Rainbow over the Moors

Here be dragons

“Here be Dragons” means dangerous or unexplored territories, in imitation of a medieval practice of putting illustrations of dragons, sea monsters and other mythological creatures on uncharted areas of maps where potential dangers were thought to exist. You may well be thinking there’s nowhere quite like that left in England, but you could be mistaken…

It was the Easter holidays when I took my then teenage sons to North Yorkshire to spend some time with them bonding in the great outdoors. We stayed in Runswick Bay a few miles away from the delights of Whitby with its maritime heritage and tales of Captain Cook, Dracula and the 199 steps to the Abbey. We were in a teeny cottage clinging to the side of the steep cliff. It was barely big enough for the three of us and certainly had no room to swing the cat, which fortunately we’d left at home.

We were woken early by a squillion gulls that perched on our roof screeching annoyingly down the chimney: no alarm clock required. Our days were spent trudging over the moors on ancient Roman roads, watching steam trains or stepping over streams on lumps of rock, the boys trying, and succeeding, to keep their balance and not get a soaking. I admired the masses of dancing daffodils clustered under hedgerows and smiled with motherly concern as I watched newly born lambs wearing their wrinkly coats, gambolling in the fields on wobbly legs.

We discovered sea urchins and lumps of ancient coal on the beach and got soaked from the heavy sleeting showers before warming ourselves with mugs of real hot chocolate, along with heavily buttered toasted teacakes, in a steamy little café in Staithes. Returning to the cottage along the hazardous coastal path, the wind tangled our hair and blew us backwards.

We set out each day on an adventure as if we were the ‘Famous Five’ albeit with two members missing and no dog; armed with stacks of corned beef sandwiches, bottles of lemonade and cheese and onion crisps. Teenage boys have hollow legs and require feeding at all times. Pre ‘Sat Nav’ (GPS) made exploring the many narrow lanes an adventure in itself. Arriving at a junction or a fork where there were no signposts (removed in the war to confuse the enemy should they land and which have never been replaced) the boys would take it in turns to shout out directions to me – left, right – it didn’t really matter as we always found somewhere to park and explore.

One such wintry day on our way back from climbing up Roseberry Topping in the snow (which is where Cook glimpsed his first sight of the sea) we saw a rainbow. Not just any rainbow, this was a magnificent example, a 3D Technicoloured arch, the rainbow of all rainbows spreading over the blackened sky with both ends touching the earth. We decided in an instant to head for one end of the rainbow and zigged and zagged over the moors, sometimes even going under the bow itself in an attempt to reach the end. We didn’t of course, but the journey was exhilarating and eventually we reached our cosy cottage in fits of giggles to spend yet another evening pouring over the road map to try to guess where we’d been today and wonder whether there were any more dragons left to find tomorrow.

(originally posted in 2015)

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

28 thoughts on “Here be dragons”

  1. That’s beautiful, Jude! Do you ever think about republishing some of your older posts (before you had an audience 🙂 )? There’s such a body of work unread, isn’t there? Are you going to write a book some day?
    This strikes so many chords. I still look at the map to see where we’ve been. We don’t have a sat-nav and I’m a hopeless navigator. And we still eat corned beef sarnies. Oh dear! And I’d definitely still go chasing rainbows 🙂

    1. I did re-blog all my South African trips because they were written before I had many followers and they went down very well. I did think when I re-read this that I ought to re-blog it. Maybe I will once I have written up the rest of my Cornwall posts, and then I will be back in Cornwall and most likely end up with even more!

      And I still love corned beef sarnies with Branston pickle (or a very similar plum chutney a local lady makes) AND ginger beer 😉

      1. Yes, I remember reading them. Sometimes I look back through mine and think ‘good heavens, I don’t remember writing this’. Maybe I have a ghost writer 🙂
        Now, where are we going to meet for this picnic? (although I’d be more inclined to sit outside a nice pub these days) I think the Cook Islands might be a shout too far 😦

        1. 13 and 15 – it was shortly before my daughter left to live in South Africa for a couple of years. She stayed at home to cat sit 🙂

  2. Lovely memory and the tellinig of it. That area is a little south of where I am and I used to drive down to see clients around there, Roseberry Topping became known as Boob Hill 🙂 I bet your boys cherish those memories.

    1. It was good fun despite the usual cold Easter weather! I of course was much younger then too so happy to ramble everywhere.

  3. I’m sure your boys will remember this. It’s exactly the kind of fun that kids hold in their hearts forever. Though my boy is rather younger, he has been reminding me lately of things we did in his childhood and I have been surprised at the stuff that’s stipulated in his head. Daft expeditions with his cartographically-challenged mother are highly memorable apparently.

  4. So well told jude I can picture the 3 of you exploring uncharted territory. I’m sure it would be remembered early teens is a very impressionable age.

  5. Oh, I love your tales of the past so much. What a wonderful holiday, and you’re all totally unphased by weather and all it hurls at you. I like your humour too. A real treasure of a post. And I agree. You should write a book.

  6. I suspect your sons will always remember this particular holiday. It sounds like you had such fun together. I like the idea of “here be dragons”. It sounds tempting and dangerous all at the same time.

  7. Here be a dragon. 🙂 You have my imagination bounding, to be so carefree and just enjoying life the way you and your boys did those holidays. It sounds so good and that rainbow is very flat, almost climbable.

    1. Welcome LD 😀 You are a pretty adventurous dragon 🐲 always exploring those less known places. This was one of those holidays where little was planned, though I did buy a book of walks, which I still have!

    1. Haha… well thank you for the compliment Gilly, but I don’t think I shall be trying. Put together a book from our Canadian holiday and that took me about a year. Now I look at the photos and think, could have done better!

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