Despite the rather chilly (and chilling) sounding title, Katy of Chichester Copywriter chose the warmest week of 2017 (17-22 June) to escape the South Coast and travel up country to the breath-taking North Yorkshire Moors.
Starting with an-all-too-brief interlude at the magnificent Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which is like the big brother of Chichester’s local (but still beautiful) CASS Sculpture Foundation, Katy walked a good five miles in a wonderland of outdoor installations of all mediums, textures and styles.
The highlights included:
- Zak Ové’s Invisible Men – a Māori-style Terracotta Army which was fascinating to look at from all perspectives
- Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads – a representation of the Chinese Zodiac animals and an ode to the world of fantasy and adventure – from Game of Thrones to Life of Pi to Harry Potter – with its towering dragon, tiger and snake heads
- David Nash’s Seventy-One Steps – which, set among a woodland of enormously peaceful energy, was reminiscent of a path taken to a shrine or temple on a Japanese pilgrimage
- Antony Gormley’s One and Other – set on a tree stump high in the canopies (and easily mistaken as a tree at first glance) this triggered thoughts such as: “What else do we miss when we do not look up?” and “Why did I think that’s only a tree. Only a tree? A mighty tree is incredible in its own right, nothing to be scoffed at and surely should be celebrated”. The message here, open your eyes and your minds!
Although, the Chichester copywriter admits her favourite part of visiting YSP was the captivating cow planted knee-deep in the cool water next to the stepping stones. A self-confessed nature-nut, Katy could not divert her eyes at the fine specimen of Highland cattle that stood, tail swishing, ears flicking, in the refreshing pool while sun shone through its beautiful auburn waves and reflected a rouged light all around.
The Muirs, my muse
Onwards from central Yorkshire to the vast and heathery North Yorkshire Moors, a drive, which, as all drives should be, was an event itself. Arrival at the North Shire campsite was also a treat; forget tents and caravans, Katy was destined for a stunning shepherd’s wagon – named Fairy Dell, no less. This home from home for the next four nights was set among intricately decorated gypsy wagons, next to a mini Stonehenge and adjacent to a field of Shetland ponies – there was even a resident peacock that strutted about calling authoritatively. Does that sound a bit fanciful? Well; it is all true – a fantasy lover’s dream come true.
Katy’s first dip into the North Yorkshire coast proper was an excursion to the extraordinary Bempton Cliffs. Setting off with the hope of seeing a puffin or two, she was blown away by a cacophony of 400,000 seabirds flapping and teetering around the glorious craggy precipices they called home. Taking a guided walk with an RSPB volunteer, our Sussex writer played a cliff-top Where’s Wally? and donned binoculars in search of brightly billed beauties. In fact, as well as in excess of 12 nesting puffins, she spied guillemots, kittiwakes, razorbills, herring gulls and gannets – all with gorgeous fluffy chicks! On the way back to Fairy Dell, there was time for a quick stop at Ravenscar where there was hope of seal-spotting. Alas, although both common and grey seal colonies thrive here, that evening they had Gone Fishing!
Tuesday was another nature-packed jaunt. This time, our creative copywriter headed to the magical May Beck and Falling Foss – a lovely walk that ventured:
Through a Gruffalo forest where an afternoon glow sprouted pleasingly from squishy beds of ancient fir cones…
Along sun-dappled paths where butterflies bathed and damsel flies darted…
Over troll-guarded log bridges, babbling brooks and towards tantalising afternoon tea at the rushing falls…
Through farmland framed by sweet-smelling honeysuckle and dog roses…
Beside fallen trees shrouded in giant mushrooms off which the song of blackbirds, chiffchaffs and chaffinches bounced…
Up steep rocky steps to an ancient hermitage, where a recluse relied on nature to nurture.
In need of a sit after several warm days walking, Wednesday called for a trot along the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, from Pickering to Whitby. One must-see for Katy was Goathland, the picturesque setting for Hogsmeade Station in the first Harry Potter film. What made this visit super-atmospheric was the huge rumble of thunder and lightning flash that accompanied a torrential downpour during the wait for the train to Whitby – it is almost as though You-Know-Who was giving this Harry Potter fan a not-so-warm welcome!
There was more wonder and intrigue for our creative copywriter when, on Wednesday evening, she embarked intrepidly on the Robin Hood’s Bay ghost walk. Whitby Storyteller’s mix of folklore and eyewitness accounts relating to funny goings-on in the picture box village of Robin Hood’s Bay sent shivers down Katy’s spine. Taking place on Summer Solstice, an evening with its own magic and mystery, the group meandered the Bay’s winding and sloping streets between establishments boasting numerous spooky tales involving poltergeists, a boy who survived being eaten by a whale and the spirit of a dissatisfied smuggler.
There were also strange and supernatural stories about the troubled souls of those housed at a nearby sanatorium and the goblin at Boggle Hole as well as superstitions surrounding the ethereal corpse roads (or lykes) across the misty heathlands of the “muirs”. The underground tunnel (found at the foot of the dock, the trail’s end for Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk), which smugglers used to transport their goods straight into the cellars of dodgy dwellings, was a wonderful find. Katy could not resist mooching around the dark passage that leads to secrets of the past…
Wild routes, wild writing
The last day of this North Yorkshire nature-fest took Katy back down through the amethyst haze of the Moors to Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Offering a whole host of animals in spacious enclosures, wild flower areas to encourage local fauna and a promising reestablishment of a wetland area, YWP is a wonderful place to clearly see animals relish homes close to their natural habitats while they are studied for conservation.
By far, the most captivating species for our bearaholic writer was Project Polar. Working in association with Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation (YWPF) and Polar Bears International (PBI), Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s ground-breaking Project Polar – with its focus on conservation, welfare and education – looks to become an international centre for research and improve the welfare of an iconic species both in captivity and in the wild.
With a keen interest in wildlife and conservation and a regular visitor of zoos and safaris parks, Chichester Copywriter could not draw herself away from the sight of polar bears swimming, rolling in wild flowers to dry off and then chasing each other around a sizeable paddock. Other animal-magic included: six-banded armadillo racing around their enclosure, snuggling giant otters and eight lions having a roar-off! Katy even received a “hug” from an Amur leopard, the most endangered big cat in the world, which jumped up at his enclosure window and showed off his giant paws and terrifying teeth.