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05/10/2012 Archived Entry: "Rhoda's Birthday Treat"
It was Rhoda’s birthday recently and I took it upon myself to arrange a couple of nights in a smart hotel as a surprise for her. I’m not in the habit of springing surprises, and I leave the organising of holidays and trips in Rhoda’s capable hands, so I felt I could be treading on shaky ground. The difficult part is trying to keep things secret and sidestepping innocent and not so innocent enquiries. She wanted to know should she pack a smart frock? Sun cream? Walking boots? Euros? I gave very little away but I did volunteer she might find a swimsuit useful though a passport would not be required.
We set off after coffee on the Wednesday and I drove through Hutton-le-hole up onto the moors towards Castleton and Lockwood Beck. Rhoda’s face lit up as she realised we were heading for the coast, always a favourite for her. “We’re going to Saltburn, aren’t we?” she said. “Wait and see” I answered. As I turned the car towards Whitby she spoke again, “I know - it’s Runswick Bay?” “Wait and see”.
As it was now around our usual lunchtime, I suggested we pull in at the pub opposite Scaling Dam for a bite to eat. Getting into conversation with the barman I learned that quite a few migrating birds had been seen on the reservoir, so after our lunch we spent a very pleasant hour walking around the water trying to spot something special from the hides. We saw lots of gulls and waders but if there were any unusual visitors they were keeping out of sight. Scaling Dam is open to visitors and is a popular venue for water sports and fishing.
We motored on, avoiding Saltburn and bypassing Runswick Bay then, just beyond Sandsend, I turned right into the grounds of the superb new Raithwaite Hall Hotel which is tucked away in a pretty ravine. We parked the car, booked into reception and were shown to a very comfortable room with a splendid bathroom with walk-in shower. Rhoda was suitably impressed, particularly when we went outside to explore the beautifully laid-out gardens snaking through the ravine.
We had a very good dinner in the restaurant, with a bottle of champagne and retired to our room with a DVD.
Next day we drove to Falling Foss near Littlebeck and had a pleasant walk through the woods. The Maybeck here was not flowing very fast but when it is in flood the waterfall is spectacular. For me the joy was walking through the tranquil woodland which is full of ancient moss-covered trees. A little further on from the waterfall is a huge hollowed-out boulder known as The Hermitage. Its interior is supposed to have been hewn out of the rock by a man called George Chubb. His initials and the date 1790 are above the door. We didn’t manage to get as far as that but I’m sure we would have welcomed a rest on the two wishing chairs inside the cave. Instead we retraced our steps back to the car and drove down to the Bridge Inn next to the railway station at Ruswarp. I particularly wanted to go there as my grandfather had this pub in the early 20th Century. The building doesn’t appear to have altered much over the years and as we sat in the courtyard by the River Esk a steam train trundled by on its way down the valley from Pickering to Whitby. It was quite eerie to think that my grandparents and father probably sat in this very place almost a hundred years ago and watched these same steam engines passing through.
The next day we booked out of Raithwaite Hall to return home, stopping off at Saltburn. We decided to take in some sea air and walked along the pier where we came across the amazing Olympic-themed woolly scarf that stretches 50 metres along the pier railings. It features skiers, swimmers, athletes and a host of other Olympic sportsmen and women, all knitted in fine detail. No-one seems to know the identity of the knitter but it is such a brilliant idea and has certainly put Saltburn on the map.
Now we’re back at home and I’ve been busy proof-reading and preparing an index for my book about Fr Postgate. Gracewing Publishers sent it to the printers on 4 May and Blessed Nicholas Postgate, Martyr of the Moors is due to be published on 31 May.