When I finally got away from the roundabout there was hardly anything left on the road - everyone must have gone to the car boot - so the rest of my journey was quick and uneventful. And as I passed through the outskirts of the town I realised why I hadn't found that free car park on my way in the previous day - there was a large sign for it opposite the road you turn down but the arrow pointing to the right had been covered over, meaning people just drove straight on. Crafty Scarborough Council! - they obviously don't want people to know about the free car park; they want everyone to drive into the centre and pay to park! Of course the sign on the other side of the road isn't covered over because anyone seeing it is by then on their way out of town and has already parked and paid for the privelage! That's certainly one to remember if I ever go there again in the future.
With the car park puzzle solved I continued through the top end of the town centre and out onto the road heading to the North Bay - at one point I thought I had taken a wrong turn as nothing looked familiar and it seemed to be taking a long while to get there, but when I came to the top of a hill and saw part of Peasholm Park at the bottom I knew I was on the right road. I drove down the hill and round onto the promenade, and bingo!, not too far along were any number of vacant parking spaces, so it looked like my early start had paid off in spite of the delay on the way there. With no traffic on the road to interrupt my manoeuvre I reversed the van into place and went to get a ticket from the machine, then gave the dogs a drink before setting off to explore.
My first port of call was Scalby Mills, right at the northern end of the promenade. Back in 1971 I had stayed with my parents at a small holiday camp there, and though I knew that the camp had long since disappeared I was interested to know what, if anything, was in its place. The first major change I saw was right at the beginning of the pedestrianised part of the promenade - where the single storey Corner Cafe complex had existed for many many years the North Bay had been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century by its demolition in 2007, and the subsequent erection of a large modern four-storey block of holiday apartments curving round the corner, with shops and a cafe at street level. Further along the promenade the old and dated wooden beach huts had been replaced by two rows of brightly painted new huts which added quite a splash of colour to the area.
Walking along past the Sea Life Centre I finally reached the end of the promenade and the area of Scalby Mills, where Scalby Beck runs down into the sea. This was very much as I remembered it, the only difference being that the rickety old wooden bridge across the beck had been replaced by a concrete one with metal railings. It's always been quite a popular place for kids to paddle and dogs to swim but there was hardly anyone around just then. Crossing the bridge I climbed the steps at the other side and took the path onto the cliff top, where I followed it for several hundred yards with the dogs running free before turning round and retracing my steps.
Back across the beck I followed the road up the hill to where I knew the holiday camp used to be on another area of the cliff top. A path to my right led to a small private housing development which occupied the land where the camp had once been, and where the owner's large house had once stood there was now a row of four smaller white-walled modern houses with upper balconies which would give a view over the bay. I stood at the end of the path for several minutes, looking at the houses in front of me, remembering the holiday camp and letting my memories wash over me.......the chalet my parents and I had stayed in back in July 1971, with a double bed which folded down from the wall........the famous wrestler Giant Haystacks who had been the main attraction in the club's wrestling tournament, and whose autograph I had got......the two brown bear cubs I had bottle fed.......getting to know the entertainment staff and helping out in the projection box when films were shown in the cinema.......and the local boy who I fell madly in love with for two weeks. His mother owned a big hotel near the town centre and his father was an RAF Wing Commander. He had hopes of becoming a chef, and a few times over the years I've wondered if he ever made it. Remembering all these things and more gave me an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia and I would have loved to have been transported, if only for a little while, back to that summer when I was just seventeen and hadn't a care in the world. But that wasn't possible, and my reverie was broken by Sophie jumping up and telling me she wanted to be going - it was time to put my memories back in their box and return to the present.
Walking back down the hill I retraced my steps part way along the promenade then took the path which led through Northstead Manor Gardens, taking me past the lake and the Open Air Theatre and emerging opposite Peasholm Park. Taking my life, and that of the dogs, in my hands I crossed the very busy main road and went into the park, following the path to the lakeside. And what a wonderful riot of colour met my eyes! The surrounding trees were resplendent in their fresh green foliage, cherry trees were full of pink blossom, the bright green grass of the lawns was dotted with white daisies and the flower beds were a profusion of bright red tulips and yellow bedding plants. The water in the lake was a mixture of large blue and green patches reflected from the surrounding trees and the sky above, and a constant parade of brightly coloured dragon boats sailed past, propelled by the efforts of whoever was pedalling. The whole scene looked just like a rich bright oil painting brought to life, and as I walked round with the camera I fired off shot after shot.
Walking round to the far side of the lake I decided to do something I had never had the opportunity to do before - go over onto the island and see what was there. Crossing the bridge I stopped for a moment to watch the progress of some dragon boats in the lake below, then continued and turned left, following the path past the waterfall with the Chinese pagoda at the top and round to the other side of the island, where the grass beneath the trees was covered in a carpet of daisies. Half a dozen geese were chilling out in a patch of sunlight, though one of them took exception to Sophie and Sugar and rushed at us to scare us off but it didn't work. Ignoring the geese I climbed the steps up to the top of the island and was rewarded with a lovely surprise - a pretty and very peaceful Chinese garden, with a path all the way round and a pond in the centre crossed by a couple of oriental bridges, and surrounded by trees and shrubs with stone ornaments dotted here and there. It really was lovely, and I spent quite a while wandering round taking photos.
All this photography and wandering was getting to be thirsty work though, and knowing there was a cafe over by the widest part of the lake I decided to head over there for some coffee and - yes, you've guessed it - cake. It was very busy and most of the outside tables were occupied but I managed to find just one which was free, so tying the dogs to the nearby rail I went inside to order, hoping that no-one would sit at the table while I was away from it. I think Sugar must have decided keep watch over it for me though, as the minute I got out of her sight she started barking and didn't shut up till I appeared again - and the table was still free. It was very pleasant sitting in the sunshine with my coffee and cake and I lingered for a while afterwards, taking in the view and watching other people enjoying their day.
However, as nice as it was sitting there watching the rich tapestry of life unfolding in front of me, I had other places to explore, so untying the dogs from the rail I made my way down the terrace and back round the far side of the lake, emerging from the park not far from the promenade. Following one of several paths which traversed the nearby cliff side I headed in the direction of the castle, stopping to take a couple of photos on the way.
I couldn't remember much about the castle itself, but one thing I did remember was going there while on holiday with my parents when I was about eight years old and there were lots of ladybirds about. I don't know if there had been a sudden influx of them that summer but they were everywhere. Not that I had minded at the time, I like ladybirds. I reached the castle after quite a long walk, and although it's dog friendly I decided against going into the actual grounds as, through sheer fascination, I would have stayed there longer than I intended. Instead I just walked round the outside of the perimiter wall as far as I could before following a path down towards the promenade.
The path brought me out near the harbour in South Bay, which was a long way from where I'd parked the van in North Bay, so it looked like I was in for a good walk along Marine Drive to get back to it. It took me almost twenty minutes walking at a good pace, and when I finally arrived back there the dogs and I were more than ready for a drink. Once we had all quenched our thirst I put them back in the van and set off south along the promenade, out of Scarborough and into the next part of my day.