It’s always about this time of year that my thoughts turn to holiday plans – need something to bridge the gap between Christmas and the clocks going forwards.
In previous years my mind has usually turned to far-away and exotics shores, or sun-filled European beaches and Cities, with local breaks being confined to weekends but in the past couple of years this has changed. Probably due to the combination of a baby and the rising Euro that the idea of a longer stay-cation has appealed.
We had a fabulous family holiday last year to mark my mothers 70th birthday. She kindly invited 14 of us to stay at Fowl Green Farm in Commondale in the Esk Valley. A working farm, the owners Sandy and Sue have converted their barns and outbuildings into rustic, charming and comfortable accommodation. We took over all the barns and the kids delighted in feeding the chickens, giving milk to the two orphaned lambs and being taken on tractor rides by Sandy to water his pigs and highland cattle.
A day out in Whitby
The Esk Valley Railway stops at Commondale and the pleasant and scenic journey along the valley takes 50 minutes. It was a thronging bank holiday, so the queue outside the Magpie Cafe was too long for our hungry party, instead we got fish and chips to take-away instead and ate them by the pier, keenly watched by the swirling seagulls.
An interesting and picturesque post-prandial amble took in the cliffs over the beach, then along over the bridge into the old town and its quaint shops and pubs passing Fortune’s kipper smokehouse, (featured recently by Rick Stein) where they have been smoking kippers in the same traditional way since 1872. Our walk took us to the foot of the 199 steps up to Whitby Abbey. With the pram in tow, we chose an ice cream over the climb and looked up at the evocative view of the Abbey looking out to sea. Even on a sunny day, it’s very easy to see why Bram Stoker was inspired by its gothic and dramatic splendour.
Yorkshire beach life at Runswick Bay and Sandsend
Halfway through the week the temperatures started soaring and we had a couple of days by the sea, at Runswick Bay and Sandsend. As a long-time fan of Robin Hoods Bay, I hadn’t ventured to Runswick before and loved it instantly; it has all the drama and atmosphere of the former’s steep tumble down to the sea without the crowds and we looked over at the red roof tops of the village as we ate our picnic. Sandsend is a nostalgic place for me, our local neighbourhood organised dads and kids outings every summer and we had a very memorable day there when I was younger, playing in the rockpools. It hasn’t changed very much, a swanky new pub has opened up and a smart looking restaurant with rooms which I guess make it a ‘destination’ for a certain type of customer. Happily, it was still filled with a good mix of holidaying families, mostly with Geordie accents enjoying the 30 degree heat. There is no nicer place to be than the seaside on a fine summers day, and the drive there was equally spectacular – the North Sea glimmering for once, and the verdant fields were filled with the heady June scents of hedgerows, trees and flowers. We took the scenic route home, through Glaisdale, Lealhom and Egton, stopping at the lovely Postmaster Inn in Egton for scampi and chips and a glass of wine!
Ideas needed for this years holiday
Would love to hear suggestions for somewhere to stay in Yorkshire this year, for six of us – probably in September. My ‘must-have’ list includes:
- Self-catering. A nice spacious kitchen and cosy living area is a must
- Spectacular setting. Views please
- Real fire or woodburner
- A good and child-friendly pub within striking distance
- Outside space or garden that is safe for a toddler to run around in