Tuesday 31 May 2016

Beautiful Britain - The Cinder Track, North Yorkshire

Having spoken to Glinys, the owner of the very lovely Wykewood, before setting off from home, we knew there was a bike trail along the route of an old railway line that we could access from just down the road from the cottage. On this occasion it seemed that Dr Beeching may have done us a favour.

From 1885 until its closure in 1965 the old railway line from Scarborough to Whitby took goods and passengers up and down the North Yorkshire coast. Now it's an off road route through the North York Moors National Park for walkers, horse riders and cyclists.

Apparently, Scarborough Borough Council bought the line shortly after it closed. Because the track ballast was made from cinders rather than crushed stone, many locals call it the Cinder Track. It now forms 21 miles (34.4 kms) of Route 1 of the National Cycle Network.

We'd bought our bikes with us and were itching to get out and about. Having done a bit of research we thought we could easily manage to ride as far as Cloughton, where the old station had been converted into a tea room. It was only about three miles, so even us in our shocking state of fitness should be able to manage that.
Surprisingly enough there was a series of Gecocaches that we could hunt for along the way, so Martin was on board and we were soon up and out.

When I say the trail was just down the road from the cottage. What I really mean is was just, very much, up the road, and we were both pretty knackered before we even got to it, though it was not far at all.

Hoping for a nice flat ride we headed off towards Scarborough. Martin kept telling me it was downhill, but it didn't feel like it was. I had to apologise on the way back as he had clearly been right.

It was lovely and quiet on the trail, though we passed horse riders, dog walkers and more cyclists, stopping a few times for a friendly chat, as well as doing our thing, clambering up and down banks and scrabbling around in the undergrowth (well, Martin was anyway), searching for treasure of the Geocaching kind.
We saw some cracking views along the way, including Scarborough Castle in the distance.
We also saw lots of pretty wild flowers, including these wood anemones, which were well in abundance.
Eventually, after a lot of stopping and starting for Geocache hunting and photo taking we saw the very welcome sight of the old railway signal, which indicated that the tea room must be within sight.
It was and, after following the signs, before very long, we were ensconced in the pretty and sunny garden enjoying, what for us was, a reasonably healthy lunch, with no scones or cake in sight.

According to the Cycle Network finger post it was a mere 6 more miles to Scarborough, but we were quite happy with our efforts and decided it was time to head for home, which, as Martin had rightly said, was uphill all the way!!
Apart, of course, from the very last bit, where we were able to sail down the road and the lane to Wykewood, at breakneck speed, where a very welcome sit in the afternoon sunshine was to be had.

Well there was just one chore to be done ....

Monday 23 May 2016

Beautiful Britain - Whitby, North Yorkshire ... Take 2

There is so much to see and do in Whitby that one visit just wasn't enough.
Our second visit to Whitby was with real purpose!

We both wanted to visit the Abbey. I've never been, though I've seen it from a distance plenty of times, and Martin's last visit was on a school trip, staying in the Youth Hostel nearby.

It was a beautiful sunny day and our main aim was to get some really good photos, which ended up not being that easy as the place was swarming with school children!

There are really good views of the Abbey from all directions and we caught our first glimpse just after we turned off the main road.
We parked at the Abbey car park and got some more decent shots before heading into the Abbey grounds. Just look at those skies, truly beautiful ...
Before exploring the Abbey itself we had a good wander about, walking right round the abbey and managing to capture a few child free snaps along the way. Sadly there was no perfect reflection shot to be had today and this is the best we could come up with.
Having walked right round the Abbey we took time to explore the building itself, which looked lovely in the Spring sunshine.
We exited the Abbey grounds through the visitor centre on the other side, with a view to having a look at the church at the top of the 199 steps, which we hadn't had the energy to climb on our earlier visit.
The churchyard has the most beautiful outlook over the sea and I've always thought that, if to be buried, you couldn't wish for much more of a nicer spot.
The views of Whitby from the both the top of the steps and the churchyard are definitely worth a look, either by taking the healthy option and walking up from the town or, doong as we did, and parking at the top by the Abbey.

We still hadn't quite finished with Whitby. There was just one bit left that we wanted to see before heading off, so we returned to the car and made our way over the old swing bridge to park up again on the harbour, for a walk out to the lighthouse, you've just gotta love a lighthouse!

We sat for a good while, watching the boats and generally just admiring the view back across to the Abbey side.
On the way back we were astounded by the audacity of the seagulls, we saw one actually swoop down and fly off with a lady's ice cream cornet. Who would have thought that the same would happen to me only moments later? I did, though, manage to hang onto my cornet, but didn't fancy my top scoop of ice cream in which the cheeky gull had left some pretty Impressive beak marks. Maybe it did me a favour, halving my Synful treat in two!
That was us done for the day, so it was good bye to Whitby for us for now.  I'm sure it won't be our last visit.

Monday 16 May 2016

Beautiful Britain - Whitby, North Yorkshire

In our opinion Whitby is one of the prettiest and most interesting small towns on the Yorkshire coast, though there are also lots more smaller gems to be found.

It's been a good few years since we've visited, although it used to be a childhood favourite for Martin, who is a Yorkshire lad, and we were both looking forward to a gentle stroll by the sea in the sunshine, a mooch round the quaint little shops and a visit to the abbey.

It was a nice easy drive to Whitby from our holiday cottage, Wykewood, where we were staying during our latest holiday on the lovely Yorkshire coast, and we were lucky enough to get to spend two sunny days exploring.

Our first visit started off on the West side with a good wander around the harbour area and the small streets filled with olde worlde shops, before waiting for the swing bridge to do it's thing before heading over the the East side. 
We had another good wander around, dipping in and out of the moochy little shops before stopping for a sit in the sunshine by the lifeboat station, where we admired the view through the lobster pots and picked up the first Geocache of the holiday.
We also managed a sneaky peak through the door at the lifeboat crew's wardrobe ... Very tidy don't you think?
As we were taking it easy we decided not to make the climb up the steps to the church and the abbey, but to save that for another day.

We did get a bit sidetracked on our way back to the car though, by these absolutely beautiful orange tulips. We couldn't resist stopping for a few more pictures. Have you ever seen anything quite so vibrant?
Our second visit to Whitby would be with real purpose! We both wanted to visit the Abbey. I've never been, though I've seen it from a distance plenty of times, and Martin's last visit was on a school trip, staying in the Youth Hostel nearby.

I'll tell you more about our next visit in my next post.

Wednesday 11 May 2016

5 Reasons we loved Wykewood in Yorkshire

I thought I'd mix it up a bit and try something a bit different for my latest holiday cottage review.  

We've just got home from a stay in Wykewood, a holiday cottage we booked through Gorgeous Cottages, on the Yorkshire coast and we were fortunate enough to have struck gold and have had the best weather of the year so far.

We didn't only strike gold with the weather, Wykewood was pretty special too.  

So, what made it so special to us? It's been hard to narrow it down, but here are the 5 things that we most loved about this cottage ...

1   The location
The location was just what we were looking for. The cottage can be found close to the North Yorkshire coast, down a very quiet lane, through a farm, tucked away at the bottom of the field.

When wanting to get out and about, the location is perfect for exploring the Yorkshire coast, in both directions, with Robin Hood's Bay and Whitby to the North and Scarborough to the South.

Or, if you fancy a change from the coast, you can head inland across the moors and explore picturesque villages like the chocolate box Thornton-le-dale. If you're a steam railway fan then you can easily head to Pickering, Goathland or Grosmont, either by car or by train.
Closer to home, there is also a disused railway line, literally just down the road, which is perfect for getting out and about, either on bikes or on foot.

You will be able to read more about our days out and about in my next few posts.

2 The setting
As you approach the cottage you can see that it is nestled against a backdrop of woodland, with the brook babbling down below. The outlook from the front is across open fields and countryside. It really is in a lovely spot.
When hanging around the cottage it is quiet, peaceful and very private.  For all the time we spent in and around the cottage we didn't spot another sole. It was heavenly.

3 The 'Gorgeousness' factor
It's the first time we've booked a cottage through Gorgeous Cottages, and with a company name like that, I guess they have a lot to live up to.  I'm pleased to say that we weren't disappointed, and we aren't that easily pleased.

From the minute we approached Wykewood we just knew it was going to be something out of the ordinary.  You can just see that the cottage is well thought out, well loved and well looked after.
We explored the outside area first and walked around the back of the cottage, it is really accessible, and followed the paving and wooden decking full circle. At the back of the cottage, on the edge of spacious decking area, is the hot tub, in its own little shelter, nestled against the trees, right on the very edge of the property.
The front door of the cottage is a delight, it is so pretty and definitely makes you want to go in and explore further.
We were excited to see what we would find inside and we weren't in the least bit disappointed. You enter via a very spacious and light hallway with beautiful wooden double doors opening off either side and a door through to a utility area in front of you.
To the left is a beautiful spacious double en suite bedroom, with the comfiest looking bed and really cool light fittings and lamps; and to the right the living area.  Through the living area, to the back of the cottage is another en suite bedroom, just as spacious and beautifully decorated as the first.

The living area was lovely.  It just looked so right.  It was really bright, light and so tastefully decorated with some lovely soft furnishings, really good lighting and a huge log burner.  It just looked so comfortable, which it most definitely turned out  to be.
It was just how you wish your own decorating would turn out but never quite does, with some really quirky and pretty statement pieces dotted throughout. Even the kettle was really pretty!

It was also toasty warm, which was great as it was quite chilly when we arrived. When it warmed up later in the week it was easy to control the temperature and if we were too warm, we just opened up one of the numerous sets of double doors to let a cool breeze blow through.

And, really importantly, it was absolutely spotlessly clean, even the cutlery drawer!

4 The hot tub
I must confess that, when I booked the cottage I didn't really read the small print when it came to the hot tub. It was only when mum said we'd got a log fired hot tub I thought I'd better have a look

Well, having found out a bit more info I couldn't really see us managing to fit in a use of the tub, with it taking half an hour to fill and four to five hours to get to temperature, whilst loading on more logs and stirring every ten minute. It didn't sound that relaxing to me.

We did get back fairly early one day, we were achy from riding our bikes and the afternoon sun was glorious and we decided to take advantage of the unlimited log supply and give it a go.

We kept checking the temperature, stirring and loading on more logs and we were really surprised to find that it actually got up to about 35 degrees in about two hours. So, a lot sooner than expected, we were making the short dash from the kitchen door, nipping up the steps and sinking into the luxurious warmth of the tub.
This type of hot tub doesn't have bubbles, which we thought would be a bit odd, but when it came to it, it was just so peaceful with no noise of the motor and the water bubbling around. All we could hear were the sounds of the birds singing and the brook babbling away down below.

It was just like being in a huge outdoor bath with water loads deeper than you can have in your bath at home and enough room to stretch out and just lay there chilling. We left the log burner going whilst we were in and it was just lovely sat next to the inlet, feeling the lovely warm water replacing that which was cooling in the evening air.

So, our verdict ... yes, you can't deny that it is a bit of effort, but it is oh so worth it, for a truly relaxing experience. We liked it so much that we managed to use it three times in total during our stay. I'm certainly glad that we decided to give it a go.

5 The devil's in the detail
Whenever we stay in a holiday cottage we always go very well prepared, after all, you never know quite how well equipped it will be.

Wykewood didn't let us down.

Outside there is an unlimited supply of nice, dry wood for using in the log burner inside or to heat the hot tub on the decking behind the cottage. Not only was there wood, there were also plenty of firelighters, something that we've often found missing.
There was also plenty of undercover storage for bikes and even an outdoor tap and hose for washing them off.

There was a welcome pack, with wine, milk, bread, butter, cheese, eggs and a local ginger cake, so just enough to get you started. And if cooking is your thing there is a pot of herbs growing outside the front door, along with two lovely bay trees.

There were nice big fluffy towels, bathrobes, slippers and more towels for use outside with the hot tub.

Boring I know, but there were plenty of cleaning materials, including washing up liquid and soap dispensers in each bathroom.

Could anything have made it any better?
The only thing that could have improved our stay would have been a better TV reception.  The web site does warn that this can be a problem, but we were unable to get an uninterrupted reception on any channel, so had to resort to watching DVDs, so, on the upside, we did get to watch Les Miserables and can now see why everyone thinks its amazing!

We will definitely use Gorgeous Cottages again, the next time we decide to holiday in Yorkshire and have already recommended them to a number of our friends.