Yorkshire, the largest county in England, birthplace of the Bronte Sisters, the setting for Downton Abbey and The Full Monty, ruled by the Romans and then the Vikings. Location of the world’s largest (alleged) curry house that seats over 800. Musical giants such as Pulp, Human League, Def Leppard, Soft Cell, Arctic Monkeys and Robert Palmer all hail from Yorkshire. Home to flat caps and whippets, and that great culinary delight, Yorkshire Pudding.
Our final house sit in the UK was in the charming village of Farnhill on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, looking after two labradors and a cat. The village comprises of one pub, one church and not much else.
The house has the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at its doorstep, quite literally. The dogs Monty and Fergus are the largest labradors we have ever seen. Monty has a head that makes a rottweiler look like a whippet; he is huge. Despite their size, they like nothing more than cuddles on the sofa.
Yorkshire was home for almost two weeks. During this time, we tramped the Dales daily with the dogs. We also explored deeper into the Dales with day trips to Malham Cove, Ribblehead Viaduct and the market town of Skipton.
Malham Cove and Janet’s Foss form a picturesque walk of over 7km. Taking in waterfalls, limestone cliffs and moss covered woods. With dry stone walls snaking into the distance across undulating green pastures. It’s a pretty easy walk although it can be slippery underfoot especially after heavy rain. As we ambled down the throat of Goredale Scar the limestone cliffs started to close around us only opening slightly at the base of the falls. If you are feeling adventurous you can climb higher, but we opted for a steaming cup of Yorkshire tea and an Eccles cake at a nearby mobile cafe.
Malham Cove is an 80 metres high, 300 metres wide stunning limestone cliff face. The cove was once one of the largest waterfalls in Europe. At the top of the now dry cove is a limestone pavement that looks as if it was the inspiration for many an Indiana Jones type adventure. It was used in the filming of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as well as Wuthering Heights and forms part of the Pennine Way.
The majestic Ribblehead Viaduct is breathtaking. With 24 spans and a height of 32 metres the viaduct runs for 400 metres. Built in the late 1800’s and at the cost of over 100 lives, the viaduct is part of the Settle to Carlisle Railway. Fun fact, in 1964 during strong winds several new cars were blow off a railway wagon plummeting to the ground.
Skipton is a gorgeous market town with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal weaving its way alongside. There is a castle that dates back to 1090, which we didn't get to visit for one reason or another. We did however celebrate Julie’s birthday with dinner at Brody’s Yorkshire Pizzeria.
The nearby ruins at Bolton Abbey date back to 1154 and are set in 33,000 acres of parkland and woods. The River Wharfe at the foot of the Abbey a training ground for would-be fly fisherman and fisherwomen.
I made the pilgrimage across the Pennines to Goodison Park, Liverpool; the home of the greatest football team there is, Everton FC. Unlike many modern stadiums, Goodison is a throw-back to the days when a professional footballer’s salary was enough for a couple pints of beer and some new boots. Rows and rows of terraced houses hem in the ground on all sides. From one o'clock, the streets start to fill with blue and white garbed worshippers. Many travelling from overseas to catch a glimpse of their sporting heroes. It was a beautiful sunny spring day. Unfortunately, the standard of football from the team in blue failed to reach to reach the highs of the weather and we were lucky to escape with a 1-1 draw.
After finishing the house sit we stopped on the way south at my sister’s for a couple of days and spent quality time catching up with family. My hometown of Retford, Nottinghamshire, was once the northern tip of Sherwood Forest, home to Robin Hood. With a population of just over 20,000, the town used to be a key staging point for those traveling north from London along the main stagecoach route.
Whilst Julie, my sister and friend Jules enjoyed pampering at Eden Hall Spa, Mum and I headed to one of England’s greatest national treasures, Chatsworth House. Only 26 of the 126 rooms are open to the public, mostly staterooms and visitor apartments. Even still you get a pretty good glimpse of how the other half used to live. The gardens cover 105 acres, including The Maze, The Cascade and dozens of sculptures. Mum and I wandered until our feet screamed out for a rest, so we found a table in the restaurant and tucked into a delicious lunch.
That night the boys and girls met up in a cute little pub, The Bees Knees, which resembled somebody’s living room. Asking for a gin and tonic, you were presented with countless different options on the gin front. Sometimes too much choice can be paralysing.
After two and half months it was time to leave these green and pleasant lands and head to mainland Europe, whilst we still could. We had a fabulous time in Yorkshire. The pups and cat were adorable and the surrounding countryside stunning in springtime. Hanging out with family and friends always enjoyable.
Next Stop French Delight.