Wednesday, 1 June 2005
Beccy was not 100% sure about camping but she was outvoted 3 to 1 so we set off after school on Friday. We had spotted Middlewood Farm campsite whilst walking on the disused railway track between Boggle Hole Youth Hostel and Robin Hood's Bay last summer. It scored highly in the future-places-to-stay stakes because it had a play area. We finally get there about and pull up with the evening sun warm on the car. Getting out into the brisk little wind is a slight shock, but with the excitement of putting up the tent our spirits aren't dampened. The girls help me very reliably with holding pegs and groundsheets until the tent is three quarters up when the temptation to jump in and out of the newly formed space becomes too great to resist.
Next thing I know they have unpacked everything and spread it all over the inside. It has to be put away again so that all the mats and sleeping bags can be unrolled into place.
As soon as we are done we set off to walk to the beach. Through a gate right next to our pitch then over a stile, a kissing gate, another stile, and we start to drop down through a little valley thick with the fragrance of wild woodland flowers, the curves of ferns and the cascading of a little stream. The girls love to skip along down the steep path and it's a delicate balance between giving them the freedom of their enthusiasm and making sure they are not going to do themselves a serious injury. As we draw near to the first houses in Robin Hood's Bay a fearful doubt arises, "What if the Fish and Chip shop isn't open?" But sure enough the next breeze brings a whiff of frying and vinegar to our eager senses.
The pieces of fish look rather small but everything is for the best because one portion turns out to equal three pieces so two portions to share is plenty for the four of us. We take them round to the "quarterdeck" overlooking the unusual "wave platform" revealed by the low tide that is overlooked in turn by a handsome three-quarter moon. What can be better than really good fish and chips by the sea and these have lived up to all our memories by being as delicious as ever.
The gold of the sunset is still catching Ravenscar and Jemima spots a little white dwelling half way round the headland, "That's our new house," she says, "If only, darling!" Suddenly we are surrounded by a crowd of schoolchildren asking how far it is to some bees. "Sorry - no idea." Only then do I remember that we are at one end of the Coast to Coast path. The other is St Bees - is it 186 miles? - there are a couple of journey's end plaques on either side above the slipway.
It's getting late but we can't leave without exploring the rock pools. Winkles, limpets and assorted empty shells are all investigated with occasional crab scares splitting the air with screams. They are all false alarms until Imogen finds a hermit crab that has taken up residence in a winkle. We take great and unsuccessful pains to keep the girls’ trousers dry only to find that someone has put the coats down in a little puddle on the rock!
Beccy wants to explore the village but I start getting restless about making our way back - if the girls get tired I'm the one that'll do the carrying. We compromise by going as far as the line of shops which shut their doors some years ago but still have the cobwebbed trinkets and beachware gathering dust in the derelict looking windows. On a previous visit we were told that elderly siblings now resident in nursing homes had fallen out and couldn't agree over what to do with the properties.
Back in the tent, Imogen says "It's not as comfy as my bed at home!" but before long we are all asleep. At first light Jemima opens her eyes and says "It's morning" in a bell like voice that must have been heard across the field. But miraculously she listens to my explanation that "it may be light but it is certainly not morning" and goes back to sleep.
I get up a few hours later at 6.30 and it is freezing! Eventually the sun does its job and we look forward to a day of more rock pools, more chips, ruined abbeys and doughnuts before the journey home over the moors.