My trip to THE NORTH

Posted on 29.08.2013

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The trip north happened a bit by accident. As we’re sitting here, stationary in one place while waiting to hear back about the job interviews, we had a bit of extra time on our hands. I mentioned in an earlier post that I’d been harping on the boyfriend to take a trip to marvelous Middlesbrough, which was repeatedly met with equal amounts disdain and disbelief. So in order to accomplish that, it couldn’t JUST be a trip to the middle of nowhere.

The boyfriend is really into camping, which is not something I tend to do often. There’s just too much about it that never quite works for me: being eaten alive by bugs, lack of electrical outlets for hair dryer and curling iron, long walks to toilets and showers, etc. I will say that there are things that interest me about camping, but most of them center around NOT being around too many obnoxious tourists, and ability to lay under stars. I also LOVE to fall asleep to noise, which wasn’t something I got while living next to farm land.

So I mentioned that we should camp along the coast, and that idea really sunk in. The next thing I knew, family members were reminding us of faraway family who lived near Middlesbrough, and I was looking at maps without a CLUE as to where we were going. Then I noticed that there were two large national parks in the area we’d be heading towards, both including words I’d never seen in real life: dales and moors. All I knew about moors came from English literature, and I had no idea what they actually were, except to say that they included dirt. We included those in our thoughts, mentioned places to family, and the next thing we knew, we had a vague idea of what we’d be doing for a week. So we packed up and headed upwards.

thenorth_1687164cI was a little concerned when we reached the ring around London and I started seeing signs for The NORTH. I didn’t take this photo of myself, but this is what it looked like. It turns out that there is ONE major highway from London that acts as a spine if you want to head in that direction, so all you have to do to be sure to head north is follow the M1, towards the NORTH. If you see signs for the SOUTH, you’ve done something very wrong. As soon as we got near it, it was on every sign, no failure, just keep following NORTH. A bit like following New York on 95.

got_wallpaper__the_north_remembers_by_mcnealy-d50q0awI found this ultimately hysterical, because in my mind, it meant we were heading for dire wolves and wildlings. It was so funny to me, in fact, that the folder of photos from the trip is named 08.THE NORTH on my computer (yes, I organize by months within year folders, I think we can all agree I am far too busy and traveling too much at the moment). So whenever I’d read the sign, I’d say it in a lowered, foreboding Ned Stark voice. It became my personal running joke. It was then explained to me that people from the south considered almost everything north, and that was also funny to me, as I tried to imagine people in South Carolina considering residents of North Carolina to be ‘a bunch of damn yankees’. One of the interesting things about being from MD is that when you go to NY, they consider you a southerner, but when you go to Virginia, you are a damn yankee. We just can’t win, and that Mason-Dixon issue during the Civil War didn’t help. As I’m from Baltimore (and even further north, if you count where I grew up), I hold myself strongly on the northern side of the argument, personal politics and birthplace not even being considered.

So we headed NORTH (hahah) and hit Middlesbrough (which you can read about in the Claes #22 post), and then left immediately for the coast, in order to camp. We got to a town called Whitby, which we may or may not have been camped in. We followed some signs for camping, and came to a farm which allowed both caravans and tents, and had a few to rent as well. They had installed showers and toilets and only wanted 12- per night for us to be there, so we said ok and pitched a tent! It was hard ground and we didn’t choose well, which led to a restless night of sleep, but overall we didn’t care. The location was great, views were good, and it only marginally smelled of fertilizer (not bad for me, growing up in HarCo, but for the niece it was terrible). We went down to a local pub for dinner, and I had the required fish and chips, which I love and could eat every day.

The next morning, I woke up really early, but still managed to miss the sunrise. I started packing up my gear to get out and walk down to the water, which in turn woke the boy up, and he decided to come with me.

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After we were sure we’d seen everything, we decided it was time to go back and wake up the niece. It was only about 8:30 by then, but she’s a bit of a late sleeper. So we did that, ate some breakfast and then headed out to meet up with some family who  lived in the Yorkshire Dales. But to do that, we had to drive through the Moors national park. At this point in our trip, having never seen a moor, I felt it was absolutely NECESSARY to stop because we might never see these things again, so we stopped at a few places to walk through and take photos before leaving for the dales.

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Little did I know that dales are effectively ‘moors with big hills that make valleys’… Our drive through the park to get to the family was FULL of moors, and we took some more photos. Or more to the point, I took a lot of photos from a moving car, and only got a few chances to stop and get out. We felt like we were sufficiently lost due to a lack of road signs, but it turned out that we were right on track and going the right way. We got there with no problem after driving through a WHOLE LOT of beautiful park!

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As it turned out, the family lived IN the national park (Yorkshire Dales) and the view from their back yard was phenomenal. But this, they said, was nothing compared to what was just up the road. So they took us on a 2-3 hour walk, with their three dogs, through the dales. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything so beautiful. It was like Germany, but minus the wine everywhere. Oh, and it was cool outside, so I wasn’t dying of heat exhaustion. The colors were amazing, even with it being overcast.

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The walk was just what I needed after a restless night of sleep, and by the time we got back, I was worn the hell out. I slept like a baby that night!

The next day, we hung around with the family until about lunch time, then set off on a 2 hour drive OUT of the national park, on our way to see more family before camping for the night. The way out was almost prettier than the way in, and we decided that we’d really need to go back and spend more time in the dales. They really do deserve about a week.

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So we stopped in to say hi to more family for tea in Clitheroe, and then we were on our way to find more camping. There had been some talk about camping on or near Pendle hill, but we kept getting turned around and driving away from it. So we settled for another farm that overlooked the hill, which was nice and had really soft ground and grass. We were almost EXCITED to pitch the tent there.

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Then, since it was only about 6 or 7, we took a walk to see the surrounding area before it got dark.

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We had to wake up really early the next morning and be out by 6, if we were going to make it back on time to drop the car off. We still had to drive back across the Bridlington, where the niece was meeting a friend for a few hours. So we got up and packed up a very wet tent, and then were on our way. We got to Bridlington (back on the east coast) in a little under 3 hours, and had a few hours to hang out there before we jumped back in the car and let the satnav take us back. It was a gorgeous morning, and sadly, a bit too early for fish and chips :-/

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All in all, we saw a lot and went to a lot of places in our 1,100 mile drive. I got to see a lot of parts of England that I might not otherwise hear about, and it was made very clear to me that the Lakes district doesn’t even come CLOSE to what we saw in the dales national park. So I’m glad I got to see them, and now I know not to bother with the Lakes district, and instead go right back to the uninhabited, not-so-touristy part of the country instead:) There is still a whole lot to see, and I definitely want to go FURTHER north, but at least I feel better about having been past London, which is normally the only place tourists manage to visit. Now if I can just see Bristol and the south coast…

Posted in: travel