Forbidden Corner

Forbidden Corner 01Yesterday, before another drive around t’Dales, we spent a fun couple of hours at Forbidden Corner.

I howled and giggled with laughter as we explored the curious, fantastical, humorous creation.

We saw dragons, ravens, boars, bears, mice, cats, Legionnaires, Greek gods, fountains, towers, a creepy mausoleum that was a hoot to travel through, and more!

When we thought we’d seen it all, we went to the cafe for some much needed tea and lunch. I had a delicious felafal burger (no bun, thank you) chips and salad. Liz had fish and chips.

It’s all brilliantly done; there’s a surprise around most corners, some of which can result in a bit of a soaking, but not too much.I had to look up, down, left and right to see everything, and even then we missed a couple of things.

The views from the towers across the landscape are lovely, and, like at the Coldstones Cut, the view you get is managed by the buildings.

I’m not going to post anymore pictures; I’d not want to spoil the experience for you, the surprises. If you’re visiting the Yorkshire Dales, this is a lovely way to spend a few hours.

Should I return, I think I’d try to take a couple more breaks from exploring Forbidden Corner to prevent sensory overload, but then, as I’ve said, the cafe is lovely and perfect for a break, whether it be for a pot of tea, a snack, or a full meal.

Oop and down t’dales

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A view towards Malham Tarn

Yesterday and today we’ve spent the afternoons driving around different dales in the Yorkshire Dales. Liz will know and remember much better than I where we’ve been on our journeys.

What I do remember is how the landscape changes from one dale to the next, all determined by the underlying geology.

I particularly loved the parts of the Dales we visited yesterday where the limestone protrudes in blocks, making the landscape incredibly craggy.

I also love the gentler landscape with smooth hills that are terraced.

There’s the steep-sided, V-shaped river carved valleys, as well as the wide bottomed U-shaped valleys that are glacier carved.

So much variation literally over the hill to the next Dale.

I was fascinated by the dry stone walls; so different to ones I’m familiar with in Wales. I love the chunkier blocks that are used, especially when there’s a matt whiteish lichen and dark green, lush moss on the grey limestone stone.

Of course there’s sheep everywhere, lots of different breeds with the Swaledale with its curly horns being most prevalent.

We’ve seen an number of birds – red kites, grouse, pheasants, kestral, maybe a sparrowhawk and a shrike, though we have to check up on those two. Oh, and a cormorant taking flight from a stream.

A visit was payed to a nice tea room near some waterfalls – Liz will remind me of the name of the place.

We also wandered around and into a church or two, including a church that had the most darling little mice carved on some of the pews.

Forbidden Corner was also visited, but more about that in a separate blog.

 

Fabulous Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey 03

After Coldstones Cut, we wended our way towards Fountains Abbey, which is near Ripon.

We stopped for refreshments and a comfort break at The Old Bridge Tearoom in Pately Bridge. Yorkshire Tea was definitely needed by myself, while Liz required a cafetiere of coffee and a warm plain scone with butter. I did have a slice of toasted fruit bread, which was nice, but I just nibbled as I was still quite full from breakfast at the Devonshire Arms.

After a suitable amount of time, we made our way to Fountains Abbey which is a place I’ve wanted to visit for many years now, ever since I discovered my love of old abbeys, churches, cathedrals and so on, particularly those with Romanesque architecture.

On arrival I joined the National Trust, something I’d been planning to do for a goodly while now, and so my entrance fee was covered. We were both shocked to find out that the fee was £15 just for Liz. That’s just under a quarter of the annual individual membership fee for the NT.  The ticket is valid for one day, but on looking at the site map of the Abbey and the surrounding Studley Royal gardens and so on we realised that there’s no way we’d manage to cover much in the day, especially as it was now well past noon. And that’s not taking into account how I like to take my time viewing the architecture.

I loved my time with the ruins. They have a story to tell in the different styles of architecture evident. From the early Romanesque to early Gothic and beyond.

I love Romanesque. It’s so solid, so honest, so ‘here to stay’. Here, the Romanesque isn’t ornate like it is in the Herefordshire school of Romanesque architecture, which has geometric designs in arches, wonderful sculptures of people and beasts, naive but honest and charming – the best the mason could do. At Fountains, the column capitals, the columns and arches around doors are devoid of such ornamentation, save for a few relatively simple decorations.

Both styles are beautiful in their own ways; Fountains in it’s simple sturdy elegance, the Herefordshire School and similar in their wonderful ornateness.

The Gothic was mostly early here, pointy window and door arches and not a lot of ornamentation. Some windows showed signs of tracery being present at sometime. This simplicity is, though, perfectly in keeping with the more austere ideals of the Cistercians who built the abbey.

There was evidence of water management with arches and bridges over a stream; the stream ran under the Abbey at one point.

The setting for the building at the bottom of a lush, green valley, sheltered from the bracing wind, was lovely indeed.

I had a fascinating time wandering, looking, pondering, taking photos. Most of my photos really are just for reference for me – either as memory joggers or for inspiration for arty things. I’m no photographer, but I will share some of my better images at the end of my words.

Liz made a very good and forceful point about our visit (other than the cost of entry to the site and the impossibility of getting value for money in one day). That was the total lack of information about the Abbey, it’s features, history, function and so on. Other people said the same too.

I never considered it. My reading and research on such things over the last decade and more has my head filled with some knowledge and understanding. Not dates, but I can vaguely decode the timeline of construction and spot changes made and so on. I also enjoy the aesthetics and have my artists eye on when visiting, so it’s not just about the history. However, when pointed out to me I get her point, and how that lack of information panels or even a decent information sheet given out after you’ve parted with £15. We did get an information sheet, which was a map of the huge site.

After viewing most of the Abbey, it was time for another comfort break and then to find some tea and vittles. We wandered back to the ‘restaurant’ and were sorely disappointed.  The menu was totally uninspiring to us both and so we turned around and left.

I can’t remember whether it was before or after the restaurant that we paid a visit to the gift shop as I wanted a book about the history of the Abbey, and I managed to get a decent one that wasn’t the tourist guide. Yes, there was a fairly good guide to the Abbey and Studley Royal on sale for £5.

I had wanted to go and see William Burges’ church in the grounds, but between aching hips and knees and a need for tea we decided to go in search of lunch elsewhere, maybe returning when refreshed to visit the church. As it turns out, we didn’t return. Not today. I would like to on another visit to the Yorkshire Dales at some point in time, but we’ll see on that.

One further observation is that the way the National Trust promotes it’s sites seems to be ‘a day out walking, picnicking’ rather than on sharing information about the history of the site in a way that is available to all and will pique people’s interest in it, satisfy their curiosity at the time they are curious and have questions about something with the Abbey.

I get that a focus on a nice day or hour or two walk out with a bit of lunch/tea appeals to a lot more people than perhaps the history does. However, the lack of information to those who are more curious about history puts people off returning.

The emphasis on enjoying the surroundings, walking, picnicking, eating/drinking is very evident in their handbook. The National Trust is in charge of taking care of natural environments deemed beautiful and in need of looking after for the enjoyment of visitors.

And that’s fine and well. It really is.

However, Fountains Abbey is the best preserved Abbey in the UK. It’s importance in terms of the history of the Cistercian order and medieval life is such that it is a World Heritage Site. World Heritage. With not a lot of information about why, or the building or the history of it while walking around and able to have the information about the parts of the building, their dates, function, what they were likely to have looked like. Some parts were labelled with their name, such as the cellarium, the undercroft, the lavatorium, and so on. But only some.  As far as I could tell, there weren’t any audio guides you could borrow to guide you around the Abbey.

However, the gloss of the visit was roughly removed for Liz, whereas I was in a happy place wandering around drinking in the architectural wonder and being a bit of a detective on the phases of building.

Here’s a couple more images of things that caught my attention at the Abbey.

Bracing (some call it feckin’ freezin’) walk to the Coldstones Cut

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Liz at the East end of the central corridor of the Coldstones Cut

We woke this morning to a frost with hazy golden autumn light flooding the world and showing beautifully the glory of the Dales. The views from the road from Cracoe to Coldstones Cut were absolutely splendiferous.

The walk up to the art installation called Coldstones Cut was rather bracing, to say the very least. The wind was very strong with a high wind-chill factor. It certainly helped to blow away the cobwebs left in our heads by a night’s sleep. The path to the Cut was quite steep in places, well for one who’s not all that fit such as I, Angela.

The first thing I saw of this installation was the beginning (or end) of a long, straight, open-roofed and open ended corridor that runs E to W. The corridor was huge and made me feel quite small. It was high, solid, sturdy and built of big blocks of sparkly limestone from the Coldstones Quarry.

These walls seemed to force my attention along them, towards the West. Each step taken opened the view up a little more. Taking that final step out of the corridor magically revealed the amazing views all around from the South, to the West and then to the North. With this step, there was a sense of liberation from the oppressive nature of those towering, heavy limestone walls; a sense of relief from the suspense of being able to see the whole view, a kind of enlightenment, maybe.

The same experience was repeated when walking towards the East.

This corridor is the only part of the Coldstones Cut. At the centre of the corridor there is a raised red dome, and leading away towards the North and South are two more corridors that  curve away from this dome.

The curving walls, as massive as the central corridor, obscured my view of the landscape and only afforded a narrow view of the sky directly overhead. As I walked along this uphill spiral path, more and more sky became visible, then a tiny sliver of the most distant hills, then more and more until one step took me onto a circular viewing platform. The sky was fully open to my view now and I could turn around in a circle to see the landscape in all directions revealed to me.

I could see the natural landscape of the Yorkshire Dales, where the Vale of York lay just over a ridge of hills. I could see the manmade landscape of the quarry, a huge hole in the Earth, revealing the secrets of what lies beneath our feet.

And that’s what it felt like, exploring this installation – it revealed ‘truths’ to me in each compass direction, but also above and below.

Walking back down the path to the car I realised that the path on the way up, if I’d not stopped and looked around, also served to obscure my view of the world around me. Walking downhill allowed me to see what was around me, just as the experiences in the Coldstones Cut had opened my views, my perspectives, my mind.

I couldn’t express this in spoken words. It’s taken much of the day and a chance to slow my thinking down, spend time with my experiences and type out my thoughts to get these impressions out. I have the feeling that there’s more there, floating through the depths of my subconscious.

I really recommend a visit to this installation. I’m sure that different people have different experiences at this place. The creator(s) of this artwork, this installation have done a very, very clever job.

Here are some more photos that I took this morning.

Coldstones Cut 04
The altitude of Coldstones Cut
Coldstones Cut 01
A view across the quarry from one of the viewing platforms. It looks like ancient Egyptian remains in the desert, doesn’t it?

 

Dominoes down t’pub

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Serious stuff going on here! I played a couple of rounds. The pot at the end of the night was a massive 50p.

Lots of chatter and catch up going on as play continued in a quaintly Yorkshire pub – The Fountains in Linton, who supplied them with a plate of sandwiches partway through the evening.

A lovely way to spend an evening with lovely people. Thank you Jack, Barbara and Tedfor letting us join in.  You did mostly trounce us southerners, however one of us managed to win the ‘boxing’ game and walked away with the 50p.

dav

Oop in t’Dales we are!

We made it!

Five hours of driving through changing scenery, from the mountains of the Brecon Beacons to the flat land in Cheshire. Onward through the gentle rolling hills of Lancashire and up into the Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales.

A journey that was filled with much random conversation, laughter and tractors! Yes there were plenty of tractors of all colours and sizes; well it is potato harvesting season!

We joked we really ought to do a podcast of our butterfly minded conversations as there’s no way we’ll remember much of it ourselves. This is rather good news to us as we can do the whole conversation again tomorrow and it’ll still seem fresh.

On the way we stopped for a nice lunch at Stokesay Castle. We’re planning to stop there on our way back later in the week and we’ll get some photos then.

The next leg of our journey had us rushing as much as we could (tractors and slow drivers permitting) to get to a lovely cafe Liz knows at West Marton. Sadly, we didn’t make it in time, but it’s on the go to list for later in the week. Liz reports they do a fantastic bowl of chips. And nice cake.

We did get to a farm shop on the outskirts of Skipton called Keelham’s. We were disappointed that the caff had shut for the day but the downstairs restaurant was open.

A lovely bowl of thrice cooked chips was delivered for us to share, followed by coffee and walnut cake. Oh, and a gallon of Yorkshire tea! The chips were gorgeous, hot, crispy and freshly cooked. The cake was nice enough. The service was excellent.

The tea was very welcome indeed after a couple of hours on the road dodging tractors!

I’m now settled in at the Devonshire Arms in Cracoe, Liz has sorted her caravan out for her stay. Shortly we’re off to play dominoes after Liz has invited us along to the local gathering of domino regulars down t’pub.

I couldn’t have had a warmer welcome at the Devonshire Arms from Phil.

And an apology. We didn’t get any photos on our journey; not easy to take from a motoring Freelander! However some of the things we did see on our way included:

  • buzzards
  • a field with several red kites feasting behind the plough
  • a heron coming into land that flew right in front of the car’s windscreen
  • lovely old medieval ‘black and white’ buildings
  • charming churches
  • duckpond, complete with happily floating ducks
  • stacks of freshly baked bread going round and round in tall windows of a commercial bakery
  • a baby bunny nibbling grass
  • brown spotted sheepies (the lamb was so cute)
  • potatoes – loads and loads of potatoes in huge trailers behind enormous tractors!

We’ll let you know later how much we lose at dominoes tonight!

The Journey Begins

happiness is a piece of cake close up photography

“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.” — Izaak Walton

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – JRR Tolkein

“He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.” – JRR Tolkein

Thanks for joining us on our blogging travels.

The seeds for this were sown just over a year ago while driving from Bradford-on-Avon to visit Avebury and the West Kennet Long Barrow, all in Wiltshire in the UK.

On the way up Cherhill we spotted an old petrol station that had been converted into a cafe named Divine.

We had to find out if the cafe lived up to it’s name. It did.

We both choose a raspberry and lemon roulade that had just the right balance of sweet and sharp. The meringue was light and not overly sweet as well. It was refreshing rather than sickly and laying heavily in the tum.

If I remember aright, the tea was Assam, chosen from a wide range of available teas.

It was while we were oohing and ahhing over the delicious cake, still laughing about a funny incident with a police car.

We were both surprised when we passed all white police car with just the words and badge on. The car lacked the chequerboard pattern of blue and fluorescent yellow that we’re so familiar with where we live in South Wales, UK.

I knew there was a name for that pattern and that it was a type of cake. I was absolutely convinced that it began with M. It was driving us a little nuts as we drove through the roads wending their way through the Wiltshire plains. I spotted a police station and was quite tempted to stop and ask them to put us out of our misery.

Suddenly, as we were talking about something else, it came to me.

‘Battenburg! That’s what the pattern on the side of police cars is called,’ said I.

Liz quipped, ‘ Oh yes, that cake that famously begins with an M!’

‘Yes, it does actually,’ I quickly responded, ‘Mmmmmmbattenburg!’

‘Good save,’ was Liz’s response as we collapsed into a fit of giggles.

As we laughed about that, and the fact that there was no Battenburg cake on the menu at Divine Cafe, thank goodness, I made a throwaway quip about us creating a blog to record our little travels.

Our travels that seem always to involve quick visits to interesting places with our wry and silly senses of humour. Visits that always seem to involve cake. Or ice cream. Or cake and ice cream.

It’s taken a year for the seed that was planted again to sprout in the form of this blog.

Neither of us quite know how the blog will develop and grow. What we hope is that you will enjoy sharing our journeys with us.