Tag Archives: Yorkshire

A Viaduct, Wensleydale Cheese and a Castle

After a second hearty Yorkshire breakfast we settled our account at the New Inn at Clapham and began our journey east across the Dales.

One structure that I have always wanted to see is the Ribblesdale railway viaduct and as it was conveniently close by we (I) took that route and we arrived there after about thirty minutes, high up in the Yorkshire Dales with a fierce wind that filled our lungs, tugged at our clothes and rearranged our hair.

The Ribblehead Viaduct or Batty Moss Viaduct carries the Settle–Carlisle railway across Batty Moss Valley and was built by the Midland Railway a hundred and fifty years or so ago, it is 28 miles north-west of Skipton and 26 miles south-east of Kendal and is a Grade II listed structure.

The land underneath and around the viaduct is a scheduled ancient monument. Because it was so far from any major settlements the workers and their families lived in three navvy settlements called Sebastopol and Belgravia and best of all Batty Wife Hole – there is an appropriate monument to commemorate them below the arches.

It may just be the most famous railway viaduct in the United Kingdom just because it is so panoramic but at four hundred and forty yards it is by no way the longest because that distinction belongs to the London Bridge – Greenwich Railway Viaduct which is an three and a half miles long.

At one hundred feet high it isn’t even the tallest because at seventy feet higher that is the Ballochmyle Viaduct in Scotland which carries the former Glasgow and South Western Railway line between Glasgow and Carlisle.

It may not be the longest or the tallest but it is almost certainly the most photogenic, a fact that requires car parks to be provided close by, thankfully without charge. On a blustery mid morning in October the car park was surprisingly full but I when a steam train comes through and amateur photographers descend upon the place in their droves then I imagine finding a parking spot might be very difficult indeed.

There were no theatrical steam trains today but we were delighted to see a scheduled diesel service obligingly cross the viaduct for us.

Moving on we drove east now into the heart of the Dales towards the town of Hawes in Wensleydale. The Dales is one of the twelve National parks of England and Wales. The area is so called because it is a collection of river valleys and the hills in between them. ‘Dale’ incidentally comes from a Viking word for valley.

Most of the dales in the Yorkshire Dales are named after their river or stream, Swaledale, Wharfedale, Ribbledale etc. but not Wensleydale which is named after the small village and former market town of Wensley, rather than the River Ure, although an older name for the dale is in fact Yoredale.

The Yorkshire Dales rivers all run west to east from the Pennines draining into the River Ouse. The Ouse is in fact a continuation of the River Ure, and the combined length of of 129 miles makes it (after the Severn, the Thames, the Trent, the Wye and the Great Ouse) the sixth longest river of the United Kingdom and the longest to flow entirely in one county. The Ouse eventually joins the Trent to become the Humber Estuary and drains away into the North Sea.

It was around about now that we started to have difficulty with the car satellite navigation system that began to make some very unusual route choices that led to some demanding driving conditions and a lot of cussing.

It is a new car and it subsequently turns out that Volkswagen have problems with the car software operating systems including the satellite navigation which apparently works well if you are in the Black Forest but not in the Yorkshire Dales, or anywhere else in the UK it seems. 

I have returned the car several times in the four weeks that I have owned it but so far no fix.

Hawes is a charming little town and we stayed for a while, walked along its quaint streets, bought some local produce from independent retailers and finished at the famous creamery and stocked up on Wensleydale Cheese.  I like Wensleydale cheese it is especially good on cheese on toast.

We were heading now towards our weekend accommodation near Leyburn but we found time to take a look at Castle Bolton where Mary, Queen of Scots was held prisoner for six months in 1568. There wasn’t time enough to visit and there was an inevitable car parking charge so staying true to being a skinflint we just moved on.

After all, I had visited Castle Bolton before, around about twenty five years ago with my children…

… and then again five years ago with my grandchildren…

A Skinflint in The Yorkshire Dales

We planned a few days away in the Yorkshire Dales but the trip began rather badly when we woke on day of departure to grey leaden skies that hung like a wet army blanket and heavy persistent rain that stubbornly refused to move on.

The weather was quite simply appalling and the first part of the journey north on the A1 was spoilt by continuous stair-rod rain that meant any plans that we might have had just had to be abandoned. I don’t mind getting wet but I draw the line at getting drenched.  These days I won’t even play golf in the rain.

As we approached the elegant town of Harrogate there were some breaks in the weather so with a little optimism we diverted from our planned route and made our way to the Brimham Rocks which is a geological feature left over from three hundred and twenty five million years ago (that is an awfully long time, even older than Mick Jagger) and with subsequent erosion have assumed twisted and contorted surreal sculptures with grotesque and unusual shapes.

The Brimham Rocks is a National Trust Site and the National Trust sure know how to charge. The minimum rate in the car park was £6 which is completely outrageous. It isn’t even a proper car park, no tarmac, just a muddy puddled field. My blogging pal John Knifton has this to say about the National Trust…

“It’s quite amazing how much they dare charge. The last time we went to Godrevy in Cornwall, it was £7 to park in a field and that was nine years ago. Again, very little to maintain. The cars kept the grass down.”

I was once a member of the National Trust but in 2020 in the middle of the pandemic and the  national lock-down when nothing was open to visit they invited me to renew my membership for the full price without any discount. Without any discount.  I turned down their obscenely less than generous offer.  Thanks to Covid I have now saved two years membership fees.

There are car parking charges everywhere now, it is a giant rip off, I read recently that after Council Tax the biggest revenue streams for English councils is car parking charges. The National Trust slavishly follows their example.

There was no way in the world that I was going to pay £6 especially as the weather was looking rather dodgy again so we took a risk that the car park warden was on lunch break  and walked a short way into the rocks for twenty minutes or so which was enough really and then we returned to the car, satisfied ourselves that there was no parking offence ticket attached to the windscreen and  continued our journey.

The Brimham Rocks was almost like being in Jurassic Park and reminded me in a way of Arches National Park in Utah USA which I visited in 1995.  Clearly there is no need to fly four thousand miles to see rock sculptures.

I will go back again when the weather is better.

This wasn’t at all difficult but there was some considerable weather improvement as we drove further west but because of the change of plans we arrived far too early in the village of Clapham where we were staying at The New Inn so we drove a few miles further to the town of Ingleton.

Ingleton has a very fine railway viaduct which is now disused but continues to dominate the landscape and a circular walk which features a number of waterfalls.

I was shocked to find that there was a charge to take the walk of £8 each and there was no way that I was going to pay that especially as the weather continued to look decidedly unreliable so we abandoned that idea and with the savings that we had made today we bought a bottle of wine and some beer from the local Co-op and then made our way to Clapham.

In a complete transformation from earlier in the day the sun was shining now so after checking in and approving our accommodation we took a short stroll through the impeccable village which was perfect in an Emmerdale Farm sort of way.

More about waterfalls…

This is Hawdraw Force in Yorkshire that I visited in 2001, claimed to be the highest unbroken single drop waterfall in England.  I don’t know how much it cost to visit in 2001 but it is £4 now.

This is Aysgarth Falls near Leyburn in Yorkshire where car parking charges are £2.30 for two hours.

This is a the Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland that I visited in 2007 and has no charge but there was a long drive to get there…

So, let me tell you,  I didn’t feel as though I had badly missed out by not seeing the Ingleby Waterfalls.

Following the A1 North To The Wall

I have always been interested in road numbering in England. I once had an idea for a project which involved driving along some of the of the pre motorway routes, for example the Great North Road and the Fosse Way.

Kim has never really shared my enthusiasm for the project I have to say.

Recently we went north and I thought this an opportunity to drive a section of the Great North Road rather than use the modern A1 Motorway.

I digress here but a lot of people say that the A1 North is the best thing to come out of London and I have to say that altogether I agree with that.

We have a London centric country because of Roman transport policy . There is a saying that all roads lead to Rome and that may well be true but in England, thanks to the Romans all roads do actually lead to London.

They had six principal roads from London, Ermine Street that went North to York and then on to Hadrian’s Wall at Corbridge, Watling Street which went in one direction South-East to Dover and in the other North West to Chester, Slane Street that went to the South coast, Portway which went to Exeter in the South-West and then an unnamed road which ran to Carlisle also in the North.

I mention this because two thousand years later roads in England follow almost exactly the Roman routes. There are six single digit main roads in England. The A1 runs north more or less along the route of Ermine Street (although slightly to the west of it to avoid the Humber Estuary), the A2 goes to Dover along the southern section of Watling Street, the A3 follows the route of Slane Steet to Portsmouth, the A4 is the old Portway that goes to Exeter. The A5 is the northern section of Watling Street that runs to Chester and the modern A6 follows the Roman route from London to Carlisle.

Some people ask, what did the Romans ever do for us? Well, amongst other things they gave us our modern road network system.

This may have been what a Roman motorway service area might have looked like…

We started out early and drove east (which as it happens is the only way of Grimsby) using the modern motorway system, the M180, the M18 and the M62 but instead of joining the A1(M) we left at a junction to follow the Great North Road which doesn’t exactly follow a Roman Road but was constructed in the seventeenth century to join London with Edinburgh in Scotland and was one of the great coaching roads of Georgian England.

We drove monotonously (I am obliged to confess) through Knottingly, Ferrybridge, Fairburn, Micklefield and Aberford which were all bottleneck villages without any real appeal and we watched the traffic whiz by on the adjacent motorway as we encountered several hold ups and slow progress Kim’s limited enthusiasm for my project began to rapidly evaporate.

I persuaded her to stick with it until we reached the town of Wetherby where following my chosen route really did become a chore. We stopped for a while by the River Wharfe where I trod in some canine poo left there by some inconsiderate dog owner and then we carried on but this time using Kim’s preferred route the A1(M). The old Great North Road ran alongside for most of the route so I was obliged to agree that driving it was rather pointless.

However pointless, it seems that if I am to complete my project that I will probably have to do it alone.

We continued now along the A1(M) and left at junction 56 on to the B6275 which really does follow the route of a genuine Roman Road, Dene Street which went from York to Corbridge and to Hadrian’s famous Wall. There is even a Roman Bridge over the River Tees at the village of Piercebridge.

Leaving the Roman Road at Bishop Auckland we continued now to the city of Durham and then we continued to our chosen overnight accommodation at the Barrasford Arms in the village of of the same name close to the river Tyne.

Let me explain why…

I am a great fan of the 1970s TV sitcom “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads” and the Barrasford Arms featured in one of the episodes so for no better reason than that I wanted to stop there.

If I was compiling a top three of favourite TV sitcoms then “Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads” would definitely be in there along with…

“Dad’s Army”

and “Father Ted”

No one at the Barrasford Arms knew anything about the Likely Lads or seemed interested in what happened to them; well, it was almost fifty years ago and most of the staff were under thirty and from Eastern Europe.

It hasn’t changed a great deal over the years, Bob and Terry would still recognise it…

On This Day – Entertaining Grandchildren

In February 2017 my Grandchildren came to stay for a few days at school half term holiday.

 

I took them to the Yorkshire seaside town of Hornsea.

I live close to the sea myself, near the resort town of Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire but although it is a popular holiday resort it has to be said that it is just a muddy estuary where the sea is barely visible for long periods of the day.

By contrast, Hornsea ia a real North Sea coast town with a raging sea, barnacled groynes, pounding surf, churning water and a pebble beach clattering away as it was constantly rearranged by the tidal surge.

Read The Full Story Here…

Staycation 2020 – North and South of the Humber

Growing weary of the tedium of the lock-down and with holiday plans to Sicily in tatters we decided to meet with our friends and spend an evening together for a meal in a nearby pub. Kim tracked down an excellent deal of only £50 each for bed, breakfast and evening meal at a well recommended place with a two star AA rosette. Unlikely as it sounds owned by chef Colin McGurran who was a winner one time on ‘Great British Menu’.

It turned out to be a very good deal, placed on the south bank of the Humber Estuary, comfortable rooms, good views and an excellent meal. Kim had posh burger and I had East coast mussels.

The Hope and Anchor (above) is in the unfortunately named hamlet of Ferriby Sluice and is at the point where the River Ancholme drains into the Humber Estuary via a sluice gate and a set of locks. A hundred years or so ago it was a busy marina and a departure and return point for the leisure and packet boats that regularly used the Humber.

Boats have always left Ferriby (the clue is in the name). The Romans stopped here in Lincolnshire at the end of their great road, Ermine Street which linked London and Lincoln before continuing to the Humber and then crossed the river to the north bank to continue into Yorkshire. The Romans were famous for straight roads and the section from Lincoln to the Humber, a distance of thirty-five miles is one of the straightest in England.

Ferries on the Humber continued to be important until the construction of the Humber Bridge in 1981. 

After breakfast we walked for a while along the banks of the River Ancholme butI have to say that it is not an especially thrilling or picturesque sort of place, a carpet of smelly algae on the river (thank goodness for coronavirus masks), a redundant cement works and a marine breakers yard. It does however have a National Historic Ship – The Amy Howson, a sloop that once worked the Humber and the Rivers and tributaries along the way to towns and cities as far apart as Grimsby and Sheffield.

It was rather chilly so we didn’t stay long this morning before driving across the River Ancholme and away along the south bank of the Humber.

This was a day for crossing rivers and driving west we crossed the Trent and then turning north the Ouse, the third and fourth longest rivers in England (after the Severn and the Thames). We were more or less at the point where they converge to form the River Humber. Other rivers contribute as well, principally the Don and the Aire and we crossed those as well.

Actually, the Humber isn’t really a river at all because for its entire length of only forty miles or so it is tidal so technically it is an estuary (I only mention this here in case someone challenges me on this important point of detail).

It may be one of the shortest rivers in England but it is also one of the most important as it deals with natural drainage from everything on the east side of the Pennines, the North Midlands and the Yorkshire Moors.

We rather rudely passed through Goole, Britain’s furthest inland port without stopping, I must go back and visit one day, but today we continued to the market town of Howden, a place that I have wanted to visit for some time.

Howden is a small historic market town lying in the Vale of York in the East Riding of Yorkshire, three miles north of the port town of Goole, it regularly features in lists of desirable places to live and is high up on a standard of living index. I liked it immediately and not just for the fact that it has free car parking.

All roads in Howden lead to the attractive Market Place next to the ruins of the sixteenth century Abbey and Minster, one of thirteen in the county of Yorkshire. Here is a curious fact, Howden was granted to the Bishop of Durham by William the Conqueror in 1080 and the town remained an enclave of Durham until 1846.

I imagine the Minster was once a fine building but it lost its status during the Reformation, was vandalised by Parliamentary soldiers in the English Civil War, the roof collapsed in 1696 and over the next hundred years or so the site was looted for its stone for alternative construction projects in and about the town and whilst the Minster lies in ruins the town has a network of streets with very fine Georgian buildings.

The Minster is currently undergoing restoration and we found it closed today which may have been due to the work or alternatively the dreaded coronavirus.

We found the town very agreeable and liked it very much so we walked the streets of the historic centre before stopping for coffee and cake at a town centre tea shop. We left in mid-afternoon and followed a route along the north bank of the estuary before crossing over the Humber Bridge back to North Lincolnshire which completed our quest of crossing all major rivers of the area.

 

Staycation 2020 – Clifftop Walk to Port Mulgrave

The weather continued to improve.  Not enough to go to the beach which disappointed the children but enough to go for a walk which disappointed them even more.  I don’t know why I should be surprised by that, sixty years or so ago I expect I was just as reluctant to walk when on holiday with my parents.

From the cottage we walked down into the picturesque fishing village with its sash-windowed stone cottages with hanging gates and quirky names some bright with buoys and boat-shaped planters, seagulls squawking an unruly chorus on the rain shiny bird stained tiled roofs.

Staithes owes its existence to the fishing industry which, in its heyday, employed three hundred men and supported over one hundred boats. The whole village played an active part in the work, helping with repairing nets, baiting hooks and launching boats. When the railway opened in 1885, three trains per week transported Staithes fish to British cities. At the turn of the twentieth century steam trawlers from larger ports killed the locals’ livelihood, until only one full-time fisherman remained in the village.

At the Cod & Lobster pub, we turned on to Church Street and walked the steep uphill climb to join the Cleveland Way. I closed my ears to the complaints and offered the bribe of an ice cream upon our return.  Our legwork was amply rewarded at the top by breath-taking views of the coast and countryside and a spectacular view of the village and the harbour.

From there we continued along to Port Mulgrave, the path drifting dramatically close to the edge of the cliff top revealing continuous evidence of coastal erosion.  The problem is that this coastline really shouldn’t be here at all because it is made up of unconsolidated soft clay and small stones called glacial till that were scooped up from the sea bed by a glacier during the last ice age and dumped here as the ice eventually melted and receded north about ten thousand years ago.  It is just soft clay with the consistency and the look of a crumbly Christmas cake that simply cannot resist the power of the waves.

At Port Mulgrave the cliffs have been scraped away not by erosion but by industrial processes.  There’s a different reason for the existence of Port Mulgrave – ironstone mining, which transformed this part of the coast in the mid-nineteenth century. There were ironstone seams in the coastal rocks laid down between 206 and 150 Million Years ago and the sheltered bay made a good harbour for boats coming to ship the ironstone out to Jarrow. The industry is long gone and little remains of the harbour, but the shoreline at Port Mulgrave stands as a reminder of the industry that once characterised this coast, one hundred years ago there were almost one hundred mines in North Yorkshire.

Rows of domestic properties and individual houses exist on the top of the cliff but Port Mulgrave is now derelict and the port itself is completely gone, destroyed by Royal Engineers during the Second World War to prevent it being used as a landing base for an invading army.

We had walked for just over two miles and I was happy to carry on but the constant complaining was beginning to wear me down so eventually I gave in and we returned by a shorter alternative route back to Staithes where the children remembered my promise of an ice cream.

Later on it started to rain again so we were confined once more to the cottage.  During the night the rain continued and became heavier so I wasn’t too disappointed when morning came, we could pack the suitcases and begin the long drive home.

As you can see,, I have perfected the art of standing on higher ground than my granddaughter…

 

On This Day – The Disappearing Coast of Yorkshire

While the current travel restrictions are in place I have no new stories to post so what I thought that I would do is to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 26th July 2019 I was in Skipsea in Yorkshire just a few miles north of where I live…

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

The advance of the sea is relentless.

Every year along the Holderness coast nearly two metres of coastline is swept away, an estimated average of two million tonnes which is moved south on the tides towards the Humber estuary and builds land there where they don’t want it whilst it takes it away from here where they do.

Read The Full Story Here…

Thursday Doors – English Beach Huts

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

Read the Full Story…

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

A Look Back at 2019

After a slow start to the year we finally got started in…

April

12 Cornwall

Once a year I generally take a holiday in the UK with my daughter and grandchildren.  In previous years I have been to East Anglia, Yorkshire and Wales but on account of the distance never to Cornwall in the extreme South West.  An Australian motorist would no doubt consider four hundred miles to be a drive to the mini-market to get a loaf of bread but in England this is generally considered to be a long way and an arduous journey that requires rather a lot of meticulous planning

May

Valencia Spain

I like Valencia and this was my second visit, it is the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona and just ahead of Bilbao and Malaga and after we had got our bearings we set off to explore the heart of the old city and started first at a tapas bar in the “Plaza de la Vergen” in a gloriously sunny spot overlooking the east door of the Cathedral.

June

Berlin Spies

I had considered visiting Berlin several times over the last ten years, there are nearly always cheap flights available but for some reason I have never made it there.  I had often come very close to booking flights but then somewhere more appealing has nicked in ahead of the German capital at the last minute and I have made alternative plans.  Berlin would always have to wait.

This time I had no excuse not to go because I was invited to a gentlemen’s weekend away (ok, a stag party) so together with my brother Richard a party of boys several years younger than me, I left East Midlands Airport early one morning and two hours later was drinking beer at Schoenefeld Flughafen.

Madrid Postcard

According to official statistics, after London, Paris, Rome and Barcelona, Madrid is the fifth most visited city in Europe (in that order) but I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  Compared to London, Paris and Rome it only achieved capital status relatively recently, and there is no iconic building to define it, no Eiffel Tower, no Colosseum and no Westminster Abbey and no famous cathedral or castle either so I was curious about what we were likely to see.  Hemingway liked it so I was sure that I would too.

July

Skipsea Cornfield

School holidays mean visiting grandchildren so to save the house and garden from being trashed I booked a few days away in a holiday home (caravan) in a part of Yorkshire that I have so far never felt inclined to visit.  Tucked away in the south east of the county is a stretch of coastline between the city of Hull and the town of Bridlington and this was our destination.  A holiday park at Skipsea Sands

September

Algarve Postcard Map 3

We generally take our main annual holiday in September. Sometimes we go to the sea, usually the Greek Islands which are our favourites and sometimes we travel.  This year we decided to travel and we chose to go to Portugal.

In 2017 we travelled through Northern Portugal using the trains but this time we planned to go South where the railway network is difficult or practically non-existent, so this time we were driving.  Our plan was to visit the Algarve region and visit the towns and beaches of the south and west and then head inland to the historic towns of Beja, Evora, Estremoz and Elvas and also to spend a few days in Extremadura in Spain.

October

Corfu Map

I have been to the Greek Island of Corfu several times, I have stayed at the village of Kalami several times but this didn’t stop me going again and we travelled on this occasion with our good friends Mike and Margaret.

I first visited Corfu thirty-five years previously and spent a couple of days driving around the island and secretively I had a plan to do so again this time and see what changes there have been over the years.

December

Berlin Hoff Hause

I visited Berlin six months ago and came away disappointed.  After a short period of reflection I came to the conclusion that this was an unfair assessment, I was on a stag party weekend and it is difficult to fully appreciate a city when you only see it through the bottom of a beer glass.  This time I liked it a whole lot better – I was right to go back.

All in all, a very good year!

Yorkshire – Flamborough Head and A Face in the Cliff

I Spy At The Seaside

I have mentioned before that when I was a boy I used to collect I-Spy books which were small paperback volumes that were popular in the 1950s and 1960s.  Each book covered a subject such as I-SPY Cars, I-SPY on the Pavement, I-SPY on a Train Journey, and so on and so on.

The object was to be vigilant and spot objects such as animals, trees, policemen, fire engines, sea shells etc. etc.  and they were recorded in the relevant book, and this gained points.  More points were available for the more difficult spots.  Once you had spotted everything and the book was complete, it could be sent to Big Chief I-SPY for a feather and an order of merit.

Why do I mention this here you ask?  Well, I-Spy books may well have been a bit of trivial pastime but I actually think that they were useful in developing an enquiring mind and even now I am always looking to I-Spy something interesting or different.

I spotted this at Flamborough Head – the face of a lady in the white chalk cliffs.  Can you see her?

Flamborough Head Face

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…