Stokesley and Helmsley, North Yorkshire

I sometimes wonder how coach companies make up their trips. The other month I did a trip to Richmond and Durham. The Richmond stop was 90 minutes to take in the market. As the market comprised of about 5 stalls and the town was tiny I chose instead to spend it wandering around an old castle. Much more fun. Stokesley was similar but sadly without the castle. This time we were given 2 hours to spend there on market day. The thingI’m beginning to realise is that unless it’s a special kind of market (xmas, craft fair etc) they are all pretty much the same. Stokesley is a beautiful town but there’s nothing there to see. The centre comprises two streets of shops mostly tea shops and charity shops. It passed the time but not sure I’d want to go back.

We had three hours in Helmsley on the other hand and yet I could easily have stayed there two days! Again the idea was market day and shopping but the town also has a castle, abbey ruins, a bird of prey sanctuary, Duncombe Park house and the walled gardens all for visiting. I’d never heard of the town until I saw it on the brochure yet its only an hours drive. I wish I could drive so I could go back. It doesn’t have a train station and very limited buses from York. I may have to work out for myself a long weekend there.

I loved the shops – here there was a variety. Lovely gift shops, art shops, antiques and so many tea shops (this is not actually  a bad thing). I ended up spending an hour and half wandering the castle ruins (quite a lot for something 1000 years old) and the shops and had a pleasant afternoon. Again though this was sold as a market trip. I wonder if it’s me that’s unusual and all people are interested in is markets and shopping? I’d personally rather have a mix of things. If you are able I’d highly recommend this town.

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Richmond, North Yorkshire

This week I had my first trip with Blue Sky coaches, a lovely small family run tour operator. They were an absolute dream to travel with and will definitely be using them again. The trip was a day out to visit Richmond markets and Durham. I took so many photo’s though that I’ve split my day into two blogs.

We only had an hour an half in Richmond so it’s really difficult to say if i liked it or not. Plus the weather was overcast. The outdoor market didn’t look that great to me so I opted to use the most of my time visiting the 11th century castle instead. The views from the castle ruins are staggering and I don;t think I really do them justice with my photos. The castle was originally built to subdue the unruly North of England it is one of the greatest Norman fortresses in Britain. After a few weeks visiting North Yorkshire (being a West Yorkshire girl) I’m sorely tempted to add it to my potential future places to live when I finally ever sell my house. I’m lucky that my work sports & social club gets me into any English Heritage site for free but if you don’t have access to anything like that I would heartily recommend getting an annual pass to them or to National Trust. We have so many beautiful places here to see 🙂

I don’t think I had enough time to truly decide what I thought of the town & be able to see what else it has to offer so I think it’s a place to add to my list of places to re-visit one day for a longer look

Whitby 2016

This weekend I took myself off for a day out in Whitby. I’ve lost track of how long its been since I last went so it was almost like seeing it new again. I chose to go up by coach and the first leg Leeds to York was quite ordinary however once you get past York and out into the North Yorkshire moors the views are really quite breathtaking. The villages are beautiful. I’d actually quite like to get a day hopper ticket and stop off at these villages for some more exploring.

I spent most of my time exploring the abbey ruins, inspiration and setting for Bram Stokers Dracula. It’s now an English Heritage site and they’ve looked after it really well. I was surprised by the amount of land protected as well as the actual abbey. There were some priests on the day discussing ancient labyrinths and how they were used as thinking tools with the monks often walking around them as they pondered life’s mysteries. Of course I had to have a go 🙂  You had the option of being given something to think about as you walked but as I like to practise mindfulness and the Now I preferred to just enjoy my surroundings.

I had a little wander around Old Town peering in the shops (not enough cash for what I really wanted so an excuse to go back!) and had the most wonderful cake at Marie Antoinette’s cake shop before exploring the marina and the rest of the town. It’s a beautiful place and getting there involves yet more amazing scenery so somewhere I want to go back again sooner rather than later.

Skipton – North Yorkshire

We weren’t meant to go to Skipton last week. The original plan had been to spend a few hours in Saltaire near Bradford (in West Yorkshire). I’d been told that there I could visit a different style of market every day and had also been told of a lovely Japanese furniture shop. Sadly despite the hour we walked round I saw nothing of this. In fact we saw nothing at all.

Rather than have a wasted day, we decided to take the train further up the line and go to Skipton. The sun had come out just as we arrived which is always a good sign 🙂

Walking up the road we decided to stop at the first restaurant we found for lunch and ended up at Bizzie Lizzie’s fish shop. Bright, clean, reasonably priced and friendly staff, I had the best fish dinner for a long time.

The restaurant sat on the canal where you could see lots of brightly coloured canal boats both in use as people’s homes but also to hire. Sadly we didn’t have time for a canal boat ride but it’s something I’d like to do one day. At the side of the canal the council had taken advantage of a small space and filled it full of sand. Complete with lifeguards & deck chairs positioned around it made a fun alternative beach scene for children during school holidays.

All across both sides of the main street were market stalls selling everything you could think of. As this meant they were also outside the main brick shops it made things a bit claustrophobic passing through. If staying longer than an afternoon I would do my shopping either early in the day or towards the end to avoid the crush.

The main thing we saw on our afternoon was Skipton Castle, an almost still complete medieval castle around 900 years old. This place was fantastic for history lovers. Privately owned it’s been very well looked after and comes complete with its own derelict church. One of the amazing things we saw there was a yew tree planted in 1659 by the then Lady of the house.

For me, I got to use my new found obsession with The White Queen (see For the Love of Books blog reviews!) to now fully understand the time period in which the castle was built. There is mention around Skipton of Richard III and for the first time I was able to put the story & era of a King to a place we visited. Normally my history of Kings & Queens is a bit rubbish – something I’m working on 🙂

Overall we enjoyed our short time here and wished we had more time. Hopefully we will be back for a longer time again soon. 

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It’s a Ripon good town

It's all about the Yes

This bank holiday I ticked off another city of the alphabet in my Visit 26 towns or cities starting with each letter of the alphabet challenge as part of the 101 things to do in 1001 days project (www.dayzeroproject.com) and ticked off the letter R with Ripon, a small cathedral city just North of Harrogate, North Yorkshire. It is the fourth smallest city in England.

First impressions were that it is a beautiful town. Lots of open spaces and as we turn into summer lots of trees and flowers in bloom. One of the frustrating things about trying to get to Ripon is its lack of train station. Even my tiny housing estate has its own station but theirs closed down in 1967 and has yet to be reopened. Looking into the cities history it does mention ongoing council debates to have a station re-opened so things may…

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