I have been walking for pleasure all of my adult life, striding out through the Dorset countryside and along the southern coastline in my teenage years, then hiking through the northern hills of the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales through my twenties, thirties and forties. Scenic walking and picnicking is very high on my list of Absoulutely Wonderful Things To Do, it has given me untold amounts of pleasure over the years, that's for sure.
Becoming a parent scuppers walking activity slightly - when they were babes we still managed to walk by stuffing them into backpacks, bribing them with snacks and carrying them about on our backs. But any sort of pleasurable walking grinds to a halt once you are in possession of a toddler or two. Now that we are firmly out of toddlerdom, walking is right back on our leisure agenda and I can't tell you how good that feels. Little B (5), Little Lady (11) and Little Man (12) are turning out to be pretty great walkers and last week we managed two modest, five mile circular walks. I read somewhere that when walking with young children you can pretty much equate their age with the number of miles you can expect them to walk, and we have found this to be pretty true. Five miles for a five year old is spot on, providing you are armed with copious amounts of sweets/chocolates/snacks.
The first walk we did last week started and finished in Whitby, which is a favourite place of ours. We were last there two years ago spending a very cold, wintry time freezing our butts off on the deserted beach. May is thankfully a very different prospect to February, and the day we made our walk it was bright and sunny with a brisk breeze blowing off the sea.
The English countryside in May is absolutely stunning, I think it's probably my most favourite time of the entire year to be out and about breathing it all in.
The first part of our walk was inland, up and away from Whitby town and out across open farmland.
I really love to see these fields of Rapeseed (grown as an oil producing crop) in full bloom, the colour is magnificent in a very in-your-face type of way. Usually viewed from a distance as we journey about in the car, it was breathtaking to be walking a path right alongside the plants.
The colour of the flowers is so vibrant it almost hurts to gaze at it for too long. I was surprised by how tall the plants were too - I took some amazing photos of my two big Little People standing amongst the flowers, with only their eyes and the tops of their heads visible above the mass of yellow.
A little part of the walk was along this quiet road, giving us some beautiful views of the ancient Abbey that is a famous landmark along this coastline.
I was walking with Little B, we were the slow portion of the family party. We lingered behind the others, me taking photos and him poking about in the undergrowth looking for things of interest. This furry caterpillar was examined at close quarters before being given a new home amidst a bed of buttercups.
After a couple miles we arrived at the cliff edge, with the return part of the walk following the Cleveland Way coastal path back into Whitby.
The views were incredibly beautiful on this bright sunny day, the shades of sky, sea and cliff merged to create a very fresh, uplifting palette of feel-good colour.
In the interests of honesty, I need to confess to you that around about now we had a bit of a bust up, and a rather vocal family argument ensued. It was midday, and the Little Peeps were hungry and wanted to stop. I had told them about this secluded little beach that J and I had once picnicked on and they had their hearts set on it for lunch. It's a bit of a trek to get down (a flight of wooden steps down from the cliff top) and even more of a trek to get back up again (same wooden steps but double the effort), but they wanted to do it and I agreed it would be a lovely place to stop. J however had other ideas. He didn't want to do the steps, in fact he didn't want to be down at sea level at all. He likes to be high up you see, he is a man who likes viewing views. So he said we should walk on and stop when we got near the abbey (with views across Whitby harbour). We argued. I might even have raised my voice a little, but he was adamant his way was the only way and refused to go down the steps. So what was I to do? In the end after much huffing and puffing, I gave in and we all carried on walking.
Anyhow - despite having to walk an extra half an hour with a very whingey, grumbly, hungry Little B, we did eventually find a very nice place to eat lunch (with spectacular coastal views) and I tried to get over my sulking. Family time can sometimes be like this can't it, differences of opinion, different likes and needs. Mostly we all get along really really well, but when I look at these photos, I can still remember how cross I felt when we didn't get to go to that little beach! Sigh, I really must let it go!
Whitby was as bustling as ever, with swathes of tourists milling about and a continuous stream of boats coming in and out of the busy harbour.
It's a lovely old town and despite the crowds and rather touristy feel it still retains a lot of it's charm.
Descending from the abbey on the cliff top to the harbour side is via 199 stone steps, and the Little People loved this part of the walk. They positively flew down, it was fun to watch them.
We took a walk out long the right hand stone pier......
....right to the lighthouse tower at the end. And then we made a unanimous family decision to head into the old town to visit one of our favourite cafés for some much needed refreshment. No arguments there, no sulking either. Pheww.
This is the lovely Sanders Yard, tucked away behind the main street in Whitby old town. It can be hard to find if you don't know of it, there is a small sign directing you down a narrow alley way, which opens up into this lovely little courtyard.
It was warm enough for us to sit outside to enjoy our well earned afternoon treat, and what a lovely treat it was too. J and I had delicious mugs of cappuccino with a shared slab of mouth watering coffee and walnut cake. The Little Peeps chose the most decadent drinks on the menu - milkshakes served with a huge blob of ice cream floating on the top. Oh you should have seen their faces, it was utter delight to watch them guzzle these down. I can highly recommend them for any Little Peeps requiring a combined pleasure hit/energy boost.
All that walking and fresh air last week was great for mind, body and soul, I've come home feeling refreshed and energised and very happy with my lot. I've got one more walk to share, I hope you don't mind tagging along? There will be some lovely views, see you then.....