Bridlington and Scarborough - Eastern England - CycleBlaze

June 5, 2018

Bridlington and Scarborough

veering north in sunshine

My bike stands against the table at the front of the dining room and faces me as I sit and have my full English breakfast in silence, with a young woman sat on the opposite side of the room doing the same thing. Usually landlords have a radio playing, or a telly on. Not here.

It's 8:30 when I go outside into a cool breeze that sweeps in off the sea, which is a darker, more dismal tone of grey than the overcast sky. It's no surprise there's no-one around.

Overcast and windy in Hornsea first thing in the morning
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I rest my bike on the railings of the promenade and set up my camera on a small Gorillapod and take a self-timed snap, then ride into town, looking for Bettison's Folly.

Hornsea's main shopping street is called Newbegin and I ride up it looking for a sign to the historic folly, just as the sun comes out. There are a couple of signs that the Tour de Yorkshire bicycle race passed through earlier this year, with the church bearing a big yellow 'Y' and a blue bicycle logo on top of its square spire, but none for the folly. The church clock tells me it's now just gone 9:30.

Back along Newbegin I stop at a bric-a-brac shop which has some old maps in a cardboard box outside and I pick out an OS one for Lincolnshire's coast and pay the quid (roughly US$1.30) asking price (bargain!) and ask the shopkeeper where the folly is. He points to just along the street, over on the right, so I ride down there to find it tucked away beside a tall wooden fence of a new-ish house and an old tree that makes getting a decent snap quite difficult.

Bettison's Folly, built in the first half of the 1800s
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Originally the brick tower was in the grounds of a large house owned by a wealthy businessman - Mr Bettison - whose servant would climb up it and keep a lookout for his master's arrival, just so that tea would be ready upon his return. In my opinion, because it had a practical purpose, it's not an actual folly.

Across from it is a charity shop, so I go in for a quick browse but don't find anything.

Once through Hornsea, the main road west has a footpath along it and this seems a safer bet than cycling on the actually tarmac. It's not far to the turnoff heading north, which turns out to be a short hill. 

The sun soon came out
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 The Canon camera I've borrowed from Dave is hanging nicely from my right shoulder and as my pace drops going up on the short incline, I instinctively reach around to the back of the bike to feel for the camera bag, which I normally loop around the seat-post so that it rests atop of the saddlebag. It's not there. Damn! 

It also belongs to Dave, and it has my spare batteries inside. My brain works in overdrive: Where did I last have it? I recall laying it down on the promenade shortly when taking the photo of myself, but don't remember picking it up. 

My computer tells me I've cycled nearly 2 km since then. It seems ages ago, but maybe it'll still be there so I turn around and race back through town.

There's sweat running down my face when I reach the promenade. I head straight towards a waste bin, where I remember leaving the camera bag, but before I get there I see it hanging from the door-handle of a toilet block. 

It takes a moment for its presence to sink in and a guy walking his dog sees me and comes over. He says he noticed it a few minutes ago and wondered about it. Then another dog walker comes along and says the two had discussed it, thinking a camera was inside. What's clear is that someone picked it up off the floor and decided this door was a safer spot. We agree that I'm lucky.

I say bye to the two men and pedal back towards town and the small lane heading north from the A 1035.

A tractor keeping the verges of the lane neat and tidy
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It feels hot now.

The lane north undulates gently and swings left and right past fields that are separated from the route by verges full of metre-tall grass and nettles. It eventually takes me to a junction with a road that leads into Skipsea village, but I go left and soon find a track to what's left of Skipsea Castle.

The Norman structure has long gone, but there's a grassy mound (motte) where it once stood, which probably dates back to the Iron Age. I take a snap of it before heading off to find a farm track just a bit further along the road - one that'll cut out some of the probably busy main road.

This off-road section of my route is a bit of a gamble, as I know the farm lane just goes to, well, a remote farm. I'm riding here because my detailed OS map shows a pink dotted line denoting a public footpath, one that veers east off it to the main road. The thing is these paths are often very rough.

That hump was once a castle
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At the start of the track is a woman, who's bent down tending her garden. I stop and ask about the track and it surprises me she's never been to the end of the lane and consequently doesn't know about any footpaths. Before setting off I tell her she may see me again before very long.

After riding about a kilometre or more I get quite near to the farm house and see a simple sign that points east into a field - it says 'permissible path' but there's just a wheat field without any visible route across it. Whatever. 

At the farm there's nothing and not seeing anywhere else to go, I decide to  go back and soon my wheels are bumping over the hard dirt between the rows of foot-high stalks of some crop that's been harvested. Fortunately it's all slightly down for a couple of hundred metres and once at the bottom it's disappointing to see a stream about six feet wide with no bridge in sight. It's all been a waste of time and effort, but then I spot two pigeons across the field that are perched on a wooden sign.

My camera's 'super zoom' is at its max and it became clear that the birds are on a wooden footpath sign, so my bike gets pushed over the rough ground for a few minutes to reach it. Sure enough, there's a small rudimentary bridge. 

The problem now is tall nettles block the way. It's just a matter of using the bike as a ram to get over them without my bare legs getting stung.

Off the beaten track
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One piece of the sign points to the village of Ulrome, which is south of where I want to be, so I veer north of it, in the direction of the other wooden pointer which just has the name of a lane half a mile away, and again have to plough my bike through tall nettles to make some headway. 

There's no visible path, so it's a case of walking the bike along the edge of a field, which goes up slightly, with the crest hiding whatever lies ahead.

The trail ends at even more nettles and things look bleak, but I'm not going back now. To the north I can see a brick structure, so trundle over stubble of harvested crops to reach it, thinking there must be some sort of access to it. There is.

Now I can ride along a rough, grassy vehicle track and before long there's a locked gate beside the main road. My bike slides under the metal barrier and in a few minutes of cycling I'm near a place called Lissett.

Heading northeast to the tarmaced surface of the B1242
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The village seems to be to my right, with the busy A165 going east-west. I make a dog-leg and keep riding north on a quiet lane and 10 minutes later, at a small junction, it seems like a good idea to look at my map, as it's unclear which way to go. I also check the screenshots on my 7" tablet which show my planned route, together with various points of interest, plus mileages. Now I realise the church back in Lissttt has a nice leaded window that I wanted to see, one made in the Arts and Crafts period.

 I feel angry with myself for not checking the tablet sooner as the tiny village of Lissett is actually not on this lane and going back a mile doesn't really appeal, so I opt to ride on, towards a WWII memorial that's not too far away.

RAF Lissett was operational during the Second World War, and was home to 158 Squadron, which lost 144 aircraft and 851 men between 1943 and 1945. The names of all them are inscribed on a memorial made of steel that stands right beside the lane, close to where the RAF camp once was.

158 Squadron Memorial just north of Lissett
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I stand around for a few minutes after taking a few photos of the rusty memorial, eating one of the small oranges I bought back in Hull. It's a tranquil spot and only one car goes past.

The next place on my route is Burton Agnes Hall and the lane takes me further north-ish towards it, the route going along pretty straight under a blue sky dappled with white clouds. It's all very rural.

Burton Agnes Hall lies just off a busy road and there's a sign showing where to ride and I enter the car park and decide not to leave my bike in the rack and instead wheel it around to where there's a yard with tables. This is where I envisaged having a bite to eat.

Cruising into the grounds of Burton Agnes Hall - an Elizabethan manor house
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The cafe has a decent menu and I go for a ploughman's, which is something I haven't had in who knows how many years. I sit outside in the hot sun at one of the square wooden tables, with the large old house in view.

It's possible to have a tour, but I know it'll take at least an hour and cost a fair bit, and it's not high on my to-do list, so once I've finished off my lunch I get back on the bike and keep riding north.

The lane slowly climbs and after a couple of bends, becomes dead straight. Behind me is a nice view of open countryside and I want to take a self-timed snap, but know that the camera needs to be elevated to capture it all. There's nothing to rest my small tripod on so I keep pedaling away.

At the top I make a right onto what I know is a Roman road that is just another quiet lane and a sign says this is the Yorkshire Wolds and that it's part of a national cycle route.

Cyclists have been venturing here for a long time. The road was mentioned in a 1947 touring guide published by Cycling magazine and it's from that guide that I know this was a route made by the Romans a couple of thousand years ago, and also that there's a large monolith standing in the church yard at Rudston, a village just a bit further north.

The UK's tallest monolith in the churchyard in Rudston
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I ride to a junction and make a right into the village and veer in a loop that includes a little incline that leads to the church. A heavy Victorian cast iron gate is rusty and stuck, but after pushing it open I wheel my bike into the church grounds and walk around to the back. Being an impressive 7.6m tall, it's easy to find the monolith. It's the tallest standing stone in England.

The plan is to now ride north, but there's not much accommodation for quite distance, so I decide to go east, towards the coast. The beach resort of Bridlington is just along the main road, which doesn't seem to have too much traffic on it. There'll be plenty of B&Bs there.

After a couple of miles, the road dips down into a village called Boynton and a sign points to a historic church, so I make a right to check it out. It's cool inside the old stone building and the font looks very old. An A4 information sheet says to look out for a turkey decoration, but I can't find it. It says that a villager named Willimam Stickland sailed to the USA in 16th century in search of gold, but returned without success. However, he did manage to bring the first turkeys with him.

Once back at the B road, it's just a few more miles to Bridlington. There's just enough traffic to make it unpleasant.

The old part of Bridlington
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At the edge of town a sign points to the old area so I cruise down its narrow streets, not really knowing where I'm going, but reckon the promenade will be easy to find. Sure enough I get to the sea and then ride south towards a fun fair, with the sand on my left.

It doesn't take long to see what Bridlington has to offer and as it is still early afternoon getting further north seems like a good idea. I'd noticed the train station, so go back to it and check out the trains to Scarborough, another, bigger seaside resort which is just to the north.

A single there costs me seven quid and the train leaves at 5.13, so I have a bit of time to kill.

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The Victorian station has a high, glazed roof and it feels airy. There's a cafe in what would have been the original bar and waiting rooms, so I sit in the main foyer and have a cup of tea and watch a handful of passengers come and go before wheeling my bike across the tracks, hoping there'll be enough room in the two-carriage train for my bike. Officially, there's usually only enough room for two.

Scarborough has more going on. It's a bigger place. It's obvious as soon as I leave the train station and walk my bike down the main street, with the ruins of the castle perched on a high cliff ahead of me - what looks to be about a mile away.

Scarborough Castle
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I get to the sea front and ride along it, seeing a large hotel looming above the road on my right. When it was completed in 1867, the Grand Hotel was the biggest hotel in Europe, as well as the largest brick structure. It really is huge.

I get told by the receptionist that there are no rooms, which seems crazy as there must be hundreds of them. I then ask for one with a sea view and get quoted a decent price. Weird.

I've always wanted to stay in one of these behemoths that were built in the heyday of Victorian travel, when trains made visiting the coast easy and popular, with holidaymakers briefly escaping the grime of England's industrial cities. This is it.

The view from my room in the Grand Hotel
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Today's ride: 45 km (28 miles)
Total: 198 km (123 miles)

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