A Travellerspoint blog

Isle of Wight

Route: Whitebrook - Portsmouth - Newport (IoW) - Portsmouth - Hove

semi-overcast 20 °C

JUNE 2021

After a very enjoyable week in the Wye Valley our travels took us east and back into England. Our destination was not mainland England but an island just off the south coast called the Isle of Wight.
We had planned to be on the island by mid afternoon but our ferry crossing got delayed so we didn’t arrive until 10:00pm. However, before that we had a leisurely start to the day, courtesy of our friendly hosts in the Wye Valley and an event free drive to Portsmouth. Portsmouth was where we would connect with our ferry to the Isle of Wight and with time to spare, dine out. We were joined at the restaurant by our travelling companion Rob and after dinner we all took the ferry together. A night crossing wasn’t what we had planned but it did show us a of both Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight at night.

Porstmouth Spinnaker tower

Porstmouth Spinnaker tower

The Isle of Whight Ferry

The Isle of Whight Ferry

Rolling hills of the Isle of Wight

Rolling hills of the Isle of Wight

Our accommodation on the Isle of Wight was a three bedroom cottage, in a rural setting and right in the middle of the island. We choose three bedrooms to accommodate two further friends during the middle of our stay. The cottage was surrounded by well kept lawns and bordered by trees and hedges. This was a perfect environment for local wildlife, which included regular visits from Red Squirrels and Rabbits plus an extensive variety of birdlife. We even spotted an Owl in the garden on two of the nights.

Local resident red squirrel

Local resident red squirrel

Hungry Red Squirrel

Hungry Red Squirrel

The itinerary for the island was a little different from previous locations. We planned to reign back the hiking a bit and spend more time visiting the places of interest on the island. A packed agenda was therefore put together taking account of the local weather forecast.

Our first day started off damp but improved later. A delicious lunch at the Garlic Farm was followed by a stroll around the coastal towns of Sandown and Bembridge. Whilst Sandown looked very run down under the every present dark clouds, Bembridge had a much more appealing quaintness.

Sandown Pier

Sandown Pier

The weather on the following day was much better, which was good, as most of our activities were outside. We started with the Model Village in the picturesque hamlet of Godshill and was impressed by the quality and accuracy of the modelling together with the ground maintenance.
With time to spare before lunch we took the opportunity to look around Godshill, then dined at a highly recommended veggie restaurant.

Modal Village

Modal Village

Modal Village

Modal Village

Energised by our lunch we were ready for more. Next stop was the ruined manor of Appuldurcombe House. Set on an elevated positions with stunning views all around you could quite imagine this to be an impressive residence at one time. Sadly, neglect and the ravages of time have taken its toll on this once grand building. The architectural quality is still there to be seen but the structure is now not much more than an empty shell calling out to be renovated.

Appuldurcombe House

Appuldurcombe House

Appuldurcombe House

Appuldurcombe House

With a bit of energy still remaining a walk up to St Catherines Oratory was next on our agenda. At one of the highest point on the Isle of Wight the views from this vantage point were extensive. You felt that you could see the whole island, although in reality only part of the south and west coasts, plus quite a lot of the interior, were visible.

St Catherine's Oratory, medieval tower build in 1328 as penance by a local landowner who had plundered church property

St Catherine's Oratory, medieval tower build in 1328 as penance by a local landowner who had plundered church property

The weather took a turn for the worse on the next day. This limited us to pick up our friends, Martyn and Jane, from the Ryde Hoverport

The Isle of Whight passengers hovercraft

The Isle of Whight passengers hovercraft

and all five of us indulging in a cream tea back at the Garlic Farm.

Cream Tea at the Garlic Farm

Cream Tea at the Garlic Farm

Fortunately the weather improved from then on, allowing us to get out and see more of what the island had to offer. Next stop was Osbourne House, Queen Victoria’s favourite residence. Covid restrictions meant that not all of the house was available to view but enough to get a feel for royal life in the 19th century.

Inside Osbourne House

Inside Osbourne House

Osbourne House

Osbourne House

The grounds of Osbourne House are extensive but the well laid path allowed us to see its most interesting parts. A path lead from the house to a private beach where Victoria would bathe. We assumed a carriage would transport the queen each way as it was quite a long walk. Once at the beach the queen would not just strip down to her bikini, but enter her bathing machine (a wooden caravan on wheels), change into her swimming costume and the whole contraption pushed into the sea. This preserved the queen's modesty and provided a changing room and a plumbed in toilet.  When she had finished her dip it was pulled back to the beach using a wire rope and winch.

Queen Victoria's bathing machine with a lady in period bathing costumes (photo from internet)

Queen Victoria's bathing machine with a lady in period bathing costumes (photo from internet)

Our return loop back to the house took us via the children’s garden. An area of period toys and a vegetable garden where the princes and princesses were instructed in the skills of horticulture.

It was now lunchtime so we took the short drive the town of Cowes. Cowes is at the mouth of the River Medina and spread over either side of its banks. We were aiming for the historic west side and needed to cross the river from east to west. To achieve this we used the “Floating Bridge”, a vehicular chain ferry which crosses the river. It only takes a few minutes to cross but is a fun activity all the same.

The floating bridge

The floating bridge

A look around the shops followed by lunch, then it was back to the cottage to relax before dining out that evening (a scrumptious meal at the Pointer Inn).

We awoke the next day to bright sunshine, ideal for our visit to the “Needles”. After a short drive but a long queue to get into the carpark, we started our cliff walk to the famous landmark. The Needles (see below) are a row of three stacks of chalk that rise about 30m out of the sea, off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight and with a lighthouse perched on the furthest one.
Our cliff walk gave us a great view down into the clear water below us and the colourful cliffs behind us. The remains of an old fort occupies the furthest extremity of the cliff path and this is where you get the best views of the Needles. The National Trust charge a fiver each for this privilege but it was well worth the expense, especially on such a beautiful day.

Colourful rock formation at Alum Bay

Colourful rock formation at Alum Bay

Walking toward the Needles

Walking toward the Needles

The Needles

The Needles

Chalk Cliffs at the Needles

Chalk Cliffs at the Needles

Having photographed the Needles from every angle possible it was time to return to the carpark and on to the next attraction of the day. A short drive along the coast got us to the pretty harbour town of Yarmouth. With a bit of time to spare before lunch we had a quick look around the old town.

Yarmouth harbour

Yarmouth harbour

Lunch today was taken at a restaurant called “Off the Rails”. Positioned inside the old Yarmouth train station you are surrounded by railway memorabilia. With tables and seating spilling out onto the platform and everything having a railway theme, the enjoyment began even before you had considered what to eat and drink. From that point onwards, the experience got even better. The food was superb and the drinks pretty good as well. Fully satisfied, there was just time to admire the scenery from the platform before heading back to the cottage.

Outside "Off the Rails"

Outside "Off the Rails"

Insight "Off the Rails" restaurant

Insight "Off the Rails" restaurant

The sun was still shinning when we arrived back at the cottage. We decided to take advantage and settled into a bit of a boozy session on the elevated decking in our garden.

Martyn and Jane left us on the following day. After dropping them off at the hoverport we made our way to Carisbrooke Castle (see below) for a bit of history. Carisbrooke is an imposing castle perched on high ground overlooking the village. We entered through the gate house and spent a good couple of hours exploring its inner building and ramparts whilst taking in the history as we progressed.
By now, all this history had built up a thirst so we retreated to the Pointer Inn for a mid-afternoon drink.

Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle

Our last day on the island should have been a speedy pack, then off to catch the 10:40 ferry. But as with our outwards journey we had been moved to a later ferry. This made for a more leisurely start to the day and created the opportunity to explore more of the island.
We first went back to the delightful coastal village of Yarmouth to see its castle. As castles go this was one of the smallest I have been in. Tucked away amongst period houses, it commands a great view across the Solent (stretch of water that divides the island from the mainland). Its position was strategic to defend this part of the English coastline from attack. Gun placements, with a varying degree of sophistication, were present here from 16th to 19th century. The castle was then brought back into military use again during both the First and Second World Wars.

Due to its size, Yarmouth Castle didn’t take long to look around, this meant there was time for another stop before lunch. That stop was Mottistone Gardens. The gardens are set in an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” and from its elevated position, allows a view all the way to the southern coastline. We spent an hour or so strolling amongst the blooms and foliage before heading to our favourite pub for a late lunch.

Mottistone Gardens

Mottistone Gardens

A delicious and leisurely lunch then followed at the Pointer Inn before making our way to the ferry port. Upon arrival we were informed that our delayed sailing had been delayed further by more mechanical gremlins. Finally around 17:00 we set sail for the short journey back to the mainland, only to be be delayed further by a cruise liner leaving Portsmouth harbour. Back on the mainland it was just short drive to Hove and the completion of our visit to the Isle of Wight.

Leaving Isle of Wight

Leaving Isle of Wight

Arriving back in Porstmouth

Arriving back in Porstmouth

Great cruise ship delaying our arrival in Portsmouth

Great cruise ship delaying our arrival in Portsmouth

Personal Observations & Interesting Facts

The Needles
The formation takes its name from a fourth needle-shaped pillar called Lot’s Wife, which collapsed in a storm in 1764. The remaining rocks are not at all needle-like, but the name has stuck. The Needles' pointed shape is a result of their unusual geology. The strata have been so heavily folded over time that the chalk is near vertical. This chalk outcrop runs through the centre of the Island from Culvers Cliff in the east to the Needles in the west, and then continues under the sea to the Isle of Purbeck on the mainland. The whole stretch is a marine conservation area.

The Needles

The Needles

Carisbrooke Castle
A ruined wall at the site suggests that there was a building there in late Roman times. Chronicles indicate that the cousin of Anglo-Saxon King Cynric of Wessex, died in AD 544, and was buried there. It became an Anglo-Saxon stronghold during the 8th century and a wall was built around the hill as a defence against Viking raids around AD 1000.
From 1100 the castle remained in the possession of the Redvers’ family, and over the next two centuries improvement were made to the castle including stone walls, towers and a keep. In 1293 the castle was sold to Edward I. From then on, its governance was entrusted to wardens as representatives of the crown.
In 1377, in the reign of Richard II the castle was unsuccessfully attacked by the French. It was reputedly saved by local hero Peter de Heyno who shot the French commander.
The castle continue to be improved and fortified over the next few centuries including the bowling green used by Charles I during his imprisonment. Charles I was imprisoned here for fourteen months before his execution in 1649.
From 1896 to 1944, it was the home of Princess Beatrice, daughter of Queen Victoria as Governor of the Isle of Wight.

Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle

Posted by MAd4travel 13:33 Archived in England Comments (1)

Bath, Somerset and the Wye Valley

Route: Gunnerside - Farrington Gurney - Whitebrook (Wales) - Portsmouth

semi-overcast 20 °C

JUNE 2021

Our journey now took us from Northern England down to the South West. We were prepared for a long drive, Google Map indicated around 6 hours. What we hadn’t expected was the volume of traffic and the nine and half hours it eventually took us. On the up side the weather was good all the way and the new accommodation very nice.
We were now staying in village called Farrington Gurney, on the edge of the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and only 12 miles from the historic city of Bath. Therefore our exploration would concentrate on these two locations.

Our first day consisted of recovering from the drive, watching a bit of Rugby on the TV and visiting the local Farm Shop. The produce in the Farm Shop were so good there was no need to shop anywhere else.

The following day we felt recovered enough to check out what the Mendip Hills have to offer. With the sun shining and a walk selected we headed off to East Harptree Woods. The woods are managed by the Forestry Commission so the paths were well laid out and easy going, just what we needed. The dense tree cover made quite a change from the more barren landscape that we had been used to over the past month. It was good to stretch our legs and loosen up, ready for a greater challenge the following day.

Smitham Chimney, the last of its kind

Smitham Chimney, the last of its kind

Chimney history

Chimney history

The famous English landmark of Cheddar Gorge (see below) was next on our list to explore and a circular walk around its rim was the plan. The day started with a drive across the Mendip Hills finishing with the spectacular decent through the gorge. Part way down we parked and got out to better appreciate the sheer cliffs that rose either side of the road, as high as 137m in places. Photo’s taken, we continued our drive down the gorge, into the town of Cheddar (where the famous cheese originated, a style of which is now produced all over the world) to the start of our walk.

Cheddar gorge view from the road

Cheddar gorge view from the road

Road through the Cheddar Gorge

Road through the Cheddar Gorge

Our route began with a steep 250m climb through woodland eventually emerging at the rim of the gorge. Even though it was a bit hazy, you could see for miles, all across north Somerset and as far as the Bristol Channel. We now followed a path close to the cliff edge and with views down into the gorge. At the half way point we descended down to the road before climbing up again on the other side. We were now on the opposite side of the gorge with more great views to take in. Every so often we would spot a small herd of goats munching at the foliage. These had been introduced to aid the biodiversity of the area. Our walk ended at a steep set of steps, known as “Jacobs Ladder”, which took us back to where the car was parked and the end of the circular walk.

Start of the Cheddar Gorge walk was quit steep as you can see on the photo

Start of the Cheddar Gorge walk was quit steep as you can see on the photo

Cheddar Gorge views from the other side

Cheddar Gorge views from the other side

We walked both side of the Gorge

We walked both side of the Gorge

Looking down the gorge

Looking down the gorge

Anne was due her second Covid-19 vaccine during our stay, we had arranged for this to be done locally. With that sorted, we switched our attention to a bit of sightseeing. Not far from the vaccine centre was the city of Wells and that’s where we went.
Wells has the distinction of being the smallest city in England. Although not being much more than a village it is designated a city due to its cathedral. The whole city has retained its period buildings making you feel that you have stepped back in time.
The 13th century cathedral dominates the city and that where our self guided tour started. Renovation scaffolding restricted our view and a film crew limited our access, but we were still able to appreciate what a magnificent building it is. Once we had finished admiring it from the outside we ventured inside. What struck you first was the amazing vaulted ceiling followed by an admiration of all the other stone work on display. The interior was an amalgam of almost 800 years of alterations and additions whilst the exterior courtyard had relics dating back to roman times.

Wells Cathedral

Wells Cathedral

Stone work on the outside of the Cathedral

Stone work on the outside of the Cathedral

Wells Cathedral Ceiling

Wells Cathedral Ceiling

A short walk from the cathedral is Vicar’s Close, and our next stop. A magnificently preserved medieval cobbled street, reputedly the oldest purely residential example in Europe. Vicar’s Close dates from the mid 14th century and, interestingly, the street narrows towards the end which makes it look longer from the entrance. Many of the residences were originally built to accommodate the chantry priests and are now Grade 1 listed buildings. Entry to the close is via a stone gateway, big enough for both pedestrian and wagon evidently, and once inside you feel cut of from everything outside. With very few tourist in town on our visit, we had the place almost to ourselves which made it all the more impressive.

Vicar's Close, Wells

Vicar's Close, Wells

Vicar's close

Vicar's close

At the end of Vicar's Close

At the end of Vicar's Close

From Vicar’s Close we skirted the old city, returning to the beautifully intact Market Place. Then past the famous conduit, originally a gift from Bishop Bekynton in 1451, and on to the Bishops Palace.
A stone gateway leads from the Market Place to the grounds of the Bishops Palace. A moat surrounds the palace and provides a pleasant waterside walk when we leave the city. A drawbridge gives access to the palace and a grassy courtyard. This was as far as we went before recrossing the drawbridge and heading back to the car. Around the corner from the drawbridge is a small bell which, historically, the swans of the moat were trained to ring when they required food. Charmingly this tradition continues and two of the resident swans are able to call for food service when ever hungry.

The Bishops Palace in Wells

The Bishops Palace in Wells

The bell that the swan ring to get food

The bell that the swan ring to get food

Bishops Palace resident swan

Bishops Palace resident swan

We thought Wells would be interesting but it exceeded expectations, we were so glad we made the visit.

The following day it was back into the Mendip Hills for another countryside excursion. A bit more energetic than planned but enjoyable all the same.

View from one of our many walks in Somerset

View from one of our many walks in Somerset

Any visit to this part of the world would not be complete without a day in Bath. We booked a couple of activities in advance, then planned our sightseeing around them. As with Wells we decided to do a self guided tour and started with what is probably Bath’s most famous landmark, the Pulteney Bridge (see below) over the River Avon and its crescent weir beneath it.

Pulteney Bridge

Pulteney Bridge

From the bridge we walked east to Bath’s 15th century Cathedral, built on the site of a 7th century abbey. Bath’s Roman Baths are right next to the cathedral but we left these as we were returning later for a detailed visit.

Bath Cathedral

Bath Cathedral

Moving on, passed the historic “Sally Lunn’s Eating House” (see below), down Bath Street, in front of the Theatre Royal then up hill towards the posher part of town. Half way up the hill we passed by the Jane Austin museum with people in period dress outside. Finally arriving at the top of the hill at the “Circus”.

Bath street

Bath street

Originally called the King's Circus, it was finished in 1768. The plaza consists of three large townhouse buildings, all forming a perfect circle at the meeting of Brock, Gay, and Bennett Streets. The name "Circus" comes from Latin and means a ring or circle.

King Circus (from the internet)

King Circus (from the internet)

It was a brief stop to admire the architecture and take a photo, then on to our next stop just a short walk away. We were now in the Royal Crescent. The buildings were originally only known as The Crescent, but "Royal" was added in the 18th century when Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany stayed here. This moon-shaped semicircular row of houses faces a sprawling lawn. The Crescent was built from 1767 to 1774 by John Wood, the Younger, who also completed The Circus. It is 500 feet long and contains 114 ionic columns and many other decorative and distinctive moldings. It is said to be the most stunning views of Georgian architecture that Bath has to offer.

Royal Crescent in Bath

Royal Crescent in Bath

Royal Crescent

Royal Crescent

Our route now took us back to the banks of the River Avon and the most leisurely part of the day. We had booked a river trip on one of the original vessels that plied these waters. Our thirty minute trip took us from Bath’s old industrial area up to Pulteney Bridge and back. We were the only cabin guests onboard so we received a personalised commentary from the guide.

Old Industrial Bath

Old Industrial Bath

View over Pulteney Bridge

View over Pulteney Bridge

Lunch followed the boat trip, then it was our last visit of the day, the Roman Baths (see below). The baths are housed in a victorian building and our visit was dictated by a one way system (to aid social distancing in the current climate). Numerous information boards explained the baths functionality as well as their history. A fascinating look back into times gone by.

Entrance to the Roman Baths but now the entrance to the Pump Room

Entrance to the Roman Baths but now the entrance to the Pump Room

Inside the Roman Baths

Inside the Roman Baths

Hot spring inside the Roman Baths

Hot spring inside the Roman Baths

It was now time for a change of country, as our next location was across the border in Wales. The journey was fairly short so we took the opportunity to visit Goodrich castles en route. The castle dates to the 12th century but was altered and modified during the subsequent 500 years. It was badly damaged in 1646 during an English Civil War battle and has remained a ruin ever since. There were very few other visitor when we were there, which made exploring all the more enjoyable.

Goodrich Castle

Goodrich Castle

Medieval Goodrich castle, a stop en route from Somerset to Wales

Medieval Goodrich castle, a stop en route from Somerset to Wales

one of the finest and best preserved of all English medieval castles: Goodrich Castle

one of the finest and best preserved of all English medieval castles: Goodrich Castle

Following the castle visit we continued into Wales and to our accommodation in the Wye Valley. Home for the next seven nights would be a rustic cottage just on the outskirts of Whitebrook village. The cottage sat on land owned by our friendly hosts, plus Rocket the dog, Brian the cat and Gypsy the pig. The Whitebrook River flowed by the edge of the property which in turn nestled in a wooded valley. With our own garden to enjoy the sunny weather, it was hard to motivate ourselves to explore the surrounding area.

Our Accommodation at Whitebrook

Our Accommodation at Whitebrook

6 month old Pet Pig

6 month old Pet Pig

However, we did manage to move ourselves on most days with walks in the local area. The Wye Valley is designated an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”, which our walks confirmed to be true. The walks normally comprised of river side paths and steep wooded hillsides with beautiful views from every vantage point; all the time being immersed in greenery and serenaded by bird song. There was also history to be learnt as each walk encountered reminders of industries long since gone but not forgotten.

River Wye (one side is England and the other Wales)

River Wye (one side is England and the other Wales)

Devil's Pulpit: Local myth states that the Devil created the Pulpit to preach to the Monks of Tintern, in the hopes that he could tempt them away from their religious ways

Devil's Pulpit: Local myth states that the Devil created the Pulpit to preach to the Monks of Tintern, in the hopes that he could tempt them away from their religious ways

View down to Tinten Abbey from the Devil's Pulpit

View down to Tinten Abbey from the Devil's Pulpit

Tintern Abbey and the Wye Valley

Tintern Abbey and the Wye Valley

View of the river Wye

View of the river Wye

Bridge between England & Wales over the river Wye

Bridge between England & Wales over the river Wye

Old industrial bridge across the river Wye

Old industrial bridge across the river Wye

Walk in the Wye Valley

Walk in the Wye Valley

Mill Stone

Mill Stone

The seven days flew by and we were now on our way to join friends and sample the delights of the Isle of White.

Personal Observations & Interesting Facts

Cheddar Gorge
Cheddar Gorge is a limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills, near the village of Cheddar, Somerset, England. The gorge is the site of the Cheddar show caves, where Britain's oldest complete human skeleton (“Cheddar Man”), estimated to be 9,000 years old was found in 1903. Above ground the area attracts both walkers and rock climbers.

Cheddar Gorge panoramic view

Cheddar Gorge panoramic view

Pulteney Bridge
Bath is a city of unique landmarks, and none are more recognisable than the Pulteney Bridge. Depending on who you trust, there are only one, two, or three other bridges in the world that are lined with shops. Whatever the exact number is, there certainly aren't many others like it.
The bridge opened in 1774 and was designed by Robert Adam. It was the brainchild of William Johnstone Pulteney, who named it after his wife, Frances. His vision was to create a new town nearby, but he needed a grand bridge to connect it to Bath. Adam's design was drafted in the Palladian style, harking back to the 16th-century Venetian architect Andrea Palladio.
The Pulteney Bridge is a World Heritage Site and an English Grade I Listed Building. You will find restaurants of various cuisines, independent shops, and Bath Rugby Club's official store along the bridge.

Pulteney Bridge from the boat

Pulteney Bridge from the boat

Sally Lunn’s Eating House
This is one of the oldest houses in Bath. As the story goes, Sally Lunn was a French immigrant who arrived in Bath in 1680 and established this bakery. The house was built around 1482, but the masonry oven and other elements on the ground floor date from around 1137.

Sally's Lunns House

Sally's Lunns House

The Roman Baths of Bath
The baths at Bath are fed by a natural spring system. Rain falls on the nearby Mendip Hills, and it flows down through limestone aquifers until it is more than 4,000m (13,100 feet) below ground level. Geothermal energy heats and pressurises the water, which rises to the surface and escapes through natural fissures. The 46 degree Celsius (115 degree Fahrenheit) water bubbles up at more than a million litres (250,000 gallons) per day.
This natural spring has attracted visitors to the area for more than 2,000 years. The Celts worshiped here, and the early Romans dedicated the springs to the goddess Sulis. As such, the Roman name of the town was Aquae Sulis. It is also believed that pre-Roman British king Bladud built the original baths here and that their healing powers cured him and his pigs of leprosy.
Between 60 and 70 AD, the Roman temple was built. The Baths, or thermae, were created over the next 300 years or so. After the Romans withdrew from Britain, their complex fell into disrepair and was gone by the 6th century.
Today the spring is housed inside an 18th-century building designed by John Wood, the Elder, and John Wood, the Younger. The buildings were further expanded during the Victorian era in a similar style. The main entrance is currently through the Grand Pump Room, where visitors drank the waters and many social functions were held.

Ground view of the Baths

Ground view of the Baths

Posted by MAd4travel 13:06 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (1)

Yorkshire Dales & Moors 2021

Route: Alstonefield - Great Asby - Newholm (Whitby) - Gunnerside

semi-overcast 18 °C

MAY-JUNE 2021

A three hour drive north from our previous location in the Peak District National Park (NP) found us in the far north west section of the Yorkshire Dales. We had chosen this area as it was an ideal location to visit both the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District (NP) plus the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Once again our base is on a farm, in another very comfortable property with beautiful views out of the front window. We arrived in the early afternoon and with the sun shining, enjoyed the rest of the day around the property. Our enjoyment peaked in late afternoon when we were treated to a display by some very acrobatic Red Squirrels. We had positioned ourselves in the sun on a garden swing seat when the squirrels appeared. They had been attracted by a feeder on a tree at the bottom of the garden and then began to squabble over access to its contents.
The Red Squirrel is an endangered species in England. It has been pushed to the brink of extinction by the introduction of the North American Grey Squirrel in the 1870’s. Therefore every sighting is a rare pleasure.

About to enter the self service restaurant

About to enter the self service restaurant

Acrobatic Red Squirrel looking for his dinner

Acrobatic Red Squirrel looking for his dinner

Eaten too much to leave the restaurant

Eaten too much to leave the restaurant

Private dinning

Private dinning

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

Male Pheasant

Male Pheasant

Male Pheasant in beautiful mating plumage

Male Pheasant in beautiful mating plumage

The farm we stayed at Great Asby

The farm we stayed at Great Asby

During our stay, rain was again going to play a major role in our daily activities. We kept a close eye on the weather forecast and it paid dividends. Each day we dodged the heavy downpours and enjoyed the area to the full.

We started with a visit to our local market town of Appleby-in-Westmorland. The aim of the visit was to do a weekly shop but we found this attractive town worth having a good look around. Lots of period building, nice shops selling local produce and a farmers market kept us amused for a good couple of hours.

We planned two visits into the Lake District NP and picked the days with the best weather forecast. Unfortunately this was reduced to one visit due to car problems, a mysterious fault that seem to cure itself.
Our only remaining foray in to the Lake District was to Mardale Head at the far end of Haweswater Reservoir. This point gave us access to the eastern mountains around the peaks of Harter Fell (774m) and High Street (828m). Our aim wasn’t to summit either but to climb up as far as Small Water Lake. It was a steady climb up a stone strewn path, which seamed to double up as a shallow stream for much of the way. Mountain peaks rose all around us and our route followed the Mardale River as it tumbled over small waterfalls on its way down to the reservoir. After about an hour we reached our goal, a small mountain lake encircled by cliffs. The views from here were amazing, as they had been all the way up. After taking in the scenery we turned around and retraced our steps to the car park at Mardale Head.

Starting our walk in Lake District NP

Starting our walk in Lake District NP

Mardale walk Lake District NP

Mardale walk Lake District NP

Close to our base in Great Asby is the Great Asby Scar; an upland moor with elevations over 400 meters. Our walk didn’t have a planned route, more of an amble to see the scenery and rock formations. All across the moor are exposed rocks, many packed close together giving the impression of a man-made pavement, but are actually natural formations created by soil erosion. The best examples of these pavements were beyond the limits of our walk but we did see enough to appreciate the structures. Being so high up gave us great views all around. On one side the North Pennines were clearly visible and on the other the mountains of the Lake District.

Weather over the moors

Weather over the moors

Walking toward Great Asby Scar

Walking toward Great Asby Scar

Great Asby Scar

Great Asby Scar

Away from the more remote walking locations we took in a bit of cultural and town history.
A visit to Brougham Castle (pronounced Broom) gave us an insight into life between the 13th and 17th centuries and was in a beautiful setting on the banks of the River Eamont nestled in the Eden Valley.

Brougham Castle (phonetic Broom)

Brougham Castle (phonetic Broom)

The largest town in the area was Penrith. Steeped in history, we thought we would have a look around. The old town centre was the most interesting and had plaques at strategic points explaining the local history.

Penrith town

Penrith town

Giant's Grave

Giant's Grave

Story behind the Giant's Grave

Story behind the Giant's Grave

We also spent quite a lot of time at our accommodation. It was very comfortable, in a beautiful location and served as a great place to relax come rain or shine.

Our next location required us to cross the country from west to east. Passing through a scenic corridor between the North Pennines (AONB) and the Yorkshire Dales NP. Then entering the northern section of the North York Moors NP (see below) and on to the east coast near Whitby. Scenic it might be, but on the day of our journey we had heavy rain all the way and saw very little of it.

Home for the next week was a compact cottage on the outskirts of Whitby just inside the North York Moors NP.
Needing to do some food shopping we combined this task with a look around Whitby. An attractive coastal town where the River Esk spills out into the North Sea. It still retains evidence of its historic past and has a famous former resident in Captain James Cook (see below) who was born nearby and did his merchant navy apprenticeship there.

Swing bridge at Whitby

Swing bridge at Whitby

Whitby

Whitby

The wet weather had become a bit of a theme over the past few weeks and was again with us for our stay in the North York Moors. This put some restrictions on our outdoor activities with two days pretty much washed out.

Stormy day at Sandsend

Stormy day at Sandsend

For the rest of the time we dodged the showers and got out to see this beautiful part of England.
Two river walks got us out on to the moors. Both a bit slippery under foot after all the rain, but enjoyable all the same.

North York Moor walk

North York Moor walk

Falling Foss (67 feet heigh)

Falling Foss (67 feet heigh)

A cliff walk under a rare bit of sunshine got a view of the coast. Which also included the picturesque coastal village of Staithes.

Staithes Harbour

Staithes Harbour

North Yorkshire coastal walk

North Yorkshire coastal walk

And a visit to this part of the world wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Whitby Abbey. Despite the intermittent rain we braved the elements and went to look around. Whitby Abbey (see below) is an impressive ruin steeped in history and commanding a prominent position perched on top of a cliff overlooking Whitby harbour. Access is via 199 steps from the harbour or from the car park next to the abbey, we choose the later. We also visited the adjacent church for the views over the harbour, but then retreated back to the car as the rain got heavier.

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

199 Steps from Whitby to the Abbey

199 Steps from Whitby to the Abbey

We were now on the move again. Our seven nights in the North York Moors had flown by leaving so much more to see. For our next location it was back into the Yorkshire Dales NP with a visit to the city of York en route.
The sun was shining as we drove south across the moors, showing off the stunning scenery to the best effect. By the time we arrived in York a light rain had began to fall, but it didn’t dampen our spirits. We parked in the city centre and started our walk with a stroll through the Museum Gardens. The gardens are a tranquil place right next to the River Ouse. Well managed lawns wrap around historic ruins making it a very pleasant place to be. Of all the ruins the garden has to offer the 11th century remains of St Mary’s Abbey are the most impressive.

Immediately upon leaving the gardens the next impressive structure to come in to sight is York Minster. The size of York Minster makes it very imposing, one of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe. The stone work and stained glass windows are of the highest craftsmanship.

York Minster

York Minster

Historic York

Historic York

After a short walk along the remains of the Roman City Wall we made our way into the heart of the old York. Cobbled streets led us to the famous “Shambles” district (see below) and onto York’s shortest street, Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate (see below). By now the rain was getting harder so we retreated to a rather nice Italian restaurant for a spot of lunch.
Our self guided tour of York was now complete and we continued our journey into the the Yorkshire Dales NP.

Home for the next week was a cottage in the picturesque village of Gunnerside. Although the cottage was pretty average, the view from the upstairs windows was amazing. Sitting low in the dale (valley) we had moorland topped hills rising either side and the River Swale just below us.

The village of Gunnerside

The village of Gunnerside

The weather was great the whole stay, which allowed us to get out and explore the beautiful countryside on our doorstep.

We started and ended our stay with walks from our front door.
The first required a steep ascent up a farm road to reach a ridge that looked down onto the village. The views from up there were extensive and breathtaking. Once on the ridge we walked east for a while negotiating livestock as we went, we even had an inquisitive sheep for company part of the way. We choose a diagonal traverse of the hillside for our route back, which in part was a bit steep and slippery. Safely back in the village we were eager to explore more, but that would have to wait for another day.

Walking the moors Gunnerside Hill

Walking the moors Gunnerside Hill

Remote house above Gunnerside

Remote house above Gunnerside

Gunnerside Hill walk

Gunnerside Hill walk

The second was a more gentle climb, albeit a longer one, up an old mining road to reach the ridge above Gunnerside Gill. It seemed like another world up there. Apart from a few farm buildings and lead mining ruins the land all around us was left to nature. We met no other humans and just had a few sheep, a Curlew and Skylark for company. Behind us were green pastures and ahead of us was open moorland, no road access and minimal foot traffic. We stopped regularly to take photos and absorb the atmosphere. After about 4km we reached the point where the path dropped down into the valley. We couldn’t see the benefit of the extra exertion so returned the way we came. A hearty lunch in the local pub followed as a reward for our morning exercise.

Start of the Gunnerside Gill walk

Start of the Gunnerside Gill walk

Gunnerside Gill walk

Gunnerside Gill walk

Views on the Gunnerside Gill walk

Views on the Gunnerside Gill walk

Six miles down the road from us was the village of Reeth. It was here that our next walk started. From our parking spot in the centre of the village we walked down to the banks of the River Swale. Almost immediately we crossed it via a new bridge, the old one having been washed away in a recent flood. Our route now took us along the river bank as far as the hamlet of Grinton. Here we crossed the river once more and made our way back to Reeth. A pleasant walk, but without the dramatic scenery our other walks had offered us.

View of river walk at Reeth

View of river walk at Reeth

Reeth was much livelier when we got back, as it was their festival weekend. A band of drummers were playing on the edge of village green. In the centre, massive kites were being launched in to the sky, not always successfully. And all around families were picnicking whilst enjoying the sunshine and entertainment.

Reeth Festival Day

Reeth Festival Day

Unsual Kite flying

Unsual Kite flying

For us, thirst and hunger was at the forefront of our minds so we headed for the pub for a beer and Sunday roast. I had roast beef and Anne roast Chicken, both with the largest Yorkshire Pudding we had ever seen. Well, I suppose we are in the county of Yorkshire after all. Now, I said Anne had roast chicken, that is not strictly true as the slab of meat fall off the plate just before arriving at the table. The young waiter was mortified, but we quailed his concerns by explaining that Anne was only really interested in the Yorkshire Pudding and vegetables anyway.
Fed and watered, we returned to our cottage.

The next day we went in the opposite direction to the tiny village of Keld which sits next to the River Swale. A this point the river tumbles over a number of waterfalls cutting its way through a gorge, down to the valley floor and the attractive village of Muker.
Our plan was to walk towards Muker and turn back when the path got steep. This plan soon got abandoned when we found ourselves in such beautiful scenery and the greed to see more kept us going. In the end we walked almost to Muker before crossing a bridge over the river and returning up the opposite side of the gorge. This was a tough one but rewarded by the views all around us.

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Running low on provisions, we decided to combine the next day with a bit of sightseeing and shopping.
First stop was the Buttertubs Pass, a high road that allows transit between the Swaledale and Wensleydale districts of the Yorkshire Dales NP. A stop near the top provided us great views over Swaledale.

Butter Tubs Pass

Butter Tubs Pass

Once over the pass we made our way to the village of Hardraw. A pretty village in its own right but the main draw is its waterfall. Around the back of the Green Dragon Inn and in a private gardens is the highest single drop waterfall in England, Hardraw Force. The gardens have been allowed to grow wild in some places which benefits the atmosphere. A short walk to the foot of the falls rewards you with a good view of the drop.

Hardraw Force fall

Hardraw Force fall

Finally it was time to do some shopping and the market town of Hawes was our destination for this. Local cheeses and honey were purchased from a market stall, whilst our bread, meat and general groceries were provided by the local shops in the high street. Shopping done and after a quick look around the town, we headed back over the Buttertubs Pass towards home.

In pursuit of a late lunch, we stopped in the village of Muker as the Farmers Arms pub had been recommended. Unfortunately it was closed on Tuesday’s so we had a look around a local gallery instead. The gallery was full of beautiful art work and we made a few small purchases to help the local economy.
With no pub lunch, we returned home and set about preparing a meal from the lovely ingredients just purchased in Hawes.

Our last adventure in the Yorkshire Dales was maybe our favourite, although its hard to say, they had been all very good. After a drive up onto moorland, our walk started in the village of Langthwaite and on the edge of Booze Moor. A level start following the Arkle Beck preceded a steady climb, first through woodland then out into open countryside. Our path now ran along the west side of the Slei Gill, a steep sided valley that channeled a small river from the moors above us. We continued to climb with only the noise of nature around us. Buzzards circled above our heads whilst the remains of their dinner lay at our feet (surprising number of rabbit carcasses). We were alone, not another human anywhere to be seen. It was beautifully peaceful, that was until three airforce fighter jets flew low over our heads breaking the silence.

Going up on Booze Moor

Going up on Booze Moor

Moors walk from Langthwaite

Moors walk from Langthwaite

Floral Yorkshire Dales

Floral Yorkshire Dales

Well deserved lunch in the Dales

Well deserved lunch in the Dales

However, peace was soon restored and we continued our climb, past the remains of the lead mining industry and up onto Booze moor. By now there were very few trees and all we could see was heather. Buzzards were still catching thermals above our heads but now we could hear Grouse, hidden amongst the heather. We traversed the moor for a short way before circling back towards our starting point. It wasn’t long before the small community of Booze came into sight, then a steep decent back down into Langthwaite completed a very enjoyable walk. Before returning to the car we felt it was only right to give something back to the village, so a pint each in the local pub seemed mandatory.
The day was then completed by a very nice pub lunch on our way home.

Sadly our time in the Yorkshire Dales was now up and we drove south for more adventures.

Personal Observations & Interesting Facts

North York Moors National Park
The North York Moors is an upland area in north-eastern Yorkshire, England. It contain one of the largest expanses of heather moorland in the United Kingdom. The area was designated as a National Park in 1952 and covers 1,436 km².

North York Moors

North York Moors

Captain James Cook
Captain James Cook (7/11/1728 to 14/2/1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the British Royal Navy, famous for his three voyages between 1768 and 1779 in the Pacific Ocean and Australia in particular. His life and achievements are far to great to record here but additional reading is highly recommended for anyone interested in British maritime history.

Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey was a 7th-century Christian monastery that later became a Benedictine abbey. The abbey church was situated overlooking the North Sea on the East Cliff above Whitby in North Yorkshire, England, a centre of the medieval Northumbrian kingdom.
In 664 the Synod of Whitby took place at the monastery to resolve the question of whether the Northumbrian church would adopt and follow Celtic Christian traditions or adopt Roman practice, including the manner of calculating the date of Easter and form of the monastic tonsure. The decision, with the support of King Oswy, was for adopting Roman practices and the date of Easter was set.
The abbey and its possessions were confiscated by the crown under Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536 and 1545. Since that time, the ruins of the abbey have continued to be used by sailors as a landmark at the headland. In the 20th century, the substantial ruins of the church have been declared a Grade I Listed Building and are in the care of English Heritage.
The abbey is a setting in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” (1897). Count Dracula, as a creature resembling a large dog, which came ashore at the Whitby headland, runs up the 199 steps to the graveyard of St Mary’s Church, in the shadow of the abbey ruins.

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

The “Shambles”, York
The Shambles is an old street lined with overhanging timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the fourteenth century. It was once known as The Great Flesh Shambles, probably from the Anglo-Saxon Fleshammels (literally 'flesh- shelves'), the word for the shelves that butchers used to display their meat. As recently as 1872 twenty-five butchers' shops were located along the street, but now none remain.
Although the butchers have now vanished, a number of the shops on the street still have meat-hooks hanging outside and, below them, shelves on which meat was displayed. Today the shops include a mix of restaurants, bookshop, bakeries and “Harry Potter” memorabilia.

The Shambles in York

The Shambles in York

Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate
Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate is the shortest streets in York. It is currently a length of raised pavement between St Crux church hall and a road junction.
The origin of the name is unclear. A plaque erected in the street states that it derives from a phrase Whitnourwhatnourgate meaning "What a street!", but most modern sources translate the phrase as "Neither one thing nor the other". The city's whipping post and stocks were here in the middle ages, which may have influenced the change to the modern spelling and has certainly provided an alternative folk ethymology.

Shortest Street Plaque

Shortest Street Plaque

Shortest Street in York

Shortest Street in York

Yorkshire Dales National Park
The Yorkshire Dales is an upland area of the Pennines in the historic county of Yorkshire, England. Most of the 2,179 km² is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, created in 1954.
The Dales comprise of river valleys and the hills. Rising from the Vale of York westwards to the hilltops of the Pennines. With the exception of Ribblesdale, Dentdale and Gardale all of the valleys drain eastwards into the River Ouse and the River Humber. The extensive limestone cave systems makes it a major area for caving in the UK and the numerous trails that run through the hills and dales make it ideal for walking.

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Posted by MAd4travel 12:13 Archived in England Comments (1)

Peak District, England 2021

Route: Hove - Alstonefield - Great Asby

rain 8 °C

MAY 2021

Considering it was a Friday afternoon and the start of a long bank holiday weekend, our journey to the Peak District National Park wasn’t too bad. A couple of motorway accidents caused us to detour or make slow progress, but we still arrived at our accommodation soon after 6:00pm. It had been a busy day as I (Malc) had my second Covid vaccination before we left Hove.
Home for the next two weeks was a very comfortable apartment on a farm in the southern section of the Peak District National Park (see below). The sprulling apartment had two bedrooms so Rob joined us for the first week. To add to the comfort, the view out of each window was beautiful. Rolling hills filled with sheep, fields bound by neat dry walling and small hamlets, could all be seen from our elevated position.

Our accommodation on the first floor on the right side of the photos

Our accommodation on the first floor on the right side of the photos

View from the front of our accommodation

View from the front of our accommodation

Arriving at Paddock Farm Accommodation

Arriving at Paddock Farm Accommodation

Break in the rain

Break in the rain



The weather forecast for our stay didn’t look too good. We needed to plan our activities carefully, avoiding the rain when ever possible.
Our first day started off sunny so we pilled into the car and headed for the town of Bakewell. A journey through the country side, passing quaint villages with picturesque buildings got us to our destination.
Bakewell is an attractive and bustling market town famous for its jam and frangipane tarts. It was busy the day we were there, due mainly to the good weather and it being the first bank holiday after lockdown. We spent a couple of hours looking around and sampling those famous tarts, before leaving for a less busy location deeper in the countryside. We had to cross a foot bridge from the car park into town and were intrigued by the large fish we could see in the river that flowed beneath it. The water was very clear so we could get a good look at them, later finding out that they were wild Rainbow Trout.

Bakewell

Bakewell

Bakewell houses

Bakewell houses

On route back to our accommodation we stopped in the delightful village of Hartington. The plan was to look at the 13th century church, wander around the village and take in some outdoor refreshment (as part of the government plan out of Covid lockdown, pubs and restaurants can only serve food and drink outside at the moment). The church visit was completed successfully but before we could do anything else a sudden hail storm sent us racing back to the car and ended the days activities prematurely.

With the sunshine continuing into day two, further outdoor activities were the order of the day. Unfortunately Anne had hurt her foot so decided to sit out the days walk. The Tissington Trail (see below) looked of interest to Rob and I, so we selected two sections and set of to see what they had to offer. Our first section started just outside Hartington and took us north as far as Parsley Hay. We then turned around and retraced our steps. The elevated ground of the old railway line provided great views over the surrounding Peak District.

Hartington Railway signal box on the Tissington Trail

Hartington Railway signal box on the Tissington Trail

From Hartington we drove to Ashbourne, parked the car and started our second section of the Tissington Trail. This section was far more busy, with walker and cyclists everywhere. It was also more varied, if not so scenic. We first walked south to take in the Ashbourne tunnel then turned back and walked a couple of miles north before returning back to the car park. This part of the trail cuts through a much more built up area and is tree lined making it a different experience to that of our first section.

Tissington Trail, Ashbourne Railway Tunnel

Tissington Trail, Ashbourne Railway Tunnel

The following day it was all change. The rain had returned with vengeance and accompanied by strong winds. Rob and I braved the elements to go food shopping in Buxton, but beyond that it was a day of TV and board games.

Thankfully the rain abated by the next day but had not fully gone away. The three of us explored the Peak’s border town of Ashbourne in the morning. In the afternoon Rob and I dodged the heavy showers during a visit to Tissington Village.
Ashbourne is steeped in history with architecture from many periods. We parked in Market Square, the centre of the old town, and walked around the streets branching off from it. Endless shops selling local fare drew our interest making it hard to resist the lovely bread, cakes and other goodies that where on offer. Needless to say our willpower gave way to our desires and we brought home a number of things we didn’t really need.

Ashbourne main street

Ashbourne main street

When we embarked on the afternoon activities the sun was shining. It was still shining when we arrived in Tissington, then it became a game of cat and mouse. We would take cover under the trees in the church yard when the frequent downpours came and quickly explore the village during the brief spells of sunshine. Tissington is a very attractive village and well worth the visit, shame about the weather.

Tissington Hall

Tissington Hall

Mother duck and duckling

Mother duck and duckling

Coots and family

Coots and family

Tissington pond

Tissington pond

Ducklings

Ducklings

Chatsworth House was one of the key visits we wanted to achieve during Rob’s stay with us. We had been monitoring the weather and his last day looked the best bet, so we booked our tickets. Unfortunately the house wasn’t open due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, the gardens were and that’s what we visited.
The House sits in a river valley with rolling Peak District hills all around. The gardens cover a vast area at the back of the house and stretch up a hillside. We started from the manicured lawns close to the house and then made our way up the hillside into the woodland. Water flowed all over the estate creating ponds and cutting gullies on its way. It had even been diverted to cascade down steps leading to the house. Unusual architectural structures were in abundance and complimented the natural woodland. Walking around the grounds kept us amused for almost two hours, it was then a quick visit to the gift shop before heading off to find a pub for lunch. As enjoyable as it was the £14.00 per person entry fee did seem a bit steep.

Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House

Chatsworth House and its gardens

Chatsworth House and its gardens

Art sculpture of concrete cube with forest eco system growing inside

Art sculpture of concrete cube with forest eco system growing inside

There are spy holes drilled in the concrete cube to view the forest growing inside

There are spy holes drilled in the concrete cube to view the forest growing inside

The maze

The maze

Some garden views in Chatsworth Ground

Some garden views in Chatsworth Ground

Water feature at Chatsworth House

Water feature at Chatsworth House

At this point in the UK’s Covid-19 recovery period, pubs were now open but only able to serve food and drink outside. With not all pubs having outside facilities this did restrict our choice. We choose The Bull in the lovely village of Ashford in the Water and were lucky that they had a tables available. The sun was shining so we selected a table without the protection of a canopy. This decision soon turned out to be foolhardy as almost as soon as we sat down dark clouds appeared and drops of rain quickly followed. Spotting a table under the cover of the canopy we swiftly changed location just as the havens opened very soon afterwards. The food and drink were very nice but the cold soon got to us, so we paid and left. By now the sun had come out again which encouraged us to look around the village before heading home.

It was now time for Rob to leave us, he had to go back to work, what ever that is? Oh yes, I remember, we used to have to do that.
Therefore after a leisurely start to the day we drove him to Derby railway station and bid him a fond farewell, then returned to the apartment for lunch. The weather had now taken a turn for the worse once again so we chilled out for the rest of the day.

We had identified a local walk we wanted to do. The following morning with the sun shining we made our way to the little village of Wetton, just a few miles away.
This was a circular walk that took us out of the village and up into the Wetton hills. As we gained height the views became more and more spectacular. The route then descended into a steep sided valley that cut its way between two hills before emerging at the Manifold River, all the time weaving between flocks of sheep and lambs, obviously very used to walkers as they could barely be bothered to move out of our path.

Peak District Scenery walking in Wetton Hills

Peak District Scenery walking in Wetton Hills

We followed the Manifold River for a while with the sight of Thor cave high up on a hill in front of us. The cave has been formed by an ancient river, with land movement eventually exposing it as a gaping hole in the hillside. In the past it has been used as a shelter for animals and humans, with remains of a Giant Red Deer and Bear found during excavations.

View towards Thor Cave

View towards Thor Cave

Thor Cave

Thor Cave

Our route now took us up a muddy a slippery slop before emerging back into the village of Wetton. A very enjoyable walk indeed and it remained sunny without even a hint of rain, that arrived later.

Rain dominated proceedings for the remainder of our stay limiting what we were able to do. One day was a complete wash out and on some of the others we were limited to a bit of sightseeing and chores, whilst dodging heavy showers.
One of those chores involved a visit to the Minor Injuries Unit at Buxton Hospital. Which can now be added to the list of hospitals visited around the world during the past five years of travelling.
Anne had injured her shoulder a couple months ago but felt that it was getting better, albeit very slowly. Then she slipped in the shower and made it worse. The injury consisted of a sharp pain in the right shoulder when ever she moved it beyond a certain angle. We therefore felt it was time to get some medical advice, hence our hospital visit. The paramedic on duty believed the cause of the pain was the result of damage to the Rotator Cuff tendons. He suggested anti-inflammatory treatment and specific exercises and if it doesn’t improve an MRI. So for the moment we are following his advice and will arrange an MRI, if necessary, when we get back to Brighton next month.

However, not all of our last few days in the Peak District were affected by rain, we did have two sunny days, which we made the most of.

For the first, we decided to visit the historic site of Minninglow Hill. From the car park we climbed up onto a disused railway line and began our walk with Minninglow Hill every present in our line of sight. This elevated position gave us great views over the Derbyshire Dales (incorporated in the southern section of the Peak District National Park) and a fine vantage point to appreciate some 19th century engineering (the railway line was built in the 1820’s making it one of the oldest in the world). As the line bent to the contours of the land we could see the impressive rock structure it had been built upon.

Trail along the top of the old Railway line

Trail along the top of the old Railway line

View over the old railway line

View over the old railway line

Just after an old quarry and rusting railway machinery we entered a field and began to climb. Our goal was a ring of trees perched on the top of Minninglow Hill. Once at the top a gap in the trees allowed us to enter what seemed like another world. A circle of trees formed an enclosure, one that had been in use since Neolithic times. In the centre were stone structures used for burials during the Bronze Age and earlier. Excavations in the 19th century found the chambers below the stones to contain human bones, including one full skeleton. They also found Roman coins and Romano-British pottery.

Minninglow Hill Burial Site

Minninglow Hill Burial Site

Bronze Age bowls barrow

Bronze Age bowls barrow

Our route now descended down the other side of the hill carefully negotiating a field with a bull in it. To be fare, he was on the opposite side from us and surrounded by all his girls and their offspring. That danger safely avoided we reached a farm lane only to discover we had also avoided another. At this point a sign informed us that the area we had just crossed could have hidden mine-shafts and should we fall down one, to inform the Coal Authority.

Warning signs of BULL

Warning signs of BULL

Caution: mine shafts

Caution: mine shafts

At this point we took a short detour to look at an old victorian pump house, before following a narrow lane back to our starting point. Another enjoyable walk with a bit of British history thrown in for good measure.

On the second sunny day we chose to challenge ourselves with a longer walk. We started from the delightful village of Hartington. From the centre of the village we climbed steadily, taking in magnificent views all around us, before descending into the small hamlet of Biggin.

Hartington

Hartington

Hartington Walk

Hartington Walk

Our route now took us along the bottom of a steep sided valley known as Biggin Dale. The grassy approach was pleasant underfoot but this soon turned to loose stones which made the going more ponderous.

Biggin Dale walk

Biggin Dale walk

We emerged from Biggin Dale at the River Dove then followed it up-stream through first Wolfscote Dale and then Beresford Dale. Steep cliffs reached up either side of us as we followed the river’s path. Dippers and Grey Wagtails fed in the fast flowing water and seemed oblivious to our presence.

Orchids

Orchids

Dipper

Dipper

Walking in the Peak District NP

Walking in the Peak District NP

Finally we left the river to climb a small hill, then it was down hill back into Hartington. As a reward for our exertions and to support the local economy in these difficult times, we lingered in the village purchasing some local produce. Loaded with numerous bottles of beer, cakes, jams, pastries, etc, we returned to the car and drove home.

That brought an end to our Peak District visit and the following day we drove north for further adventures.

Personal Observations & Interesting Facts

Peak District National Park
The Peak District is an upland area in centre of England at the southern end of the Pennines. Mostly in northern Derbyshire, it includes parts of Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.
It is usually split into the Dark Peak, where most moorland is found and the geology is gritstone, and the White Peak, a limestone area of valleys and gorges that cut through the limestone plateau.
The Dark Peak forms an arc on the north, east and west sides; whilst the White Peak covers the central and southern tracts.
It became the first National Park of England and Wales in 1951 and its proximity to Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent, Derby and Sheffield brings millions of visitors each year. Some 20 million people live within an hour's journey.
Inhabited from the Mesolithic era, it shows evidence from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages. Settled by the Romans and Anglo-Saxons, it remained largely agricultural until mining grew in importance in the Middle Ages. Richard Arkwright built cotton mills early in the industrial revolution. As mining declined, quarrying grew then tourism followed.
Today it is a mecca for walking, cycling, rock climbing and caving.

Peak District Views

Peak District Views

Scenery in the Peak District

Scenery in the Peak District

Main road in the Peak District, don't want to meet a tractor coming the other way

Main road in the Peak District, don't want to meet a tractor coming the other way

Sunset in the Peak District

Sunset in the Peak District

Tissington Trail
The London and North Western Railway (LNWR), between Buxton and Ashbourne, first opened in 1899. Following the closure of the line around seventy years later, the Peak District National Park bought the route and turned it into a traffic free trail for walkers and cyclists. Now known as the Tissington Trail, it runs for 13 miles from Parsley Hay in the north to Ashbourne in the south.

Tissington Trail

Tissington Trail

Chatsworth House
Chatsworth House is a stately home in the Derbyshire Dales. It’s the seat of the Duke of Devonshire and has belonged to the Cavendish family since 1549. The house stands on the east bank of the River Derwent, across from hills between the Derwent and Wye valleys, amid parkland backed by wooded hills that rise to heather moorland. The house holds major collections of paintings, furniture, Old Master drawings, neoclassical sculptures and books. Chosen several times as Britain's favourite country house, it is a Grade I listed property from the 18th century, altered in the 19th. The property is owned by the Chatsworth House Trust, a fully independent charitable foundation, on behalf of the Cavendish family.

Chatsworth House Grand View

Chatsworth House Grand View

Posted by MAd4travel 11:33 Archived in England Comments (1)

Devon, England 2021

Route: Hove - Milton Combe - Umberleigh - Hove

sunny 12 °C

APRIL 2021

After a brief lockdown period at our usual abode in the New Forest, and on the 12th April 2021, we escaped confinement and headed west to South Devon.

Daffodil and resident ants

Daffodil and resident ants

Fallow Deer

Fallow Deer

Pig on the run, makes a change from ponies

Pig on the run, makes a change from ponies

Pony and trap in New Forest NP

Pony and trap in New Forest NP

Our stay in South Devon was just for four nights, shorter than we had originally planned but forced upon us by National Lockdown rules. Our base was a beautiful apartment on a farm, in the tiny community of Milton Combe. Milton Combe is right on the edge of Dartmoor National Park and it is there that our activities took place.

We didn’t venture far on our first day, just down the road to Burrator Reservoir. Devon roads are notoriously narrow but the access road to the reservoir was exceptionally so. With stone walls on either side and the width not much greater than the car itself. It was worth the effort though as the surrounding area is beautiful, with towering Tors (see below) either side of a forest wrapped body of water.

Lambing season in full bloom in Dartmoor

Lambing season in full bloom in Dartmoor

Dartmoor Hill Pony

Dartmoor Hill Pony

Our target today was to walk up to the summit of Sheeps Tor, which we duly achieved, the highest point in the area at 367m above sea level. After a short road section we turned off onto a grass track and began to climb. We choose the longer less steep route as we had plenty of time. The first thing we noticed was how peaceful it was, with very few other tourists the only sound came from the dry grass under our feet and a woodpecker attacking a tree somewhere in the forest. Once at the summit the views were spectacular; the forest and reservoir beneath us, the Atlantic Ocean to the south and open moorland to the north. We wandered around the top for a bit, searching out the best photo opportunities, before starting our decent back to the car. It was still very peaceful, with only the sound of a distant Buzzard joining the Woodpecker breaking the silence.

View from Sheep Tor in Dartmoor NP

View from Sheep Tor in Dartmoor NP

Sheep Tor

Sheep Tor

Day two found us in the heart of Dartmoor at a place called Postbridge. We were here to undertake a circular walk across the moors, but before that there was a historic “Clapper Bridge” (see below) to check out.

Clapper Bridge alongside bridge build in 1780

Clapper Bridge alongside bridge build in 1780

Leaving the 13th Century “Clapper Bridge” (and its newer 18th century road bridge) behind us, we started our walk along the banks of the East Dart River. Our route then turned us away from the river, across meadows and out onto open moorland. We were now alone with only moorland sheep and bird song for company. This continued for the remainder of the walk, bar a few picnickers and Dartmoor ponies. Three hours later and we were back at the car park, tired but invigorated by our exertions.

Walking on Dartmoor and more remains of clapper bridge

Walking on Dartmoor and more remains of clapper bridge

View over the Clapper bridge and the road bridge build in 1780

View over the Clapper bridge and the road bridge build in 1780



For our last full day in Dartmoor we thought we should visit its number one attraction: Haytor (number one mainly due to its easy accessibility from the road and closeness to the major city of Exeter). As the name suggests Haytor is a Tor (see below) and quite a spectacular one at that, said to be the Ayers Rock (Uluru to use its correct name) of Dartmoor. From the car park it was a short stroll to this impressive geological formation. We resisted the temptation to climb to its summit and continued past, making for an old granite quarries down in the adjacent valley. All around us were magnificent views and photo opportunities a plenty.

Haytor

Haytor

Haytor

Haytor

Dartmoor scenery along Haytor walk

Dartmoor scenery along Haytor walk

Our route followed an old stone tramway, once used to transport granite out of the area, before veering away to investigate more outcrops. Finally we circled back to where we started but not before taking in more of the stunning scenery and passing by a small herd of Dartmoor Hill Ponies, maybe ancestors of those that pulled the carts on the tramway we had walked along earlier.

Granite tracks of the old tramway

Granite tracks of the old tramway

Dartmoor hill pony

Dartmoor hill pony

Having had nice weather throughout our short stay in Dartmoor, we felt we had achieved a lot in the three days and were ready for new adventures in the north of the county. From Milton Combe we travelled 65 miles north to our next location of Umberleigh. The advantage of the short distance was that it allowed us time for one more visit in Dartmoor.
Our choice was a circular walk along the banks of the River Teign. We choose a section close to its source on Dartmoor where it cuts through a narrow gorge. From the car park at Fingle Bridge we walked up-stream flanked by steep wooded slopes, before crossing another bridge to return on the opposite bank. The fast flowing crystal clear waters is a haven for birdlife which added to the enjoyment of the walk.

Teign Gorge walk

Teign Gorge walk

Our new home was again on a farm in a lovely converted cattle shed. We were now in North Devon, in a village called Umberleigh, not far from Barnstaple. Following the busyness of the last few days we decided to take it easy for the first part of our stay in North Devon.
A stroll on the farm estate, a look around Barnstaple and what should have been a short walk in Braunton (it didn’t look far on the map, we should have measured it, nearly 10km was not the plan) was our exercise over the first three days. This gave us time to appreciate the relaxing atmosphere provided by our latest accommodation.

Barnstable church spire

Barnstable church spire

Our exploration of the area really got started on day four. With the sun shining, which has been the case since arriving in Devon, we headed out for a coastal walk. Our chosen destination was only 20 miles away but it took the best part of an hour to reach it, courtesy of the narrow lanes in North Devon. The lovely little coastal village of Combe Martin was our starting point and the towering cliffs above us was our goal.
A steep climb through a wooded hillside gave us access to a cliff path and from there we could see our first target, the high cliff viewpoint known as Little Hangman (see below). It was uphill almost all the way but the view at the top was magnificent. A calm turquoise sea lay beneath and in front of us, the jagged cliffs of the North Devon coast could be seen either side of us and the rolling hills of Exmoor National Park were behind us. We stayed a while admiring the scenery before moving on and ever upwards towards our second goal, the even higher viewpoint of Great Hangman. Great Hangman was equally spectacular and provided a sense of achievement when we arrived. Our guide book suggested heading inland to return to Combe Martin but the coastal scenery was so beautiful that we retraced our steps instead.

Cliff view back towards Combe Martin

Cliff view back towards Combe Martin

Great Hangman

Great Hangman

On our arrival back in Combe Martin we were in time to witness some unusual activity on the beach. Whilst we had been away, 14 rescued Grey Seals had been released back into the wild. But a few of them weren’t keen on the idea and preferred the comfort of the rehabilitation centre. These few were still in the small bay hoping to get recaptured, one in particular was bobbing around very close to shore. We watched for awhile and then headed home, not knowing how the day ended for the seals.

Grey seal

Grey seal

Exmoor beckoned again on the following day. This time we followed the East Lyn River from it mouth to its confluence with the West Lyn River at Riversmeet. Our starting point was the small holiday town of Lynmouth, which can only be accessed by a very steep lane. Having successfully negotiated this we parked up and started our walk. Our route followed the East Lyn River up into a steep sided gorge taking numerous foot bridges to cross it during our ascent. The river flowed fast and clear and gave some idea what it must have been like in the devastating floods of 1952 (see below). Today the water levels were much lower making it an ideal feeding ground for the Dippers and Grey Wagtails that flitted along its banks.
As we progressed we saw the remains of old bridge supports, the actual bridge washed away by the flood, and strangely an old fireplace and mantlepiece. The fireplace and mantlepiece are all that is left of a factory that once bottle the mineral rich water of the area and made ginger beer from it, another victim of the flood.
After about three and half kilometres we reached “Watersmeet”. It is at this point that the East Lyn and West Lyn meet, the West Lyn soon after a small but impressive waterfall. Our walk up to “Watersmeet” had been tranquil as we hardly met any other people on the trail. But going back it was much much busier, with foot traffic increased around twenty fold. Note to self, go early to miss the crowds.

River Lyn walk

River Lyn walk

Lynmouth Falls

Lynmouth Falls

Back in Lynmouth and it was time to do the touristy things. So we bought fish & chips, sat on a bench and eat them then wondered around town looking at the curiosities and buying fudge and local beer.

Lynmouth

Lynmouth


Smuggling - The disappearance of the fishing industry led to a rise in smuggling activities along the coast. There is not many places along the North Devon coast which is easy to navigate and make a landing. This being so a harbour such as Lynmouth was well used by these free-traders. The 14th century Rising Sun Inn was well known for these unlawful activities as were many inns across Exmoor. It is said there was a secret passage between Rock House and the Manor House to make sure the lord of the Manor was well looked after!

Lynton and Lynmouth cliff railway

Lynton and Lynmouth cliff railway


When the Cliff Railway was first built it was the steepest railway in the world. The two carriages are mounted over 700 gallon water tanks and linked together via a cable and pulley. The tank in the top carriage is filled with water and water is released from the carriage at the bottom so the heavier top carriage pulls the lighter one up.

Up until now our activities have been concentrated around Exmoor’s coast, so it was now time to explore the centre. The centre of Exmoor is the only true moorland, as what surrounds it is cultivated land and rolling hills. The village of Simonsbath is situated in the heart of the old Royal Forest of Exmoor and that is where our latest walk began. From the village car park we headed south east along the River Barle. Our path followed the course of the river, just a few meters above it. It was quiet, with only the sounds of nature to be heard. The River Barle is shallow, clear and fast flowing at this point, which made the colourful stones on the river bed very visible. We continued along the river valley until we reached a failed and now abandoned 19th century copper mine before turning back. The decision to turn around and head back was hard, as the sun was shining and the scenery was beautiful. However, we had decided to keep our walk short today to allow our body’s to recover from almost constant activity of recent weeks.

The River Barle walk

The River Barle walk

Enchanted by the River Barle we decided to explore more of it the following day. Our walk started further downstream at Tarr Steps (see below) and took us through an ancient woodland that lined the river bank. The river was a little wider at this point but just as clear and shallow as further upstream. We were alone with nature for most of our chosen route and with the sun shining it was quite idyllic.

Clapper Bridge, the Devils is not sunbathing, we can cross safely

Clapper Bridge, the Devils is not sunbathing, we can cross safely

walk from Tarr Steps

walk from Tarr Steps



For our last day in North Devon we left Exmoor and went to explore the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Our starting point was the old fishing village of Hartland Quay. Hartland Quay was once a thriving port but now is much quieter, the houses remain but the focal point is the pub and hotel.
Our walk required us to climb a steep bank away from the port and join a cliff path that runs for many miles along the North Devon Coast. As we progressed along the path the cliff view was quite spectacular. Tectonic movement has folded the rock in different directions and the weather has buffed their surface to resemble great slices of onyx.

North Devon Coast

North Devon Coast

Geological view from the north Devon cliffs

Geological view from the north Devon cliffs

Interesting geological formation and some climbers

Interesting geological formation and some climbers

Coastal Scenery on our cliff walk

Coastal Scenery on our cliff walk

We crossed numerous streams as we progressed southwards, most disappearing over the edge of the cliff and some forming waterfalls. The most impressive was at Speke’s Mill where the River Speke tumbles over the cliff edge, down to a shelf, then on to the beach many meters below.

The Speke Waterfall named after the explorer Speke

The Speke Waterfall named after the explorer Speke

It wasn’t far after Speke’s Mill that we turned around and retraced our steps back to Hartland Quay. This gave us the opportunity to see the cliffs from another angle and to confirm that they are equally impressive what ever direction you are looking in. We also realised that Speke’s Mill Beach is a surfers beach. There were at least eight hardy individuals searching for the perfect wave at the time we passed.

Long walk to find the surf

Long walk to find the surf

The long walk is worth it for the surfers

The long walk is worth it for the surfers

From North Devon we travelled back to Hove for a quick pitstop at Robs. Before continuing our UK travels further north.

Personal Observations & Interesting Facts

Dartmoor National Park
Dartmoor National Park is a vast moorland in the county of Devon, in southwest England. Dartmoor Hill Ponies roam its craggy landscape, defined by forests, rivers, wetlands and tors (rock formations). Trails wind through valleys with Neolithic tombs, Bronze Age stone circles and abandoned medieval farmhouses. With an area of 954 square kilometres it is dotted with villages, including Princetown, home to Dartmoor Prison in use since the Napoleonic Wars.

Tor
A tor, which is also known by geomorphologists as either a castle koppie or kopje, is a large, free-standing rock outcrop that rises abruptly from the surrounding smooth and gentle slopes of a rounded hill summit or ridge crest. On Dartmoor the Tors are made of granite and likely to been exposed as softer rock a soil was eroded away some 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.

Dartmoor Scenery

Dartmoor Scenery

Clapper Bridges
A clapper bridge is an ancient form of bridge found on the moors of Devon and in other upland areas of the United Kingdom including Snowdonia and Anglesey, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Scotland. It is formed by large flat slabs of stone, granite on Dartmoor, supported on stone piers across rivers, or resting on the banks of streams. Although often credited with prehistoric origin, most were erected in medieval times, and some in later centuries. They are often situated close to a ford where carts could cross. According to the Dartmoor National Park, the word 'clapper' derives ultimately from an Anglo-Saxon word, cleaca, meaning 'bridging the stepping stones’.

Clapper Bridge

Clapper Bridge

Exmoor National Park and its legend
Exmoor was an ancient royal hunting forest in the 17th century. It is now the Exmoor National Park and covers an area of 692.8 km2 (267.5 sq mi), 71% of which is in Somerset and 29% in Devon. A lot of Exmoor is now farmed and surrounds with what would be recognised as true moorland in the middle. The area has always been sparsely populated with its biggest towns along the coastal edge in the north.
As with most wild places in the UK there is a legend. The Beast of Exmoor is a large cat that is reported to roam Exmoor. There have been numerous reports of eyewitness sightings, the first being reported in the 1970s. However, it only became notorious in 1983, when a South Molton farmer claimed to have lost over 100 sheep in the space of three months, all of them apparently killed by violent throat injuries. In response to these reports Royal Marine Commandos were deployed from bases in the West Country to watch for the mythical beast from covert observation points. After 6 months, no sightings had been made by the Royal Marines and the deployments were ended. Descriptions of its colouration range from black to tan or dark grey. It is possibly a cougar or black leopard which was released after a law was passed in 1976 making it illegal for them to be kept in captivity outside zoos. In 2006, the British Big Cats Society reported that a skull found by a Devon farmer was that of a puma; however, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) states, "Based on the evidence, Defra does not believe that there are big cats living in the wild in England."

Hangman Cliffs
Little Hangman is 716ft (218m) high while Great Hangman is 1,043ft (318m) high. Great Hangman is also the highest sea cliff in England with a cliff face of 800ft (244m). No early records mention the name “Hangman”, but a document dated 1792 mentions the name Hangman Hill. However, there is a fanciful derivation of the name, based on a local legend. The story goes that a sheep stealer was walking over the hill carrying a stolen ewe slung over his shoulder. He stopped to rest on a rock and the struggling sheep caused the cord tied around its legs to tighten and slip round the man's neck, strangling him. Hence the reference to hanging.

Little Hangman

Little Hangman

Lynmouth Flood
On the 15 and 16 of August 1952, a storm of tropical intensity broke over south-west England, depositing 229 millimetres (9.0 in) of rain within 24 hours on the already saturated soil of Exmoor. It is thought that a cold front scooped up a thunderstorm, and the orographic effect worsened the storm. Debris-laden floodwaters cascaded down the northern escarpment of the moor, converging upon the village of Lynmouth.In the upper West Lyn valley, fallen trees and other debris formed a dam, which in due course gave way, sending a huge wave of water and debris down the river. A guest at the Lyndale Hotel described the night:
“From seven o'clock last night the waters rose rapidly and at nine o'clock it was just like an avalanche coming through our hotel, bringing down boulders from the hills and breaking down walls, doors and windows. Within half an hour the guests had evacuated the ground floor. In another ten minutes the second floor was covered, and then we made for the top floor where we spent the night”.
The River Lyn through the town had been culverted to gain land for business premises; this culvert soon choked with flood debris, and the river flowed through the town. Much of the debris was boulders and trees.
Overnight, more than 100 buildings were destroyed or seriously damaged along with 28 of the 31 bridges, and 38 cars were washed out to sea. In total, 34 people died, with a further 420 made homeless. The seawall and Rhenish Tower survived the main flood, but were seriously undermined. The tower collapsed into the river the next day, causing a temporary flood.

Tarr Steps
One of Exmoor’s finest archaeological gems is Tarr Steps. Stretching for 54 metres across the River Barle, Tarr Steps is an example of a clapper bridge (see above), and by far the longest in Britain. There is some debate about the etymology of the name. Tarr is thought to be from the Celtic word tochar meaning causeway.
The exact origins of Tarr Steps are not known for sure. Some suggest that locals constructed it during the Bronze Age or at some other point in prehistory. More recent research, however, suggests late medieval origins. A documentary source from 1279 indicates that at the time there was a bridge further along the river, at Three Waters. It seems unlikely that there would be two bridges in close proximity during this period, suggesting that it was built after that date.
Tarr Steps has had a difficult history, and in recent years has been heavily damaged by flooding, necessitating extensive reconstruction. Regardless of how many times the bridge has been repaired and re-erected, it is still a site of great archaeological importance, reflected in the fact that English Heritage categorise it as a Grade-I listed building.
As is so often the case, local folklore offers a different account for the clapper bridge. Legend has it that the bridge was built by the devil himself, and that he swore to kill anyone who attempted to cross it. To test the threat, locals sent a cat across the bridge. When they saw it disappear right before them, they called for the parson. He was sent over the bridge to remonstrate with the devil.
The two met in the middle, but despite being threatened by the devil the parson stood his ground. Eventually the devil gave in and agreed to allowing people to use his bridge on condition they would stay away if he chose to sunbathe.

Clapper Bridge at Tarr Steps

Clapper Bridge at Tarr Steps

Posted by MAd4travel 13:33 Archived in England Comments (1)

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