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Friday, 28 August 2020

Whitby, Staithes and Scarborough

Kite Flying, Raithwaite, Whitby, 1997
Kite Flying, Raithwaite, Whitby, 1997

I never visited Staithes or Whitby as a child, nor did we go to Scarborough much, probably because Bridlington and Filey (see previous posts) were nearer.

We have since been to all three quite often. In the nineteen-nineties we stayed twice in cottages in the grounds of Raithwaite Hall about two miles north of Whitby: not then the luxury hotel and spa complex it is now. The cottages were new, but the hall itself was the decaying former home of two Whitby shipping families. Pictures of the ships and their histories were displayed in an outhouse. When the last of these shipping magnates, William Headlam, died at the age of 81 in 1990, he cut his estranged wife out of his will and left his £7m fortune to a fifty-six year unmarried nurse who had cared for him for twenty years. Offers of marriage flowed in from all over the world, but she rejected them all.  

We also stayed a mile further north at Sandsend during a memorable week when the temperature soared and we spent most of the time playing in the warm pool that forms where East Row Beck crosses the beach to reach the sea. I towed the children round and round in an inflatable dinghy for hours. We flew kites in the longshore winds, one a stunt kite bought while rushing to catch a train, making me mangle my words in the shop. The Reverend Spooner would have been awestruck.

Another year, we stayed yet a further ten miles north at Staithes. There’s a place to get fit quick. You won’t find much of it on streetview. You have to leave your car at the top of the village and walk down the hill with your bags, or park briefly at the bottom and carry them up steps. You walk up and down to the car, and down and up to the harbour all week. Your leg muscles swell out like mooring buoys. 

Staithes
Staithes: we rented the house top middle with three skylight windows, to the left of several white ones.

As for Scarborough, I went a couple of times with my parents when little, but have no photographs. My strongest memories are of Peasholm Park on the North Bay, where I learnt to row round and round the island in the boating lake – a skill later to impress my children. Several times a week there was a re-enactment of the Battle of the River Plate with miniature battleships, culminating in the scuttling of the Admiral Graf Spee, celebrating the days when Britain liked to think it could wup the Germans over and over again without really trying. The special effects – the smoke, the explosions, bombers dropping torpedoes as they whizzed across on a zipwire – were phenomenal. Most of the model boats were operated by people hiding inside and walking on the bottom of the lake. There’s a job for some people I might name.  

Peasholm Park, Scarborough

Peasholm Park, Scarborough

We saw all three places again last week while staying in Whitby. They were crowded. There were no rowing boats on Peasholm lake, only dragon pedaloes. Where is the skill in that?

Dragon Pedaloes, Peasholm Park
Dragon Pedaloes, Peasholm Park

And then there were the walks on the North York Moors …

39 comments:

  1. Enjoyable and entertaining, as always

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  2. The walks! I want the walks!!
    At the time when my husband and I regularly spent a week or so in Scarborough, the boats on the lake in Peasholm Park were swans and dragons, and some classic rowing boats. Also, the naval warfare was still going on; we watched in more than once. I really want to go back to Scarborough next year, after a break of about 15 years, and look at what has changed and what is still how I remember it.

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    1. The walks, the walks. I'm terrified they'll be a let down.

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    2. No way TD! Meike is a card carrying Yorkophile!

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  3. On my, I'm with the Librarian. Looking forward to your tales of the Moors. The idea of crowds these days is just a bit too disconcerting (at least, it is in the US).

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    1. The harbour area of Scarborough was packed. Peasholm was almost as packed. Staithes was even worse. It did feel uncomfortable. We had 4 days of walks to escape it.

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  4. Memories, memories - once every three years or so our Sunday School outing was from Lincoln to Scarborough )the other two Brid and Hunstanton) I remember rowing round Brid harbour in my best Sunday coat!

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    1. My dad once took me in a Bridlington harbour rowing boat and the weather was calm enough to row out of the harbour mouth. I don't think my mum ever knew.

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  5. I went to Staithes once when I lived in Newcastle and went out with a boy who was from Stockton-on-Tees. He had been to Staithes and Robins Hood Bay a lot as a child with his parents. He asked me to marry him and I declined. He went away to Papua New Guinea and now lives in New Zealand. He never married and nor did I. It colours Staithes for me in a certain way because I remember a day we spent there together and the mood of the day has never been forgotten.

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    1. I can't tell whether that is a note of regret or relief. I remember the moods of quite a lot of places I've been, but there are none I wouldn't revisit. What I have found, though, is revisiting places can alter the associations.
      I like Staithes a lot and would enjoy living there, but it's impractical as one gets older because of the hill.

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    2. Regret and I would never want to go back to Staithes because of the memories of that one day.

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  6. This post has brought back some happy memories for me. Some recent and some from my childhood. Thank you. X

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    1. Thanks Jules. I always enjoy the Lake District photographs you post. You live in a stunning part of the country.

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  7. It sounds like something the whole family could enjoy plus it brought back memories of previous holidays. It is good you were able to get away with the whole family. As our children get older the family trips rarely happen. I hope your health has been well Tasker. A relaxing holiday can sometimes do wonders!

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    1. Yes it was a good break and thanks, I'm fine. I think the blood pressure thing was just anxiety and white coat syndrome.

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  8. My goodness, that house is top 'o the hill save one or two. I bet the youngest made the climb and waited for the old folks to arrive with the room key.

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    1. At least it was nearer to the car park which was well beyond the house in the very top right hand corner, but you're not wrong, especially as there were eight of us including four young teenagers.

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  9. Did they not use donkeys up and down the hills at Staithes. I love the narrow pavements between the cottages, somehow though it is sad that these coastal villages are mostly filled with holiday cottages.

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    1. I don't know, but can imagine that donkeys would be able to get up and down the narrow pavements. Some flights of steps are long and narrow. I would think most of the houses are holday lets now, but there did seem to be a small group of writers and artists still living there - in the old days there was a very active group of Staithes artists.

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  10. Happy Days! Starring Tasker Dunham as The Fonz. I liked this sentence: "Your leg muscles swell out like mooring buoys." And of course all the places you mentioned are very familiar to me. We stayed at Sandsend just last October. I had forgotten about the naval battles re-enacted in Peasholm Park - all good, wholesome family fun!

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    1. Says the man who does so much walking his leg muscles must be permanently like mooring buoys. They probably used your legs as a template for the legs of that bull that used to be next to the M1 outside the steel works.
      You might get a cross ref. in the next instalment about the walks. When we stayed at Sandsend it was up the hill from that big house I think you stayed in.

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    2. I believe they still have the naval battles but not this year because of you know what, and from what I read it seems it's no longer so River Plate nationalistic or England 5 Germany 1.

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    3. Was the Belgrano heading into the exclusion zone? I think not but only a reenactment in Peasholm Park would prove it one way or the other. Bloody Thatcher!

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  11. I agree South Bay was too busy, but the Italian Gardens were lovely and very quiet.
    We also walked up to 'The Secret Garden'. It's not really much of a garden but the huge cemetery there is amazing and we spent some considerable time meandering around it. It was dead quiet in there (sorry!). Some very interesting graves or memorials, one to an officer of the Titanic, another to a soldier in the Charge of the Light Brigade.

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    1. Ah, the dead centre of the town. I didn't know about the secret garden.

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  12. We holidayed a couple of times at staithes, pronounced steers by the locals, in a house with lovely stained glass windows and a cupola. I vaguely remember it was up a hill! Pretty young so maybe the hill didn't bother me.

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    1. Sounds like it would either have been in the main street which runs left to right between the houses across the middle of my picture, or up the valley on the left. The place certainly has some hills, and some nice houses too.

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  13. The places are all outwith my ken but when I saw the first photo I immediately thought of Ilfrachrome (the Ilford product and not a misspelt place in Devon). I liked the photo. I think I'll get my grandson a kite. I have the beach at the bottom of the croft.

    I was fascinated by the Peasholm Lake re-enactments.

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    1. Kites are magic, especially if you get a good one, but don't get mixed up in the shop like I did.
      It is a scan from a colour slide, so the colours may not be quite right. However, I do that - look at a photograph and think "Kodacolor" or "Fujicolor" or "Agfachrome".

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  14. I hear that Scarborough has a nice fair (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme).

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  15. Thankyou, I'll be singing this all night!

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  16. My first childhood holiday was staying in one of the Cowbar Cottages in Staithes in 1960. I remember playing cricket with my two older brothers on the grass at the top of the hill. The game didn't last long - someone whacked the ball, it bounced all of the way down the hill and was never seen again. For the next seven years we took our annual holiday in Whitby

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    1. That's a good story. Was the Staithes railway viaduct still there - I think it was demolished around that time? Pictures of it are impressive. The brick abutment can still be seen on the north side. The southern side is now the village car park.

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  17. I don't remember it being there, and I'm sure I would if it had been. Another (very) slight connection with Staithes, when I first went to work at my current job thirty years ago, the first person I worked for turned out to be the grandson of the landlady of The Cod and Lobster. Our caravan holidays in Whitby in the 60s were usually spent at Stoop Cross Farm, about a mile or so outside of Whitby, and we could walk across the fields to Saltwick Bay. The weather was rarely kind to us and that was when I began to love the sound of the foghorn.

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    1. There is a kind of pleasure in walking to a destination across fields in the rain.

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    2. A pleasure we had very often in those days!

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