So, this is the year where I have decided to go to one youth hostel a month. I love the YHA, they’ve got the perfect level of comfort and communality for me since I prefer to travel alone, and they’re in interesting places. There’s also dozens of them within a day’s ride of me, and they range from about £10 to £20 a night for a bed in a dorm. Ideal.
My first trip out was to Boggle Hole, which is a tiny, modern hostel on the beach near Whitby. I’d intended to go on the Friday afternoon, spend a day on the beach on the Saturday, then ride home again on the Sunday. Upon trying to set out on the Friday morning however, I found that the Marauders’ battery was dead. Not flat – DEAD. So, given a bit of help from my friends, I got to Halfords, bought a battery, charged it up overnight and set off a day late.
The ride was fantastic. Out to Pickering, then along the high roads over the moors (Including taking that legendary bend at the Saltersgate Inn) before finally dropping down into Whitby from the north just as the sun was setting. I got a little lost on the farm tracks and tiny cliffside villages, but made it into the youth hostel just as it got dark. My bunk was up in the Annexe, a ferociously modern building high up on the cliffside, which took me a painfully long time to reach in the first place, so I dropped off my things then returned to the beach for a spot of beachcombing, and then dinner in the cafe. My haul that evening was a coupe of crinoid stems, an interesting coral, and a lone gryphea. As I sat in the dining room, I reflected that this might be my last cross-country trip on the GZ, since I’d just passed my Mod 1 and had my Mod 2 booked in for matter of days’ time. It was a good, solid little bike, it had carried me up and down the frankly extravagant hills of Whitby (Parts of Blue Bell and the coast roads were signed as 1:33. The GZ did them cheerfully, if slowly, without a hint of tipping or being buffeted).
After tea, I went back up to my bunk, and since it was already about nine, I settled in to read for a few hours. My roommates (four to a dorm) seemed fine – I had a nice chat with one who was doing about the same as I was, taking odd nights out at regular intervals, and who loved the beach – and by about midnight all of us were asleep without issue, despite a lot of admittance that this was all our first night in dorms since we were teenagers.
The next morning I was awake before sunrise, so slipped out of the dorm as quietly as possible and down onto the beach to watch the sun come up. Watching the sun rise, slowly, from a red glow to a great yellow slick across the sky and the water, punctuated with dark grey clouds, to finally a cold high blue which made the yellow cliffs look all the brighter, I couldn’t think of a better way to start the day. After filling up a little bag of more crinoid stems, two rather lovely ammonites, and a couple of just plain pretty quartzites and smooth green mudstones, I headed back to the hostel for breakfast and checkout.
On the way out of the hostel, I got to the top of the slope and found that a second bike was parked up next to mine, a Kawasaki W, the newer, sparklier Kawasaki which looks so much like a Triumph that I almost did a double take. A brief chat with its owner, who had also just popped into the hostel for the night, and then I was off on my way. I quickly popped up to the Abbey, just to say that I’d been, then turned around and headed back up past Blue Bell to go home.
And then the weather turned. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a proper sea fret, but it’s not something to be trifled with. As I crossed the high moors, visibility was literally so low that I couldn’t see my own front wheel, and my bar ends were distinctly fading into the fog. The whole thing glowed (Above it, the sun was clearly shining its heart out) so it was like being blindfolded with three or four layers of silk chiffon, whilst standing outside on a bright summer day. I carried on, a happy synergy of man and machine, comfortable and content that the bike would keep me safe and grip the road, even as the occasional cager gave up and rolled off into a layby to wait for it to pass. After the first ten minutes or so, I was the only person on the road, and that was absolutely perfect. The strange, cold, glowing silence, with the only hints of movement being the bright drops of water forming on my visor and in my eyelashes as the fog condensed, was mine and mine alone.
The ride home, after getting down into civilisation and below the treeline, was uneventful and fast, other than a brief moment where I was literally the only person on a major stretch of dual carriageway for about five miles, so I thought the world might have ended, and I was home again before most people even considered the day to be starting.
All in all, a short but successful first YHA trip of the year.