|Fields, towns, farms, and...serenity.|
I’m not usually one for hikes, but today was different. When planning this trip, we had envisioned circling the North York Moors. We would drive along the Southern portion of the National Park, then head North once we reached the East Coast, taking in historic and scenic stops along the way such as Scarborough and Whitby (and no doubt some formidable Fish and Chips). Then we would travel West along the northern portion of the Park, before turning South to arrive back at our hotel just outside Thirsk.
As we refined our schedule, and remembered how much driving England’s narrow, winding roads drains us, we decided to satisfy ourselves with a short visit to the Southwestern corner of the Park. (After all, we had come to Thirsk not just to see The World of James Herriot, but get a feel for the town in which he lived and worked).
This decision would prove prophetic. During our stay in Holmfirth, we were tempted inside a bookshop by a half-price sale. As I perused the shelves, my heart skipped when I spotted a copy of James Herriot’s Yorkshire. This coffee table book, filled with photographs of picturesque towns, pristine countryside, and the places that James Herriot loved best, proved a treasure trove of information. That included, thankfully, two pages on Sutton Bank, the stretch of cliffs from which his ashes are said to have been scattered.
Of Sutton Bank, he writes that there is:
“No place better for a short stroll—along the green path which winds round the hill’s edge with the fresh wind swirling and that incredible panorama beneath.”
The vista is everything he claims. Even though, on this particular day, a faint haze hung is the air, obscuring our view of the horizon, it was obvious why Herriot came to love this stretch of Yorkshire so much.
As we walked along the cliff edge, we removed our jackets, and the sun’s strong rays made us glad we had brought our hats. The exercise warmed us further, and the sun rose higher overhead. If only we had packed shorts! (Actually, we had, but those were workout shorts, suitable only for the gym). Although the temperature only rose into the mid-seventies, we soon found ourselves sweating, and stopping at the benches located along the trail.
We had not prepared for pleasant days like this. We associated England with cold, wind, and rain, with stormy skies that obliterated all trace of the sun. We were prepared for that kind of weather. As you can surmise from our earlier adventures in Holmfirth, we had brought a selection of jackets, sweatshirts, and flannel shirts. But shorts?
What's that saying, about all the best-laid plans?
|Now I know why his city friends would visit, |
and for the first time in their lives,
declare an interest in farming.
Soon we looked forward to those areas where the route led us through a stand of trees. But then we would break free, and once more, the scenes of pastoral, country life would unfold below. Enduring such warmth might be fatiguing, but the sights that delighted our eyes made the journey well worth it. Or, as James Herriot says of his first visit to Yorkshire:
“I got out of the car and sat on the springy grass as I have done on countless occasions since then. I was captivated, completely spellbound and I still am to this day.”
I’ve got three words for the view from Sutton Bank:
Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.
Sweating for the sights,
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