Monks Barn Farm

We left Marple after a leisurely breakfast, our southward journey taking us through the spectacular Peak District National Park.

1.Peak District National Park

Peak District became the first national park in the U.K. in 1951. Even on an overcast day, the scenery was breathtaking.

2.Peak District National Park

We had worked up an appetite by the time we left the park and stopped for lunch in Ashbourne at the quaint Bowling Green Inn.

3.The Bowling Green Inn, Ashbourne

We were heading for Stratford-upon-Avon to spend some time exploring Shakespeare country. Our accommodation was 2 miles from Stratford at Monks Barn Farm, a 16th century working farm on the banks of the River Stour. The farmhouse B&B was gorgeous,

4.Monks Barn Farm

for some reason we were given the luxury of our own cottage.

5.Monks Barn Farm

The Grade II listed thatched barn is believed to have monastic connections, hence the name of the farm.

6.Monks Barn Farm

There were stunning views across the 100 acre farm, dotted with contented sheep quietly grazing the lush pasture.

7.Monks Barn Farm

The Greyface Dartmoor sheep were very cute and always happy to smile, “good morning”.

8.Monks Barn Farm

Marple Locks

On our way through Cheshire, we stayed overnight with my Uncle Jim who lived in the small town of Marple. We enjoyed an afternoon stroll along the Peak Forest Canal where a series of 16 locks raise the canal by 64 metres over the course of 1.6km. We began our walk at Marple Memorial Park where this fabulous chainsaw wood sculpture was commissioned after the demise of a large Copper Beech tree.

1.tree sculpture Memorial Prk

Local school children submitted ideas on the theme of nature and knowledge featuring animals and books. They also chose the name, Midnight, for the central owl character.

2.tree sculpture, Marple Memorial Park

Other animals carved in the wood include a fox, badger, mole, squirrel and hedgehog.

We started at Lock 9, by Oldknow’s Warehouse.

8.Oldknow's Warehouse

Samuel Oldknow was an English cotton manufacturer who promoted the construction of the canal, which opened in 1804. When commercial carrying ended, the locks became dilapidated and were impassable by the early 1960s. The Peak Forest Canal Society were instrumental in the restoration and re-opening of the Marple Locks in 1974.

9.Lock 9

Oldknow’s Warehouse has since been converted to offices. I can think of worse places to work.

10.Oldknow's Warehouse

We continued our walk past Lock 10

11.Lock 10

and Lock 11.

After Lock 12, we approached Posset Bridge, completed in 1804. The bridge has three arches, the left hand one has been filled in

14.Posset Bridge

and the right hand one is a narrow oval tunnel built to allow the horses to pass under the bridge after being untied from the boats.

15.Posset Bridge horse tunnel

The canal continues through the middle arch to Lock 13 and more beautiful buildings, now office space.

16.Lock 13

Between the locks, the canal is tranquil.

17.Peak Forest Canal

The Macclesfield Canal joins in just beyond Top Lock Bridge.

18.Top Lock Bridge19.Top Lock Bridge

This magnificent home has prime position

20.Macclesfield Canal

with the marina just around the corner.

21.Top Lock Marina

I think a canal boat holiday would be a great way to relax and see some stunning scenery. Maybe one day……

22.Macclesfield Canal

Lyme Park

Leaving the beautiful county of Yorkshire, we made our way south to the equally stunning county of Cheshire. We couldn’t resist a visit to Lyme Park estate. The largest house in the county, surrounded by 6 hectares of formal gardens, is set in a deer park of 550 hectares in the Peak District National Park. The entrance gate was impressive, I love the mysterious padlocked door.

1.entrance gate Lyme Park

The house dates from the late 16th century and has been gradually developed since then, with modifications made by Italian architect, Giacomo Leoni, in the 1720s. The sweeping circular drive approaches the north front of the house.

2.north facade

The west front dates from the 18th century

3.west facade

as does the magnificent south front.

4.south facade

You may recognise this as Pemberley from the TV production of Pride & Prejudice. Who can forget the scene where, after taking a bath (fully clothed) in the lake, Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy encounters Miss Bennet, attired in his soaking wet, white shirt?

5.Lyme Park

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, the gardens. The formal gardens were created in the late 19th century,

6.Lyme Park

the intricate Dutch garden was initially laid out as an Italian garden and is usually bursting with colour. Unfortunately, the summer bedding plants had finished in late autumn. The four cherub statues represent the elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water.

7.Dutch garden

The Huntress, Diana,

8.statue of Diana

overlooks the Orangery Terrace

9. Orangery terrace

and an aged stone eagle majestically stands guard.

10.stone eagle

The Timber Yard is a cluster of buildings where we found a cosy café and quaint shops. Created in 1904, the café was once the joiner’s workshop and the ice cream parlour was the boiler house. During the war years, it was used as living quarters for the RAF. Some of the buildings are now residential cottages.

11.The Timber Yard

I can think of worse places to live.

Scarborough

Although I was quite young when I left England, I have fond memories of holidays to the seaside. I think Scarborough Beach is where I first fell in love with donkeys.

1.me & Sally the donkey

I just had to re-visit while we were in Yorkshire, although the donkeys were keeping warm elsewhere until summertime came around again. Tourists have been flocking to Scarborough since the 17th century when healing waters were discovered and a spa was opened. The beautiful sandy beaches are divided into two bays, the north bay being the more peaceful end of the resort.

2.North Bay, Scarborough

The colourful beach huts have stood the test of time, with 166 being the largest collection in the North of England. The pyramid shaped structure in the distance is the Sea Life Sanctuary. More than simply an aquarium, it is a centre for rescuing and breeding creatures of the sea as well as being an important educational facility. The huge apartment complex is The Sands, five-star luxury that certainly wasn’t there in the 1960s. Personally, I prefer the character of the gorgeous guesthouses on Queen’s Parade.

3.Queen's Parade Scarborough

A high rocky promontory separates the north and south bays

4.Headland between North & South Bay

upon which are the ruins of the 11th century Scarborough Castle. The castle has been developed into a fascinating tourist attraction but, unfortunately, at the end of October most of these national monuments are closed for the winter.

5.Scarborough Castle

We didn’t visit south bay and the old town, it is the main tourist area with a long, sandy beach, cafés, amusement arcades and theatres. Instead, we drove to Whitby and then across the Yorkshire Moors back to Harrogate.

6.Yorkshire Moors

We watched the steam train of the North Yorkshire Moors heritage railway as it carried passengers through twenty four miles of Yorkshire’s stunning scenery. Maybe next time we’ll hop on board.

7.Yorkshire Moors

York

Being the largest county in the UK, there were so many places we wanted to see in Yorkshire. Aware of our limited time, we had to make some difficult decisions. The town of York was an obvious choice. We entered the historic walled city, founded by the Romans in 71AD, along Micklegate. Once the most important of York’s four medieval gateways, we passed beautiful old buildings

1.Shops on Micklegate

on our way to the river.

2.River Ouse

There are nine bridges across the River Ouse within the city of York, the oldest being at the site of the present Ouse Bridge as early as the 9th century. The history behind the Ouse bridge is quite interesting. In 1154, the stone bridge collapsed when a large crowd gathered to welcome Archbishop William to York. It was considered a miracle that no-one drowned and the Archbishop was later canonised and had a chapel named after him. The replacement bridge was supported by six arches and was lined with houses, shops, a toll booth, a courthouse, a prison and the chapel dedicated to St William. In 1367, the first public toilets in England were installed on the bridge. In 1564, the river flooded and the bridge collapsed, the buildings were swept away. The next new bridge was built much higher and houses and public buildings were again built along its length. After 250 years or so, in need of repairs, the bridge was replaced. Started in 1810, the present day bridge took 11 years to complete.

3.Ouse Bridge

Across the river, we made our way to The Shambles. Dating back to the 14th century, York’s oldest street has some fascinating architecture.

4.The Shambles

Historically a street of butchers shops and houses, the name is thought to come from the medieval word Shamel, meaning booth or bench. Livestock were slaughtered at the back of the premises and the meat laid out on what are now the shop window bottoms.

5.The Shambles

The overhanging fronts of the timber-framed buildings almost touch each other in some parts of the street. This was deliberate to shelter the wattle and daub walls and protect the meat from direct sunlight.

6.The Shambles

The butchers shops of old have been replaced by quaint businesses more appealing to the tourists that flock to The Shambles.

7.The Shambles

There isn’t much left to see of York Castle. Built in 1068, there were originally two circular castles, this one known as Clifford’s Tower. The wooden structure was replaced in the 13th century with stone, suffered some damage during the Civil War and was then gutted by fire after a major explosion in 1684. It wasn’t restored until the 19th century and was then used as a jail until 1929.

8.York Castle Clifford's Tower

It would have been wonderful to have had two hours to spare to walk the 3.4 kilometres of beautifully preserved town walls. We had to be satisfied with the short section that took us back to Micklegate and our next exciting destination.

9.Town walls approaching Micklegate