Whilst this was not my first visit to the North York Moors it was my first photo trip. The last one of any significance was 40 years ago in the seventies when I was an entrant on what was then the RAC Rally now Wales Rally GB and I was hopeful that this visit would last somewhat longer than the last when we got caught by one of the worst snow storms ever in the rally in North Yorkshire and went out on the first day.
On the 28th November, the North Yorkshire Moors National Park celebrates its 60th birthday joining Snowdonia, Dartmoor, Lake District and the Peak District who have already celebrated their diamond jubilee. My base was just outside Whitby as this seemed the most convenient spot for visiting the potential locations I had pencilled in to visit.
On the first day, I visited Robin Hood’s Bay with the intention of walking along the coast towards Boggle Hole and beyond. Unfortunately, I had not checked the tide times and could not get round to Boggle Hole because of the incoming tide. Not a good start – note to self to always check out tide times when planning coastal location trips. Abandoning this idea at least, for the time being, I decided to head further up the coast and parked at Runswick Bay and took an 8-mile walk along the Cleveland Way to Staithes and back via Port Mulgrave.
Not sure whether it was me or not but I found it difficult to find new or different POV’s in Staithes and Robin Hood’s Bay apart from the obvious ones we have all seen before and access to the coast is very limited to the “honeypots” so on my return leg I was keen to walk down to the harbour at Port Mulgrave which I had noticed on the outward leg. The pathway down to the coast is quite steep and I believe can be quiet treacherous in or after wet weather and the climb back up is quite a pull but as far as photo opportunities are concerned it was well worth the effort. Unfortunately, I had to cut my visit short due to the car park ticket at Runswick being due to expire.
After the disappointment of the previous day I decided to try my luck on the moors and headed up through Westerdale to Rosedale Head and whilst there and having reasonable weather I took the opportunity to visit many of the locations on my list including Young Ralph’s Cross which is the symbol of the North York Moors National Park.
Moving on from there I travelled along Blakey Ridge and down through Farndale to reach a location I had spotted the day I arrived in the park of some lone trees in an area where the heather had reasonable colour. Parking by the roadside I spent a good hour just walking around the heather covered moorland trying to capture the best of the colour and an interesting tree to be the focal point of the image.
Although it had not been forecast to be a particularly good day weather wise it was turning out to be the complete opposite with plenty of good light interspersed with fast moving clouds and heavy downpours. Perfect weather for my type of landscape photography and I took the decision there and then to work my way back towards base and the coast as I anticipated that there may be a reasonable sunset. My return journey took me over Spaunton Moor and although not on my list of locations to be visited noticed out of the corner of my eye a distant cross some half mile walk from the road. This was Ana or Ainhowe Cross. Parking up and after waiting for a torrential downpour to pass through I set off over the moor and shortly after arriving at the cross I was pleasantly surprised to see another large storm passing through in the distance and a rainbow suddenly appearing in the background. Talk about being in the right place at the right time and the photo opportunity of the whole trip and not to be missed if I could manage to get the man and his dog who insisted on talking to me to move on. He took the hint and I managed to capture the moment.
On to the coast I took a walk along the cliff top from Whitby to Saltwick Bay, even though it is better known for its sunrises, only to find that the tide was well on its way in so although I had managed to familiarise myself with the location capturing any images would have to wait for another time – didn’t I make a note somewhere about checking tides. I made my way back to Whitby just in time to capture the sun starting to set behind the abbey.
The following day Wednesday the weather forecast was also not looking good so I decided it would be a good opportunity to search out the waterfalls in the park. Well, waterfalls Wednesday turned out to be wash out Wednesday. I first walked along Maybeck to get to Falling Foss not only to find very little flow on the fall but I could not even find a safe access to get to the foot of the fall. If anyone knows please share it with me. I then decided to walk back on the opposite bank following the footpath sign for the Cleveland Way only to find an obstacle course of fallen trees, fences and barbed wire along with the first rain of the day. So beware if you are walking in the area to ensure you stay on the eastern bank of the beck. To cap it all I couldn’t even find the waterfall at Maybeck. Another note to self – to make sure I have larger scale OS maps with me next time.
Not deterred I set off to find Mallyan Spout, parked up and walked down the pathway to get to the fall and the heavens opened again and when I eventually got there it was impossible to even attempt to capture anything as the camera would have been ruined either by water or by me falling over on the extremely slippery rocks in the area. The third failure of the day and arrived back at my camper absolutely wet through so gave up on my fourth target location of Thomason Foss. I suppose there will always be a next time and after the success of the day before I couldn’t really complain. Tomorrow’s always another day.
One of the locations on my list was the Bridestones on the edge of Dalby Forest and rather than go through the forest toll road I parked up at the Hole of Horcum and walked the 6 miles there and back via the Old Wives Way and Bridestones Moor. Although I did manage to capture a couple of images in difficult light at the Bridestones I am not particularly happy with either of them so haven’t released them. On my return walk, I managed to capture an image of a nice stand-alone birch tree which I had noticed on my walk in so all was not lost.
On my final full day on this trip, I was back on the coast at Boggle Hole which if you recall I could not access from the walk from Robin Hood’s Bay. This time I parked near to and walked down to the coast and with good light and fair weather managed to capture some good views of the bay from Boggle Hole.
Next, it was off to Cloughton Wyke and the 4 miles round walk to Hayburn Wyke. Very few opportunities especially Hayburn where despite the swarm of flies on the beach a family were picnicking and playing in the beachside waterfall which had been my major objective of this walk. Obviously, I couldn’t ask them to move so I made my way back to Cloughton. A quick trip over the moors to capture some more lone trees and heather and back to base before preparing for the trip home the following day.
Despite some minor disappointments on this trip, the landscape provided a wonderful variety from the moors, to the dales and the coastline in a very compact area. Also apart from certain coastal locations, the park seems fairly quiet with few distractions to spoil the photographic opportunities but please keep that to yourself otherwise it will spoil it for my next visit.
With Autumn approaching now to plan the next trip as I am hoping to get at least one more in before the winter weather closes in. If you have any suggestions of places you would like to see visited please do not hesitate to reply to this post or contact me directly.