The drive towards Scarborough was very pleasant and didn't take long, but when I hit the outskirts I wondered if I'd made a good decision - there was a queue of very slow moving traffic snaking all the way down the road as far as I could see, and I had no choice but to join it. I crawled along at snails pace, and I was just beginning to get fed up when I saw a sign for parking, so I pulled out of the queue and headed down towards the sea front. And it was when I got there that I realised one of the reasons for all the traffic - hundreds of scooters and motorbikes, with part of the promenade cordoned off for them to park, and riders buzzing about all over the place. It must have been one of the biggest scooter rallies in this country. Any hope of parking near there was non-existant, so I drove right along the promenade to the far end at North Bay and back, but there wasn't a parking space to be found anywhere. By then I was just about losing the will to live, and I didn't really fancy the idea of getting back in that traffic queue to see if I could park in the town, so I decided to give up, drive back to the camp site, have a brew, and decide on a change of plan. And it was as I was heading back through the outskirts I saw a parking sign pointing down a street on my left, so I thought I would have one last attempt at finding a space - and I was so glad I did. The street went down to the cliff top, and there at the end was a large car park with only half a dozen cars in it - and best of all it was free! There was a time limit of three hours though but I could do a lot in that time, so I parked up by the grass verge and took stock of my surroundings. In front of me the sloping grassy cliff side was traversed by several paths which meandered through trees and bushes, and over to my left was South Bay and the castle headland in the distance.
It looked like I was in for a good walk though, so not wanting to waste too much time I gave the dogs a drink then set out along one of the cliff side paths, following the sign for the Italian Garden. My route took me through a very pleasant wooded area and then into the garden itself, which contained a central pond with a statue, bright flower beds and stone terraces, each end of the garden being an exact replica of the other.
From there I climbed several sets of steps up through the trees and came out in a nice cliff top garden with a central clock tower and yet more lovely flower beds. Across the road was a building which I suppose was quite famous in a way - it masqueraded as the hospital in the tv series The Royal, and although many years ago it actually was a hospital it eventually became a care home and is now private apartments. I think the makers of the programme must have done a bit of computer-generated jiggery pokery with the shots of it though, as it's nowhere near as big as it looks on the tv.
From the gardens I walked along the cliff top and down a winding path which brought me out at the Spa complex at the end of the promenade, where all the scooters were parked. The place was absolutely heaving with people and I had a job to get through the crowds milling around the scooters, but I managed it without either of the dogs getting stood on and emerged onto the promenade proper. My aim was to concentrate solely on the South Bay area and walk along just as far as the harbour before retracing my steps - I hadn't seen any car park officials where I left the van but I didn't want to risk outstaying my time, so I would return and explore the North Bay area another day.
The Spa complex itself had been modernised but the rest of the promenade looked to be pretty much the same as I remembered it from years ago, though the amusement places looked much brighter and more colourful and there seemed to be more cafes. Even the old cliff lift was still in operation - more than once, while on holiday in my teens, I set off at the top and ran all the way down the steps at the side to see if I could beat it to the bottom!
The combination of a bank holiday and excellent weather had brought holidaymakers out in droves and there were people everywhere - there were so many that if viewed from a plane they would have looked like a huge army of colourful ants crawling across the promenade, and the beach was absolutely packed with families enjoying the sun. I don't remember ever seeing Scarborough so busy, but then it was a long time since I was last there. Weaving my way through the throngs I finally reached the harbour which was much quieter, and after wandering round and taking a few photos I sat near the lighthouse for a while. The sun was quite hot and I was so warm that I wished I had put my cycling shorts and beach sandals on instead of the track suit pants and trainers I was wearing - I would probably have got a tan if I'd stayed there for any length of time. Soon though it was time to make my way back, and I was just about to cross the road in search of a can of Coke when a line of scooter riders came past - I don't know how many there were but one after another they passed, their mirrors glinting in the sunlight, and it took several minutes for them all to go through. For anyone who likes that sort of thing it was quite a spectacle, but it does nothing for me so I abandoned the Coke idea and just headed straight back along the promenade.
When I arrived back at the van I gave the dogs a much needed drink then went and got my own much needed can of Coke from the catering wagon situated at the top end of the car park - I had well over half an hour left before I needed to move, so I sat on the grass in front of the van while I enjoyed my Coke and pondered on what I was going to do next. The dogs really needed a decent walk and a run round, so I decided to drive back to Filey and go to Filey Brigg country park where there would be plenty of space for them to run and explore - when I put it to the vote the tail wags told me they were in agreement, so I loaded them back in the van and headed off out of Scarborough. It didn't take long to get back to Filey and once I reached the country park I got a ticket from the machine near the entrance then found a convenient parking space. I had only been there once before, very briefly, and I didn't remember much about it other than there's a cafe which did a very nice milky coffee, so I was quite surprised to find that the area was more extensive than I first thought.
Close to where I parked was a lane leading down through trees and signposted Coble Landing, which I knew was at the north end of the promenade, so I decided to have a walk round the headland first then go down there afterwards. The dogs really enjoyed running through the grass and exploring in the bushes and we had a good walk round before I put them back on their leads to go down to the promenade. Coble Landing is a tarmac roadway and a wide cobbled slipway leading from the end of the promenade down onto the beach - on one side there are a couple of cafes and amusements places and on the other are several fishing boats on trailers, lined up alongside the sea wall. I could have got a couple of really colourful photographs but there were far too many people about so I had to be happy with taking some shots from the end of the slipway instead.
By this time I was feeling quite peckish, but rather than wait till I got back to my awning I thought I would sample the coffee and cake at the cafe in the country park so I made my way back up there, and tying Sophie and Sugar to the rail near an outside table I went in to order. I chose and paid for a wicked-looking slice of chocolate cake and a milky coffee then went to sit outside and wait for its arrival. The cake, when it came, was lovely and moist with a delicious topping and it was really very nice, but I must admit to being slightly disappointed with the coffee. On the previous occasion when I had been to that cafe the coffee had been made with milk and was really nice, but this was just normal coffee with lots of milk in it. Maybe the cafe has changed hands and things are done differently now, or maybe the assistant was having an 'off' day, I don't know - however I didn't let that put me off, and if ever I go there again I'll try another one before deciding it's not for me.
With the coffee and cake dispatched, and the time almost up on my parking ticket, I untied the dogs from the rail, made my way to the van and set off back to the camp site. When I arrived the large family next door were preparing a communal meal in their cooking area and one of the young men was stirring what looked like a copious amount of chilli in a huge pan the size of a dustbin lid. I got chatting to them over their windbreak, and far from being the 'family from hell' as I'd initially thought the day before, they turned out to be very friendly people. After a while I disappeared into my awning, and apart from taking the dogs for a short walk before bedtime I didn't venture out again. I could only get four rubbish channels on my tv and my laptop had decided it didn't want to work properly, so I spent the hours before bedtime reading a book.
My plans for the following day were simple - I would go back to Scarborough and explore North Bay (if the weather was good of course) but this time I would get there early so I would have a chance of getting a parking space on the promenade where I needed to be. And I would be paying another visit to that free car park as there was one thing puzzling me - why had I only seen the sign for it when I was on my way out of Scarborough and not on the way in? This was something which most definitely had to be checked out!