Rievaulx Abbey has long been a magical place for me. Its setting is beautiful, nestled in a valley by the river Rye. It’s a very spiritual place and easy to see why the monks chose it for their home. Today the abbey is run by English Heritage and is a popular place to visit both for its stillness and the beauty of the building – such as still remains.
Today was an adventure around the abbey and not a visit to it although we come here often with students who are always impressed with the area and the history of the abbey itself – the information available is very thorough.
Our walk would take us away from the abbey and up into the woods above it – a route, I am certain, the monks took very often. Spring is a good time to walk in woods as there are lots of spring flowers appearing as well as that lovely, early fresh green colour on all the trees as they break into leaf. Today’s walk is a gentle one so there will be lots of time just to enjoy nature and the views across to Rievaulx.
We start the walk across fields opposite Rievaulx which had once contained a canal delivering water from the river to the monastery. After the dissolution of the monasteries, the monks dispersed and the land was given away by King Henry VIII. Often these landowners would build large houses and incorporate the abbeys into the gardens. Much of the stone was taken by local people to build houses and barns.
Beyond the fields is a wood which rises above the village and this is where we headed next. We crossed an old bridge with the river running very gently below and began to climb the gentle slope into the woods themselves.
Above the Abbey through the trees we can just glimpse a small temple. This was once a part of a large house and grounds – a landscape garden – which looked down over Rievaulx. There is very little left of this grand house now except for the temple and terraces but it is still possible to go there and get a remarkable view of the old Abbey.
Other great Abbeys of Yorkshire (some of the most beautiful in England) including Fountains, Bolton and Whitby experienced a similar history and are great places to visit and discover more about this turbulent time in English history.
After meandering a little more through the woods, we finally emerged at the other end of the village and worked our way back to the Abbey. The river babbled alongside the road and we crossed another couple of stone bridges before reaching the car. It is so peaceful here and with the dominance of the beautiful stone remains of what must have been a truly magnificent structure ever in sight, it’s easy to step back into history and feel that this place must have always been like it is today.
Of all the walks in the series, this setting is the most romantic and also the most spiritual – I’d really love you to experience it too.
This third walk was something of a magical mystery tour as we headed to Wharfedale – a bit further south and west than we would usually visit and a place I hadn’t been to before. The scenery was quite spectacular with dramatic moorland raised high above the road and very few houses, farms or people. It really did look like a wilderness.
We started in the village of Buckden which was a typical English village nestled at the foot of the hills with cottages, a church, pub and winding village street. Looking up from the street we could see the hills around bathed in late afternoon sun with multiple shades of green and brown. It all looked very enticing.
We climbed up the hill following the designated footpath. There are thousands of walks all across the UK but it is important to keep to the designated routes. These are usually well-signed and especially here in the National Park they are well-laid out to get you to your destination while showing you the very best sights that the route has to offer. At this time of year also there are many young animals around and also birds nesting and it is vital that these are not disturbed.
Apart from two cyclists, we didn’t meet anybody else on the walk and it felt as if the whole of this world belonged to us alone. The views were breathtaking and looking over such a vast empty space made us feel very small indeed. At the very top of the hill – Buckden Pike is a stone cross, a memorial to a group of Polish soldiers. The views from there are extensive but today we were taking a route along a lower ridge which had at one time been a Roman road for marching Roman Centurions.
As the path began to descend we could hear the noise of the river and crossed this over stepping stones. A pub stood on the corner but, alas, – there was no time today to stop and have a drink.
We followed the river across fields and through a small wooded area flowing the river all the while. At one point we came upon a waterfall – there are several waterfalls along the River Wharfe along with small stone bridges and lots of stepping stones. Today the river was gentle and bubbling and its noise was the only thing we could hear.
The road then climbed back to the village where we ended the walk. The little shop and cafe were already closed – things do close early in the English countryside – most tea-shops and village shops are firmly shut at 4.30 or 5.00 and if you are looking to have lunch in a pub on a walk (which is a great thing to do) make sure you get there before 2,00 as many do not serve food after this time until the evening service. Life in the countryside is definitely not 24 hours!
On the return journey we took a different road which took us right over the tops of the moors – it was truly spectacular. The Yorkshire Dales has some of the most incredible scenery in the country and it truly takes your breath away! On this walk today there were no specific landmarks, no castles, ruins or great houses. What we experienced was pure nature in its raw state but it was truly awesome and beyond words.
The Farndale Daffodil Walk
Nothing is quite so iconically symbolic of the coming of spring than the daffodil. The colour, the shape and the sheer cheekiness of these flowers shouts – “Spring is here!”
Among the grass verges, along roads and lanes, in gardens and beside rivers and lakes, a sea of yellow is visible from mid March to mid April every year and the effect is quite breathtaking. So for our second walk in the ‘Yorkshire Dales and Moors Adventures’ we couldn’t resist experiencing the Farndale Daffodil Walk in the North Yorks National Park.
The daffodils grow naturally here and are a native, wild species protected by the National Park and a delight to everyone who makes this walk in early spring.
The journey to the daffodil wood took around an hour, most of this through the Yorkshire Moors which was in itself spectacular. The day was overcast but dry and we arrived at the car park ready to start around mid-afternoon. A National Parks information van was located close to the car park with people to give advice on the route and answer any questions about the flowers, the wood and the national park itself.
The walk meandered gently through a wood and beside a small river. Today there was no mud or much wind to bother us and the path is well-marked and not very difficult, making it a perfect walk for everybody both young and not so young. Alongside the walk were the sounds of newly arrived birds busy building their nests and fields of sheep with new-born lambs.
Suddenly, we came upon a section of the wood which was literally carpeted with daffodils stretching across as far as you could see. It was an amazing sight and I immediately understood why this walk is so popular.
Half-way along the walk we left the wood and daffodils behind and reached the small hamlet of Church Houses featuring the ‘Daffy-Caffy’, a small tea-shop, and further along, a pub – perfect for refreshments. We stopped and had a cup of tea before taking the higher path back to the start of the walk – a path leading through the fields and past the farms. Here we were able to see the lambs more closely as they gamboled in the fields. The mothers watched us both very carefully too.
The whole walk took just 2 and a half hours and would be lovely for a late afternoon ramble before dinner. I did notice that among the daffodils the wild garlic plants were pushing through so I am certain that the woods in another month will be full of their wonderful scent – a good reason to re-visit this walk in May!
Aysgarth Falls to Castle Bolton
We set off on our first Yorkshire Adventure to the Yorkshire Dales. The day was very overcast and windy which made it a little cold. However, undaunted, we drove to the waterfalls, parked and began the first walk.
There are three waterfalls at Aysgarth and they are quite spectacular at this time of year being very full of water. Poets and artists alike have visited them to record their majesty and power.
Our walk starts before we reach the falls as these will be at the end so we turn to a small wood called Freeholders Wood to take the path to Castle Bolton.
This wood is called Freeholders because it has allowed all local villagers to collect and coppice wood for their own use. This means the trees were cut down to ground level to encourage new shoots. These often grow very straight and can be used for tool handles, fencing and other uses. The practice continues today to create a good biodiversity in the wood.
We continued through the wood and on to Castle Bolton.
After a lot of rain the fields were quite muddy but the sun began to come out which made the walk more pleasant. It was, nevertheless, a very windy March day.
As we approached the castle the day got brighter and we could see this ancient building in all it’s glory, in a moorland setting with the first spring flowers bobbing cheerily. Bolton Castle (also called Castle Bolton) is a favourite place with all our visitors both for its views and also the history (as well as a well-stocked tea room). The castle is still owned by the original family – Scrope, although it is now a museum rather than a home.
It has a long and interesting history featuring famous monarchs as well as battles and political struggles.
From the castle there is a magnificent view over the Dales which on a bright day takes your breath away.
Although it was lovely to bask in the sunshine, we needed to move on with our adventure to take a look at the waterfalls before going home.
The second half of the walk took us along a country road and through a village before turning once more towards the river and the waterfalls. A feature of this part of the world are dry-stone walls. These are made by arrange stones on top of each other to create a sturdy and very firm wall around the fields. The art of dry-stone walling requires a lot of skill and has to be learned but the feature is very attractive and makes the Dales quite unique.
We finally arrived back at Aysgarth Falls, the sun shone and the wind seemed less wild. The Dales looked amazing and I was excited about seeing the waterfall as they always seem to delight everyone who sees them whatever season it is. We walked down to the viewing platform for the middle falls and were not disappointed.
The water roared and came tumbling over the rocks spraying cold drops of water everywhere. The noise was incredible and the power awesome.
It’s hard to imagine that on a summer’s day this waterfall is almost a gentle river and in some areas it is possible to paddle and even swim.
So we come to the end of our first Yorkshire Adventure and we hope that you have enjoyed the walk with us and would like to do it with us in person. Whatever time of year you come, there will be something exciting to see at both these venues.
Today is the first day of spring and we have seen rain snow and wind – where has spring gone? If you remember my post ‘In Like a Lion out Like lamb’ then you will know that this description of spring is pretty close to the truth.
So to mark the coming of better weather I have decided to undertake 6 adventures in the Yorkshire Moors and Dales. Each of these will be a walk in a different part of the county and each will be aimed at visiting a particular thing be this historical, natural, cultural, or simply fun! I intend to take lots of photos and also some video footage so that I can share with you the beauty and range of places that Yorkshire has to offer.
So, come with me over the next 6 weeks on 6 new adventures and discover some new and wonderful places and who knows, you may be visiting these places in person when you come and stay with me to improve and practise your English but also explore this special part of the UK.
Over the past week the spring flowers have all been opening and there is a riot of colour in the garden. After the grey, dull winter months it is so exciting to see the daffodils, early tulips and crocuses poke their heads out of the ground and fill the ground with a riot of colour.
The first adventure will begin this week and the plan is to start in the Yorkshire Dales with a walk from Aysgarth Falls to Bolton Castle. We’ll be walking through Freeholders Wood on to the castle and then back to the spectacular waterfalls.
I hope that you will enjoy these short adventures into the Yorkshire countryside and be inspired to come and walk with us on an English and Walking Course here at Fleetham Lodge or just enjoy a simple day out in the countryside as part of our Quintessentially English Courses.
The Ultimate IELTS Study Plan for Band 7 and 8
It’s important to remember that a language is a skill (like driving a car or playing the piano). The more you practise the better you will become and if you don’t practise then you won’t be able to do these things well at all. There are some techniques and strategies for IELTS which you can learn but these are really exam techniques and unless your English language level is where you need it for your band, they will not help you a lot.
Along with IELTS Writing, IELTS Reading is the area of the IELTS exam that I find most people find challenging. The amount of text to read, the number of questions and the short amount of time to do it all conspire to create something which most students feel is impossible and create panic in many.
Anyone who has ever studied a second language in a classroom and then had the experience of speaking with a native speaker in a real conversation can tell you; the real thing is so much harder to understand! You might think that you are fluent in French until you are greeted by your waiter at Huitrerie Regis in Paris and struggle to order the oysters. “Why does he talk so fast!?” You may ask yourself. “What’s up with his accent?” You have just learned first-hand that experiencing a language in the real world outside of the classroom is a lot different than the books and the careful practice conversations.
Every so often, I like to blog a case study. I like to do these blogs because it shows you firsthand what it looks like to work with me and how I can help you achieve your goals, and it also highlights the success and victories of my extremely hardworking students! This case study illustrates a journey we both took to reach a particular language goal. Like the other case studies I have done, the benefit gained was mutual, but unlike the others this case study was a very scary journey. Continue reading
What I love about our little corner of the UK is that there is always something new and exciting going on! The next few weeks is no exception, because the Jorvik Viking Festival is coming to York!
Celebrated as the largest Viking festival in Europe, (yes there are others apparently!) this event attracts thousands of guests to York from around the world. This week-long festival celebrates York’s Viking heritage with all kinds of events such as dramatic combat performances, living history encampments, and historical talks. Every year they celebrate a different period in Viking history, and this year they will explore the last Viking King in York, Eric Bloodaxe! Continue reading