Summer 2023 Road Trip: Part 3 – Saltburn-by-the-Sea

This is the third post in the series about our summer 2023 road trip, where we stayed in the Lake District, the Tweed Valley and Saltburn-by-the-Sea (this post).

After picking up cakes from the bakery in Peebles, we started the drive south, back to England. After enjoying our visit to Birdoswald Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall on the way to Peebles, we decided to stop at Corbridge Roman Town just across the English border. We had not checked that there would be a cafe – so it was a good job that we had picked up some cakes before we left! We ate our “lunch” sat amongst the ruins of the Roman town. The boys loved clambering over the ruins as they played hide and seek. I much prefer this sort of historic attraction to one that is all roped off. What struck me about the town was how well-engineered things were, with buildings with raised platforms for storing grain, and water systems. And of course that these were still visible two thousand years later! From Corbridge we carried on south, skirting around Newcastle and catching a glimpse of the Angel of the North, and as we got nearer to Saltburn, eventually arriving on roads familiar from our trip to Staithes last year.

We arrived in Saltburn too early to check in to our Airbnb, but we were able to park on the street outside, and went straight down to the beach – the boys had been looking forward to it all holiday! The tide was in, so there was no space to build sandcastles, but it was great for jumping in the waves. When we visited Saltburn last year we had fish and chips at The Seaview Restaurant, however, it had been featured on a BBC food programme, so is now super popular, and we could not get a table. Last year, we spotted Tomahawk Steakhouse across the road, so we booked into there instead. It was a good move – the food was great, and we had a nice sea view. Whilst we were waiting for our food we saw a fire on the headland in the distance, which started to get bigger. By the time we had finished our main courses, the fire brigade had arrived to put it out.

As we finished our dinner, it became clear that there was going to be an epic sunset, so I rushed back to the flat to grab my camera and tripod, for a photography session on the beach. Saltburn is one of the few places on the east coast of England where the sun sets into the sea, as the town faces north, so I was hoping for some epic photos. I was probably a few minutes too late for the best, golden, light, but stuck around on the beach for another hour or so and was rewarded with a lovely pink and purple sunset. I mainly shot around the pier, and my favourite composition was directly under it, with a neutral density filter on my lens to give a longer shutter time to blur the water. But when I got the pictures onto my laptop, I preferred the one at the top of this post, looking back at the pier and the pink sky, again with a neutral density filter to blur the water. As I wanted to move quickly, I had only taken my camera, with standard zoom, tripod and filters with me – which I regretted as I climbed the steps up from the beach to be met by a crowd lined up to photograph the “Super Blue Moon” over the headland, which had earlier been on fire. Nonetheless, it was probably my best photography session of the year.

The plan for the last full day of our holiday had been to have a beach day – but the weather did not agree with our plan! As it was a bit grey and windy, we had a quiet morning at the flat before trying to get a table for lunch at the Sea View Restaurant, again our plans were scuppered, this time by an extremely long queue. So we went for a round of mini-golf, to see if the queue went down at all. It did not. After our round of mini-golf, which I won, the queue was even bigger! Instead, we got a takeaway, and sat on the beach to eat it – the fish and chips were good, even if the boys did not really appreciate them. We also managed to avoid any seagull attacks. In the afternoon we returned to the beach. It was cold, but the boys still managed to do some digging, whilst Jen and I wrapped ourselves up against the wind. The boys and I also had a windy game of frisbee. As the beach at Saltburn is lower than the town, there are a lot of steps to climb back up. Fortunately, there is also a Victorian cliff railway to take you back to the town – we made use of this to get back to our Airbnb. Walking back, we noticed that the corner shop at the top of our road had a great butcher/deli/cake counter, so we picked up some things for a light dinner and some cakes for afternoon tea. Although it was not the beach day that we had hoped for, it was nice to have a relaxing day. In the evening Owen and I went out for a walk with our cameras. The light was not as good as the previous evening, but it was still nice to get out together.

Before setting off for home, we had another little walk around Saltburn stopping to pick up breakfast at another little bakery, where their “meal deal” meant it was cheaper for us to also pick up some cakes! We ate our breakfast (but not the cakes) on a bench overlooking the sea, which was a really nice way to end our time in Saltburn. We broke up our journey home with another English Heritage stop – at Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, chosen because it had a playground and cafe, and only added a few minutes to our route. It was nice to explore the gardens and stretch our legs, but I think we were all quite keen to get back home by this point, so did not stay for too long.

I feel like this whole road trip has been one of our best family holidays. Heading north for our main summer holiday was always going to be a risk, but other than our planned beach day, the weather was mostly pretty good, in particular the days we were in Scotland. The multiple-stop road trip is my favourite type of holiday, but not always easy with small children, now that the boys are older it worked really well. We managed to keep all the drives below two hours so the boy did not get too bored. Despite it being our longest trip with the boys, and also having bikes and kit for all of us, we managed to pack sensibly and did not have to perform much “van Jenga”. We packed smaller cases for both the Lake District and Saltburn, only emptying the van fully when we were in Peebles. We wanted to try a UK road trip as a trial run for a future European road trip, and other than the longer distances involved I think that it will work well. As we were driving home, one of my main takeaways from the holidays was how much I enjoyed visiting all the small bakeries. The thing is, that we actually have a really nice bakery near our house, so we are going to make an effort to go there more and keep the holiday feelings going.

Costa Rica: Tamarindo Sunset

Tamarindo Sunset

I’m still working through images from my trip to Costa Rica (renovating a house, is taking up most of my free time at the moment), but I’m getting there! This sunset was captured in Tamarindo, the last place we stayed and there’s just something I really like about it, so I thought it was worth blogging. The photo isn’t technically perfect, in fact it was taken on my Canon Powershot S90 compact camera, but I really like the colours of the sea and the sky (I did accentuate them a bit when processing the raw file) and it just makes me want to be back in Costa Rica on the beach at sunset.

Costa Rica Day 8: Montezuma to Malpais

Santa Teresa Sunset

Before we left for Malpais, we had one thing left to do in Montezuma, go to the waterfall. We decided to go before breakfast, to try and get there before it got too busy. This plan worked well, on the way up we only saw a couple on their way down, who said something to us in Spanish that we didn’t understand, however, from the look on their faces it wasn’t “It’s an easy walk and the water is warm”. So we did what any one would do, and carried on up the waterfall. We eventually got to a section where we couldn’t see a way through, but there was a path heading up the hill, we followed that for 5 minutes with the path getting steeper, gnarlier and further away from the river, so we called it and headed back down. When we got back to the river we saw a group on the opposite side on an actual path, that we must have missed, so we crossed the river and took their route and we were at the waterfall within 10 minutes. A local girl got to the waterfall just behind us, before we could get our rucksacks off she was in the water, telling us how refreshing it was and as quickly as she’d got in the water she was out and off up to the next waterfall, leaving us on our own to enjoy the waterfall. I got in for a swim and it was very refreshing after the hard walk up, it was deep too, other than the rock I’d walked in on, I couldn’t touch the bottom. We were visited by a small grey and white bird, which would sit right next to us, until I’d got my camera out. With the arrival of a group of American girls we decided to leave as we’d enjoyed having the waterfall to ourselves, so we walked back to town for a Heuvos Rancheros breakfast over looking the beach.

The transfer to the Santa Teresa part of Malpais where we’re staying was pretty uneventful, we opted for a taxi rather than getting the bus as we feared that our hotel would be at the top of a hill and if was way too hot to be going up hills with our full rucksacks.

Arriving at the Funky Monkey lodge, it wasn’t up a really big hill (just a little one), but we were a bit concerned about just how open our cabin was, both to the elements and small biting creatures (we’ve both managed to attract a few bites, despite using insect repellant so strong it has damaged my watch), but other than that the hotel looks great and everyone is very friendly. I’ll post tomorrow and let you know if we survived.

As it was the hottest part of the day we decided not to do much more than walking to the beach and getting lunch. At the beach the tide was out, but it was so clear and warm, more so than at Montezuma. After a quick paddle we headed back into town for lunch, then back to our cabin to chill out for a bit, as that is really all you can do in the mid afternoon heat here. As even not moving wasn’t helping we went up to the pool to cool off further, whilst swimming we were able to watch monkeys, including a baby clinging to its mother’s back, swinging through the trees no more than 10m away. There were also humming birds, lizards and squirrels, so more wildlife than we had seen in any of the reserves.

After our swim we walked down to the beach to catch the sunset, with a west facing beach and the next landmass being the Philippines I had high hopes. It seemed like the whole of Santa Teresa had gone down to the beach to watch the sunset and it was great sitting there with Jen as the sun dipped behind the horizon.

As we’re running a bit low on funds we decided to get a taxi up to Malpais where the ATMs are and have dinner at that side of town. Both the ATMs were empty, but we had a great dinner at an Argentinian barbecue restaurant, we’d been pulled in by the smell from the meat the chef was grilling over the biggest indoor fire I’d seen.