A new perspective for a New Year

Continue reading “A new perspective for a New Year”


Beamish Museum and the Angel of the North

First off, my apologies for most of the photos appearing here at the start – I’m having a spot of bother again getting them where I want them!

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Apart from visiting Hadrian’s Wall sites when in inland Northumberland we also went a little further afield, visiting the Angel of the North, Beamish Museum and a Sunday afternoon in Newcastle.

Beamish museum was somewhere that I was aware of and keen to visit.  I love ‘living’ museums like this where the exhibits represent how we used to live, often with buildings saved from different areas and rebuilt in the museum.  Similar museums around the country include the Weald and Downland near Chichester, St Fagans Folk Museum in Cardiff, Blists Hill Victorian Town near Telford and the Black Country Museum in Dudley.  I have been to each of these museums (except the Black Country Museum) at least twice, and as a result often shout excitedly at the telly when I see a location I recognise (as they’re often used for filming!)

We actually visited Beamish twice.  There were 2 reasons for this, the 1st being that they are one of these, really pretty annoying, attractions where your entry fee allows you to visit for a full year.  This is all very well if you live in the area and are likely to visit more than once – but how about a cheaper price for those of us who are just visiting?  We missed out on Leeds Castle because of this policy (and saw many others turning round and leaving), and need to visit Chatham Docks again before May in order to use our tickets again before they run out…

Anyway, the main reason we had to return was that a couple of days after our first visit there was a big classic car show being held.  So that was reason enough to go back….

Beamish is a living history museum located in the village of Beamish, near to Consett.  There is an awful lot of walking available as you make your way around the site, between the pit village (and a quick tour down a real pit shaft – not far but very interesting), the town, the hall and the farm.

Don’t despair however there are plenty of transport options; old trams and buses run frequently and there is no extra charge for these.  There are several houses that have been rebuilt and dressed in the style of the day, both in the pit village, the town and also the hall.  Don’t miss the tower as you exit the hall – this is the most interesting part of the building!

Over the 2 visits that we made we managed to see every part of the museum and were suitably impressed (at £19 each though that’s a good thing!)

On the way to the museum we had visited the Angel of the North  , the iconic sculpture designed by Anthony Gormley which you cannot miss as you drive by!  There is free parking and an information board at the bottom of the hill that the angel is sited on, and she is really an awesome sight!

We returned to the van via Consett as we needed to get fuel.

After our 2nd visit on the Sunday we headed in to Newcastle to have a look.  We ended up having some lunch – I found out that Weatherspoons now operate a system where you’re able to order online, including your drinks!  Brilliant!  (However, I also think this is old news, just like when I got all excited about the automatic ordering in McDonalds…)

After lunch we headed off to have a look around Newcastle.  I’m not sure how far we walked, but it was a far way.  We were impressed with the city – it wasn’t what we were expecting at all.  Added to the grand old buildings there was a definite vibe about the place even on a Sunday afternoon in September.

Finally in this area, on the Saturday between these 2 visits to the museum we decided to have a lazy day but ended up heading out for a drive, visiting Heddon on the Wall and then Prudhoe Castle.  We also found where the British Masters was being held (we’d seen signs for parking as we’d been driving around the area for the previous week) at Close House, which was busy preparing for the tournament that was being held the following week.

Prudhoe Castle is an English Heritage property, but whilst a pleasant enough way to spend, maybe, half an hour, it wasn’t one of the better properties we’d visited.  Put it this way, it’s one of the properties that we would have been fed up to have paid out £12 between us if we hadn’t been members….  However, if you do go make sure to visit the room above the gatehouse 🙂


So our time in Hadrian’s Wall country came to an end, but not our time in Northumberland.  We had 11 more nights and 2 more sites on the coast to visit before moving on to Scotland!

Keep travelling 🙂


Goathland – aka Aidensfield or Hogwarts…

Our final day in the moors was reserved to visit Goathland, otherwise known as Aidensfield (Heartbeat’s location) or Hogwarts Station (the train station was used in the Harry Potter films).

We would have loved to have arrived in the village on the steam train (North York Moors Railway), but the cost was prohibitive unfortunately.  Even just to travel 1 stop between Grosmont and Goathland would have cost us £26 return….  There were plenty of trains running though so obviously plenty of people paying for this.  Apparently it wasn’t always this expensive – it appears that the Harry Potter effect has caused the increase in prices.

We saw the steam train for the 1st time at Grosmont – perfect timing actually as we were at the front of the queue when the level crossing gates closed!  We do love to see the trains in operation so this was an absolute treat.

Next it was a race to get to Goathland before the train! We managed it – just.. Parking by the road and running up to the bridge, which is where I took the main picture from 🙂  Another train was coming the other way so we saw both in the station.  Heading back to the car we spotted a waterfall which we tried to get a bit closer.  I had to give up as I picked a wrong spot to place my foot and nearly sank!

We then carried on in the car towards the village itself, starting with the train station which I had a quick look at – unfortunately it didn’t really mean much to me as I haven’t watched any Harry Potter film all the way through (I’ve maybe seen 15-20 minutes in total)….  See photos below 🙂 Continue reading “Goathland – aka Aidensfield or Hogwarts…”

Walks in the North York Moors


When we first arrived in the North York Moors we drove past Roseberry Topping a few times on our way out for the day.  Each time we both said we’ll go up that while we’re here 🙂

On our 1st day back we had taken a wrong turning and found somewhere to park for free from where we could walk up the peak; Gribdale Gate.  From here we could also go in the opposite direction to visit Captain Cook’s monument.  This was perfect as the car park sited on the main road has a cost attached – although I think the path is more straightforward and definitely looked easier in hindsight!

We thought that we were being clever but from our direction we actually had to cope with 3 ascents and descents.  There are ‘steps’ provided in places but these are not particularly easy to negotiate – we were in awe of the young couple who were walking this in the pouring rain with their young baby on the dad’s back 🙂

So, yes, we had a rainstorm on the way up, but by the time we got to the top the sun was back out – very changeable.

The last bit up to the summit was particularly taxing for me, so I thought I’d have a little sit down – until I spotted the lizard that I was about to sit on! (I thought it was a snake at first..)  I carried on 🙂


The views from the top were absolutely amazing so I’ve included this video showing them all around, plus a few photos on a slideshow. Continue reading “Walks in the North York Moors”

A few more days on the Moors and seeing the Transporter Bridge

We did a lot of walking in the North York Moors – even when we were ‘going’ somewhere!  So this post will deal with 1 of the days that we were, sort of at least, heading somewhere and I will do a separate post for the days we actually set out just to walk (to the top of Roseberry Topping and to see Captain Cook’s Monument to be precise).

On day 2 in the Moors we headed to the nearest decent sized town, Stokesley, which turned out to be extremely pleasant.  The parking system was disc parking and, not having a disc, we drove through and parked as soon as we could, giving us a short walk back into town.  There are an awful lot of old buildings in Stokesley and the centre has a really nice feel about it, with lots of independent shops and several butchers, bakers and greengrocers.

We also found a dedicated running shop here (I needed a new water bottle).  The 1st bottle they showed me was £35 – I politely explained I wasn’t actually THAT much of a runner!  I did get what I wanted though, and then realised that I recognised the couple from my previous morning’s ‘run’ – I had stopped to wait for them to pass me with their 4 dogs as I was embarrassed by my shambling and didn’t want them to observe it!  These 2 are proper runners – he went up the hill like it  was a Sunday afternoon stroll, whereas I had to bully myself up this hill (all 20m or so of it…).  The shop is called Let’s Run, and they are very involved in coaching and getting beginners out with groups.

From here we headed towards Middlesborough as we both wanted to see the Transporter Bridge that crosses the Tees there.

We found it, and we went across the river on it (£1.30!), a very quick crossing after which we found ourselves in an area called Port Clarence, which used to be very busy, but which is now less so.

We had a quick drive around Middlesborough and were impressed by the evidence of past grandeur, and also the clear evidence of ongoing regeneration.

Making our way back the, slightly long way, we saw another bridge that appears to lift.  I have since discovered this to be the Newport Vertical Lift Bridge which is no longer in use, so no chance of seeing it in action unfortunately 😦

A couple of days later we decided to head south through the moors towards Helmsley.  Continue reading “A few more days on the Moors and seeing the Transporter Bridge”

A little more of our time in the Yorkshire Dales

What I’m writing about now actually happened more than a fortnight ago (meaning I am really behind here – I do have good reasons though!)

We actually stayed in the Dales for a week, and as well as all the waterfalls that I’ve already written about (click here if you’ve not read it yet), we enjoyed simply driving along the country roads (and along some of the high passes), visiting a couple of the towns and villages and visiting Fountains Abbey and Castle Bolton.

Driving down the road from the campsite we came across an escarpment at Cray that a number of people were climbing.  So we stopped and went up to have a closer look 🙂

From here we continued along the road until we came to Grassington – make no mistake through several pretty villages before getting here; this was just where we decided to stop 🙂

Grassington is actually a town, albeit a small town with a population at the last census of 1,126.  It’s very pretty with a history of lead mining, a country park, a folk museum and several gift shops and eateries.  Well worth a visit; we enjoyed wandering around for a short while 🙂

We were actually aiming for Ripon when we set out in the morning, and once we’d left Grassington we aimed once again for this town.  On the way we saw signs for How Stean Gorge which I had read about in the Rough Guide, and I thought it looked like it could be really good to visit.  It took a while to get there, but we couldn’t see much.  Unless we paid £7 each…  Now it might well have been worth this money, but it’s only about 1000m long, and the weather wasn’t brilliant, so we decided against it.

There is however an awful lot on offer including canyoning, gorge walking, canoeing and the via ferrata (a high wire adventure), so I really think it’s worth a visit for the more adventurous among us (okay among you…!) Check out their website here if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

Back on the road again to Ripon we next came across Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden.  Now I did, of course, know that this was here, but I wasn’t going to suggest stopping.  But then we saw the magic words ‘World Heritage Site’, so decided to have a look after all.  Being members of the National Trust we had nothing to lose – if we weren’t impressed we could just leave 🙂

We weren’t disappointed even though we didn’t actually manage to visit the church in the grounds (where Freddie Truman is apparently buried – according to my dad anyway 🙂 ) (I have just checked and Wikipedia says he’s buried in Bolton Abbey; but then again Wikipedia has been known to get it wrong…!), or the Studley Royal Gardens (which are actually the World Heritage Site).  But we did see the hall (much of it now holiday & staff accommodation) and the remains of the abbey itself.  These are really impressive being very extensive.  You can clearly see the seats where the monks sat in the choir, visit an upstairs room (still completely intact) and a massive hall that still has it’s ceiling and arches.

There is quite a steep climb back up from the ruins – so much so that the tall church tower looks a little like a gatehouse as you’re walking towards it!

We fully intended to go back with our bikes to visit the water gardens and the deer park, but sadly never actually made it (as is so often the case).

Time was no getting on so we just drove through Ripon and headed back to the van via a Co-op in Masham (there is a distinct lack of shops in the Dales themselves!)

This we found out to our cost later that evening.  We had forgotten a vital item when in the shop, but decided to wait until after our tea to go back out.  Big mistake!  We headed back out at 7.35pm.  The garage in Aysgarth had closed at 7pm, so we decided to head for Hawes, 8 miles away, as that’s a fairly decent size – no, all that was open were pubs.  And a Chinese.  So then we had to come back and head for Leyburn, 8 miles in the other direction, all the way looking for shops, garages etc.  There were a couple of village shops and garages, but everything was shut, except for the pubs!

Finally in Leyburn – a decent sized town, we found a choice of 2 shops.  So because we forgot something we drove about 36 miles and were out for over an hour.  And we complain at home because our nearest shop is a mile away!!

We headed back to Hawes another day, although we didn’t stop (this was the day that we visited Hardraw Force).  We then took the Buttertubs Pass, an amazing road with wonderful views over the dales.  So called because apparently farmers would leave unsold butter in the deep natural potholes along the side of the road when they left market.

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We drove a 2nd pass – no name given – and at the bottom we spotted a mole running along the side of the road!  Just amazing 🙂

At the top of the pass we found Muker, a busy little village with a couple of tea rooms and a pub.  We were confused as to why it was quite so busy until I realised that it was on the route of a long distance walking path.

We continued along the ‘back road’ to Aysgarth until we got to Castle Bolton.  This is where the reception for the wedding I mentioned previously was held.  It was very cold that time!  This time not so much.

There was a medieval music festival being held there this weekend and we were able to access the ground floor as well as the café on the 1st floor.  There was quite a lot to see!

Castle Bolton

So another couple of lovely days in the Dales were concluded.  Just 1 more post on this, dealing with a visit to Richmond and Leyburn 🙂

Keep travelling!

Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales – Days 2,4 & 6 :)

There is water everywhere in the Dales.  Tumbling over rocks in rivers and streams that run alongside the road, flowing serenely into Tarns, ready to be enjoyed in reservoirs and thundering down falls or over escarpments.

However you experience it it’s awesome beauty cannot be ignored 🙂

We have made it our business to visit 3 areas of falls; Aysgarth, Hardraw Force and the Cauldron Falls at West Burton (not even mentioned in guidebooks!)  I think we actually enjoyed the Cauldron Falls most as we were able to explore them more fully – we almost walked behind them 🙂

Note: I will pop most of the photos at the end on a slideshow 🙂 Continue reading “Waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales – Days 2,4 & 6 :)”