England, Day 10

June 27, 2019 |  by  |  Comments Off on England, Day 10

One of the walks Edith and I wanted to take in the North York Moors was from Hutton le Hole to Lastingham. We were not disappointed!

The start of our walk to Lastingham took us past St. Chad Church. Edith and I made it a point to stop in a number of churches during our walking tour of England. Every one we came across was open and clearly welcomed walkers and visitors. Most had small items for sale to support the church – church histories, post cards, prayer cards, etc. Some even had refreshments for sale, all honor system. Edith and I would sit quietly for a half of an hour or so, contemplating the services conducted, the parishioners who came in and out over the years (in many cases, centuries), and all the history these churches witnessed.

While we purchased as many things as practical to support each church we visited, as well as made a donation in each, we decided to send each church a donation upon our return stateside as a “thank you” for their quiet hospitality and providing us a space for reflection and rest as we came to know a bit more about the land and the people served by the church. Our thanks to the parishioners of St. Chads, as well as for those who support others we visited, including: St. Michael’s and All Angels Church, Hawkshead Church of St. Mary’s, Lastingham

Cottage interior, Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton le Hole
Who could resist a visit with a witch?
The blacksmith on duty at the Ryedale Folk Museum couldn’t explain the origins of this sculptural pile of horseshoes adjacent to the smithy. It would win, I venture to guess, first prize at any modern art show.
This curious fellow picked us up near the start of our walk to Lastingham. He stayed with us, walking nearly a mile. When we reached the town line for Lastingham, I told him that, if he walked into town with us, I would buy him a beer at the pub. He ruminated on this thoughtfully, but chose to head into the graveyard of the Church of St. Mary’s to graze. Edith and I continued into Lastingham, marveling at the architecture for about an hour. Oddly enough, when we walked out of town and past the church, there was our friend, seemingly waiting for us. He followed us back to Hutton le Hole, parting with us at the very gate from which he came….
One of the many beautiful cottages of Lastingham
The beautiful crypt of Church of St. Mary’s
Not just sheep…young adults!

England, Day 9

June 27, 2019 |  by  |  Comments Off on England, Day 9
Whitby Abbey, a 7th century Christian Monastery , confiscated by Henry VIII as part of his “Dissolution of Monasteries”
View inland from Whitby Abbey
Coastal Whitby as seen from one of the arches in Whitby Abbey
You can see why Whitbey Abbey inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897)
Our walk down from Whitby Abbey to the old part of town. The famous 199 steps are above the wall to the right. Edith and I climbed back up the steps after lunch in Whitby.

England, Day 8

June 27, 2019 |  by  |  Comments Off on England, Day 8

Into the heart of the North York Moors, a sometimes melancholy landscape that appears like that of a lonely planet, at other times so alive and vibrant with color – but always distinctively North York Moors.

On the road to our destination near Danby

England, Day 7

June 27, 2019 |  by  |  Comments Off on England, Day 7
Rievaulx – a beautiful village and abbey

Day 7 found Edith and I in Rievaulx, where we experienced a spectacular day. We were out early, so we were among the first 10 or so people admitted into the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey. It was incredible. We spent hours just marveling at what the abbey must have once been and how striking it must have been for our twelve century counterparts to have come upon this structure.

As walking about as much as we could was a goal for our trip to England, we walked an approximately 5 mile loop out of Rievaulx. Upon our return to the village, we took advantage of tea being offered at the town hall. We spent a delightful hour talking with three residents, who explained that the scones, cakes, and pies for sale were all made by local ladies. They were delicious (we sampled four!) and it proved to be such a congenial and welcomed respite at the end of our day.

A view of the Abbey as Edith and I walked towards Old Byland
Charming thatched roofed cottage at Rievaulx

England, Day 6

June 26, 2019 |  by  |  Comments Off on England, Day 6

We spent the day in the medieval city of York, founded by the Romans in 71 AD. It really is incredible. Edith and I spent a good deal of time touring the York Minster. It’s West Window, constructed in 1338, and the Great East Window, completed in 1408, are stunning. The Great East Window is known to be the largest expanse of mediaeval stained glass windows in the world.

England, Day 5

June 26, 2019 |  by  |  Comments Off on England, Day 5

Our fifth day in England found Edith and I in the charming village of Helmsley, a market town in the Ryedale District of North Yorkshire.

After eating a quick snack in the graveyard of the Church of All Saints (and being treated to a wedding!), Edith and I couldn’t resist touring Byland Abbey. There is a wonderful tea room just across the street – also worth exploring!

England, Day 4

May 28, 2019 |  by  |  Comments Off on England, Day 4

Edith and I left the Lake District, traveling now to North Yorkshire. A stop at the Bronte Parsonage and Museum along the route.

The Parsonage, as well as the town of Haworth, is charming. If you are not familiar with the personal stories of the Brontes, they read much like an English gothic tale.

We continued on the North Yorkshire, stepping out of our element by eating at what was repudiated to be one of the better establishments near Ryedale called Canadian Fields, which bills itself as Ryedale’s premier glamping experience. You dine at potentially shared tables and the food was quite good – an experience made even better by the dozens of children staying at the campground playing soccer and generally having a great time right outside the restaurant. It was an easy, level grade 2 mile loop from our bead and breakfast to the glamp ground. It was definitely a fun – but long – day.

England, Day 3

May 25, 2019 |  by  |  Comments Off on England, Day 3

Next trip to England will be spent entirely in the Lake District. It is so stunningly beautiful that it as almost indescribable. Edith and I spent the morning touring Hill Top, the home of Beatrix Potter. We were also lucky enough to book at a wonderful country estate which was once the holiday home of Beatrix Potter, and where she edited the manuscript for Peter Rabbit.

Edith and I walked an approximately 5 mile loop from Near Sawrey to Hawkshead, photos of our walk below.

Here is a little bunny heading towards Ms. Potter’s cottage
Inside the Beatrix Potter house
There are whimsical touches throughout the cottage (a theme I have emulated at Weather Hill), including the small mouse atop the clock.
Some beautiful Irises in the garden that are similar to ones I transplanted to Weather Hill from my grandmother’s house
Someone left Hill Top with a new friend
Typical stone fence throughout the region
Across the bridge to Hawkshead, the stones are set atop the wall a bit differently.
Quaker Meeting House near Hawkshead
Cemetery entrance
Quaker cemetery with stone benches built into the walls so that meeting could be held in the cemetery.
“Upping Stones” for boarding carriages or coaches
Taking a rest on an ingeniously placed through-stone that doubles as a small bench
Bunny Sheep!
Almost there!

England, Day 2

May 25, 2019 |  by  |  Comments Off on England, Day 2

We spent much of the morning walking the North Wessex Downs Area of Natural Beauty, specifically sites that can be traced to one of our favorite books, Richard Adam’s 1972 Watership Down.

On the trail to the top of the down
Our friend and guide, El-ahrairah
Beech Hanger on the edge of the down
View of the valley below. Richard Adam’s home is visible to the left
Edith and El-ahrairah take one last look over the valley
The end of our day – this is what greeted us at our lovely accommodation in the Lake District – more about this in Day 3

England, Day 1

May 23, 2019 |  by  |  Comments Off on England, Day 1

England, Day 1: Luckily, getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road whilst (good English word) sitting on the opposite side of the vehicle to drive – opposite being subjective, of course – wasn’t as steep a learning curve as I feared. Flight was rocky throughout most of the night, though British Airways crew handled as if it were a routinely smooth flight. Business Class is decidedly the way to go.

From Heathrow, our self-created literary tour took us to Highclere Farm for our overnight. As the name suggests, it was once held as part of the Highclere Estate (Downton Abbey for fans of the show), and Highclere was within walking distance of the farm. Lovely night, lovely hostess. Slept soundly in the carriage house with the sounds of the farm about.

Spent much of the afternoon walking about the village, with an extraordinary good meal at the local pub. Edith tackled her first stile – in style!

Walking across an access path through a field in Highclere…

Walking home from the pub, we were headed back to Highclere Farm when we were arrested (not in the legal sense) by the sound of church bells in the distance:

The bells, it turned out, rang off and on while Edith and I tried to make our way towards the sound. Through a cut off, three gates, over a bridge, through a sheep pasture, and down an unused lane until we found the beautiful Highclere Parish Church of Saint Michaels and All Angels.

Walking a bit around the grounds as the sound of close bells rang, we found a tiny door ajar, revealing a small circular staircase of stone leading to the bell tower. Embolden beyond the usual by the pints at the pub, I enthusiastically pushed past the door, vaulted (ok, perhaps stumbled a bit) up the stairs, opened a closed door with a dash of elan, only to be completely ignored by 8 serious bell ringers….until they stopped their bell chorus. Then they couldn’t have been friendlier or more accommodating. We learned that church bell ringing – known as English Style Bellringing – is taken very seriously in England, with groups all over the country. Some families in particular parishes have been doing it for generations. It takes a good deal of training. The bells are suspended on a wheel, stored with its “mouth” pointed upwards. You must be able to pull the bell with just enough force to allow it to swing down, chime, and swing back upwards, coming to a gentle stop with the mouth of the bell returning to the upright position. Video of the bell ringers in action will be posted here:

This was really a special evening for Edith and I. The bell ringers of Highclere Parish Church of Saint Michaels and All Angels could not have been more welcoming of us and our questions, and I do believe that our experience will stand as a highlight of our trip – and this was only the first day

View of the church spire (visible above Edith’s head) from the Highclere sheep field we cut through.