Bell ringing from St Mary’s Church in Whitby, England

Taken by me in Whitby, a bit shakey but the start of more Youtube videos and projects to come.  Subscribe here.

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Day 5: Harrogate and Whitby

Another day goes past and we’re nearing the end of our little getaway in ‘God’s Own Country’ (nooo!)

Based on the laziness of yesterday I needed to go out and do something – and so, we visited Harrogate and Whitby.

Harrogate, famous for being one of the most expensive places to live in England, is a lovely town filled with plenty of shops to burn a hole in your wallet.  We actually didn’t spend too long here, as we just looking around and had quite enough tea in the past few days (the also famous Betty’s Tea Rooms have a branch here, but there is also one in York.)

Betty's in Harrogate

Betty’s in Harrogate

Harrogate is 20 miles away from Skipton, taking roughly a half an hour drive.  I couldn’t see us staying here longer than we did and I must admit, in my humble opinion I found Whitby far more lovely.

It was not just a simple 20 miles down the road to get there however, it was at least a 2 hour drive away, but I was keen to see the town Dracula made famous and a part of Yorkshire that’s actually on the coast!

You also go through the North York Moors (another National Park) on the way and some of the country roads are spectacular.  Particularly this one below I tried my best to capture in image form!

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Whitby has great history, with settlement history going as far back as 656, the famous Captain Cook learning his seamanship here and its association with the classic horror novel Dracula (which I may have already mentioned!)

Bram Stoker used Whitby as the setting to his novel, which introduced the unforgettable character of Count Dracula, when the notorious vampire leaves Transylvania and comes ashore to the English isles.  This kind of background adds such atmosphere when looking up to the creepy Whitby Abbey ruins.

There is also a church on top of the same hill, with plenty of spooky old grave stones, that is easily reachable from the town by the 199 steps upto it.

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St Mary's Church Grave Yard overlooking the town of Whitby

St Mary’s Church Grave Yard overlooking the town of Whitby

The spooky ruins of Whitby Abbey

The spooky ruins of Whitby Abbey

The site is, no surprise, an English heritage site which was sadly closed except for weekends at this time of year.  However walking around the area you can still get a good look at how magnificent it once was (and how it probably influenced young Bram when it was dismantled.)

On the walk back down to the town I couldn’t resist buying the Dracula novel when I spotted it in a local book shop for £2!  After recently reading The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into it – ha see what I did there!

Anyway, in the summer I can imagine all these scary connotations with the town are washed away and filled with sunshine, smiles and ice creams – making a good spot to visit all year round.

There are fishing trip tours too, which again I expect more attractive in the summer months!

There are many picturesque narrow streets filled to brim with independent (some chain) stores.  For dinner, we couldn’t resist another fish and chips and ate here at a place called Robertsons.

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I had the medium haddock and chips whereas David had the large – I can’t believe the SIZE of David’s!  That must have been one big haddock.

Anyway, it tasted absolutely delicious and was the stake in the coffin in my confirmation fish and chips are definitely far better up North (sorry I’ll stop with the vampire puns now…)

Mine vs David's Haddock

Mine vs David’s Haddock

I think Whitby has been one of my favourite places we’ve seen in Yorkshire, it definitely tops York and Harrogate.

It’s our last full day here tomorrow and currently we have no plans but we’re both definitely feeling sad this holiday is coming to an end.

I’ll bid good night to you all with frightening cover of my newly purchased book – sweet dreams!

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Day 4: Relaxing around Skipton

As the post title suggests, we had a sneaky little rest day today.  We seemed to fit in quite a bit our first few days in Yorkshire and tiredness crept up on us, that and the few glasses of champagne we had in bed whilst watching Breaking Bad – we’ve nearly finished the final series!

We heard from the owner of the cottage that Wednesday is market day in Skipton, providing it doesn’t snow, so we decided to take it easy and keep it local.

Unfortunately, it did snow – although it didn’t really lay.  The market in town along the High Street was sparse, but the cheese stall was still alive and kicking (and we’d ran out of cheese and crackers!)

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We bought some authentic Wensleydale cheese (scrumptious), extra mature cheddar cheese and biscuits, all for around £10 and munched on them we got home a few hours later.

Before we did, we wanted to check out Skipton Castle which is just at the top of the High Street and we’re really glad we did!

I think we were both thinking it would be an alright castle, being from England you see plenty of them, especially growing up and going on trips for your history GCSE – but this one is in especially good condition and is over 900 years old!

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The castle also claims to be one of the best preserved medieval castle in all of England – quite a claim – which also survived a three-year siege during the civil war.

It contains a banquet hall, watch towers and a dungeon and has all furniture and decor stripped from it.  I enjoy castles adding decor and furniture to show how it used to be lived in, however David brought up a good point that having it bare can leave more to the imagination.

What’s particularly helpful is the Tour Sheet given to every visitor free with the entrance fee (oh which was £7.30 for adults by the way, child tickets are cheaper, or free if they’re under 5 and there are concession tickets available for over 60s and students.)  The sheet explains how old certain parts of the castle are, what they were used for and who’s visited it – including Mary Queen of Scots.

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If staying in Skipton I’d definitely recommend a visit here, it was fairly quiet with me and David having almost the whole castle to ourselves!

We had already hatched a plan before we left that our next stop was going to be a Pork Pie shop we had walked past a number of times.

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THIS is what is great about the north – cheap hearty food.  David and I bought two roast pork butties (sandwiches/rolls, to anyone unfamiliar with the slang), a large pork pie and a small pork and haggis pie – all for under £10.

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If I lived in Skipton I’d be a festively plump, but very happy, lady.

The camera had also arose from the dead – with it seemingly to be working as normal, I kept in the bag and it managed to take the above pics with no problem.  Huzzah!  I think it’s alive!

For dinner we went to Mustab’s, the town’s Indian restaurant. The place itself is a bit shabby but the food, which regrettably I didn’t get pictures of, was so, so tasty and if you’re craving for tastes from the East, whilst in the cold, cold North, this place gets a thumbs up from me.  Despite the fact I’ll probably be going home 1 stone heavier from all the yummy food from this holiday, it can all be forgiven for pleasing my taste-buds!

 


Day 3: The City of York and Le Bistro Des Amis

Today is my birthday!  Happy Birthday to me! Waking up early and opening my pressies, which included a 3 course lunch for two (with champagne) at Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Restaurant in London (oh laa I’ll have to review that!) we soon had to rush to get ready in order to catch our 9:16 train to York! From Skipton Train Station, which is only a 5 minute walk away from our cottage, the journey took roughly 1 hour and 17 minutes with one change at Leeds. I was looking forward to York, as I have been told it is much like my home city of Canterbury that I do adore – and it’s true!  It’s like a bigger, more posh (if possible) version of Canterbury. First we visited the National Railway Museum, conveniently situated right next door to York Train Station.

It is also conveniently free, but with suggested donation boxes darted around the place – I felt generous and donated the advisable £3 because looking in on some of the old carriages, especially those used by royalty, was quite enjoyable. IMG_1328 It wasn’t too much longer until we were in Jorvik – the Viking Museum!  Vikings are cool right?  If you like Vikings then I suggest you go here, but don’t expect to be completely blown away.  It’s funny because one of the main historical attractions in Canterbury is The Canterbury Tales – an ‘interactive’ exhibit where Jeffrey Chaucer’s famous play is spoken into your ears, whilst you’re walking around a ‘reconstruction’ of the story, as it was back in Chaucer’s time, accompanied with strange smells and weird creepy mannequins.

Unfortunately not my pic, from visityork.org

Unfortunately not my pic, from visityork.org

And well, the Viking Museum opted for the same (dated) entertainment, but instead of walking you’re taken around a realistic Viking town by a sort of roller coaster thing, at a really slow speed.  At £10.25, it may be a bit steep to some, but was quite comical (and oddly educational) for us! Then we visited York Minster – reminding me a lot of Canterbury’s Cathedral – what are all these York and Canterbury parallels?! It was £10 to visit, or £15 to also go up the tower – which sadly had allocated times hours away from when we arrived.  A bit annoying, but the lady at the counter told us this was due to low staff, so it probably isn’t like this all year round. IMG_1334 IMG_1335 IMG_1336 IMG_1337 When we were finished wandering around the big church/cathedral like building (what is the difference between that and a minister?), we did a bit of shopping, which York can offer quite a variety of, before having tea at the Teddy Bear Tea Rooms. There’s a host of different tea rooms you can visit around York – we saw more you could shake a stick at – but I quite enjoyed the uneven rooms in the top floors of the Teddy Bear Tea Rooms, that look over the narrow York Streets and where you can get a pot of tea and cake for just £4.90!  (Except I chose the chocolate chip cookie.)  David got the brie and bacon sandwich that also looked quite tasty. IMG_1339 IMG_1338 IMG_1341 IMG_1343 Surprisingly time went by quite quickly and we soon found ourselves on a busy train back to Skipton. Instead of going back to cottage right away, we went straight up the High Street to get dinner – I decided whilst still on the train I liked the sound of Le Bistro Des Amis, a French restaurant highly rated on Tripadvisor. I’m a big fan of French food, French Decor and… anything French really.  I felt right at home in this place and both me and David really enjoyed the food.  For starters I had the Duck Liver Parfait and David, the French Onion Soup. IMG_1350 IMG_1351 For main, I had the braised shoulder of lamb with haggis, although I couldn’t tell which part the haggis was.  I think it was mixed up with the lamb, like the swede was with the carrot and, not ever having haggis before, all I can say ALL of it tasted superb! IMG_1352 IMG_1353 David had the beef Bourguignon pie with mash and he left feeling as stuffed as I was! (A little more difficult than filling up a petite 5 foot 2 lady, as he’s 6 foot 4!) Overall, a fantastic birthday 🙂


Day 2: Cow & Calf Rock, Ilkley Moor and Aysgarth Falls

We were a little late getting up this morning, last night after yesterday’s post we both felt so relaxed we stayed in, munched on some of our snacks (crackers, cheese and chutney accompanied by Lindt Chocolate balls hmm…) and watched a few episodes from the final series of Breaking Bad, all in front of our log fire!  Bliss.

We decided late last night too, before going to bed, we would try to squeeze both Ilkley Moors and Aysgarth Falls today – which we did manage to do, woohoo!

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And again, we were fairly lucky with the weather – it was mostly clear, with no snow clouds or fogginess, which meant when we did get up onto Ilkley Moor the sights looking down on the town of Ilkley and the surrounding hills were so pretty and picturesque – which could have easily been blocked by unpredictable Yorkshire snow flurries!

There was of course still a lot of snow lying around, but the only icy surfaces we faced in terms of driving was the car park!

Ilkley, like Bolton Abbey, isn’t far from Skipton and is only a 15 minute drive away.  We used the Cow & Calf Rock Cafe’s car park, which was free – or so it seemed!

From here you can walk all around the moors and can even clamber up and around the Cow & Calf Rock (although maybe best not to in this weather if you’re wearing wellie’s like we were!) – these are the two rocks below, the big one being the Cow and the small one, you get this picture.

Cow & Calf Rock

Cow & Calf Rock

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Sadly, these rocks suffer with a case of rubbish grafitti. For example, one part of the rock had ‘RIP DOG’ sprayed upon it!  Not very creative…

However as we discovered later, other rocks around the area had carvings etched into them from as early as the mid-19th Century.  Although we found this way more interesting than whoever Dog might be, back in the 1800’s they could have looked pretty shit to other hikers too – who knows!

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RIP DOG, lower right hand side of the Calf Rock, whoever you may be.

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Graffiti from the 1800's

Graffiti from the 1800’s

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We walked round the moors for an hour or so more and even enjoyed a few cups of tea from the flask we made before leaving the cottage – top tip for those who are going to do this kind of trip and want a traditional English warm-up (if you’re not already English or a fan of tea!)

If you’re into your wildlife too there is plenty around here – we didn’t see much, being winter, but still spotted a bird of prey swooping around and some deer droppings (regrettably not the deer itself.)

Anyway, a free trip well worth the hike.

Another interesting rock

Another interesting rock

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From here, we went onto Aysgarth Falls – made famous arguably by the Kevin Costner Robin Hood film, where he had some sort of fight on the lower falls. I have seen the film, many years ago, so I can’t exactly remember who the fight was against and why it happened.

Anyway, unfortunately Aysgarth National Park is not so quick to get to, which isn’t down to distance but in fact due to the road route – if you don’t like country roads prepare yourself.  The way there is practically one long country road which winds and bends like something out of Postman Pat but worse (if you’re not English you might not get this reference, it may be worth googling!)

It takes approximately just over an hour, longer if you’re unlucky enough to get caught behind a tractor!  The roads can be quite tight in some parts too, so be cautious about oncoming vehicles around blind corners, basically drive carefully and not like an utter idiot.

We were lucky with the roads again here, perfect conditions until we came to the Aysgarth Falls car park – an icy slope entrance which had us both gritting our teeth getting up – but we made it nonetheless!

We also had a supporter spurring us on in the form of a random man, who turned out to be a nice random man who gave us his car parking ticket with a few hours left as he was just leaving – nice one!

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The Upper, Middle and Lower Falls are all walking distance and not strenuous in any way. Although we guessed you had to pay for the car park, there are no entrance fees to see all three falls. There is however a honesty box on the way to the Upper Falls though, where we kindly donated and recommend you do too!

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A lovely site, I’m sure you agree, which I feel my iPhone does not do enough justice (and the fact I still feel guilty about breaking the camera yesterday >_<).  I did take a couple of panoramic videos here, that I can’t seem to figure out how to upload from my phone onto WordPress.  Alas, they are on my Instagram so if want to take a buchers you can click here.

On the drive back we listened to classic Western and Sci-Fi movie soundtracks, with the sun going down and white fields all around us, it felt like we were through some icy planet than West/North Yorkshire!  But we soon made it back to Skipton and felt right at home in our warm and cosy cottage.

Tomorrow, my birthday, we plan on catching the train over to York.

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