This April we continued our tradition of asking Cate where she wanted to go and booking up whatever the random answer was. So far it's got us to Hartlepool, Northumberland and Cornwall, all of which we enjoyed. This time it was York. We found a cottage nearby, and booked it up for the week. Rising Sun cottage is part of Rising Sun Farm and Fishery, a converted barn with full length windows and underfloor heating. It was a great base for the week, though I definitely needed the SatNav to find my way about the area.
Our first day was spent in York itself. We parked at the Park and Ride and got a bus which took us to the town, just outside the Minster. We had a wander around, and stopped at a place called Jimmy's for lunch. York has plenty of interesting buildings, many of them more than 300 years old, and the shops are set up for tourists mostly, so there are lots of chocolate and sweet shops, curiosities, vikings and wizards.
After lunch and a wander down the Shambles, a particularly tight street with houses closing in overhead, we went for a walk along the city walls, which are very much intact. You find an entrance, climb up to the wall and walk along for a section. We also passed a shop that Claire had spotted online, which was a cat cafe, and decided to book that up for later in the week.
Our cottage was situated just outside the village of Aldwark. As we drove about throughout the week we could see a pattern and Aldwark typified it. It's a tiny village, with maybe 40 houses, a pub and a church. Some of the villages had massive churches, though our local one was fairly small. There's a manor house at the edge of the village, with its own golf course. Cate and I took a wander round the church and the golf course on an afternoon.
We had dinner in the Aldwark Arms on one of our evenings, which was very nice, and one of the few times I got back to the cottage without the SatNav.
Across the A1 and into the Yorkshire Dales we found the Brimham Rocks, a collection of rocks that have been weathered over the centuries into unusual shapes. We were a bit uncertain about this one as we weren't sure how extensive they'd be, but there were loads of interesting shapes to look at and climb on, a definite plus you don't often get at historic landmarks. They also had a toilet and ice cream shop at the top, which were much appreciated.
After the rocks we drove back across to our side, to find the Kilburn White Horse. We could actually see it in the distance from the other side of the valley, as a white blob on the hillside. It looks good closer up, though when you get right up to it it's a patch of stones on the hillside. It did have a car park and a steep set of stairs to get up to the top, where the view was excellent, and there was also a bit of glider action from the airfield behind.
The next day was a bit of a dull day. We found a local walk, in the Moorlands Woodland, and had a wee walk around it, then drove to Harrogate to explore the town. We didn't find a great deal of interest, though Cate managed to get a poster she wanted from HMV, and to its credit it did have a Hotel Chocolat.
Fed up with waiting for Cate to wake up at around noon, Claire and I visited the Benningbrough stately home. We didn't go in, but followed a walk around the grounds, with lots of carved wooden seats and benches along the way. We imagined they had hired a guy to make a bench or two and he'd got a bit enthusiastic, coming out with bench after bench. They were lovely though.
Next was Stump Cross Caverns, which Cate and I visited, as Claire didn't think she'd manage with her recovering new hips. It's an underground series of passages, with lots of rocky formations due to water dripping through, making stalactites and stalagmites. It was pretty good for a visit and certainly a good choice given the storm that was going on outside.
From the caverns we had a drive across the moors to find the Druid's Temple: not a real temple and not built by a druid. It was put together a couple of hundred years ago by the local estate owner as a kind of folly. It was worth the visit though, with the main temple area leading into a cave at the end, and a few other stone structures dotted about. There was also a nice cafe nearby, which surprised me given how remote the place is.
On our journey there we had the most entertainment of any of our drives, which often featured pheasants, rabbit and even a hedgehog in the road. We passed a house with a workman on the roof, standing on the rungs of a ladder laid flat on the roof in the most precarious position imaginable. Shortly after the SatNav tried to get us to make a v shaped diversion at one of these junctions where a road joins another in a triangle instead of a T. Why the SatNav wanted us to take a 20 yard right turn followed by a 20 yard left turn instead of just staying on the road I don't know. This was then followed by coming across a duck in the road. Instead of running or flying off to the side it ran along the road ahead of us for a hundred yards or so.
We visited the local cinema this evening, to watch The Batman. Very confusing seating arrangements, but we ended up with big reclining seats for £7 a head, so that was a win.
The day finally came for our trip to the Cat's Whiskers, to eat cake with lots of cats around. We were let in and warned not to give the cats any food, then found a room we liked and ordered some cakes. Our room had 6 sleeping cats, but one, Pumpkin, woke up as soon as the cake arrived and took a dive for it. The cafe has special wire cloches to hide your stuff from the cats, so we had to eat while Pumpkin was paying attention to our room-mates' food. Still, it was good fun, the cats were very amenable to stroking, and the hour went quickly, especially when you only got a bite every five minutes.
We also had booked the viking centre for a tour this afternoon. The main part of the tour is a ride in a suspended car around a recreation of a viking village, with animatronic people and animals, and all the sounds and smells of the real thing. There are also some displays of artifacts after the ride, including a couple of skeletons.
By our last day we had run out of things to do, so we had an easy morning, then a wee lunch at a local cafe, at Holly Cottage Farm. Claire went back to the cottage for a sleep while Cate and I visited the bird of prey centre. They were short staffed so couldn't do any guided tour or fly the birds, but we had a look around at the birds on their perches or in their cages.
We then had a bit of a drive about around the area, just taking in the sights, and eventually ending up back at base.
For our last evening we booked a table at the Sidings. This is a restaurant set up using old train carriages, at the side of the railway. We had a top class meal in one of the carriages, and watched the trains fly by at regular intervals outside. It was a bit different, and a great venue for a meal.
Back home on the Friday, and we just had one place left to visit. On the way down we had noticed a farm shop which had camels outside, and determined to stop there on the way back. We looked around at the various animals, and had a shop in the farm shop, which had some great stuff. The place is just 4 miles into the A66 from Scotch Corner. Anyway, another 4 hour drive and we were back home.
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