In the past some students were surprised when the arrived at Fleetham Lodge as they had thought that the photos on the site were simply generic pictures of the area. I am sorry this was not clear to them and I applaud them even more for taking the leap to come and stay when they were doubtful. It must have been something of a mystery tour. 🙂
So, to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future I want to reassure you that the pictures of the house, garden, internal rooms and village are all, in fact real, and ‘what you see is, indeed, what you get!’
Your course begins when we collect you from the local airport or station. One of our team will always meet you and bring you to Fleetham Lodge. Once you arrive we will show you to your room and give you some time to catch your breath, get your bearings and visit the bathroom. Generally we will agree a time for us all meet downstairs after this and have some refreshment. Depending on your time and season of arrival, this could be afternoon tea by a roaring fire or an evening aperitif in the garden. This enables us to get to know you a little and also explore your expectations for the course so that we can be sure that we have arranged everything in line with exactly what you are looking for. We’ll end this informal session with a tour of the areas you will need to know – the classroom, the dining room and weather permitting, the garden area, so you will be familiar with the place and start to know your way around.
As most people tend to arrive sometime in the afternoon, we would normally end this first day with dinner and more social interaction. Occasionally people arrive in the morning in which case this would be a very short session and then we would go straight into the first lesson.
After a good night’s sleep you will be ready to get going in earnest so after breakfast we will move into the classroom to begin our first day of lessons. We normally begin classes at 9.30 but sometimes we may start at 9.00 if we want to get away somewhere in the afternoon or if we are covering a large number of lesson hours as, for example, in an IELTS Workshop or Business English Immersion course.
You will spend all day with your teacher whether this be in lessons, coffee and tea breaks, lunch, dinner or an excursion in the afternoon or evening. This really is immersion, that means that you and your teacher (and your classmates if it is a group course) will be ‘joined at the hip’ for the time you are here at Fleetham Lodge. This is how immersion works – you use English all day, every day. In the past this was exactly the case. Nowadays with smart phones, laptops, tablets and social media, there may be times when you use your own language but we urge you to keep these to a minimum. I have had a few teenage students here who refused even to speak to their parents as they did not want to speak French!! (I did, of course, send regular reports and photos via email to reassure their parents and keep them posted on progress!) I’ve also had adult students who refused to use their electronic devices for all but one hour in the evening. This discipline helps to maintain the immersion and given that we are pretty busy for most of the day, is not so difficult to do. Immersion on this scale really does boost your English language skills.
Food is important too. Meal times are a good way to relax and speak and listen in a social situation. We’ll often invite friends around to give you more people to speak to but not too many that it is overwhelming :-). We enjoy both cooking and gardening so we have a kitchen garden for organic vegetables and hens for organic eggs and we can source good fresh food locally as we are in a rural, agricultural area (one of our best friends is an organic farmer). And, we enjoy cooking so we always try to provide delicious, freshly cooked meals and can cater for and have already catered for a range of dietary requirements from religious observances to health needs.
The visits we take are a mixture of local history, landscape and gardens. These are all part of the rich culture of England. We will usually visit York (or Durham if you have already been to York) and we have also visited places in the past which people specifically requested. A Spanish student asked to go to Rokeby Park and we took a student to watch a football match at Newcastle United. We’ve also visited the Angel of the North sculpture with a design student and several local food producers (farmers, a herb farm and a brewery – one group actually got to make chutney!) with groups of food production lecturers from Holland. If you like castles we’ll go to castles but if you don’t we won’t and can find other things to see.
Making progress with your English is a foregone conclusion. If you are speaking, listening reading, writing and essentially surrounded by the language for all your waking hours then you have to progress and this has been the case for all our students whether they come one to one or in a group. Having a great experience is what we strive to give you and what happens when you are enjoying yourself and interested in the experience for its own merits is that you learn the language without really noticing it – and this is why Quintessentially English Immersion Courses at Fleetham Lodge really work.
The idea of offering English Immersion courses began in 1995 when I had the notion (along with two colleagues – now retired) of creating English language experiences that were a little unique and special. We knew that we could offer great English training – we were all highly experienced in the field with masses of successful students behind us – so the quality of the courses was never in doubt but what we wanted was to offer something that would allow students to ‘live’ a special experience during their course. At the base of this idea was to choose really special venues for the course – places that were not only beautiful but also had some historical and cultural background which would go hand in hand with the language learning.
The very first course we ran was held at Strawberry Hill just outside London. We were able to use the facilities in this glorious Gothic mansion (I don’t think this would be possible today) which formed part of the university campus and the students were really blown away by the experience of being in this important house. The gardens were special too and we were able to hold some of our more informal lessons here on warm sunny days. This was exactly the experience we wanted to create.
Another venue we were lucky to be able to use (and this has been developed significantly more just like Strawberry Hill since those days) was Easthampstead Park. The model for courses at English Language Training was now set; high quality courses, set in beautiful venues which immersed students in the language and a part of history. These courses were all close to London so taking students on visits was easy, however even now we tried to take in places that they would not necessarily visit themselves and leave them to do the popular tourist venues on their free afternoons.
For our one-to-one students we had a different approach as being alone in one of these venues was not ideal and we really wanted an immersion experience. All three of us lived in typical London houses dating from the Victorian and Edwardian eras so we created some of the very first Home-Tuition courses – where you live and study with your teacher – back in 1997. Our very first Home tuition student was a German businessman from Komatsu who came for 2 weeks and resided in Richmond, London with one of our teachers. We organised trips and dinners out at really lovely restaurants. Ironically most of these pioneers in the later 1990s were business students. We had students from France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Japan and from various industries including multinationals, TV studios, accountancy firms, medical practices and large consumer goods manufacturers. What they all wanted was to get great language skills in a short space of time (they were all time-pressed) and also have a package that took care of accommodation, food and transfers. We offered them all of this and as a bonus took them out on excursions – these were an integral part of the course – as the chance to converse informally and spontaneously really helps to re-enforce the lessons.
The other side of our activity was in-company training. We had a team of teachers who served employees in various companies around London including Unilever, Ericsson, Sony, Glaxo, Pernod-Ricard and Amazon. Several of these sent their overseas employees on our immersion courses too.
In 2004 the landscape changed and a move to Yorkshire (for personal reasons) occurred. Having established a language training system that was both successful and popular I was loath to abandon the model and so the Fleetham Lodge Centre was born. The same ingredients of great courses and beautiful venue apply as do the transfers, visits and also attention to detail on food and accommodation. However what has developed here is a rather more intimate atmosphere – both one-to-one courses and the group courses have a home from home feel because the venue is smaller. The groups are smaller too – in London we had groups from 6 up to 25 here the maximum has been 4. This means more attention, more time and faster progress.
Although London is an important centre for students and there is much to see: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” said Dr Johnson of dictionary fame, London is not the UK and across the country there are many delights to see and experience. Here in Yorkshire (the biggest county, so big it is split into 4 areas called the North, South, East and West Ridings – we are in the North Riding) we are home to two national parks (the Yorkshire Dales and the Yorkshire Moors) several ruined Abbeys, Castles, Stately Homes and beautiful gardens as well as the beautiful old city of York.
All feature in our visits and activities.
And we have a new ‘secret’ up our sleeves – we now have access to a wonderful venue which will provide courses for larger groups (10/12) – take a peek here 🙂
Right now, here in Yorkshire we are continuing our original purpose from 1995 to provide excellent courses which give impressive progress and an unforgettable experience.
Robin Hood’s Bay
We are now on our very last adventure and wanted to choose something special. As an island, one thing we have in spades is the seaside and so for this, the 6th and final adventure, we decided to take a coastal walk visiting some of the very favourite places of our previous students.
Whitby, a fishing town with it’s dark brooding ruined Abbey on the cliff top and it’s connection with the Dracula story is always something interesting to discover and further along the coast is Robin Hood’s Bay – conjuring up pictures of smugglers – is a very pretty place where we often have a drink by the sea before returning home across the moors.
We chose a walk around Robin Hood’s Bay for our final walk in this series (we will be doing lots more with our students over the summer) and the weather (although quite windy) was perfect for a day by the sea. We began at the top of the village by the old railway and the first part of the walk followed the old railway line (now no longer there) which is called the cinder path. Along the way we saw old platforms and other railway paraphernalia which is now no longer in use. The walk took us through train tunnels as well as tunnels of trees and was quite easy and attractive.
After about an hour we began to move back towards the coastal path and as we emerged from the trees we were greeted by a really spectacular view across the sea. I think it is always exciting to come upon a sea view and despite the wonderful walks we have done recently with their dramatic upland moors and attractive riversides, there is nothing quite so attractive as a sea view rising up on the horizon. As we passed a farm we were greeted by 4 peacocks – very attractive guard dogs! We stopped and sat down for a little to admire the view and get our breath back after the climb!
A short break to admire the view
We were now half way through the walk and the rest of it would hug the coastline giving us a permanent view of the waves and cliffs. This part of the walk was very up and down as we made our way towards first Boggle Hole (funny name!) and then on to the beach and back, eventually, to our starting point in Robin Hood’s Bay.
The views from the cliff path were stunning. The sea looked quite choppy but was quite a way out. We descended into Boggle Hole (this is to do with pixies like the ‘house elves’ in Harry Potter – you can read the information at the link above) which is now a Youth Hostel with a cafe and the beach with the Boggle’s cave.
The final part of the walk crossed through a small wood and then along the headland with the sea on the right and a stud farm (horses) on the left. At the end we had a choice to go on into the village or walk the last part across the beach – we chose the latter and after climbing over a huge pile of seaweed we found the sand and walked along to the slipway and finally to the pub for a well-earned pint of beer!
Although this is the last (for now) of our Yorkshire Adventures in these posts, there are hundreds of other places to visit. We have stately homes, castles, ruined abbeys, beautiful gardens, caves, the seaside and fabulous landscapes. If cities are more your thing then York, Durham. Leeds and Newcastle are all within striking distance. Whatever Yorkshire Adventure you would like, we can arrange it for you! So come, be immersed in English and choose your very own Yorkshire Adventure!
Hawes in Wensleydale
Hawes is a very popular town in the Dales which attracts lots of visitors for its great walks, famous cheese factory (Wensleydale Cheese) and its Dales Museum. It was a good place to begin our 5th walk into the countryside around Hawes. There are lots of things to do in Hawes and some really great pubs to stop for lunch on the way there – which we did before embarking on the walk.
Hawes was quite busy when we arrived and we also met a few people on the walk – (the etiquette is just to say hello). We started out on the most popular route out of the town but veered off a little way along to go more into the hills. Beyond Hawes is the highest waterfall in England at Hardraw but that would be for another day (perhaps with you?).
Today we were a party of 4 which made the walk quite fun with lots of camaraderie and extra people to take photos. As a result of much giggling, there were no usable videos taken 🙂 so in this post we’ll be sticking to text and photos.
Our walks are for us a way to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the scenery – we like to see different places and as there are so many wonderful walks right on our doorstep it’s really easy to do this.
The walk would take us to the small hamlet (a hamlet is a small community typically without a church – a church would make it a village) of Sedbusk.
After crossing a few fields, a quaint little bridge and negotiating a few stiles, kissing gates and farm gates we arrived just outside Sedbusk and the trekked across several small ‘enclosures’ (very small fields surrounded by dry-stone walls and very typical of the Dales) – we had to climb over 14 stone stiles in these walls.
Stiles are a way of getting over a wall or fence using stone steps or short wooden ladders built into or attached to the structure.
Kissing gates have nothing to do with romance but describe a gate which hangs between two walls and therefore ‘kiss’ the wall as someone passes through. Both are designed to prevent animals getting out of fields while allowing human beings to pass through.
The remaining half of the walk took us back down to the town via more fields, country lanes, bridges and riverside paths. Walking with friends and family (and of course student visitors) is a great way to engage in conversation and enjoy one another’s company and this is why it forms a part of many of our courses.
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.