In North Yorkshire
North Of England
Palace, the Tower Bridge, Stonehenge and Big Ben are some of the places
people think of when traveling to England becomes part of their vacation
plans. These are all wonderful places and well worth visiting; yet some
of the most beautiful and authentically “English” parts of England
have to be the Yorkshire Dales. This includes the East and West ridings,
or counties, of Yorkshire, and the largest county in England, the county
of North Yorkshire.
is situated about 4 hours north of London and around the same distance
from Edinburgh Scotland (pronounced “EDDIN-BURRAH”), making it an
ideal locale to explore much of England and Scotland within a day’s journey.
However, there is so much to see and do in and around North Yorkshire that
you could spend a month there and never leave the county!
I moved to North Yorkshire in August 2001 where I worked as a telecommunications
project manager at RAF Menwith Hill near the city of Harrogate. This heavily
flowered city is in the south-central part of North Yorkshire and is famous
as a spa center from the late 1800’s and early/mid 1900’s.
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There are still
a number of natural baths and springs in Harrogate where people from all
over the UK and Europe come to relax and seek relief through soaking in
the heated mineral-rich waters.
right in the middle of the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2001; the sheep were
spray painted with various colored letters to indicate whether they had
been checked or infected.
#1 – 175 years old)
farmhouse was just east of Nidd, a small village near Ripley just north
of Harrogate. This house was just over a 100 years old (young by English
standards!) and much roomier and warmer than the previous one. (The central
heating systems in England use a central boiler with heated water and radiators;
some work well, but most houses in the UK feel perpetually cold). Our second
home sat in the middle of a huge estate with sheep, pheasants and rabbits
running everywhere. The River Nidd ran just below our house where we would
ride our 4x4 up and hike along the river.
several things about living in England that took some getting used to;
the first being driving on the “wrong” side of the road! After a
few days you get a little more comfortable, and within a few weeks you
hardly think about it. The first couple times to Europe or back to the
States were a bit tricky going back to the “right” side of the road.
thing about the driving in England is their manners; the English will
stop traffic completely to let you out of your driveway or a side road
onto the main roadway, but after that, watch out! English drivers are very
fast and aggressive once onto the actual road and have more than their
share of accidents because of impatience. We were given a variety of vivid
and descriptive hand gestures for not flying down the road at breakneck
speed with the rest of them!
in England was typically English the first year we were there; windy, cool
and with generous helpings of rain. The second year was dry and sunny and
continued that way until we left in early September. We certainly couldn’t
use the weather as an excuse to move back to the US!
|North of Harrogate
just a couple miles is the village of Ripley. This village sprang up largely
to provide logistic support to Ripley Castle, which has belonged to the
Ingilby family for over 700 years. Ripley Castle has a rich history with
many noted English visitors, including King James I and Oliver Cromwell,
and has daily tours, which I would highly recommend.
There are now
only a few small shops in Ripley, along with the requisite pub and post
office, with the village and castle being surrounded by farmland and bordered
on the south by the River Nidd.
Just down from
the castle is the Boar’s Head Restaurant and hotel; the restaurant is rated
one of the highest in all of England, which I would personally agree with,
having held our corporate Christmas dinner there in December 2002. The
food and service was nothing short of spectacular!
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|A quick point
about the food in England (or at least in North Yorkshire); in the
US much fun is poked at English cuisine and its dullness of selection and
taste (boiled meat, boiled vegetables, you get the idea…) I don’t know
where this stereotype stems from, but it certainly wasn’t North Yorkshire!
Granted many of the menus at the pub restaurants have similar menus, but
the food is hot and tasty and the plates hold massive helpings that only
the hungriest person could finish! Gammon steak (a thick slice of salted
country ham) with chips (French fries) and steamed vegetables were
one of my favorites. My wife’s favorite was the salmon, usually served
with a creamy white sauce that made the fish melt in your mouth. Other
excellent dishes were the traditional steak-and-kidney-pie and Sunday roast
with Yorkshire pudding. A meal of gammon steak would typically run about
£6.75, or about $11.00, with most other selections no more than $20
per person. Formal restaurants are usually quite expensive; pubs are typically
the best place to find good food at a reasonable price.
As you travel
west from Harrogate towards the market town of Skipton (where you can buy
everything from socks to swords at the open air market each Saturday),
you will see the large geodesic domes at RAF Menwith Hill. Just north of
Menwith Hill is one of the best lodging facilities in the area, the Nidderdale
Cottages. My family and I stayed there in a converted blacksmith’s shop;
the rest are medium-sized apartments. Tim and Linda Savage are the proprietors
and are very friendly and helpful. Although they don’t serve breakfast,
you can drive north about ¾ of a mile to the Wellington Inn in the
village of Darley for excellent English pub food and more formal dinners.
The views of the valley from both the cottages and the Wellington Inn are
As you are
traveling west towards Skipton from Harrogate on the A59, you will come
to a roundabout with a sign for “Bolton Abbey”. Bolton Abbey is smaller
and not quite as famous as its nearby neighbor Fountains Abbey, but is
still interesting and very picturesque.
The abbey has
a portion still used for worship services; a sign outside the door says
join us this Sunday where we have held Christian worship for over 800 years”.
It is this type of living history which makes England the mother lode for
East of Harrogate
is the city of York. Although technically in the county of East Yorkshire,
York is only a 20 minute drive from Harrogate. York is the oldest continually
inhabited city in all of England, dating back to pre-Roman times. The city
has been invaded and conquered by the Vikings and the Scots, and has one
of the best-preserved medieval walls surrounding the city found anywhere
one of the best times to visit York, where they lavishly decorate the city
and have Dickensian-era carolers and spiced mead carts on almost every
corner. The Shambles is a street in York that has buildings dating back
to the 1500’s that are still used as shops and upstairs apartments.
shops, keep in mind that England does not yet have the 24-by-7 mentality
that many of our US stores have (24 hour Super Walmarts, etc). Almost every
store is open from 10:00 to 5:30. After 5:30 the downtown areas are mostly
deserted except for people heading for the bars or restaurants.
are very similar to those in the US, although they usually have a much
larger alcohol section, basically a small liquor store within the grocery
section. Prices run about 40% higher for staples than similar items in
The most expensive
item of all however has to be the gasoline. The average price was 80 pence
per liter, which equates to about $5.00 a gallon! We were fortunate that
the base where I worked had tax-free gasoline, which brought the price
down to a much more reasonable $2.30 a gallon! I know gas has risen in
the US, but if you have ever been to the UK or Europe, you know that we
are blessed by very reasonable gas prices!
and slightly north of York are the Yorkshire Moors, a beautiful area of
sparse, low-lying vegetation and abrupt cliffs surrounded by thick forests
at the bottom. It is a national park and arguably one of the finest ones
in all Britain. Further east still takes you to the coast of the English
channel and the town of Whitby, where Bram Stoker’s Dracula landed when
arriving in England.
from England to the Unites States in September 2003 and are now living
in Brentwood, TN. Living in England was much different than just visiting
and we missed the convenience and familiarity of the States. Still, from
the ancient abbeys to the flower gardens and baths of Harrogate, and from
the fishing villages of the east coast to the moors and farmlands, we found
North Yorkshire and the surrounding areas to be one of the prettiest areas
in all of England. The people can be both friendly and rude (often in the
same breath!), the houses small and cold, and the driving positively scary!
But if you like rolling hills with sheep and horses and the picture-postcard
villages with castles scattered throughout and history literally at every
turn, then the North Yorkshire area of central England should be high on
your list of places to visit. Given the right circumstances and open mind,
it can also be a great place to live.
Eric Click Here
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