Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Yorkshire Dales (fill up your's a long one!)

I don't know how I could pick a favourite spot from our trip, but this one holds a special place in my heart. Did you know that the Yorkshire Dales were home to James Herriot? Enough said.

Our first stop was Hawes. This was a very sweet town, but hands down the best part was the Wensleydale Creamery. We stopped. Of course we stopped. This is the same person who was once approached in a grocery store and given a prize (from a dairy company) for having 5 different types of Canadian cheese in her basket. Embarrassing. True story, but embarrassing!

Mom and Dad were looking around the gift shop....

(I'm quite certain at this point mom was immersed in a book on how to build rock walls. Ask her about it. I dare you)

...when I found the cheese room. I should be more clear, a cheese tasting room. HEAVEN. This wasn't dainty little trays held by a woman in the supermarket with a few cubes and toothpicks, no-no. Have a look. The best part is, nobody cared how much you took. I grazed my way around this counter, where there must have been 20 different types of Wesleydale cheese....and then I went out and got mom (I grazed around with her), and then I got dad. Same deal. I have NO CLUE how much cheese I consumed that day, but I really doubt my digestive tract was extremely pleased. Had it been the evening, I most certainly would have had cheese nightmares.

That's a lot of cheese right?

We also spent far too much time in a rope factory... (also in Hawes).

After Hawes we headed to Middleham. We stumbled across Middleham after mom read about the 500 racehorses kept at the 5 different barns based out of this small town. Sold.

I loved this town as it was tiny. A few pubs, a few Inns, and a grocery store. No tourist shops, or tour buses, just villagers, living in a country paradise.

Oh, and there was a castle that belonged to Richard III (I believe he was the dirt bag who locked the poor princes in the tower- correct me if I'm wrong).

Our Inn was called The Priory. The owners were so lovely (Chris and Sarah). They took the inn on as a project and are in the midst of renovating it room by room. They have recently completed a tea room that they plan on opening this spring. The rooms they are finishing on the top floor are gorgeous, with wonderful attention to detail. Claw foot tubs, exposed beams...bliss.

This was the inn, complete with a fountain.

The best part about The Priory, was that every morning starting at 6am the jockeys would begin riding the racehorses up the road in front of the inn to 'the gallop' that was on top of the Moor. As there are 500 horses, this continues until about noon. The jockeys and trainers would train one horse and then head down the hill and grab another. We woke up at 630am one morning to go watch the first large group in session. It was right out of Black Stallion. Riders in the early morning sunlight, and a trainer by the fence with a flat cap and tweed. The horses were stunning, and the experience was wonderful.

Heading down to the stable (in front of The Priory) at the end of the training session...

On our first full day in Northern Yorkshire, we took a drive around the countryside. Again, breathtaking scenery around every bend.

There was a RAF base close by, so we experiencee a few surreal moments with giant helicopters, and fighter jets swarming over the land of James Herriot. Quite the Juxtaposition.

 At one point in the drive, we drove around the corner and saw this:

And then this...should we have stopped?

We stopped at a Boulton Castle which was the spot that Mary-Queen-of-Scots was imprisoned. The castle is apparently one of the best preserved Medieval castles in the UK. 

...and they had wild boars.

We stopped in a few different small towns and checked out the many artisans....

It was in doing so that we met Jo. Jo-the-Crow. We had wandered into a Sculptor's studio. The gallery space was open to the back studio where the Sculptor did his welding. We didn't see anyone around, so we were poking our head in the door, checking out the space, and all the many tools....when out of nowhere came this crow. He was hopping along the floor at a good pace with no intention of stopping. At this point we just thought he had come in the back door by accident....until he started pecking our toes (at this point dad left). The sculptor soon came out and introduced us. This was 'Jo' and he had been rescued as a baby. Seen as the sculptor loved Crows, some local children brought him to the studio after he was too big for his shoe box.

The artist's name was Michael Kusz. You can check out his website here.

We also had a pint and an afternoon snack at the highest pub in the UK. Tan Hill.

Being the highest, it is also the windiest!

I'm sorry there were so many photos. You should see how many I cut out. Put Northern Yorkshire on your list folks. I promise it will be well worth your journey.

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