Monday 8 April 2024

Gadding About

Mick decided that he'd take some holiday from work around Easter time so he took off the four days leading up to Good Friday and the four days after Easter Monday. It meant that, with the bank holidays, he could use just eight days of his entitlement but was off work for sixteen consecutive days. We didn't go away on holiday but we had plenty of days out and I thought you might like to see some of the places we visited.

Sherwood Forest is known for the legend of Robin Hood. It is said that he and his Merry Men lived in the forest and sheltered under the Major Oak. This tree is thought to be around 1100 years old, its canopy spreads twenty eight meters, the circumference of its trunk is eleven meters and it's thought to weigh twenty three tonnes. Sherwood Forest was once a royal hunting ground but the RSPB now leads the team that manages the reserve. The day we visited was a beautiful spring day, the sun was shining and it had warmed up after a run of cold, wet weather. It was the perfect place to take Archie for a walk, he loves the scents and smells of woodland so he had the best time snuffling around the forest floor. It was rather a long walk for him though, he was wiped out afterwards.

Calke Abbey is not an abbey at all, rather a Grade I listed country house in Derbyshire. It was owned by the Harpur-Crewes, an eccentric family who amassed a vast collection of hidden treasures, but it fell into disrepair during the 20th century and the National Trust began caring for it in 1985. Although a little restoration work has been carried out, they decided to preserve the rooms as they were found, abandoned with peeling paintwork, to tell the story of the dramatic decline of a country house estate. We didn't go inside the house as we had Archie with us but there was plenty to discover in the gardens including hidden tunnels, a walled garden and St Giles Church. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and will definitely return.

We spent one morning in the market town of Masham, known for it's annual Sheep Fair and home to Black Sheep Brewery. We had planned to spend the afternoon at Studley Royal Water Garden, set on the same site as Fountains Abbey which we visited in February. We did get a short walk in the grounds before the heavens opened, the rain was so heavy that it cut short our visit but it's somewhere we'll visit again as there's plenty more to see.

I wouldn't be happy with a staycation unless there was a trip to the Yorkshire Dales, we visit so often but there's always new places to see, we never get bored of it. This is Semerwater, the second largest natural lake in North Yorkshire after Malham Tarn. There are many myths and legends about it but the most famous is that a beggar once visited a thriving city and asked for food and shelter. He knocked on all the doors but was turned away, only a poor couple in a cottage just outside the town took him in. The next morning he cursed the city. The water rose up and flooded the city and drowned the inhabitants, only the cottage and the poor couple were left unscathed. It had been forecast rain on the day we visited but it turned out to be a lovely day, it just clouded over late in the afternoon. We pay little attention these days to weather forecasts, they're often wrong and if we'd have taken note, we'd have missed out on a day out.

We couldn't have a staycation without visiting the Yorkshire coast either. On this particular day we spent some time in Bridlington, a seaside town we were often taken to as children. We allowed Archie some time on the beach before travelling on to RSPB Bempton Cliffs. It was still too early for the puffins, they should arrive towards the end of April, but we did see some Kittiwakes as well as Razorbills and Gannets. We really enjoy the time we spend at the coast, as does Archie.

There was an artisan market at Ripley Castle on Easter Sunday and visiting that gave us the opportunity to wander round the grounds as well as the village too. Ripley Castle is a Grade I listed 14th century country house in Ripley, North Yorkshire. The castle is privately owned by Sir Thomas Ingilby, 6th Baronet and his wife, Emma, Lady Ingilby. When Sir Thomas inherited the estate at the age of eighteen, it came with a huge tax bill so they turned the family home into a hospitality business. The castle is open for private tours and it's been used in a number of TV series. It was nice to wander around the village on this occasion, though it was busier than we'd ever seen it before, perhaps the combination of it being Easter Sunday as well as such a lovely day weather wise was the reason why.

We spent some time in the market town of Barnard Castle in the Durham Dales. We didn't go in the castle but we had a saunter around the main street and perused the many independent shops which line the street. On our way home we popped into Beningbrough Hall in North Yorkshire. We didn't stay very long as time was getting on but what we did see, we enjoyed and it's another place to put on the list for a return visit. Parts of the garden are closed at the moment as they're undergoing work. Andy Sturgeon, the award-winning landscape and garden designer, has been appointed to refresh and improve the eight-acre garden. It will be interesting to see the changes in the future.

Another trip to the Yorkshire coast took us to Staithes, a charming fishing village which clings to the hillside. It's known for its steep cobbled streets and traditional red-roofed cottages. Captain Cook was apprenticed to a draper here and it's said it's where he found his love of the sea. It was a chilly day when we visited but we definitely worked up a sweat on the trek back up the hill, blimey it's a steep one. We called at Whitby where I popped in to my favourite bookshop and I might have treated myself to a book, and then visited the village of Grosmont, a peaceful village in the Eskdale valley area of the North Yorks Moors National Park. It's popular with train enthusiasts, the steam locomotives which run between Pickering and Whitby pass through the station.

Somewhere I've wanted to visit for a long time is Hardwick Hall, a fabulous country house from the Elizabethan era. It was built for Elizabeth, countess of Shrewsbury, known as Bess of Hardwick, one of the richest women of Elizabethan England. Her descendants are the Dukes of Devonshire of nearby Chatsworth. I would have loved to have gone inside the hall itself but that's for another day, we had Archie with us and dogs aren't even allowed in the garden here, only the parkland. Unfortunately, I think the past fortnight had caught up with Archie, he wasn't at his best so we didn't explore much of the grounds but we enjoyed what we did see and we'll return at a later date. We cut short our day in Derbyshire, there were a couple more places we'd intended to see but we thought it only fair to return home so that Archie could rest.

It's been such a lovely fortnight. As well as our longer trips out we've also visited old haunts closer to home, had meals out and got some jobs done in the house and garden too. We've been lucky with the weather, it hasn't been too bad and I'm sure you'll agree that we've visited some wonderful places, some old favourites and many places where we haven't been before but to which we'll definitely return, but for now, I'm ready for a rest!


  1. The weather makes all the difference, we too have enjoyed better weather here in the south, your visits are interesting, thank you for sharing.

  2. You made good use of your days and you visited such a variety of places.
    Like you, I don't take much notice of the weather forecast, just look at the sky and hope!

  3. That sounds like a wonderful staycation, with lots to see on your doorstep and nearby. We are lucky to have so much of interest in the UK, aren't we?
    Best wishes

  4. You've had some lovely trips out, and were fortunate with the weather for the most part. It's difficult at times with a dog isn't it - don't want to leave them home alone all the time, but not always suitable to take them. Our Betty doesn't like crowds or other dogs, she gets quite anxious, bless her.

  5. I absolutely agree with you about the weather forecast these days. I think if we were to follow it that closely we would miss getting out and seeing some lovely places. You certainly managed to see some wonderful places when Mick had his holiday break. Thank you for sharing and I hope Archie is taking the weight off his sweet paws after all that lovely walking. Have a great week x

  6. You had quite a full stay-cation. The photos are lovely.

    Hope Archie got all rested up for your next adventure.

  7. Thanks for taking me on your trips with you! It is so lovely near you. I am a big fan of british films, and I always enjoy seeing the 'locations' repeated in multiple shows!

  8. You certainly had a wonderful couple of weeks 'gadding about' and visiting some great places.
    I enjoyed my staycation with you :)
    Your photographs and description were lovely to see and read.

    Enjoy the rest of April, this year is whizzing by!

    All the best Jan

  9. You've been to some fantastic places on your holiday. The stories and descriptions were interesting, thank you for sharing Jo. I hope Archie has a good long rest.
    Mark enjoys watching the week's weather forecast on TV but I'd rather check on the day. It's not always accurate anyway. Have a good week x

  10. You've made great use of your days off and have been to some really interesting places, all quite varied with plenty of scope for Archie too. I think I would choose Staithes and Hardwick Hall to nominate for the best trips!

  11. Wow you really made the most of your time Jo, I have been to most of the places you visited with our u3a group and my son was married in Ripley castle but we didn't have time to explore the grounds. I love to read about your jaunts it gives me ideas for trips out. x

  12. A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures. It's good to see that you made the most of the fortnight and visited some wonderful places. xx