Strolling Around Knaresborough

This past weekend, we experienced a bit of an Indian summer, so Richard and I wanted to make the most of the good weather and road tripped to Knaresborough in North Yorkshire for the afternoon. I had never been before and it had been years since Richard last visited the town, and since it is only about an hour drive from our house, we thought we’d head that way.

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What remains of Knaresborough Castle

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Knaresborough Castle from below

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The Viaduct (photo from my Instagram)

When we arrived we were both hungry and thirsty, so we zoomed around the grounds where the ruins of Knaresborough Castle are located and headed down the steep steps to the River Nidd. We came upon a few tea rooms and cafes along the way until we finally saw The World’s End pub and decided it was the perfect place for us that afternoon. I’m not sure if we were just really hungry or what, but we both really enjoyed our sandwiches and the side of chunky chips that we shared. Bellies full, we set off to explore the town a bit more.

Richard had told me about Mother Shipton’s Cave a few months ago (I have an odd fascination with caves, although this cave isn’t one that you really explore), so when we realized it was a walk across the bridge away, we decided to check it out. We paid our £6 per person (The estate is privately owned, so the admission helps with the maintenance of the park.) and set off on the walk along the River Nidd toward the Petrifying Well and the cave. We paid an extra quid for the guide to the area, so I read that aloud as we went along and we both learned some interesting facts about this supposedly magical place.

Mother Shipton’s Estate is actually the oldest tourist attraction in England and is part of both the Ancient Forest of Knaresborough as well as the Royal Forest. There are two things in particular though that have drawn visitors to the area since the 16th and 17th Centuries. The first being the Petrifying Well, also called the Dripping Well, known for its healing waters and the fact that it ‘petrifies’ items left in its stream of water for 3 months or more. The second being the cave that is the supposed birthplace of Mother Shipton, who was said to have been able to tell the future and apparently prophesied many events in British history. Along the path to the well and cave, there are some great views of the river and the sites along it.

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Weeping Willow along the Nidd

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Up close and personal with the Viaduct

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When we came upon the well, I was expecting it to be small and a slow trickle of water. However, it is rather large with the stream originating from an underground lake that keeps the water flowing over the mineralized wall at a steady rate. (The recording at the site did say the exact amount of water that flows over it per hour, but I cannot remember it. I blame baby brain.) People have been visiting the well since 1538 for it was said to have magical healing powers. No longer can you bathe and drink the waters in the well, but rather you will see items (somewhat eerily) hung in the well’s stream of water for petrification. In the tiny museum/gift shop, you can purchase one of their well known petrified teddy bears for around £35. Also, in the museum, you will find a number of items that celebrities have left to be petrified, including John Wayne’s personal hat that he gave to the family when he visited years back. Richard and I were quite mesmerized by the Petrifying Well and stood and stared at it for quite some time whilst listening to the audio recording about its history.

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The top of the well

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The items being petrified (Isn’t that doll slightly creepy?!)

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Looking at the Petrifying Well from the cave entrance (The Wishing Well is up the stairs to the right in the photo.)

Just a short walk from the well, you will find Mother Shipton’s Cave where she was said to have been born in 1488 and spent most of her life keeping to herself. As I mentioned above, it is a very small cave, almost like a den which would have provided shelter to her and her mother during their time living there. We sort of walked in and walked out as there isn’t much to see. Right across the way, you will find a Wishing Well, so I dug two 20p coins out of my purse and we followed the instructions on the sign for making a wish properly (keep your right hand in the water while making the wish, do not tell anyone what you wish for, and allow the water on your hand to dry naturally) before having a go.

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Excuse the red eye. I am still trying to master red eye reduction on iPhoto.

Wishes made and feeling like kids, we continued on the path to the museum and were impressed by the trees – some of which were originally planted in 1739 – towering above us along Beech Avenue. It is described as ‘the largest collection of oldest and tallest Beeches in the country.’ Not only are they old and tall, but they are extremely straight because their location in the gorge keeps them protected from damaging weather.

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I did mention the museum/gift shop is very tiny, but it is worth a nosey just to see some of the items that have been petrified in the well. It shares more about the legend of Mother Shipton and some information about Sir Edward Slingsby, the man who purchased the land. They also have a cross-section of one of the fallen beech trees from Beech Avenue marked with dates and what happened during those years to show how old the tree actually was, so it was neat to see what the tree had lived through.

After the museum stop, we headed back to the entrance and decided to call it a day. If you find yourself in the area, I do recommend a visit to Knareborough and even to Mother Shipton’s Cave. We both really enjoyed our day out in North Yorkshire (and an added bonus is that parking is cheap in the town car parks)! I definitely could see us going back on a slightly warmer day and having a go in the row boats you can rent to paddle up and down the river.

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I couldn’t resist snapping this photo as we passed a church walking back to the car. I just loved that the door was half open giving you a tiny glimpse into the dark corridor.

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Winter wonderland!

Growing up in western Pennsylvania, I’m used to snowy winters, so I was very excited when news hit last week about the possibility of a real snowstorm sweeping the UK. I think, in a way, that I felt the snow would make me feel closer to home, so I was eagerly anticipating a few inches coating the ground. To me, winter isn’t winter unless there is snow.

I’m certain my sentiments were a rarity amongst those in the UK because snow does mess with the infrastructure of this island, plus I (obviously) don’t have any children who were being kept home from school because of it. So, snow doesn’t affect me the same way it does most others, and I couldn’t wait to see fluffy white flakes floating to the ground. I was not disappointed with the blanket that settled, and it makes me smile because it doesn’t seem to be melting anytime soon.

I thought I would share some of the photos I took of the snow as my wedding posts are taking a bit longer to write than I had planned, so hopefully you will accept these as my wintry peace offering!

The first two were taken on my phone and posted to Instagram (follow me at yankinyorkshire) when we took a walk around our neighborhood on Monday, and the third is of our back garden.

 

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{Road Trip} Nottinghamshire: Sherwood Forest CenterParcs

The two of us had been wanting to get away for awhile, but it’s just been a little hectic this summer. Plus, the Brit has to save up his holiday time not only for our wedding, but for my cousin’s wedding and for his stag do in November. So yea, it just wasn’t happening until he surprised me with a quick weekend away to CenterParcs!

I’d heard about CenterParcs from a few people, so had been wanting to check it out. I think the most unique aspect of CenterParcs is that you are not permitted to drive within the resort outside of check-in and check-out times on Mondays and Fridays. This was especially appealing to us because the Brit drives crazy distances and hours for work, so to park the car up and walk everywhere sounded fab.

Then, the Brit informed me that we would be renting bicycles as well. I truthfully cannot remember the last time I rode a bike, so I was nervous. I was glad there would be no cars around to crash into me, but I was a little unsure about how I would do. (Yes, I realize this sounds lame.)

I could not believe how many bikes they had for rent. This photo only shows half of them. I asked the guy who helped us if they ever rent them all out and he said during summer and school holidays they do rent the majority of them!

Anyway, we got to CenterParcs around 4:30 on Friday afternoon and immediately unloaded our stuff into our villa, so we could park the car and pick up our bikes. The villa we stayed in was Birch 463, which is a shared building with villas 464 and 465. Our villa was either recently built or recently renovated because Birch 463 is very modern and contemporary inside with a separate kitchen/living space, bedroom, and bathroom. (If you’d like to see what it looked like, then you can click here.) I think the other two villas were for 4 people while ours was for 2 and just the perfect size. Each has their own kitchen which is a nice perk if you are coming in larger groups and don’t want to eat at one of the restaurants every night.

Our section of the villa is the front part with the bikes in front of it. I realize it looks like there are no windows in our villa, but the whole back is floor-to-ceiling windows, so we had lots of natural light.

I have to show this picture I took of one of the treehouses, which appear to be absolutely incredible! They have 4 bedrooms with a separate games room, an outdoor hot tub, and a sauna. Anyone want to rent one of these with us for a weekend sometime – we could take turns cooking evening meals?! And, it just seems like such a fun thing to do with a group of friends!  

CenterParcs has a number of restaurants and places to grab a snack or even takeaway (Chinese, Indian, and pizza). They even have a market where you can pick up pretty much anything you might need to make a meal. On the first night, we walked into Strada, which is an Italian restaurant, without a reservation and were seated right away. I imagine if you visit during peak times, especially school holidays, that this wouldn’t happen because the restaurant was still packed during this low time.

There also are a lot of activities available to participate in and for all age ranges because CenterParcs does really cater to families. There is even a spa, which we didn’t use but I would definitely check out if we ever return. A few weeks prior to our arrival, we each picked an activity and signed up for those. I wanted to do stand-up paddleboarding, but wasn’t too keen on being colder than I normally am or to do this in the rain. Instead, I chose hydrospinning. Yes, spinning in the pool! I take a spin class here, so I thought this could be good fun. We both ended up loving it and got a killer workout. If you have an opportunity to try this, I would highly recommend it! The Brit chose badminton. So, on Sunday morning, he crushed me in game after game of badminton for nearly an hour. This proved to be another amazing workout for us and we had so much fun laughing at ourselves!

Other highlights for me include the water slides in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise (felt like a kid again!), our meal on Saturday night at Forester’s Inn which included a delicious lamb shank on mashed potatoes and a slice of apple pie for dessert, a Sunday mid-afternoon snack of a waffle with berries and ice cream at the The Pancake House on the lake, and not crashing my bike (seriously!). We took some long walks, watched the Ryder Cup in the pub in the Jardin des Sports, and slept. It was a relaxing weekend and I don’t think either of us were ready for it to end!

Off to enjoy some R&R…

The Brit and I are off on a little getaway for the weekend to the Sherwood Forest Center Parcs!

He’s been working like a crazy person and I’m always up for a mini-break, so both of us are a tad overly enthusiastic about our long weekend away!

There are no cars allowed outside of check-in and check-out times, so we’ll be riding around on bikes and walking everywhere. We’ve also signed up for some fun activities, which I’ll share later.

Everyone we speak to has said they love Center Parcs and the Brit has been before, so I’m looking forward to seeing what it is all about and to just chill out.

Have any of you ever been to Center Parcs before?

 

Just a quick one.

This has nothing to do with the post, but rather to do with the fact that my speech is evolving into a weird hybrid of a generic US accent with a hint of Yorkshire in some of the words and phrases I now use, as is seen in the subject of this post (and honestly, it was the only post title that really seemed to ‘fit’). It’s a phrase you hear a lot here and I’m apparently not immune to its usage. Oh well…when in Rome, right!?

Really though, this post is just a quick one as the Brit has requested that I mention how absolutely beautiful the weather has been for the past three days, so everyone knows that England does get some nice weather! Here is a photo from our 6-mile walk along the canal yesterday. Hope summer is treating you all well!

A Summertime Walk

Two weeks ago, we were lucky to have some wonderful summer weather that lasted for a week. I took a long walk every day that week and one of the days I decided to take some photos with my cell phone as I walked along the canal.

I emailed some of them to the Brit as he was in London for work and he replied that we live in such a beautiful place. I have to agree with him, especially when the weather is as lovely as it was during those days. Enjoy the greenery and the blue skies!

As I arrived back in our village, I had a craving for a ginger beer (ginger ale, but better and more tangy), but the little shop I stopped at did not have any. Instead, I chose this random drink below that was absolutely terrible. I’m glad I tried it as I’ve been intrigued by it since I first saw it, but I won’t ever make that mistake again!

Hiking the Yorkshire Three Peaks

A few months back, our friends asked if we would be interested in hiking the Three Peaks with them as part of a charity event. The Brit and I both love to try new things, so we both happily agreed — he knew what it was and I had no clue aside from it was a hike. I went about googling Three Peaks and came across the National Three Peaks, which involves hiking the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales…in 24 hours. I consider myself to be in fairly good shape, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this.

Thankfully, the Brit was sitting beside me when I came upon this and he righted me. We actually would be completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks, which including hiking the peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough in 12 hours. In total, it would be a roughly 25-mile hike. As the website shows, you can pay to have a guide lead you on certain days, but we did it on our own with a map (that I didn’t understood)!

So, the night before the hike, we stayed in an old farmhouse with rooms that the family rented out. I do not remember the name of it and would not really recommend it, so for that reason I am not going to try to figure out what it was called. The good thing about the location of the farmhouse was how convenient it was to get the the village of Pen-y-Ghent in the morning as we were set to begin at 7 AM.

The morning of the 21st of April, we got to the village and clocked in at the Pen-y-Ghent Cafe so we could have record of our official time, as the hike is a loop and you finish by checking back in at the cafe. Off we went to tackle the first of the peaks and we were all in good spirits as we made it to the top in about an hour.

At the top of Peak 1, Pen-y-Ghent!

When you reach the top of Pen-y-Ghent, you think this will be a breeze, but upon starting the descent you realize just how far it is between each peak. I have no idea the exact mileage between them, but I’m guessing 6-8 miles. Some of the hiking, mostly the ascents and immediate descents, is on rough trails, but a lot of the in-between-peak-hiking is through fields. And, on the day we were hiking, the fields had become extremely marsh-like. We often found ourselves taking the long way around just to avoid sinking knee-deep into mud and water. It was definitely an adventure and a bit of a puzzle trying to find the best route!

The crazy fog at the top of the peak.

Our friends crossing the stream.

The beautiful Yorkshire countryside.

We were lucky in that the weather held up and was mainly overcast until we nearly had reached the top of the second peak. At that point, it began to alternate between sleet and rain for quite awhile. We all pulled our rain gear out and kept it on for most of the rest of the day.

Nearly at the second peak, Whernside.

The photo above was taken from along side the road, where a few food trucks were set up. We had packed all of our food and drinks, so we just stopped for about 10 minutes to wait for our friends to drink their teas. (As I write that, I realize how completely English it sounds…stopping for a tea on a full-day hike — I love it!)

Enjoying the view hiking up Whernside.

Can you guess the Brit’s favorite color?

Looking back at Whernside…enjoying a brief break from the wet weather!

Between the second and third peak, we came upon a pub and the four of us were in need of some drying out (and a real toilet), so we made a pit stop. I enjoyed a pint of Diet Coke and a cup of tea (yes, this time I participated!) while sitting in front of the fireplace. It was nice to take a little break. We were soon off again as we only had one more peak to conquer. To me, the third peak, Ingleborough, was the toughest. The path up it was steep and it was hailing hard. The Brit had shorts on and the hail was pelting his legs. A couple pieces hit me in the face and stung like mad. All in a day’s fun, right?!

You can see some of the hail settling on Ingleborough. Fun times ahead!

Starting the trek up Ingleborough.

It was like we were on a different planet at the top.

When we finally reached the top of Ingleborough, it was a relief, but we had no idea how far we had to go until we were back in the village of Pen-y-Ghent, so the two of us kept guessing until we came across a sign that said it was 1.5 miles away. We picked up the pace a little to try to make the 12-hour mark so we could say we actually completed the ‘challenge’!

Happy to be near the end! (That is the first peak in the background.)

At this point, I could not wait to walk on an even surface. My feet just wanted a flat footpath that wasn’t wet, muddy, or rocky. I was so grateful when we got to the village, but my feet and legs almost didn’t know what to do on an even surface. It was such an odd sensation. Regardless, we were happy to be done and happy to have tried something new! We had completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks in less than 12 hours!

Back at the cafe where we started…tired and ready for a pint or two!

So, would I recommend the Yorkshire Three Peaks to others? Most definitely!

There are a few things to consider though. Because you are hiking for hours and for miles, you will go through moments when you are excited and loving life and others when you are annoyed and frustrated. Also, I would recommend that you are in a healthy physical state because it is trying at times and it is not an easy walking hike — your heart rate will rise and you will sweat. You will need to carry sufficient drinks and food with you because, although there are a few places as I mentioned that sell provisions, I was rarely hungry when we passed the food trucks and the pub, so it was good to have our own supply. And lastly, you should have proper hiking shoes or boots that are waterproof and sturdier than your every day trainers (sneakers) — you may laugh, but we saw people out there with trainers on!

Truthfully, it was an incredible experience and I would do it again (good thing as the Brit is already planning to try to beat our time)!

{Road Trip} Burnsall, North Yorkshire

Burnsall could also be known on this blog as ‘the-place-we-decided-to visit-because-we-saw-it-on-Don’t Tell the Bride-then-the-Brit-remembered-he-used-to-take-school-cycling-trips-to-the-village-a-mile-away-and-he-thought-it-was-a-beautiful-place.’ Phew!

The lovely River Wharfe running through Burnsall

The bridge in Burnsall...you can see the clouds that rolled in later in the afternoon.

This past weekend, we had beautiful spring weather here in England. On Saturday, we went for a run, but when Sunday rolled around, we nixed our normal running route in favor of a walk to somewhere new. We still had to drive about an hour to Burnsall, but the scenery and the leg stretching (and rope swinging!) once there was well worth it.

Having some fun on the swing we stumbled upon!

Wheeeeee!

On the drive there, we passed Bolton Abbey and The Devonshire Arms, which we both decided we’ll have to return to when we have more time and/or when we want to have a day of luxury.

Once in Burnsall, an extremely small village (I believe Wikipedia says that the 2001 consensus listed the population as 112 and I doubt it has increased much since then), we headed along the river towards Appletreewick, which is the even smaller village where the Brit would camp on his school cycling trips. The round-trip walk was about 2 miles and we could have kept going on the trail, but the clouds started to roll in and it was getting chilly!

The campground in Appletreewick, which apparently 'looks smaller than I remember it!' 🙂

We finished up with a glass of Diet Coke each at the The Red Lion & Manor House, which is where the groom hosted the wedding in that particular episode of DTTB, before heading home! All in all, a really great day out!

The River Wharfe in Appletreewick

The sun came out!!