Meeting James and Jo

Exploring England #36

The list of notables who come from Yorkshire is long. Through the centuries many English inventors, entertainers, artists and writers along with those who have excelled in their chosen sport and those who were saintly have been Yorkshire born and bred. Explorers feature prominently. Helen Sharman, the first British astronaut, and Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from Britain to Australia, are on the list.

In a single day we met two of Yorkshire’s famous wanderers; the 18th century navigator and cartographer Captain James Cook and the lovely lady known to many of us as Restless Jo.

Our first contact with James Cook was at the the Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby.

He lodged in this 17th century house as a merchant navy apprentice from 1746 to 1749. Here he learned the skills of navigation, trigonometry and astronomy he would later use in his explorations in the Pacific Ocean. The museum’s extensive collection of Cook memorabilia includes letters and maps detailing his three great voyages of discovery. Of most interest to us was his first voyage, from 1768 to 1771 in HMS Endeavour, when he circumnavigated New Zealand and mapped the east coast of Australia. We imagined a young James Cook looking out over Whitby Harbour from the attic window, dreaming of future adventures on the high seas.

We found Captain Cook again, at the top of North Terrace in Whitby, gazing out over the North Sea. Depicted with his nautical mapping instruments, the statue pays homage to his status as one of history’s greatest cartographers.

We met Jo and her husband Mick in Great Ayton, the town where James Cook lived as a boy and attended the Postgate School from 1736 to 1740. The original building no longer exists but another constructed in 1785 in the same materials now houses the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum. Near the School on the High Green is a statue of Cook as a school boy.

Of course, cake and a walk are obligatory when spending an afternoon with Jo.

We shared a delicious afternoon tea at Stamps Coffee Shop before driving out of town to Gribdale Gate. Here a wide path led up onto Easby Moor to another monument to Captain Cook. Erected in 1827, this towering obelisk looks across the heather to Roseberry Topping where Cook often walked as a young boy, his thirst for exploration already evident.

There was one big difference between our travel-loving group and Captain Cook and his crew. Unlike James, who relied on artists to make detailed drawings of all he saw on his journeys, we waylaid a fellow sightseer and gave her our cameras. Memories of an adventure shared were captured in an instant.

Join Jo for Monday Walks

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36 thoughts on “Meeting James and Jo

  1. It’s fabulous Carol! Thank you so much for allying me with the inimitable Cook. So much has happened since then but Cook will go on looking out on those moors for many years to come. As I said on Messenger this morning I’m having enormous connectivity issues and am answering this on my phone. I need the prayer mat out for the Monday walk this week. Wish me luck and thanks again xx

  2. Wow, what great encounters with two famous explorers. What a pair! 😊 Of course Jo would entice you with cake and then lead you on a grand and scenic walk. I love your group picture. I recognize Jo and Mick and you, but who are the other two? Your husband and daughter, I presume?

  3. It’s good to know the Captain Cook was from Yorkshire – puts flesh on the bone, so to speak.
    I happened to see something about Cook just two days ago. I was working my way towards the shop in the British Museum and I was attracted to a collection of bone flat-sided clubs.

    One had the words ‘Brought by Cook’ and some dating information scribed on it. Wow – something once held by Cook. And I laughed at myself for being ‘starstruck’ but that’s how I felt.

  4. Nice photos of my home county. I’m a keen Cook fan too and have indeed been to Great Ayton and walked up to that obelisk and onwards to Roseberry Topping (such a romantic name) again in wintry weather!
    Jo is such an elegant lady isn’t she? Such long legs – no wonder she is forever rambling on…

  5. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Hovingham | restlessjo

  6. Lovely photos of you all. Lucky you to go a walking with Jo, not to mention the tea and delicious cake. πŸ™‚ Carol, you really are the ‘eternal traveller’, aren’t you? I never know where you’re going to turn up next. xx

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