Older people like coach trips. Allegedly. They sit in a coach, gossip, have a nice cup of tea when they reach their destination, then they go home again.
On Thursday, fifteen people from Ripon U3A (Walkers’ Division) did exactly that. Except that in between the gossip in the coach and the nice cup of tea, they fitted in an eight and a half mile walk along a section of the Cleveland Way.
We started at Staithes, once a busy fishing port, now a picture-postcard-pretty holiday destination. It nestles at the foot of imposing cliffs, and our walk began with a good hard yomp to get from sea-level to cliff top. This was the first of several yomps up steep paths cut into the hillside at an unforgivingly steep gradient.
All this would have been arduous enough. But there was a stiff breeze. This developed, as the day wore on, into a searching wind: the sort that blows any attempt at conversation far out to sea, turns pockets inside out, and rips scarves from shoulders. A few forays past farms offered slight shelter.
By the time we arrived in Sandsend, the wind was arguing with the sea too, which rose up, roaring and seething and hurling itself against the breakwaters.
Did we complain? We did not. This was scenic walking at its best. Violets and primroses scattered our path, and striking barriers of yellow gorse imposed themselves between us and the cliff edge.
Eight and a half miles of this kind of treatment was just about enough though. We were good and ready for tea and home-made cake at Wits End Cafe, and continued our gossip in the coach on the way home.