Our Travel blog
Saturday 21 May
If you've read our recent posts you'll know how much we liked Scotland. Its charms are plentiful and it is our intention to return as soon as practical. The landscape is amazing, from the green uncluttered lowlands to the rugged exposed highlands. From the city wilderness of Strathclyde Park in Glasgow to stately parks of Inverness, sparkling lochs, snow capped mountains and remote hidden glens, we found a surprise around every corner.
But most of all it was the Scottish people who won our hearts. They were unfailingly helpful, generous, full of good humour and rightly proud of their country and eager for us to enjoy it. They may not be gregarious and outgoing by nature but they have an easy going charm and are quick to smile.
So we were sad to leave Scotland even though we were heading for familiar ground in Cambridge, via a stop over in Yorkshire. Our journey did take us through the wonderful Cairngorm and Grampian mountains though, so we had one last opportunity to see Scotland in all its magnificence. We rolled high over passes, through gaps between mountains where snow was plentiful on the sheltered side. We drove through rain and into clouds hugging the higher slopes and gently down to pine clad foothills where shards of sunlight were breaking through, illuminating trees as if they were picked out by searchlight. From these, steam rose in white puffs in the heat of the sun.
Further on we passed through the farming country of the lowlands. Rich green pasture for abundant sheep and cows. We wound our way around Glasgow and pointed due South. A long time later we alighted in Yorkshire on the edge of the Moors for an overnight stop. But not until we'd tackled the notorious Sutton Bank. This is a switch-back climb on the A170 onto the moors with a 25% gradient. Mavis made it under Alison's watchful eye but in the last year 74 HGVs were stranded on it and caravans are banned outright and sent via narrow lanes and a more gentle ascent. I have fond memories of a family holiday on the Yorkshire Moors, and recall my fathers worried grimace as he willed his Mazda up Sutton Bank, leaning forward and gripping the wheel with white knuckles. It was on this vacation that I saw my first ever deer in the wild, smelt the heady fragrance of wild garlic and wandered around the stately remains of Rievaulx Abbey. Here I resorted to my default game of playing wars by myself. Pretending that there were enemy troops around every corner I moved stealthily so I wasn't seen by an imaginary enemy. I was of course spotted by every visitor, some of whom I'd startle by suddenly popping my head over a wall while they were admiring the view; instead of rolling hills they would find themselves faced with a mop of untidy hair, my red face hanging under it for a split second before it withdrew as quickly as it had appeared. I'm sure in a real war snipers would just avoid me out of pity. Oh, and we saw a sheep struck by lightening yards from my bedroom window. It was all most entertaining, although not for the sheep of course.
Once pitched up near Oswaldkirk (and can anywhere sound more Yorkshire than Oswaldkirk?) we broke free of the friendly warden, all Yorkshire helpfulness and wit after sorting out our pitch for us, and walked into nearby Ampleforth for a pub supper. We felt this was a deserved reward for driving over 300 miles and the walk would do us good after sitting down for so long. The walk was pleasant but bereft of pavements or verges where we could seek refuge from passing cars. Only in Ampleforth in the gathering gloom and threatening rain could we get onto walkways and so, after a convivial meal and a pint of Black Sheep, we got a taxi back in the now pouring rain.
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