If you're travelling around the area, keep a lookout for old thatched cottages -- not many of them left these days -- I noticed this really nice one in the small village of Rievaulx whilst visiting the abbey there. There's so much to see in the North Yorkshire area it's easy to miss the simple things of village life ...
One of the most overlooked Yorkshire Dales, Bishopdale is one of my favourites. It looks like a miniature Lake District with soft fells, and I guess the reason most people don't visit is because the main road through the dale is still one of the smaller, and nature is the major sight here, not castles or museums. Hannah Hauxwell of TV fame lived here with her cattle on a farm with no mod cons before later moving to Teesdale. At the Wensleydale end of the dale is the very pretty village of West Burton.
A tiny but oh so pretty village on the road between Richmond and Leyburn, Bellerby just has a main road through it, with a little beck and a handful of gorgeous stone cottages opposite the Real Ale village pub. What more can you want?
One thing I appreciated at Castle Howard: they didn't have those annoying little "stay on the path" signs scattered everywhere through the gardens and on the grounds. For the most part, the grounds are open for wandering, and the visitor may rely on her/his own discretion in deciding where to go.
Of course, that means if you fall down a ravine and break your ankle, it's your own responsibility. It's the advantage - and the cost - of living in a less litigous society.
The little town of Knaresborough is an often overlooked gem between York and Harrogate. If you go by train between those two, you will go across the famous Victorian railway bridge in Knaresborough but if you stop on the way, you will also see the bridge from below - an impressive sight. The river Nidd flows through town and you can rent boats for a while in a lovely setting. Otherwise, just visit the castle ruins at the top of the town. This is where Thomas a Beckett's murderers flew after their deed in Canterbury. The town is also famous for Mother Shipton's petrifying well, turning teddies into stone, but I'll leave that to those of you going there with children to discover.
The little village of Middleham is located just outside the Yorkshire Dales national park boundaries and less visited than many places around it. Still, it deserves a visit for the great ruins of Middleham Castle, once the childhood home of Richard III. On top of that, the village is a racing horse centre so the whole village is full of stables. This is because already in Richard's days, the monks at nearby Jervaulx Abbey (which you can also visit the ruins of) were breeding horses for the knights. Today, they come a lot sleeker than the destroyers of the Middle ages though. Nearby, you can also visit Castle Bolton where Mary, Queen of Scots was held a prisoner for a while and managed to escape.
Thirsk (meaning "swamp" in the old Scandinavian dialect used here), is a small town in the Vale of York with not that much more than a racecourse and most people do not have it on their itinerary but those who do come for one thing only: James Herriot's veterinary surgery. Alf Wright, as he was called in real life, set up his base here when graduating as a vet in Scotland and the rest is history to those of us who've read the "All Creatures Great and Small" books and/or seen the TV series (which was filmed mostly in the more hilly Wensleydale).
This delightful quaint market town is just a few miles from the North Yorkshire Moors in Ryedale. In its heyday it was a weaving centre in the seventeenth century. Today several fine coaching houses can be discovered along with the ruins of a castle and a half timbered rectory.
Today many walkers start here at the market cross to begin England's longest long-distance footpath journey, The Cleveland Way, which continues for 108 miles in a broad horseshoe round the North York Moors national Park.
The scenery around Rievaulx Abbey is idyllic and you'll notice charming country cottages with typically thatched roofs and english gardens in bloom to compliment the scene - straight off a chocholate box lid!
A great way to spend a day is to take the 10 mile (approx) round trip from ravenscar to robin hoods bay and back, you need to be reasonably fit as it is quite steep in places but well worth undertaking for the magnificent views that you get whilst walking. Start off at ravenscar by the national parks office, follow the path down that goes in front of the office and you will soon come across the trail signposted "cleveland way". Just follow this trail which takes you through countryside, then along the cliff edge to the hilariously named "boggle hole" ( very hard climb down and then back up many stairs in this area), then on to robin hoods bay for a well deserved cream tea or pub lunch ( there is plenty of choice at RH bay)
Then just retrace your steps back the way that you came, the whole walk takes about 5 hours including time for cream tea.
N.B; If the tide is out when you get to boggle hole you can finish the walk to robin hoods bay by walking straight up the beach, rather than having to climb all those steps.
Nun Monkton is situated in the Lower Nidderdale along the course of the River Nidd which flows towards the River Ouse at Nun Monkton. Nun Monkton once housed a small community of Benedictine nuns and was founded in the middle of the 12th century.
Its normally a sleepy village with its few houses and pub centred around th duck pond - until VT'ers invade! It was a delightful place for a meal after a VT meet in nearby York. Many more pics on my Nun Monkton page.
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