So, the long, hot days of Summer are officially over, the kids and grand-kids are back at school and we are in that lovely time of year featuring warm, sunny days before the cool of Autumn leads to jumper season.
Taking a mid-September day trip on a blue-skied day, we headed for our favourite spot, Whitby, of which I have written previously.
Our aim was to have a good lunch in another favourite destination, just two miles shy of Whitby, in the small village of Ruswarp, before heading to the coast.
We have visited the Ruswarp Riverside Café for many years and I was wary of revealing it far and wide in case it became too widely known. The secret is now out however and it is one of two secrets I have been keeping.
For car drivers heading for the east coast from the west of Pickering I can point towards one of the best kept secrets in Yorkshire. It is so little known, that not many people outside the immediate area know of it.
A drive that must rank as one of the world’s finest scenic routes. I do not exaggerate.
Take the minor road out of Pickering past the NYM railway station and continue over the level crossing at New Bridge. From there the road becomes largely single track with passing places and soon crosses undulating moorland. Pass through Newton on Rawcliffe and Stape to Key Green and then either along the Esk Valley or turn right through Goathland (Aidensfield in Heartbeat), and left through Beck Hole. Both ways end up in glorious Whitby.
You will encounter 360 degree panoramic views of a rolling inland sea of purple heather which is simply stunning. The heather is at its’ best from mid-July and into September, though on my most recent drive in mid-September, there were only wisps of purple left, the remainder being a magnificent palette of bronze and copper, stretching from horizon to horizon. There are plenty of opportunities for secluded picnics.
On some long stretches, you will not see a single man-made structure.
You will pass tinkling streams with rock pools, hidden valleys, fords, plenty of sheep and towards the end of this magnificent drive, superb sea views. What you will not encounter are crowds of people or lots of traffic.
Ruswarp is encountered by turning right from the A169 at Sleights, with the river Esk on your right. This is a salmon river, so clean is the water.
Park at the free car park of the 7 ¼ “ gauge miniature railway and take the 100 metre trackside walk through a sylvan scene of weeping willow trees to arrive at the front door of the café.
The menu is displayed at the entrance to the riverside gardens, adjacent to the prominent van where you place your order.
The menu ranges from hot bacon sandwiches to a variety of cold ones, accompanied by home-made coleslaw, the freshest of salads, crisps and cherry tomatoes, all from £7.95.
The white meat only fresh Whitby crab mayo in brown bread at £9 a plate was phenomenal value. We had recently been to St. Ives in Cornwall where crab sandwiches in a roll without the trimmings were up to £14. There are quiches, home-made cakes and scones, whilst the afternoon tea at £14.95 p.p. is an excellent, eye-popping treat.
On cooler or rainy days, the café has an immaculately kept interior, with a black and red tiled floor and dark-wood furniture. It is a cosy refuge.
Yorkshire Tea (what else?) is served as standard, alongside beautiful coffees as well as draught beers, wines and spirits.
The staff are warm and welcoming and always up for a chat.
It is the riverside setting, as well as the gorgeous food that sets this place apart for us. There is a terrace with wooden tables on the water’s edge where ducks and the occasional gull will take great interest in your food selection.
The grassed lawns are also laid out with wooden tables and parasols, shielded at the edges by bushes.
You can watch salmon leaping for insects from your seat, whilst a keen eye may spot the turquoise flash of a kingfisher.
The occasional steam train from the North York Moors Railway can be seen chugging past the opposite bank of the river too. Idyllic.
Not just a café, the miniature railway is a delight for kids (and some dads and grand-dads) whilst there is also kayak and rowing boats for hire.
To top it all, there are seven wonderful on-site riverside cottages for hire.
After a terrifically relaxing lunch it was on to Whitby. A mile long paddle on the West beach, a stroll around the old town to the pier, the purchase of a couple of famous Whitby Lemon Buns from Botham’s and a coffee on the West Cliff top before heading home via Radford’s butchers at Sleights for his award winning black pudding, rounded off a perfect day.
The secrets are out.
Further details can be found at www.chainbridgeriverside.com/cafe whilst sat-navvers will find it at YO21 1RL, but don’t forget the scenic drive first!