Skipton Castle Woods is a lovely place to wander whatever the season. I always seem to be drawn here in the Winter , when it is easier to spot birds busy in the bare branches of this centuries old woodland.
The Woodland is looked after by The Woodland Trust. Eller Beck runs through the valley and Skipton Castle is nearby. You don’t even have to imagine the medieval hunting that went on amongst the shade of ancient oaks. Anna Crosses evocative willow sculptures give you a glimpse of what it was like here all those years ago.
After a saunter around the Woods a Hot Chocolate was a welcome treat. The Chocolate Works on the High Street ( there’s one in Clitheroe too) was a great choice. 🙂
Do you have a favourite woodland you like to have a wander in?
My Other Half treated me to the best early Christmas Present this year. A night away in the lovely Yorkshire Dales town of Settle and a gig in its popular Victoria Hall. It was a Sunday and quite a few shops in town were closed but there was still a festive atmosphere about the place. Here are a few photos from our trip.
We stayed at The Golden Lion on Duke Street which is one of those welcoming Yorkshire hostelries with a cosy wood burner and a good Full English breakfast. 🙂
In the evening we went to Sydney’s Tapas Bar & Restaurant for a meal, followed by Peat & Diesel at Settle Victoria Hall which amazingly is the World’s oldest surviving Music Hall.
The next morning we had a leisurely lie in ( for us!) followed by breakfast at the pub. Then there was a small detour on the way home……
It was absolutely pouring it down as we set off back. Still time for a quick visit to award winning Cheese Monger The Courtyard Dairy to finish off our trip. Cheese was tasted and cheese was bought. 😁
Of the Flowerpot Festival in Settle, the Visit Settle website says ‘ Be Entertained, Astounded and Astonished by the beautiful flowerpot displays in our lovely town’. I couldn’t agree more! Here are a small selection of what we spotted when we dropped by Settle last Saturday afternoon. The Yorkshire Dales town is showcasing it’s stunning flowerpot creations until the first week of September.
On Sunday we were in Northumberland, a county we are discovering more of from our caravan base in the North Pennines. We visited Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 73 mile wall was built under the orders of the Roman Emperor Hadrian in AD122 , guarding the Northern frontier from invaders further North. Today what remains of Hadrian’s Wall is looked after by English Heritage and other organisations.
We parked at Housesteads Roman Fort and walked along the Hadrian’s Wall Path as far as Sycamore Gap, about 4 miles there and back. Confusingly Housesteads is looked after by both English Heritage and the National Trust, yet the car park is run by National Parks. So as NT members we still had to pay for parking. Then I realised I had left my membership card at home anyway! So we didn’t bother paying to see the fort remains, we just went a walk instead.
The wildflowers along the wall are beautiful. Plenty of harebells, knapweed, ladies bedstraw and field scabious. The heather was just starting to bloom and mountain pansies were dotted here and there.
Your not really meant to sit on an ancient monument but Hugo and I did have one quick photo taken just before Hotbank Farm. A very scenic spot for a hill farm. 🙂
To the left of Hotbank farm lies a body of water called Crag Lough. I had no idea before I wrote this post that lakes in Northumberland and very Northern England are known as loughs . There are several loughs near Hadrian’s Wall.
Sycamore Gap is an iconic and well photographed spot along Hadrian’s Wall. A few hundred years old Sycamore tree 🌲 grows in the dip. The sycamore is known as the Robin Hood Tree as it appeared in the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves.
My goodness, there is so much more to discover in this fascinating part of the world. I am sure there will be future posts!
So the world must slowly be getting back to normal , for I have been out for Afternoon Tea. Oh yes I had my cake and ate it too…..though there were definitely enough goodies left over for a doggy bag.
Gill booked a table for five at the suitably stylish Alexanders Grand Cafe & Restaurant in Skipton. Situated on High Street this elegant venue has botanically inspired decor and a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere. Perfect for whiling the afternoon away with the girls. 💗
Like all the best Afternoon Teas, Alexander’s is served on pretty vintage china. I actually used to own an identical ivy patterned teacup and saucer set , which I turned into a teacup candle in my craft fair days. I still appreciate a vintage tea service. 🙂
The food was delicious. A shot of velvety veloute, three choices of sandwich, pork pie, a selection of cute cakes and of course , a fluffy scone served with jam, strawberries and clotted cream. Tea, coffee or hot chocolate were included in the price of the afternoon tea, which was £25 per person. We additionally paid for a glass of something each, Becky and I chose a refreshing Cherry Blossom Cocktail from the cocktail menu. Cin Cin !
Afterwards I joined the girls for an hour or so, exploring the canal side and shops, before catching the train from Skipton to Langwathby in Cumbria. Langwathby happens to be a village not far from Melmerby where the caravan is based. Wil and Hugo had driven to the van a day earlier and were due to pick me up from Langwathby station. I was quite excited to board the train as I would be travelling on the famed Settle – Carlisle Railway.
This is a very scenic train journey that meanders its way through the stunning Yorkshire Dales and Eden Valley countryside. We passed over the impressive 24 stone arch Ribblehead Viaduct and through England’s highest mainline station at Dent. I did find it pretty impossible to take many good photos out of a speeding train window though, so I borrowed a couple online.
At Garsdale Station a statue of a dog on the platform peeked my interest.
Back in the 1980s the Settle to Carlisle Railway was under threat of closure. On a quest to save the iconic transport link, The Friends of The Settle – Carlisle Line managed to obtain over thirty thousand human signatures plus one pawprint signature. The pawprint belonged to The Friends co – founder Graham Nuttalls 14 year old border collie Ruswarp, a frequent traveller with him on the line.
It was Ruswarps pawprint that swung the decision and after years of campaigning the line was saved in 1989. 💗 🐾
In January 1990 Graham Nuttall and Ruswarp went walking in the Welsh Hills. Graham was never to return, his body was found by a stream eleven weeks later by another hiker. His faithful companion Ruswarp had remained at his master’s side all that time.
Ruswarp was cared for by an RSPCA vet and lived long enough to attend Graham’s funeral but died soon after. A bronze statue of the loyal collie was erected in 2009, a tribute to the many people….and one wonderful dog, who fought to keep the Settle – Carlisle Line open.
After googling Ruswarp and Graham’s story, I felt quite emotional, I can tell you. I for one am very glad that the beautiful rail route survives. I enjoyed my one and a half hour train journey from Skipton and was very happy to see my other half plus faithful companion, waiting for me at Langwathby station. ☺️
Ruswarp was not the only dog statue I saw last weekend. On Sunday we happened to be in Keswick, where we came across Max, a popular Springer Spaniel. His handsome bronze statue had only been unveiled the day before in the town’s Hope Park. You can read here about Max The Miracle Dog and his amazing fund raising efforts. I have loved following Max’s walks, along with Paddy & Harry and their owners Kerry ( and Angela behind the scenes) on Facebook, especially through the lockdowns.
Have you been for Afternoon Tea recently?
Have you travelled on the Settle-Carlisle Line?
Do you know of any other monuments to inspirational dogs?
Got a bluebell fix on the way home from the van on Sunday. We stopped off at the pretty village of Barbon which happens to be located in both South Lakeland and within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. To my delight a nearby woodland was packed with vivid blue bluebells and other spring flowers.
We hadn’t visited Barbon before. It’s attractions include a cheeseshop/cafe and a thrice yearly car race called the Barbon Hill Climb.
Have you walked amongst the bluebells this year? Head to Barbon whilst the colours are at their best. 💙
At the weekend we made our first trip of the year to stay over at the caravan. 🥰 We decided to deviate from our normal route up the M6 after Kirkby Lonsdale. Instead we meandered through the Dales and into the Eden Valley via the charming town of Sedburgh, nestling at the foot of the Howgills. This part of the Yorkshire Dales is pretty new to us, we usually only view the Howgills from the motorway. Alfred Wainwright once described the fells as ‘ looking like a herd of sleeping elephants’. 🐘🐘🐘
After parking in the town we made our way to the River Rawthey. It was certainly turning out to be a beautiful Spring day.
Presently we came to a field where three Highland cows were residing. They seemed completely happy for us to pass by. Very chilled in the morning sunshine.
I had a plan of course! A little further on along the Rawthey I had read of an old Victorian Wool Mill. Farfield Mill hosts art & craft exhibitions, has a shop and a tearoom ,presently open as a takeaway with tables outside.
Heading back now along the river, there are more cute livestock to see. 🙂
So Sedburgh Is England’s Book Town and has more second hand book shops than Birmingham apparently!
After buying some bread from the Three Hares Cafe Bakery, it was time for us to continue on to our van in the equally lovely Eden Valley. I am sure we will be visiting Sedburgh and the surrounding area again soon though. 🙂
The weather in my hometown of Clitheroe in Northern England today was foggy, wet and grey so we decided to pop over the Lancashire border to Skipton in the drizzly Yorkshire Dales. A planned walk up Pendle Hill has been postponed ( I admit I was a teeny bit relieved! ) until a less misty day.
My other half hadn’t seen the newish ( 12 months old) willow sculptures in Skipton Castle Woods ,so I suggested we blow off the cobwebs with a walk there. I have blogged about the Sculptures previously, but it’s nice to share their beauty with you all again. It was Hugo’s first sight of them too. 😁
After our walk and a nosy round some shops we were ready for lunch. I thought we could treat Hugo ( and ourselves! ) to dinner at The Kibble Bakery on Sheep Street. When we arrived it was completely empty of customers so I quickly took a few photos, it was busy with both hounds and humans by the time we left.
The Kibble Bakery & Coffee House is a bright and cosy ( and very dog friendly) cafe. It is run by a mother and daughter team who as well as making and baking delicious food for humans, make and bake for our four legged friends too. Hugo sampled a cheesy pup biscuit, I wish I could tell you he tasted the flavour but being a greedy Labrador , he wolfed it down in seconds…..
On our way home from Skipton we had a bit of a walk down the canal side at East Marten, but the weather had changed for the worst , so no more pictures. Six miles done though so making a good start to the #walk1000miles challenge I’m joining in with again this year. 2019 I managed just over 1900 miles so a big improvement on 2018s 1600 + miles. Although I’m very happy with the mileage done, I know I’m still terribly unfit. Put a hill in front of me and I nearly die. The only remedy to that though is of course practice! And more fells, hills and mountains. So my aim for this year is not to improve my mileage, but to improve my chances of getting up a hill. Wish me luck! 😅
For me 2019 has been very much about experiencing wildlife with others. It’s the first year I have watched badgers go about their business from a guided RSPB badger hide and the first time I have been on a bat walk run by the Rivers Trust. I’ve also looked for ring ouzels in the Slaidburn fells with the RSPB and done this year’s bird and butterfly counts with my nephew, niece and sister. Family has joined me in all the above and it has been a joy watching wildlife with them. 🙂
Sometimes I can be out and about with Wil and the dog and we will spy something special. Recently we saw a red squirrel at NT Acorn Bank, I have been hoping to see one since buying our caravan in Cumbria this year.
There have been a few rare moments when I’ve been completely alone and immersed myself in nature. Just spending three hours in the woodland near my Mum’s in Askham back in May was such a treat, I saw jays, woodpeckers, buzzards, a weasel and wildflowers galore.
In 2019 I witnessed my first badgers ( I’m definitely not counting the squashed ones I’ve seen on the roadside), my first humming bird hawk moth, my first Crossbill, my first ring ouzels and my first slow worm!
I am not always able to get photos though, so it was very special when I managed to snap the barn owl that visits my sister’s croft, be it through a pane of glass. Below are some of the wildlife I have captured on camera..
What have been your own favourite wildlife moments of 2019?
If your thinking of partaking in a Woodland walk this October, you can’t go far wrong with a wander along the woodland trails at the Bolton Abbey Estate in the Yorkshire Dales. We took our dog Hugo here this morning and despite it being a soggy rainy day, we had a fab time enjoying the sights and sounds of Strid Wood. The Autumn colours are stunning at this time of year. And after despairing of not finding any fungi on local walks near where I live in Clitheroe, here at Bolton Abbey there are mushrooms and toadstools galore…. Here are a few images from our time on the estate. If you can identify any of the fungi I haven’t ( which is most of it! ) I would love your help. 🙂
The temperatures for Bank Holiday Monday promised to be high, which is great, except if your a black Labrador like Hugo, or indeed if your me. I think I’m more of a snowflake kind of girl than a sunshine kind of girl sometimes. 🙂
We decided to head for water, but we’re keen to avoid the bank holiday traffic, so driving to the Lakes or seaside we’re out. Instead we made our way to Malham Tarnin the Yorkshire Dales. This glacial lake nestles at an altitude of 375 metres and is looked after by the National Trust. There is parking on both sides of the water.. We parked at Water Sinks and walked along a limestone track that leads down to the tarn. Hugo was straight in there. The sun hadn’t yet burnt off the morning mist, so the temperatures were both hound and human friendly. 😉
Although the fog enveloped the water, there was still more than a hint of beauty on show.
The tarn and its surroundings are home to many water bird species ( if only we could see them! ) and when its clear you can apparently get a great view from the bird Hide. Other possible sightings include otters who have been spotted swimming at dusk & dawn. It was lovely to see a variety of wildflowers including harebells, devil’s bit scabious and grass of Parnassus. Grass of Parnassus is in fact an honorary grass, named because in Ancient Greece, this pretty white flower was devoured by cattle grazing on Mount Parnassus.
The Pennine Way walking route passes Malham Tarn and continues through the grounds of a Field Centre where an old Orchid House provides information about wildlife & geology in the area. We then walked through woodland decorated with various animal & bird sculptures until coming across Tarn Moss & Tarn Fen Nature Reserve.
Due to the fragility of the reserve , dogs & bicycles are not permitted here, so I left Wil and Hugo for a quick nosy. The unusual habitat of groundwater- fed fen and rainwater-fed raised bog is home to rare plant life including insectivorous sundew and yellow globe flowers. There is apparently a herd of wild ponies on the fen, but I didn’t spy them. A wooden boardwalk guides you through the boggy mossy wilderness, but alas I didn’t have time to venture far.
We retraced our steps back to the car and ate a picnic lunch on the grass. The midday sun was definitely starting to scorch , but we thought we would head into Malham and walk up to its lovely waterfall Janet’s Foss. We visited here a couple of years ago, but much earlier in the morning, before it got to busy. On that occasion the Foss was a serene scene , but on a bank holiday, it was crushed and crowded.
Hugo still managed a few paddles in the babbling brook, so all was not lost. I am definitely up for returning to Malham, especially Malham Tarn. I’m imagining a walk their every season now. A cold crisp November day maybe……