to have had a scrub up and are quite tidy now but Middlesbrough is definitely an exception to that. The outskirts had some very rough-looking places and further on in, it was like a massive industrial wasteland, the engine room of Great Britain.
Travelling from Middlesbrough to Darlington was relatively easy. Darlington is much larger than I thought it would be, with a suitably-grand station to match. Unfortunately, it is one of those towns where the station is at the far extreme of the town centre, with my hotel being on the opposite far extreme. It seems like a nice town, with a nice town hall and market hall and the usual myriad of shops, including two shopping centres.
My hotel, the Greenbank, was rather eccentric, with a lot of military ephemera in the lobby, bars ands corridors. That was a nice touch of character; a departure from the usually-bland hotels I am accustomed to.
The evening’s proceedings started off in the Joseph Pearce (sp), a pub with cheap drinks that was popular (unsurprisingly) and busier than I would have thought bearing in mind how young the night was. I then went in the Golden Cock, the name of course being part of its charm. This was quieter apart from the karaoke in progress but the staff were friendly. I finished in The Britannia, a more traditional pub near the hotel.