A day out to the Yorkshire dales could never be classed as a chore unless that is, you’re a teenager who can’t get a phone signal.
The Yorkshire dales are a pleasant 60 minutes drive from Hartlepool were we live and such a different contrast of views.
As a family we started our love affair with Wensleydale back in the early 90’s when we bought a Static caravan between Bedale and Leyburn (www.akebarpark.com) The kids grew up loving the caravan and all of the space that went with it. The park was great for fishing, golf, and just mucking about with the other kids who visited the site from March till October. In the later years of having our castle away from home, we even had steam trains running close enough so that we could breath in those lovely smells that a steam train chucks up into the sky
Back to our day trip….. Our first stop is nearly always Richmond railway station. Although the last train left the station way back in 1969, thanks to the contribution of hundreds of volunteers and donors, the magnificent Victorian building has been sympathetically restored and reborn as ‘The Station’ in 2007. Inside there’s a café-restaurant, cinema, vintage lifestyle shop, micro-brewery, bakery, cheese, fudge and ice-cream makers. (www.thestation.co.uk).
After a quick pit stop it’s a brisk uphill walk across Mercury bridge into the Georgian market town about 10 minutes walk away. As you walk up Frenchgate, breathing heavy by this stage you are met by a very busy market square with the remains of Richmond castle towering above the roof tops. The castle was constructed from 1071 onwards following the Norman Conquest of England. Now the castle is looked after by English Heritage and is a must visit if you can make the time.
The purpose of our brief visit today is to satisfy my wife huge appetite for charity shops, she loves them and we spend hours looking for and picking up bargains.
Richmond has also been a market town since medieval times, the vast Market Place gives a clue to its former glories – and it’s still worth coinciding with market day, Saturday, when fruit, veg and other stalls set up, together with espresso cart, and cheese, meat and fish vans. The outdoor market runs year-round (joined by a farmers’ market on the third Saturday of the month), but there’s also a daily indoor market in the lovely old stone building (dated 1854) that sits just off Market Place. This is a bit more of an arts, craft and gift market – wool and yarn to clothes, old coins, books and accessories.
Did you know fact:- Wilf Carling the England rugby union captain was born in Richmond and Lord Baden-Powell, Founder of the scouting movement was a resident of the town. If you want anymore information on Richmond please visit www.richmond.org .
When leaving Richmond we tend to head out through Catterick Garrison which is the largest British Army garrison in the world, but for our family it’s the place we picked our Conkers when the kids were small.
Leaving Catterick we head over the moor’s road admiring the view over Barden Moor towards Penhill and then it’s a quick 10 minutes drive down into Leyburn, The place we love !!! In my opinion Leyburn has it all, views to die for, the best fish & chips and the Bolton Arms pub where we can sit and have a sundowner looking out over Wensleydale towards Penhill and the Coverdale Fells.
Leyburn is also one of the insperations for the blog site and Facebook page (myfavouritebench.com).
To the west of the market square and up through Shawl Terrace you will come to a Kissing Gate. This is the start of the Leyburn to Redmire 5 mile walk or as it is also known ‘The Shawl’.
It is Castle Bolton (one of the points on the walk) that provides the kernel of the story for it was here, according to legend, that Mary Queen of Scots lost her bid for freedom after being imprisoned in the castle. Because she was of royal birth, she was accorded a degree of freedom during her stay, although she was a prisoner and kept under constant guard. However, one day she managed to dodge her guards and ran from the castle to vanish into the thick woodland around it. She knew the area quite well because she had hunted here, and so she ran towards Leyburn. Her struggle through the undergrowth took its toll and even before reaching Leyburn, she heard the noises of men, horses and dogs in close pursuit. According to the story, as she fled through the undergrowth her shawl caught upon a briar and it was dragged from her shoulders. Her pursuers found it and this indicated she had fled along that route. It was then a matter of wearing her down and maintaining the pressure upon her, and so she was caught before she reached Leyburn. Ever since, the place she was arrested has been known as Queen’s Gap and the entire wooded hill through which she tried to gain freedom has since been called The Shawl or Leyburn Shawl.
Now that I have giving you such a in depth Picture of how the Shawl got its name, I now have to admit that I have only ever walked about a mile of the walk. Not because we are unfit and lazy, it was more that there is a lovely children’s play area with a full size football pitch and the lads just wanted to play.
The other reason for not participating in the walk is that there is a row of benches at the start of the walk that have such amazing views and as a family there is nothing better we like to do then to take a bottle of Champagne and soak up Eutopia. (www.welcometoleyburn.co.uk)
Moving on from Eutopia we decided to carry out our yearly pilgrimage to Hawes which is approximately 17 miles west of Leyburn along the winding A684. The name, Hawes, means a ‘pass between mountains’ and the thriving market town of Hawes stands between Buttertubs and Fleet Moss. Hawes is also home to the famous Wensleydale Cheese (www.wensleydale.co.uk) the Dales Countryside Museum, Hawes Ropemakers and of course the famous Penny Garth Café which has been a popular meeting point in the Yorkshire Dales for Motorcyclists, Cyclists, Campers, Families, Day-Trippers, Car Enthusiasts and Walkers alike for decades.
No trip to Hawes is complete without a visit to Mrs G’s favourite bench witch is tucked away at the west end of the town at the junction of Market pace and Gayle Lane. The bench has stunning views across the fells and is ideally situated if you ever want to sit down and enjoy the scenery whilst enjoying Fish Chips from the local Chippie only 100yds down the hill.
Mrs G and myself have had a lovely day out enjoying some of the best scenery Britain has to offer. I hope you have enjoyed our day out and please share with your friends our Facebook page Myfavouritebench.com