Category Archives: England

The Cotswold Way – Chipping Campden to Stanton

July 12 – Look out Gloucestershire, here we come! Breakfasted this morning with a British couple who just completed the Cotswold Way. They pronounced it lovely, but the weather too hot! I’ll take these 70 degree days hands down over any Virginia summer day. Ten miles planned for today.

The trail begins at St. James Church at the edge of the village. It’s a huge church for such a small town, built by wealthy wool farmers and merchants.

The covered market square dates back to the 1600s.

Thatched roofs on our way out of town. I wonder how often they must be replaced?

Misty in the morning.

Through farmers fields – fava beans and wheat.

By mid morning, what ho? A castle?

It was the Broadway Tower, built in 1800 by a rich guy so his wife could view the stars at night. True love. They call it a folly – built to look old, but not really old.

View from the top – kids on an end of term field trip playing soccer. Did you know kids go to school here until mid July? Six weeks holiday for summer.

The tower was used in both World Wars as a lookout post to report enemy planes.

Farewell, Tower! See the little gargoyle on the side?

By lunchtime we reached the touristy town of Broadway, full of tea shops and boutiques. More pretty houses and strange ivy.

We stopped in a church to eat our lunch – shady and quiet. We like that all the churches are open here, and welcome visitors. Here’s the view of St. Michael’s as we left town.

Scenic views in the afternoon.

Here’s something different – anti-slip metal added to the stile steps, and an auxiliary gate for the dogs!

How do you get up on a horse? One step at a time.

You can’t fool me. You are NOT a zebra!

Now we are in Stanton, another lovely old village.There is a very old church here, also called St. Michaels. It has the remains of medieval frescoes on the walls.

A pulpit from the 1300s.

A font from the 1500s, and a piece of old stained glass from the ruin of the medieval Hailes Abbey nearby.

We are staying at The Vine, a B&B in a building that dates back to the 1600s. We are told our room is in the attic. We climb up very steep winding stairs with no bannister, our packs bumping at every turn. We open the door at the top of the steps to find ourselves in…

…a bathroom with a huge tub! Further investigation reveals a bed next door, under the rafters. A very authentic historic and head-bumping experience!

York to Chipping Campden

July 11 – Today we traveled southwest on two buses and three trains, leaving Yorkshire and entering Gloucestershire, where tomorrow we will begin the 102 mile Cotswold Way. No pictures en route. Weather remains sunny and warm. As we traveled, I marveled that this country has a public transit service that could get us from there to here, on time. Good on ya, England!

Just to recap, in June we warmed up with the 82 mile Dales Way (in blue), then completed our main 192 mile Coast to Coast Walk across the country (in yellow). Tomorrow we start our “cool down” hike, the 102 mile Cotswold Way (in green).

Different part of the country. The accent is definitely different.

The roofs on the buildings in Chipping Campden look different. Some slate…

…some thatch, with a hedge to match!

We ate dinner at a restaurant next to a pub stuffed with every red-blooded British male for miles around, helping their English football (soccer) team by belting out God Save the Queen and drinking as much as possible. When the Brits scored the first goal the roar was deafening! Unfortunately, the rest of the game was kind of quiet. Best of luck to Croatia as they move to the World Cup final – it was fun being here while England was on their winning streak!

Another Day in York

July 10 – Today is our rest day, but there is so much to see! We are going to visit York Minster Cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, built on the ruins of two prior churches starting in the 1200s. Gorgeous blue sky today.

Very light and airy inside, very simple main altar, with lots of medieval stained glass, so intricate that it’s hard to see the designs in the glass.

A serenely beautiful ceiling in the Chapter House.

An old dead guy, and a much jauntier dead guy.

The cathedral was stripped of all its Catholic saints, gold, frills and frippery when Henry VIII shut down his opposition in the 1500s, but they kept one saint on hand so that the cathedral would be a pilgrimage site. St. William of York is interred here. When the local bridge collapsed in 1153, nobody died, so he became a saint.

Rose window.

The Doomsday Stone, preserved from the earlier Norman cathedral. Toads and goblins.

I really like stained glass.

Then we were off to the Castle Museum, a misnomer as the castle no longer exists. The building was actually a prison, built on the site where the castle once stood. This tower is the only part of the castle that remains.

The museum has a carousel.

Inside was a strange collection of artifacts donated by Dr. Kirk, who used to accept interesting trinkets in lieu of payment for his medical services. The artifacts were arranged as Victorian street shops and rooms.

The museum had a room that commemorated the Sixties. We don’t need to remember that era – we lived it!

Old toys, bicycles and Punch and Judy puppets.

The Bear Arms. Ha!

Enough excitement for one rest day. Tomorrow we’re on the road again!

A Trip to York

The Grand old Duke of York he had ten thousand men

He marched them up to the top of the hill and he marched them down again.

When they were up, they were up, and when they were down, they were down

And when they were only halfway up they were neither up nor down.

July 9 – We took a bus from Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough, then hopped on a southbound train for the hour’s ride to York, an historic city if ever there was one. The nursery rhyme above refers to the defeat of York troops to the Lancasterians during the War of the Roses in 1460. This is a city that still has its wall.

Beautiful front gardens – the hydrangea are in bloom!

We were so enamored of the steam engines back in Grosmont that we checked out the National Railway Museum attached to the train station. They had trains from every era, including old cars from the 1600s, the Queen’s fancy saloon, and the Eurostar.

You could look at the engine controls, and also walk underneath to see the underbelly of the engines:

They also had a huge warehouse of train-related stuff that you could spend weeks examining.

If you are a train aficionado, let me know and I’ll send you a hundred more pix!

We walked to the city center, crossing over the River Ouse.

Lovely buildings and an umbrella street!

Can’t you imagine Mary Poppins and Bert dancing around those chimneys?We strolled down an old street of shops called The Shambles, which used to be the part of the open market where the butchers hung their meat back in the 1000s. The current street dates from the 1400s.

Now the shops are more for souvenirs, baked goods, chocolate, and Harry Potter themed items.

This man was collecting donations for victims of the Grenfell Fire. He has pledged to sit on the bike for 72 days, one day for each person who perished.

Constantine was proclaimed Roman Emperor here in the year 306.

And what could be more appropriate in York? Yorkies!

More tomorrow.

Coast to Coast – Littlebeck to Robin Hood’s Bay

July 8 – Well, today is the day! The last day of our Coast to Coast Walk across England. We took our trusty taxi back to Littlebeck, and started walking right where we left off yesterday. It was cool walking through the shady woods in the early morning.

We passed a cave where they used to mine alum, used in the past for tanning hides and dying cloth and wool.

Then we passed a hermitage. Another hiker snapped our pic.

A waterfall at Littlebeck, and a fairy on a tree.

We had to hop across the pond at Maybeck.

A bit of road and path walking. The track is getting boggier – we must be nearing the sea.

Our first sign for Robin Hood’s Bay. Wouldn’t you like to visit Sneaton Thorpe? I just love the names of some of these little towns.

A bit of crashing through the brush and rocky stream bed.

Then…. the sea!

Although we could have gotten to town in three miles by road, our path was double that, as we hugged the cliffs and crags of the coast.

And then, there was Robin Hood’s Bay! Cue the Merry Men!

A touristy town on a Sunday afternoon. Lots of inns, pubs and gardens.

Our place was right on the water. The view from our window.

We walked down to the water’s edge, so we could put our boots in the North Sea. It was dead low tide, so that’s about as wet as you could get!

So, our 192 mile trek is done. Unlike Santiago, most of the tourists were not here for the walk, and unaware that there even WAS a Coast to Coast Walk. We couldn’t even find a commemorative plate to celebrate our success. So we settled for a photo and a picture of a commemorative tea towel.

Off to the next adventure!

Coast to Coast – Blakey Ridge to Glaisdale to Littlebeck

July 6 – Our B&B host (who had a gorgeous garden filled with feeders and birds of all sorts for our breakfast watching pleasure) ferried us back to Blakey Ridge. The trail started with several miles of highway walking, so he did us the favor of dropping us off at the end of the highway where the soft track began. A shepherd’s hut dated 1801.

Pretty heather.

We continue to scratch our heads at some of the instructions on our guidebook maps. This morning it said we would be walking along a “metalled” road. We saw tarmac and dirt track, but no metal. A mystery. (A Google search afterward informed us that in Britain a paved road is sometimes called a metalled road.)

Yesterday we were told to look for “grouse butts.” Huh? Little bird heinies? Today we came across several camouflaged stone structures as we walked. Perhaps hunters hide behind them when they wish to be concealed from the grouse? Like a duck blind or a deer stand? Grouse butts.

Before we knew it, we had reached the little town of Glaisdale. There’s an old church here, with a wooden baptismal font cover that dates from the sixteenth century. I especially liked one of the stained glass windows. There is a portrait of Tom Ferries here.

The Beggar’s Bridge is here. The legend says that in the early 1600s, Tom Ferries, a pauper lad, fell in love with the daughter of a wealthy local squire, but the swollen River Esk kept him from visiting her. He went to sea, made his fortune, returned to town, became mayor, built a bridge across the river and married his true love.

Our travel brokers arranged for a taxi to take us to the next town, Egton Bridge, where we are booked in the same hotel for two nights. We thought this would be a treat, but it is the saddest accommodation we’ve had on this trip – a bit run down, poorly managed by two overworked young girls, and most importantly, no WiFi! Once again, we were assigned a time to eat supper in the hotel’s overpriced restaurant, (no other options nearby) and we dare not be late! This too shall pass.

July 7 – A good breakfast this morning, and as we made our plans for the day, we realized that the trail was just down the road. Why were we instructed to take a taxi? We ended up just canceling the taxi and walking on from where we were. The RC church of St. Hedda is here. I liked the windy steps up to the organ loft.

We walked along a toll road. We weren’t charged.

A short hike got us to the pretty little town of Grosmont, very touristy, and the home of the last coal fired steam engines in England. Although these beauties were retired from service 50 years ago, they run one train between Grosmont and Pickering for the tourists to ride. These are the very engines seen in the Harry Potter films as the students steam their way to Hogwarts each year.

From the engine yard, the road went up, and up, and up some more, reminiscent of the streets of San Francisco.

We huffed our way higher and higher until it seemed we were looking down from an airplane. At the summit of the hill, high above the tree line, it was perfectly quiet. Nothing grew more than a few inches tall. It felt like we were walking on the moon.

Down the other side of the hill, across a field, and we approached the town of Littlebeck.

This is where our trail will end for the day. A taxi has been arranged to shuttle us back to Egton Bridge. We waited for it in front of a little Methodist chapel, which welcomed hikers and provided hot chocolate and tea. Nice People of England.

Coast to Coast – Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top to Blakey Ridge

July 4 – Happy Independence Day to you! Today we ventured forth into the last of our three geographic areas for this walk, the North York Moors National Park. Our days of flat terrain are over; we climbed the Cleveland Hills, and followed the signs for the Cleveland Way.

The morning was overcast and cool.

Walking through the woods in the early morning, we came upon what our guidebook described as an old wagon.

We had five hills to climb today, a series of up, down, and back up again. Even in cool weather, it was hard work.

Heather in bloom:

The Wainstones, from afar and up close, named perhaps for the wailing of the people after the death of some prehistoric chieftain who was killed there. Yes, we did scrabble up to the top:

By 2pm, we got our first glimpse of the North Sea. Can you see it on the horizon?

We had to call our hosts (to be picked up from the trail) from atop the Wainstones, which we were told was the only place with cell reception! For the next few nights, our lodgings are not close enough to the trail for the hikers to walk in. Our B&B tonight is a horse farm. These two are mother and son. Don’t they look happy to see us?

July 5 – We resumed our walk this morning with one strenuous climb, after which we were promised flat path for the rest of the day.

Have you ever seen cows like these? They’re called Belted Galloways , but are more familiarly known as Oreo cows.

It was clear and sunny and feature free. A good day for sunbrellas.

We walked along an old railroad bed – perfectly flat and straight.

Colors:

Looking down. Where is the town?

We eventually got to Blakey Ridge, where we waited at the pub until our B&B host came to pick us up. I could get used to being driven around!

Coast to Coast – Danby Wiske to Ingleby Cross

July 3 – Only nine miles to go today, on nice flat ground. We walked through farmer’s fields, with both green and amber waves of wheat:

Some woods:

An imaginatively decorated stile at a tuck shop with snacks for hikers:

A herd of cows was unusually interested in our presence, lining up along the fence as we walked by. I sang for them, “the hills are alive, with the sound of mooo-sic.” They were very appreciative. I could tell. They gave me a standing bo-vation.

We even got to see a flock of sheep getting their summer shearing. Sorry for the unflattering image of the farmer.

Before we knew it, we reached Ingleby Cross, and it was only 1:30pm. Way too early to try to check in at the B&B. What to do? We saw on the map that there was an old priory just two miles up the road, so we had lunch and decided to walk over. Unfortunately, it was two miles of walking along a busy highway where the cars were all coming from the wrong direction, but we got there alive!

The Mount Grace Priory was built in the 1300s for an order of Carthusian monks. Carthusians are solitary contemplatives, who do not eat meat. They lived here for a few hundred years, until King Henry VIII closed down all the Roman Catholic churches in 1540.

Unlike other orders that lived communally, each monk had his own two story apartment, with a bedroom, a study, a prayer room, a workroom upstairs, and a walled garden. Servants brought in food twice a day. Pretty sweet deal.

The property also had a manor house and some lovely gardens.

So, now we are at our B&B, Mount Bank Farm, which is a duck farm! Do you think we’ll have duck eggs for breakfast?

Coast to Coast – Richmond to Danby Wiske

July 2 – Back on the road this morning for a long slog (either 14 or 16 miles depending on which book you believe) that our guidebook says is the most uninteresting of the entire walk. Oh boy! At least it’s flat, the sun is shining, it’s not as hot as last week, and a breeze is promised. Who could ask for more?

We started confidently out of Richmond. So long Castle!

So long city!

Following the guidebook, within two miles we found ourselves off the trail and walking along a highway. Drat! Nothing worse than adding miles to an already long day. We walked to the next town, and saw some folks standing at a bus stop. Where’s your bus going? Back to Richmond. Drat! A little old lady asked why we were walking through town. She pointed us at a farmer’s field, and said we ought to be heading that way. Okay. As we opened the gate to walk through through the field, the farmer jumped out of the barn and yelled, “whoa!” He pointed to another track, and told us to follow the power lines through the wheat fields until we saw the sign for the Coast to Coast. It worked! Nice People of England!

So what did we see today? A beck and an old bridge:

A rock quarry with an unnaturally blue pond:

A church where the world’s oldest man lived (and that offered cold drinks for hikers)

And a long road walk into town. Total miles: 16.

Our supper tonight was at the White Swan, where you had to sign up for a time slot at which you would be fed. We were assigned 6:30. We were careful not to be late! Looks like we have 60 miles to go to complete our Coast to Coast Walk .

After supper we walked down the street to see the Danby Wiske Church, parts of which date back to Saxon times.

Over the door is a Norman tympanum made around 1090. It depicts three figures, almost worn away, that are said to depict the Angel of Judgement (in the middle) weighing the soul of the figure on the left. On the right, the Angel of Mercy puts a hand under the scale to reduce the weight of the soul’s sins.

It’s easier to see in the sketch below.

There is also part of a cross thought to date from the 8th century, and an effigy of Matilda, widow of the Lord of Bedale that dates from 1340. We just don’t have things that old back home.

A Day in Richmond, North Yorkshire

July 1 – We’ve been looking forward to a full day of relaxation, and spending two nights in the same bed. We are staying at the Willance Guest House, the former home of Roger Willance, first alderman (mayor) of Richmond. The House was built in the 1500s, but is totally modern inside.

Yesterday, we walked past Willance’s Leap and didn’t even know it. When he and his horse went over the cliff, the horse died, and Willance broke his leg. He cut the horse’s stomach open and thrust his leg inside for warmth, waiting for the townspeople to find him the next morning. He had to have the leg amputated. Hope you’re not eating while you read this. Here is his gravestone, in the cemetery of St. Mary’s Church, right behind the house.

What do walkers do on their day off? They walk around, of course! First we visited another B&B just down the street, Millgate House, that boasts an award winning garden. The photos can’t convey the scent of roses and honeysuckle, or the hum of the bees.

Then we walked to the Richmond Covered Market, a combination book store/antiques/flea market. Would you like a doggie greeting card, magnet, mug or calendar?

Next up was Richmond Castle (this one’s for you Mom!) The castle was built starting in 1070, and was used by the military through the Great War.

Views from the Tower:

The castle had a garden too.

In 1916, Richmond Castle was where the Richmond 16 were imprisoned. This group of Quaker conscientious objectors was sentenced to be executed for refusing to take up arms during an era of mandatory conscription. Their sentence was commuted to hard labor, but many died before they were released. The castle preserved some of the graffiti on the walls of their cells.

We explored the town center, called Market Square. Do you know what neeps and tatties are? (Rutabagas and potatoes).

Here are some signs we haven’t seen before:

Walking home, we found the Friary Garden, which contained a bird and bunny sculpture carved out of an old tree.

We ended the day with an absolutely delicious supper at the Bangladeshi Indian restaurant on the corner. What a lovely day off!