The end

When I started this ECP walk, almost two weeks ago, I was hoping to reach the Yorkshire coast, because I love this rugged part of the UK. Now that I’ve reached it, I feel somewhat aimless. So I decide to set Scarborough as my end goal. From there I will return by train to Newcastle to catch the ferry back to Holland.

Looking back to Ravenscar

Because I already walked (on the beach) to Ravenscar yesterday, I take a bus to bring me to Cloughton where I can get back to the coast path quite easily. Although it’s yet another grey and gloomy day, the bus trip across the high Moors of North Yorkshire is beautiful. It sparks my desire to go there some day with my loved ones.

Stone steps on the ECP

I’m still a bit apprehensive to walk this, my final stretch of coast path. But my tense feeling soon disappears when I find the path is not too muddy and it offers me some beautiful views. Even though the weather isn’t particularly cheerful I enjoy the walk. Also, I’m glad the first part is very quiet, there aren’t many people about. It gives me time to reflect. This journey feels so much different from my previous walks. First of all, because I started mentally on a very low level, which culminated in me hitting rock bottom (quite literally) in the rain on the Kettleness Headland. Afterwards it felt like I started afresh, almost reborn. Now I feel somehow detached, as if this earthly clay/life can’t cling to me anymore. I won’t get trapped in it. I don’t need to walk here, I walk here because I want to and I enjoy it.

View towards Scarborough

My coast path hikes have never been about the achievement of reaching physical goals, although it does give my self confidence a boost, when I see I far I’ve come. Still, it’s always about the journey. Of course I do meet physical obstacles and peaks, highs and lows, which have an emotional impact. But it’s the mental and emotional journey that counts the most to me. People I meet always ask me where I’m heading or what my end goal is. ‘Are you going to Filey (just south of Scarborough)?’ they ask, because that’s the end of the Cleveland Coast Path. They give me a strange look when I tell them Scarborough is my destination. ‘Why Scarborough?’ ‘Just because … that’s where I want to stop. Because it has a trainstation.’ In daily life, tangible goals are the norm, but that’s not always what counts the most and certainly not to me.

Bird observatory

After I’ve walked some kilometres I’m in desperate need of somewhere to sit down, preferably a bench or boulder, because the soil is still wet. My hope of finding a bench at the small bird observatory (which I could see from a long way of) turns out to be vain. Still, there are some steps just inside the enclosure, where I can sit. I can hear somebody inside the hide, who will probably find it strange me sitting there, but I don’t care. When the bird watcher finally gets out of the hide we have a chat. There aren’t many birds around right now, ‘but you should come here when the birds start migrating again, then it’s a great spectacle up here.’ This morning the only bird of interest is a little skoter bobbing just in front of the cliffs. I already had my binoculars out, and when I have a look I can see it. A lone black sea duck, not particularly special, but still nice to watch.

Scarborough castle

More and more I’ve come to realise that inspiring other people, like Sue yesterday, gives me energy. Or making people look differently at things, for example their own environment or life or God, that too makes my day. Like the woman from Durham, whom I told about the otter swimming in the Wear at Durham and the Dippers I saw there. I’d like to think it gave her a different view of her home town, that she hadn’t seen or realised before. That’s what I love.

Wooded valley and stream just North of Scarborough

When I enter Scarborough via the footbridge over the stream, the Scalby Beck, there’s a couple sitting on a bench. The view from there over the stream and bay is nice, so I decide to buy tea and cake in the cafe right there and sit on the bench next to them. We get talking. They live in Scarborough, but they don’t want to, they immediately add. They tell me about their journey through life. Born and grown up in Scarborough, got married there and resolved they would leave as soon as they could. So they went to Germany where he served in the British army, only returning to Scarborough for the holidays and meeting their family. But then their children grew older and needed a more permanent base. They asked them where they wanted to settle. ‘Scarborough’, they said and that’s why they came back. Fortunately they were able to find work, he as an engineer, she in hospitality. It was a surprise to them, that he could find a suitable job, because ’there is nothing here, no work, no future’. Now they still live here, whilst their children are studying in Portsmouth (on the other side of the country) and planning to work overseas. ‘which is a good thing, we don’t want them to stick around here.’ This conversation really gets me thinking. It mirrors more or less my own situation. I don’t want to live in the town where I live (even though it’s located in beautiful surroundings, totally different but in a way similar to Scarborough), I encourage my children to spread their wings (preferably far) beyond Emmen or Drenthe and if it’s up to me I would up my sticks and move somewhere else, ideally to some foreign country. But still, like this couple, I live where I don’t want to be and it feels like I’m stuck.

Scarborough promenade

It’s not that I hate living in Emmen, more that I’m bored of it. I’ve seen it all, time to move on. That means it costs me more effort to look for the, still many, beauties of it. I can do that. Just like I can see the beauties of Scarborough, although I wouldn’t want to live here either. Too busy, too noisy and especially in summer, too many tourists. Not many work opportunities apart from hospitality, which is dwindling right now, because of high energy costs and inflation (so my Airbnb host tells me).

Actually Scarborough is a surprisingly nice town, with the castle ruins on the protruding headland, some beautiful architecture and parks. Not to mention the sea 😉. I even spot some Harbour Porpoises from the promenade along the castle headland! And people say Dolphins are spotted from there regularly and even a Walrus last year! So it is a pretty special place. You just need to focus on the positive things. Same as I need to do when I get back home. I’m looking forward to that 🤗.

That’s how I would like to grow old, sitting on a bench with my love looking out to sea.

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