The Yorkshire Dales is an area of outstanding natural beauty in England. Certainly it may have changed in more recent years but on the whole it is still fairly unspoilt. In fact it is the perfect destination for those wanting to explore the English countryside and its pretty villages.
For walkers there are miles of countryside to explore. Dotted around the area are farms, English pubs, cafes, Tea Rooms, restaurants, towns and more.
As children we would visit distant relatives of my Mum who lived in a small village a few miles outside of Skipton. Skipton is a busy market town and used to hold the bus station with all the linked services around The Dales.
We would take a train to Leeds where we would change trains hopping aboard the Trans-Pennine express which would take us on to Skipton. From here we would take a bus to the small village of Hetton.
Skipton is often called the Gateway to the Dales as it is on the Dales boundary. The bus stopped at the road, at the edge of the village of Hetton meaning that a steep walk was needed to get to our destination. The small village had a few houses, a farm, a pub that doubled as a shop selling almost everything and some beautiful countryside.
Even back then the village was becoming a little more built up as retired mill owners from Bradford began building beautiful homes in the village.
A fish and chip van would visit the village a couple of times a week and, barring the pub, there was no place to eat out. Of course, I am talking about more than 50 years ago and so this will have changed no doubt. However, the area was green, peaceful, pretty and a great place to base yourself for touring The Dales.
The house where we stayed had fields at both the back and the front of the house. At the back these steadily climbed upwards. There were sheep and cows in the field in the day-time and as Townies we loved to play in these fields. The fields at the front sloped down to a valley. In the distance though was Cracoe Fell rising high above the area. We could just see the cross at its summit.
Fairy Walk, as my distant cousin called it, was a pretty little round trip walking through the village. There was a little bridge over the brook and some beautiful countryside.
The Yorkshire Dales has been a designated a National Park for more than 50 years. In 2009 there were 60th celebrations as National Parks had been established since 1949.
The Dales is a perfect destination for walkers, cyclists, horse-riders, caravaners, campers and those who simply want to enjoy rural England. As primarily farming country the Yorkshire Dales epitomises a rural England almost of the past.
For bird watchers and photographers the area is also perfect.
You will discover pretty villages, museums, towns, cities, history and much more. There is the Dales countryside museum which is in the old railway station at Hawes which is in Wensleydale. Wensleydale also produces its own cheese of the same name that is Wensleydale. This of course has been immortalised by the animation Wallace and Gromit.
Touring the countryside you may meet traditional Yorkshire folk some of whom may still speak with a broad Yorkshire accent.
Towns such as Harrogate, Grassington, Settle, Malham and Kettlewell all nestle in the Yorkshire Dales. These are just a few of the places to see though. The choice is vast.
No matter which season you choose to visit the Yorkshire Dales there will be plenty to entertain visitors.
Just where is Whitby?
Let's start by making sure that we know where Whitby is. I gather that there are other towns with same name around the world. The Whitby in question here is in the North East of England on the River Esk.
It is close to seaside resorts such as Scarborough, Bridlington and Robin Hood's Bay. However unlike some British seaside resorts it has retained much of its charm and has limited its modern development. This means that, unless things have drastically changed recently, you will not find masses of amusement arcades and the like.
Whitby is primarily a fishing town but has much to attract visitors.
Whitby is easily accessible by road either by car or bus.
From where I live in Yorkshire Whitby is not very far. However getting there can be a little tricky unless you have your own vehicle or are able to hire one. There is a train link but this only takes me as far as Scarborough; then I have to travel by bus. This can make the journey a little long for a day visit. However there are coach trips which are much better for a day visit. If I visit by my local bus service it would take over fours hours to get to Whitby, without local travel counted in, and the same for a return journey; it is much better then if we visit for a short or long weekend.
Trains do visit Whitby but only from certain places and some are not direct.
Whitby is good for short breaks as it has many Bed and Breakfast, B & Bs, that are perfect for short or long vacations.
The one thing you have to remember is that as Whitby is in the North of England the weather can be a little cooler even in summer. However we have always been lucky when we have visited. At times Whitby does suffer from sea fog but this makes the place all the more atmospheric with its Dracula links.
As a child Whitby was one of those places that we visited but only occasionally. As it was a little further than resorts nearer home, such as Scarborough, Hornsea and Withernsea, Whitby was a special destination. As we still do not drive it is still a little off our beaten track.
The last time we visited we took the Northern Rail train from Kingston-Upon-Hull to Scarborough. This journey took just over an hour. We then took a bus from Scarborough to Whitby which was around a half-hour journey. This bus journey is lovely as you travel over the moors. At some times of the year the landscape is bare but at others it may be lush or even full of wild growing purple heather. The journey takes in the quaint resort of Robin Hood's Bay and then you make your dramatic entrance into Whitby.
The bus travels over a high road bridge, Scarborough Road Bridge, from which you can see Whitby before you. The Abbey, the harbour, the boats and the sea front are all visible as long as there is no fog.
We usually choose one of the B & Bs that sit at the top of the cliff near the whale bones. These huge bones are stood on the cliff opposite to Whitby Abbey. The Crescent here has a range of tall old buildings which make for a great base. If you choose to walk and explore you can set off along the cliffs. If not you can walk down to the town or across to the other side of the bay. The beach is just a short distance in front of you. Across the bay you will get a splendid view of Whitby Abbey.
There is no escaping steps so if you do not like walking or are less mobile research Whitby further. We heard a rather large young lady shout in no uncertain terms to her guy that she was "NOT WALKING UP ANYMORE BLOODY STEPS" last time we visited.
The abbey is accessed via 199 steps or a steep road. You can take a more round about means of visiting but will have to walk further. Take the steps and stop for breathers if necessary to take in the beautiful view. The red roofs of Whitby, the harbour, bridges, boats and, in general, the scenery is lovely.
There is an entrance fee to enter the Abbey but you can just wander around the church, the nearby ancient seafarer's cemetery or take a picnic on the cliffs. We chose to take a long walk along part of the Cleveland Way to Robin Hood's Bay. At 7 miles it is rather long and at times precarious but it was a beautiful sunny day. Approaching Robin Hood's Bay along the cliffs you are treat to a view that has been painted many times by various artists.
The shops around Whitby used to be full of black Whitby Jet. These days it is a scarcer commodity and, although still sold, is a little pricey and rarer.
With people's fascination with Dracula, Whitby has decided to utilise its links. Stoker's book has Dracula landing at Whitby in England. From our accommodation, looking across to the Abbey ruins at night one can almost believe it for real.
Many Goths now visit Whitby and there is a Dracula museum.
Whitby also has a Captain Cook Museum. It is housed in an old house where Cook lodged when he was an apprentice back in the 1800s. This museum is at the side of Whitby where the Abbey is. It is quite central and well sign-posted.
Cook's first sea journeys were out of Whitby. Running between the old houses there are more steps and little alleyways. As you explore it is easy to envisage a Whitby of the past with people such as Cook milling around.
Attractions and events
Whitby has a full program of events throughout the year. Some of these are simply tea dances at the old Pavilion but there are craft fairs and the like.
For many years now Whitby has held a folk festival at the end of August. This is usually well attended and it can be hard to find accommodation at short notice. However there are plenty of campsites if you feel like roughing it a little.
In 2017 the festival runs from August 18 for one week.
If the festivities are held later, as they are some years, remember the last Monday in August is a Bank Holiday and so public transport may be less frequent. Also shops away from tourist areas may be closed. As it is the last weekend, almost, before children return to school expect Whitby to be busy.
Whitby has a large park set high above the main town of Whitby. It is arranged beautifully on the slopes and so offers yet more great views of the town, the harbour and more.
Nearby places of interest
I have already touched upon Robin Hood's Bay but there is much more nearby.
Goathland is within easy reach of Whitby. In recent years this has been the setting for Yorkshire television's Heartbeat series. However now this program has finished Goathland may become quieter again. It is a small village that is set in beautiful countryside with lots of sheep, rolling hills and long nature walks. You will encounter small villages such as Beckhole, stumble across natural waterfalls and just feel at one with the world. It is a beautiful place.
Nearby Pickering is a larger village, perhaps a town. It has shops, lovely old world pubs and at times old working steam trains. It is possible to book a journey on one of these trains.
Walking along, the opposite direction from the Abbey in Whitby will bring you to tiny Sands End. This small village is literally at the end of the sand. It is quiet, and peaceful with a nice pub where you can drink or lunch and watch the world go by.
Hopefully this diary has given you a taster of Whitby and its local area. Whitby attracts visitors of all ages and tends to be loved for being different by youngsters but still enjoyed by older people for its quaint charm.
There are local restaurants which serve dishes such as local trout with almonds, without charging you an arm and a leg (Yorkshire saying). Alternatively there is one of the best Fish and Chip shops around where you can buy locally caught fish and eat it either in the shop or sit at the harbour, and go thoroughly British as you eat your meal out of the paper.
Many of the local pubs have a great atmosphere and also serve lovely, good value pub meals. Wander away from the main streets to find the best value and food.
At night Whitby is lively but not too much so. I guess it depends what time of year you visit. During the annual Folk Festival week everywhere will be overflowing with tourists. However, visit in late spring and you will find that there is plenty of room to breathe; just bear in mind that the weather could be inclement at such a time of year.
If you visit out of season, and the weather gets foggy, you may hear the constant droning of fog horns, throughout the night, which can be very annoying.
When you visit the city of York in the heart of Yorkshire, Great Britain, the Minster dominates the skyline.
As a child in Yorkshire who had a Christian upbringing visits to the Minster were not rare. Living an hour or so away, via train, Sunday School and Church Pilgrimages often ended at the Minster. These days, in common with many other religious places of worship it costs to enter the Minster. It is a fine building and even viewed from outside is worth a look.
For us during our recent four-day stay it was a good landmark.
Once we found the Minster it was easy to retrace our steps back to our bed and breakfast accommodation.
Be warned though we did get lost on our first day. We left the middle of York via an ancient gateway thinking it was the one we had entered by. It was not. Lesson learned. There is more than one historic entrance in the old walls of York.
If you go to the Minster in time for the Sunday Service you are able to enter the service part of the church for free. Other than that charges apply.
Hubby is not in favour of pay to enter churches believing it goes against the grain of Christianity. For me as I say I have visited many times before.
There is an on site shop but it is pricey. Outside the Minster there is a nice green area, shops, statues, a craft fair on a weekend and more.
The Craft Fair is free on a Sunday. It is held in the historic building of St William's college close to the Minster.
In the right weather the Minster park is a lovely picnic area. Nearby bustling streets buzz but you can have some peace and quiet gathering your thoughts in the small park.
If you are visiting York;
Check out visiting the Minster here
The market town of Beverley in Yorkshire is a great little place to visit.
It is probably also a good place to live but house prices are relatively high compared to similar properties in the nearby city of Kingston-Upon-Hull.
But whether you visit for a day or a longer vacation remember to pop into Beverley Minster.
We visited the Minster recently having visited Beverley many times in recent years without venturing as far as the Minster.
The trail of shopping snakes along through Beverley with the Westwood at one end and the Minster at the other and the main market place somewhere in the middle.
The Minster was well worth visiting and unusually in 2017 it is free to enter.
Donations are welcomed and we were generous. It is surprising how when you are not forced to pay up you give more generously.
But we also did so as it was a beautiful place to visit.
Where is Beverley?
The historic market town of Beverley is around seven miles from the city of Kingston-Upon-Hull on the North Bank of the River Humber. It is in the county of Yorkshire.
In summer race-goers flock to the town but Beverley racecourse is also host to other events.
For a small town Beverley has plenty to offer including historic buildings, the Saturday and Wednesday Market, folk music events, pubs, cafes, restaurants, an Art Gallery, the Minster and the Westwood which is a great area for walks.
It is a good place for a holiday base if you want to explore parts of Yorkshire including York and Kingston-upon-Hull the UK's 2017 City of Culture, but also coastal towns.
It has a train and bus service and plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants.
In the last couple of years The Yorkshire Museum York has undergone extensive changes. The building is located in a pleasant green area, in the centre of the historic city of York which skirts the River Ouse.
York has so many attractions such as museums, historic buildings, churches, shops and more.
The Yorkshire Museum though has to be ranked as one of the city's best places to visit.
The museum's official website details, "The Yorkshire Museum reopened on 1 August 2010 following a nine-month £2million refurbishment project. Five new galleries now showcase some of Britain's finest archaeological treasures and many rare animals, birds and fossils, in exciting new displays. Our aim is to make the Yorkshire Museum a must-see destination in a tour around the beautiful city of York. Come and see us this summer and give us your verdict, whether you're a regular user of the museum or a first-time visitor. The refurbishment work has also restored the museum's Georgian building, letting in more natural light and opening up spaces that have been divided up over the years. The museum was opened in 1830 by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society and was one of the first purpose-built museums in the country."
We visited this museum in early March 2012 and were pleasantly surprised.
The recent renovations meant that the museum is in pristine condition.
There was one exhibition still awaiting completion but there was so much more to see that it did not matter.
If you are exploring York you will find that the Yorkshire Museum is close to the York Eye, The Railway Museum, the River boat trips, shops and cafes. Part of the gardens plays host to the York Mystery plays.
On entering the museum the main forecourt included an interactive Roman display. Tap on an image and the Roman soldier or villager came to virtual life on a life-size screen and talked to visitors. Fascinating for young and old children and adults alike.
Also included in the Yorkshire Museum is a large lecture theatre where when we visited museum visitors could watch a brief film showing the time-line for the history of York.
The gardens cover ten acres and reach as far as the York Art Gallery. Historic buildings and remains of ancient walls are surrounded by green areas and flowers. For our Spring visit it was daffodils brightening up our days.
The website carries full pricing and opening time details which include.
Museum - We are open daily from 10am - 5pm, except for 25 and 26 December, and 1 January, and will be closing at 2.30pm on 24 and 31 December.
Gardens - The gardens are open daily from 7.30am, except for 25 December. From late October until late March, they close at 6pm, and during the summer months they open later into the evening.
Entry to the garden areas is free.
Check out the website for current prices and upcoming exhibitions by following this link.
A visit to the historic city of York in Yorkshire, England can leave you overwhelmed with the choice of attractions on offer.
If you have never visited before sifting through what is available can be time consuming. All too soon your visit will have ended and you may have missed some good opportunities.
Already we have detailed shopping in York, especially in the area known as the Shambles, and a visit to the National Railway Museum, NRM, but what about organised walks?
York is a relatively safe and trouble free city. It is not massive. Bear in mind though that some of the cobbled streets are hard on the feet. You should feel safe and comfortable wandering York's old and its modern streets. Organised walks though enable you to get to your destination, gain valuable information and walk about in the added safety of a small group.
Ghost Walks can be fun. There are many such walks tramping around the old town each night. The cost varies as does the route and starting place. Most offer price reduction concessions.
Clifford Tower, or The Jews Tower, is a well-known landmark in the City of York, and the itinerary of some ghost walks include this place.
However there is a Jewish History Trail which includes Clifford's Tower as well as other places associated with the past Jewish community.
Clifford's Tower is actually the Keep of what was York Castle.
On March 16, 1190, 150 Jews were under siege in the Tower. In an act of collective suicide the Jews set fire to the Tower. The full history of this event and the tower can be read at Wikipedia Here.
The York Jewish trail takes in a Norman house, a Jewish cemetery, synagogue, Jubbergate, a medieval synagogue and Clifford's Tower. Clifford's Tower is visited by many tourists each year. Some simply wander past on their way to the nearby Castle Museum. Others wander up the steps and take photos. It is worth a visit though.
Closed during the off-peak season apart from weekends.
Check out the current opening times and prices on offer by following this link.
[York is a busy tourist attraction most tines of the year. Bear this and school holidays in mind when you plan a visit]
The Historic City of York is in Yorkshire England. If you want history look no further. This relatively small city is packed to the rafters with attractions and history. Not that far from this blogger's home town it was a familiar place for day trips as a child. In recent years the visits have been less frequent. The problem is that for a medium sized city there is just too much to see comfortably in one day.
This was rectified earlier this week with a long weekend stay in York. Arriving by train Saturday lunchtime and departing Tuesday lunchtime there were still plenty of attractions left for us to visit next time. That is all to the good as we are already planning a winter break when we can include a little Christmas shopping.
To write about York as one long blurb would be too much. Therefore the visit will be split into different reports. This one will detail The Shambles and shopping in York.
So what are The Shambles?
The Shambles is a very old street in the City of York. The buildings overhang the street and many are lopsided to say the least. It is quaint, charming and more often than not packed with sightseers. A narrow, cobble street runs through the middle but it is traffic free.
Surprisingly York was damaged in the World War Two German bombing. Luckily however the City still has many of its original buildings and features. Some have been restored and but for signs declaring this you would not know.
The Shambles date back to the fourteenth century. From then until the 1800s butchers shops populated the street. These days they have vanished. These days the shops are more "gentrified" including a hand made chocolate shop, gift shops galore and unusual shops. Close by the market offers a cheaper supply of the usual tourist goods. The Shambles is not a cheap place to shop.
According to wikipedia various UK towns have their own shambles. "Shambles" is an obsolete term for an open-air slaughterhouse and meat market. They also got their names from having been the sites on which butchers killed and dressed animals for consumption. The Shambles in Stroud still has the hinged wooden boards attached to the shops, and hosts a regular local market"
Well it is much more civilised these days. Pubs, cafes and restaurants abound in the area. The Shambles itself is surrounded by a wide shopping area which includes the usual Marks and Spencers, Banks and the like as well as more unusual shops.
As so many of the streets are cobbled they can be hard under foot. Wearing sensible footwear or not is up to you but be warned. If you do not your feet will soon ache.
Along the Shambles there is a house that is a small shrine. It is free to enter.
It is a shrine to Saint Margaret Clitherow. Inside you will find a traditional Shambles room with dark wood paneling and a low ceiling. A small altar and pray area has been arranged here.
In 1586 Margaret was arrested.
She was accused of harbouring Roman Catholic priests. It was a time when the holy Roman catholic faith was not allowed in England. In an attempt to protect her children from being forced to testify and probably tortured Margraet refused to enter a plea to the court. For this she was crushed to death. This was the preferred punishment for those who refused to enter a plea at that time in our English history.
Wikipedia details how Margaret was killed, "She was killed on Good Friday 1586. The two sergeants who should have killed her hired four desperate beggars to kill her. She was stripped and had a handkerchief tied across her face then laid out upon a sharp rock the size of a man's fist, a door was put on top of her and slowly loaded with an immense weight of rocks and stones (the small sharp rock would break her back when the heavy rocks were laid on top of her). Her death occurred within fifteen minutes; she was left for 6 hours before the weight was removed from her corpse. After her death her hand was removed, and this relic is now housed in the chapel of the Bar Convent, York. After Clitherow's execution, Elizabeth I wrote to the citizens of York to say how horrified she was at the treatment of a fellow woman: due to her gender, Clitherow should not have been executed."
If you visit the shrine spare a prayer or thought for Margaret be you religious or not. It is a peaceful place amongst the thronging 21st Century shoppers roaming The Shambles.
It was only in the 20th Century that Margaret became recognised for her courage and sacrifice. She was beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI and canonised in 1970 by Pope Paul VI along with other martyrs from England and Wales.
If you visit the Shambles pre Christmas you will be in for a treat. However at any time of year it is a fascinating place to visit.
This writer is very lucky to have the historic city of York within easy travelling distance. York has history by the bucket loads, it also has shopping, a wealth of museums, beautiful nearby countryside, the races, Castle Howard a short distance away and so much more.
When you visit York, be it for a day, a weekend or a vacation you will find that there is just so much on offer. Located in the county of Yorkshire, God's Own Country, England, there are the Dales and coastal resorts close by.
Take a boat trip down the River Ouse in the heart of York to the Bishop's Palace; experience a flavour of days gone by at the Jorvik, Viking, museum with smells, sights and sounds of the past; visit the quaint shops in The Shambles or check out the Castle Museum which needs a full days' visit in order to do it justice.
Around 1,000 years ago York was one of England's leading cities. Its power may have gone but this has been replaced with bags of tourist appeal.
Just a few attractions on offer
The Castle Museum
York's Castle Museum is very large. It includes life-size replicas of days gone by and gives the visitor glimpses into bygone years. These are in the form of sitting rooms, prisons and streets, for example. The museum shows a wealth of history over quite a period of time. Its recreated Victorian Street includes an actual shop that was moved to the museum. Displays around the museum include the sixties and Castle prison.
Castle Museum covers a large area and may not suit those with mobility issues. There is a museum cafe and shop.
For further details contact:
York Castle Museum, Eye of York, York, YO1 9RY. Telephone: 01904 687687
Clifford's or The Jews Tower
As children in 1950s England we tended to refer to CliffordsTower as the Jews Tower. This was because in 1190 the Jewish community of York took refuge in the tower. At that time the tower was made of wood.
Some of the persecuted Jewish community taking part in this siege committed suicide.
Eventually the tower was set ablaze and those Jews who did not die in the tower were killed when they emerged. This early anti-semitism was very much a sign of the times.
When you visit Cliffords Tower there is little to actually see inside but it does offer wonderful views of York. It is also quite a poignant place to visit as you read a little of the history of the Jews and the Tower.
Jorvik, Viking Centre
When the Jorvik Viking Centre first opened the queues waiting to enter were huge. Boards were placed along the queues indicating how long the waiting time was to enter. It was often more than a three hour wait to enter this unusual museum.
During the last 25 years over 15 million visitors have visited Jorvik. Thankfully the waiting time is usually much less these days, however, queues are still the norm. Avoid the school holidays for a more relaxed visit.
Jorvik has a full program of events each year. As an example of pricing a standard adult ticket is £10.25 but there are concessions.
National Railway Museum
At one time the National Railway Museum at York was called the Transport Museum. However, its modern name is fitting, as York played such a huge part in the English history of the railways. With over 300 years of history and over 1,000,000 objects the National Railway museum is popular with both young and old. The bonus is that entry is free but you can leave a donation.
The museum is located at Leeman Road, York, YO26 4XJ.
The museum's opening times are:
Daily 10.00am - 18.00
Closed 24, 25, 26 December
The Shambles is not just one street but rather an area of medieval twisting lanes with quaint houses that overhang the road. The upper floors of these houses are close to each other. So much so that people could reach out to each other from the upper floors. There are many unusual shops around the Shambles but just wandering around the old buildings is interesting. The Shambles is always busy with visitors and this means that shopping here can be pricey.
York City Walls
The ancient city walls are open for the public to walk around. You may find however that some areas are restricted. The wall was built by the Romans in the first century AD. The original walls took a series of batterings over the years and much of them was re-constructed in the middle ages. Walking the walls gives great views and a lesson in history but take care.
Whether you have religious belief or not York Minster is a great place to visit. Having suffered a serious fire some years ago it has been lovingly restored. As well as the Minster there are many churches well worth visiting around York.
York Mystery Plays.
When I was a teenager studying at school our class visited the mystery plays at York. Held in the open air, close to the ancient city walls the setting is perfect. Visitors from around the world visit the York mystery plays but England being England remember that it could be cold when you visit. We took outwear but still found that toward the end of the play, as darkness fell, it was very cold. The atmosphere is brilliant though.
York races may not be host to the biggest national racing events but they play their part in the racing calendar. Check out upcoming race meetings.
Castle Howard, film set of the TV series Brideshead Revisited, is near to York. It is a magnificent stately home with indoor and outdoor attractions.
A boat trip on the River Ouse
Boat trips along the River Ouse are popular. You can take an organised boat trip and enjoy lunch on board. The excursions usually pass the Bishop of York's Palace.
York's tourist Guide
If you are considering a visit to York or just want to learn more about this fascinating city check out the link to the tourist guide. Details of local attractions, addresses and prices are available on the site. There is also information regarding suitable accommodation.
York has good train service, bus and coach links and is only a 45 minutes drive from the Leeds/Bradford International airport.
The attractions briefly detailed above are only a sample of some of the best available in York. Check out The Treasurer's House, Yorkshire air museum at Elvington, York Dungeons, York Art Gallery, Mansion House, Barley Hall, The Ghost Walks and so much more.
Where in the world do you want to go today? One Woman uses personal experiences to show you some of the best places to visit in the United Kingdom and beyond. Enjoy!