Sunday, 24 July 2016

Our own “Grand Tour”

Sunday (24th) was the last day of our hire car so we made use of it by flitting around the North York Moors a bit.

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On our way to see Bolton Abbey we stopped off at Bolton Abbey Station. No longer on the main line it now operates as a trust with trains running on high days and holidays.

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There were some nice little treasures including this signal box …….

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……… and rolling stock comprising two carriages and a diesel engine. As time was of the essence we declined a ride and headed for Bolton Abbey.

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The scenery around the area was wonderful. The village and surroundings in impeccable condition.

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Lovely as the area is (and many wont agree), apart from the abbey ruins and it’s attached complete portion and the delightful river walk, there wasn’t a great deal other than the usual touristy tea shops and general stuff trading off the name and parting patrons from their money. Including £8/car parking which, if one drove a little further, could be had for nothing.

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However, a most interesting diversion in the abbey grounds was this Birds of Prey display. Eagles, vultures and falcons in beautiful condition, the owner was rightly proud of his collection and was intending to fly them later in the day. Sadly, time was pressing.

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Our next port of call was the illusive Saltaire which had twice slipped from our grasp. The “village” did indeed live up to it’s famous reputation. It was built by the vastly wealthy Victorian industrialist, Sir Titus Salt, to house his workforce in, what was, Arcadian splendour compared with the normal lifestyle of workers of that period. There was no expense spared with most buildings, including the church which houses the family mausoleum. 

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In the entrance is a marble statue of the man who believed that his workforce was his best asset but also, it seems, thought quite highly of himself as well!

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The church inside is a shining example of Victorian ecclesiastical décor.

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Down by the River Aire the park still provides the public space and amenity it was designed to do and cricket is still being played of course!

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The streets of workers cottages, which were well ahead of their time, are still wonderfully presented today. The larger end dwellings are obviously meant for managers.

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The back yards are small but still enclosed with stone walls. The only difference today being the plethora of wheelie bins which clutter the alleyways. Each street is named after members of Salt’s family although we couldn’t find a James or a Douglas Street anywhere!

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The Victoria Hall is very impressive ……….

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…… so too are the “London” lions which grace it’s outer corners.

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The ‘Sir Titus Salt Hospital’ was undergoing some exterior renovation so sadly the full impression couldn’t be had.

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Talking of impressions – the ‘Alms’ houses, surrounding an area of lawns and rose beds, were truly special.

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After Saltaire, we drove onwards and northwards to the fabulous scenic area of Malham Cove with it’s limestone cliffs and ………

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…… and pavements.

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Two more views of this most spectacular scenery – these photos certainly don’t do it justice.

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As the weather was closing in on us we chose not to venture out towards Malham Tarn so decided to take a photo of it in the distance.

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On our way back towards Settle we came across our own little bit of limestone pavement which, although now raining quite heavily, James took time to walk on.

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Although the weather was closing in fast we could still enjoy the far reaching views as we descended into the valley towards the pretty town of Settle.

Our fleeting tour of the Yorkshire Moors was very enjoyable indeed and we will have to find more time in the future to return to experience it’s glory.

Ribblehead and Home.

Train journeys in the Yorkshire Dales are wonderful and infectious. The scenery is breath-taking, the stations enchanting and the railways can be eccentric. 

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Our journey to Ribblehead on Wednesday was no exception. Setting off from Skipton we arrived at Settle station and that was it for over half an hour. A lightening bolt had taken out the signals somewhere up ahead and in the middle of nowhere. So, the lovely conductress told us to go stretch our legs, have a smoke or get a coffee in the café.

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James went off, firstly for a coffee in the little café (which had comfy old leather sofas and linen table clothes and where you couldn’t have a latte or anything fancy like that because “I’ve only got a boiler”) How wonderful is that? He walked around a bit and found this beautiful signal box at the far end of the platform ………

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…… and enjoyed the stunning views before the “all aboard” was called and we continued our journey.

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The continuation of a travels was not to be for long though. The train came to a halt in the middle of the countryside and there we stayed for another half an hour or so. Much to the chagrin of our beloved conductress who couldn’t apologise enough. It was, again, that darned lightening bolt ruining things! However, we couldn’t really be bored, the scenery was more than enough to please anyway, and then we spotted something we could recognise winging it’s way through the narrow lanes of Yorkshire, soon to become someone’s pride and joy.

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Eventually we got going again and this time it was for real.  Most of the little station buildings are quite fantastic and would be run-of-the-mill stuff a hundred years ago but today they are priceless architectural treasures.

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The fabulous scenery goes on mile after mile. Very “Emmerdale” a lot of it!

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Eventually, our journey ended at Ribblehead where the platforms on each side of the rail have very little to do with each other. The Carlisle train stops quite a distance from the station buildings so you have to cross the tracks and walk!

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From the station we could see what we’d travelled there for. The beautiful Ribblehead Viaduct. In the middle distance was the Station Inn which, before our walk to the viaduct and having been on the train much longer than planned, beckoned us in for a drink and some lunch.

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The Inn has a “Bunk Barn” attached and it was lucky we didn’t want accommodation as they were full that day (as most days!). Miles from anywhere this hostelry is a favourite for walkers as an overnight stop. It also serves the most tasty of food and in proportions which hikers require!

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The gents lavatory is called “the loo with a view” and quite rightly so – this is what you get!

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Cosy surroundings and friendly staff made this little pub a real pleasure.

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After a hearty late lunch we took a walk to see the viaduct close up. Wild and windswept moorland with marvellous limestone pavements set into the landscape.

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As we walked and got closer the viaduct’s majestic presence got even more grand. 

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What can’t be seen from these pictures is the terrific force of the wind. Starting  in Morecambe Bay as a breeze by the time it reaches this point it’s approaching gale force.

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There are records which tell of goods being blown off railway trucks and plummeting to the ground.

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Nature’s beauty is not just in the enormity of the landscape – there is equal beauty in the smaller things too.

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And, of course, the charming stations and the terrific atmosphere of really being miles from anywhere is a great buzz.

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Every inch of the station is well cared for and loved …….

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…….and a friendly welcome when we popped into the waiting room / tea rooms.

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The train journey back was equally as good as the earlier one with “Yorkshire” on both sides of the train again.

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Returning back to our temporary home at Snaygill Boats we were greeted by the very bubbly and lovely Amy who runs the reception among many other things and who won’t let us pass without having a laugh and chinwag. Thanks Amy for making us so welcome and being so helpful – we will miss you when we leave!

The reason for “Chance’s” week moored up at Snaygill Boats was that we needed to return home for a couple of days.

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Although any visit home is a bit hectic these days there’s always time to catch up with someone. This time it was friend Andy (who, fortuitously, had a spare evening from his busy schedule). With the evening being warm and still and a Friday there was no opposition to talking a couple of bottles of wine down to the beach and enjoying the last few hours of daylight.

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It was a pleasure to catch up with Andy again - seen here in close embrace with James as they were perched with one arse cheek each on a slippery bit of wartime concrete! We had the beach completely to ourselves as is normal!

A very busy, five hour car journey on Saturday got us back to Yorkshire.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

“A Brief Encounter”? – No Way!!

Not that we were wishing for it, but we thought that when we ventured across to the east of the Pennines this year, it might be fairly “quiet” as far as meeting up with people was concerned. Well, very wonderfully, that was not to be the case. Our sojourn in pretty little Skipton has been a ‘hot bed’ of marvellous encounters.
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Last Friday cruise friends Pam and Geoff drove over to see us from their home in the Lake District and we had a grand catch-up with them when they took us for a lovely lunch at “The Tempest” out in the country close to Skipton – and the pleasure of their company was to be continued in a few day’s time!
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On Saturday evening our Yorkshire-based boat friends Anne and Chris (owners of “Chance’s” opposite twin “Snail’s Pace”), took us for dinner at “Le Bistro” in Skipton. Although we’d briefly caught up with Chris a few days earlier it was a great pleasure to meet up with Anne again after quite some time (and, of course, Chris again!).
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We finished the evening off with Chris and Anne coming back to “Chance” for coffee. We have Anne and Chris to thank for suggesting their local boatyard for our recent propeller change. It was wonderful to see them both again.
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On Sunday morning, just as we were about to get on the train and visit Saltaire (which we’d not been able to stop at on our canal journey to Skipton), a phone message came through “Which pub are you in?!”. It was friends Chris and Lyn, who’d travelled from their home in Bolton hoping to surprise us – which they most certainly did! It was perfect timing as, a few minutes later, and we’d have been on the train.
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It was an absolute “no brainer” decision to meet up with them. They were in the town and only five minutes walk away and Saltaire could wait for another day. We had a couple of drinks in the old “Cock and Bottle” ……..
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……….. before moving round the corner to the lovely ginnel pub the “Wooley Sheep” for a spot of lunch.
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The “Wooley Sheep” had been recommended to us for really good food by boating friend John Mckinneley. Thanks John – you were right!
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After lunch Lyn and Chris came back to “Chance” where we spent a lovely relaxing afternoon in the sunshine. (We’d only just moved a mile back up the canal from Skipton to Snaygil Boats that morning to put “Chance” on their moorings for a week). It was indeed a great and spectacular surprise to see Lyn and Chris and we enjoyed their company and catching up with them enormously.
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On Monday morning we were using the train again – this time we did get aboard! Our destination this time though was the Lake District, taking up an invitation from Pam and Geoff to join them and some of their friends at Cartmel races. The journey required us to change trains at Carnforth. Made famous as the station used in the film “Brief Encounter” most of it really has been kept in the original era. The tea rooms were very atmospheric.
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Rather sadly though, an awful awning (probably from the retched 60’s) has been erected in front of the station buildings. It makes everything dark and totally obliterates the lovely original frontage. A glass and cast iron construction would be a great improvement and we can only live in hope!
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One fascinating gem is the very large station clock which has a remote winding mechanism to one side. The weights can be seen inside the cast iron cabinet and the drive spindle stretches across to the clock. (it was five minutes slow but we’ll forgive this lovely old relic for that!)
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Nearing the end of the journey, and approaching Grange-over-Sands, we had a great view out towards Morecambe Bay as we crossed the causeway.
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We arrived at Cark station and took a shuttle taxi to the racecourse at Cartmel where we met up with Geoff and Pam and friends at their regular spot in the members enclosure.
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In their true style Pam, and friend Chris, had provided the most enormous five course picnic starting with Champagne and ending with coffee.
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The wonderfully relaxed atmosphere enticed most of us to have a bit of a flutter, resulting in quite a few wins for a lot of us. Nothing, of course, that will be changing any lives!
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After a marvellous afternoon at the Cartmel races we all retired back to Pam and Geoff’s lovely home for more refreshments. A balmy evening, a stunning garden and a backdrop of the Lake District fells, it wasn’t just the drink that was intoxicating!  Howard, Chris, James, Peter, Geoff, Chris, Pam, Derek (Geoff’s brother) and Pauline (missing) all trying to relax after a demanding day!
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We had the joy of staying for the night with Geoff and Pam amid these perfect surroundings and this was our view from our accommodation, “the Garden Room”,  that evening.
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After dark their garden takes on another character with the most enchanting lighting.
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Tuesday morning we travelled in Pam’s car, which was very suitable for the scorching and very unseasonal Lake District weather, to meet and have coffee with their friends Sandra and Bernard a few miles away (forgot to take pics!).
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After that it was back to Geoff and Pam’s home for lunch and for Doug to feed their sheep which he’d been itching to do since we’d arrived!  Not that the sheep need to be hand fed but they do enjoy it!
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They all have names – this is Punch and Sue, and they are all some of the luckiest sheep on the planet …..
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…. having the finest care and attention possible! And just look at the scenery!
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Surprisingly one of the lambs (black face) also took to hand feeding for the first time. Must have been something about Doug!
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Well, all good things come to an end, and Geoff took us to Grange-over-Sands in the afternoon to get the train back home - and what lovely train stations they have in this neck of the woods ……..
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……. and what a tremendous journey back!
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The last few days have been a whirl of excitement. We feel incredibly privileged  to have such lovely friends in our lives and so willing to come to see us. It’s been quite incredible to have packed in such a range of enjoyment into such a short space of time. Lovely to have caught up with so many old friends and made many new ones.