Monday, 5 September 2011

Robin Hoods Bay.

This summer we spent our holidays on the North East Coast of England in the Shire of York near the historical Bay of Robin Hood which can be accessed by beach when the tide is out or on foot over cliffs and treacherous steep roads when it's not. Secluded and protected by the North Yorkshire Moors, for centuries the good folk of the bay have made their living from the sea whether by fish - or more famously, smuggling.

With houses built into and onto each other it has been said that smuggled goods could make their way from the beach to the top of the village without seeing daylight such is the design of connecting cupboards, secret passages, attics and cellars.

These days the 'Bay' as it's locally referred to, offers more in the way of second hand books, antiques and tea-shops than contraband although back in the 18th Century the tea would have cost a tidy sum more than it's modern day counterpart. The attraction of the place far outweighs it's size and tourists flock from around the globe to take in the romance of days gone by or to stand at the mouth of the sea on the tiny slip waiting for the tide to turn before continuing their adventures along one of the most exciting coastlines this country has to offer.

Beguiled by stories of shipwrecks and harsh winters we wandered happily in the sunshine around narrow streets - some no more than passages - stopped for breath several times as we scaled the steep singular road to the top of the village where yellow signs warned motorists not to descend for fear they may never come back up or indeed be able to stop on their way down.

Refreshed by copious amounts of tea and homemade slabs of cake, those of us who had bothered to make note of the tides rather than leave it to chance headed back down the hill in time to cross the beach towards the cove of Boggle Hole, another inlet made good use of by silent rowers under cover of darkness.
The beach by now was full of families and individuals rock-pooling, playing cricket, bowls, or like us, fossil hunting although having heard countless tales of cliff erosion involving occupants of houses who went into the kitchen to boil the kettle only to come back to find their sitting room had disappeared into the sea, we were eager only to collect what was already on the beach. Unlike some.

Having collected as much treasure as their pockets could hold I signalled my own party of smugglers including a rare old fossil and pointed them towards 'home'. Another steep climb, clothes laden with booty, they couldn't resist spilling and comparing their loot once the safety of the cottage had been reached. Each item held aloft for inspection came with it's own tale of discovery and went on well into the night - or at least bedtime when our youngest was still full of wide-eyed tales involving pirates and secrets and really bad eggs.

Is that another ship I see on the horizon?

Yo-ho me hearties - Yo-ho

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