Well what I meant to say was … Saltburn is a sweet little town with a busy bandstand and a pod of dolphins cavorting for our entertainment, though it was a faintly depressing walk in through a dismal housing estate and past a group of yellow vested young offenders making amends tidying and digging. It all had a Tony Hancock Sunday afternoon feeling. But maybe that was just us. We’d had a long haul in from somewhere delightful on the moors through a forest whose footpaths didn’t resemble any of our assorted guidebooks. It was down to the Forestry Commission doing their thing and churning it all up. It was pretty much “Here be dragons’ , but we made it through with only minor cuts and abrasions.
The weather was set fair and the moment arrived which happens every year when I look to send stuff home. Such was my head before the walk – brain scramble might describe it – I brought far too much kit. So I bagged it up and, thanks to Around Me, found a post office in Skinningrove – it was Monday morning and they were super friendly and helpful. They gave me a bin bag, labelled it and sent my extra (and dirty) kit home. The women behind the counter were friendly and concerned and advised us to ‘Hug the fence girls’ as we were approaching Boulby Clifftop the highest point of the East Coast of England.
Runswick – a very welcome pot of tea and cake. And onto Sandsend and a very smart hotel. Before then though, an adventure.
Remember Jim. He grew up round here and knew the area well and had told us excitedly of a number of disused railway tunnels he was planning to investigate and do some recording. We hadn’t seen him for a while but came upon him just as he had discovered one of them. Down an embankment, through more rough stuff and plentiful cowpats. We followed him just for a look. The most appealing aspect of this tunnel, for him, was that it curved in the middle and just for a few moments it was impossible to see the light from either end.
Don’t ask me why but we climbed in after him. As we followed Helen said to me, “Do you realise Verity we are going in to a dark disused tunnel with a man who carries an axe?”
But there was no backing out now. We advanced feeling our eyes open wider and wider to accommodate the darkness. We had a headtorch and he stormed on ahead with his torch which showed up piles of rubble and bricks and human detritus. We carried our poles, our best hope in a fight. Not that we distrusted him, he was a decent guy we were fairly sure. But it became clear that other people had been there too. What would we find?
Actually it was just a long dark tunnel. We reached that black midpoint and it was scary, but worse still was the realisation when we reached the other end and realised there was no way we could climb the embankment to reach the footpath. Back through the tunnel was the only way. And Jim has disappeared up a side tunnel recording dropping water and echoes, we saw his torch flickering, shouted our farewells and quickmarched and climbed out onto the welcoming cowpats. Helen made it through first and just as I began my scramble over the fallen brick and wire I thought of all those films when the last survivor of a zombi infestation is grabbed from behind, and falls back into their greedy clutches. Helen imagined addicts and lonely death in a dark tunnel.
I dreaded zombies.