God’s Own County

I love Yorkshire. I’ve only been twice, but each time I’ve been amazed by its beauty, variety and rich history. Now I know that I have some drops of Yorkshire blood in my veins, I hold it in an even more romantic light – it is my ancestral homeland! This past weekend I fancied some time away from the city and so I went to stay in a lovely little cottage on a farm just outside of the gorgeous spa town of Harrogate with some friends. We picked the perfect time to go – from Saturday morning until late into the evening, it snowed; big, fat, pure white flakes that transformed the green and brown landscape into aย sparkling wonderland. It added a real touch of magic and as someone who grew up with grey slush rather than snow to make snowmen with, I was enchanted.

We arrived by train into Harrogate on Friday, and I was instantly surprised by both the beauty of the architecture and the freshness of the air. The streets are lined with elegant Victorian and Georgian buildings set amongst gentle hills, and there is a huge open common that makes you feel like you’re hardly in a bustling town at all. I’d love to say that I did lots of exploring and cultural things, but instead I spent three hours stuffing my face in Betty’s famous Tearoom, which is famous for a good reason. I had several lovely cups of tea, sandwiches, chips and a ‘Fat Rascal’ which is a sort of special Yorkshire fruity scone and is DELICIOUS. Having gained a stone apiece, we headed on to Knaresborough, a small town just outside of Harrogate with a ruined castle that belongs to the Queen, an incredible viaduct across the river that offers fantastic views, a cobbled marketplace and lots of traditional, independent shops, which I always like to see. We watched the sun go down while perched on the castle walls, then set off for our first night in our farm cottage. We stayed up for hours chatting over a crackling fire, and all was silent outside save for a few cows mooing. Makes a change from drunken singing, which is what I usually hear outside my flat on a Friday night!

I woke up bright and early on Saturday morning to a brilliant pink sunrise outside my window. I might be a city girl, but I lived in New York long enough to know what a pink sunrise and a leaden sky mean; snow! As predicted, by lunchtime it was falling thick and fast, and I was itching to get outside and frolic in it. So, wellies and coats on, we set off. Two of the girls dropped off early and sought refuge in the local pub; the rest of us soldiered on, in search of the village of Ripley, half an hour away. These are the girls I survived last Christmas’ blizzard with, so we laugh in the face of a snow flurry! We marched on happily, admiring the rapidly whitening fields as we went. Eventually we found the village, and I was just in raptures. Built in the gothic style in the Victorian era by the then Baronet of Ingilby who owned the village and its stately home, Ripley Castle, it is a model village and absolutely beautiful. Quaint little cottages, an amazing church (earlier than the houses) and a REAL LIVE CASTLE, slap bang in the middle of rolling fields, and framed by a soft dusting of snow? Could this holiday get more perfect?!

We wandered around the village, explored the church (which had some fascinating memorials, including a 13th century tomb of a Knight and his Lady), considered buying novelty tourist items from the general store, sampled some of Ripley’s World Famous icecream (it’s no Stewarts) and gazed in at the locked gates of the Castle (we had missed the last tour) where the Ingilby family still lives. Then we had a hot toddy in the village pub to warm our cockles before setting back off to the farm and a cosy night in around the fire with wine and roast chicken and Bridget Jones’ Diary.ย If we’d have had more time, day trips to Ripon (where Lady Sybil gets caught up in the political ruckus in series one of Downton Abbey!), York and Thirsk would have been in order, but they’ll have to wait for another time!

41 comments

  1. I want to pack a bag and go right now! That photo of Ripley Castle could make someone put pen to paper and write a ghost story though. It’s both beautiful and eerie! Such a weekend would rate pretty high in my books…and so many delicious nibbles…have I mentioned how much I envy you?

    1. Darlene you would absolutely love it – Yorkshire is so beautiful and quintessential England in my opinion! I want to live in Ripley Castle…the current heir is my age and male….!!!๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. What a heavenly weekend! I’ve been watching the BBC’s adaptation of James Herriot’s “All Creatures Great and Small”, and could hardly believe my eyes when I saw you’d been to Yorkshire – what a coincidence๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I love Yorkshire, too. I live (have always lived) further north (and east) than the places you visited, in what used to be the North Riding Of Yorks. Then it became Teesside, then Cleveland and now no-one knows what it is! You certainly packed a lot into your weekend yet left with good reasons (maybe another Fat Rascal?) for a return visit.

    1. I have never seen such beautiful natural scenery as I have seen on the Yorkshire Moors…you’re lucky to live there! I will definitely be back…those Fat Rascals are temptation enough!!

  4. So lovely. You know how to enjoy yourself!
    Yorkshire people are also good to know and very rightly proud of their region. I’d love to live in the middle of the Dales, far from everything.

  5. I’ve always been especially fond of bright days and blue skies when it comes to taking pictures, but, just this winter, I’ve decided that I love wintry shots with grey skies. But now I realize that I especially love wintry shots with grey skies…and castles.

  6. You packed a lot in to the weekend. You can’t beat a crackling fire when it is snowing and you are tucked up indoors!

    Love the photos, hope you get to return soon as there is still plenty more to see and of course another visit to see Betty.

    1. I just loved that fire, Jo! It was bliss! I wish I had one at home!

      Thanks – me too – I can’t wait to go back and have lovely walks in the sunshine! And lots of Fat Rascals๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Having lived in Yorkshire for a year, it’s very near and dear to my heart. However, I’ve not been to many of the places you explored this weekend. Thanks for giving me some ideas for my next visit!

  8. You do live the BEST life!! I’ve a book on my shelves called Pies and Prejudice by Stuart Maconie. Do you know it? I haven’t read it yet.

  9. I lived in Yorkshire briefly as a kid, so I always have a soft spot for it (even though I am Australian). Sounds like such a lovely weekend! Friends and snow and scenic surrounds, what could be nicer?

  10. I spent almost a week in Yorkshire on my English holiday two years ago and was swept away with how beautiful—and green!—it was. I was actually just going through some of my pictures a few days ago and wishing I could go back soon.

    1. It’s such a beautiful part of the world – glad you made it there Teresa. So many tourists only visit London and there is so much more to England than that! Hope you get to come back soon!

  11. Oh my goodness, that sounds fantastic! I’m more of a summer than winter person, but this would definitely be an ideal winter treat! If you ever move into an old castle, please send me an invitation to your ball๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. I love a good wintry day, Lucy! Snow brings out the child in me๐Ÿ™‚ I will don’t you worry – I can quite imagine myself the chatelaine of a castle!

  12. Delighted you are having fun up north. I have just started re – reading Sense and Sensiblity. So enjoying it – I think it is the Austen book I am least familiar with; looking forward to reading your views in due course .

    Sue

    1. Thanks Sue! Glad to hear you are enjoying S&S – as soon as I’m finished with my current read, I’ll get started. I should probably remind everyone, shouldn’t I?

  13. Sigh … I wish I lived in England. I visit London quite a lot but I should really widen my scope, I think, after seeing this post. Lovely!

    1. England is the best place to live I think! Definitely, you should. There is so much more than London, and really, it doesn’t take long at all to get out into the real countryside – Yorkshire is just 3 hours or so away by train!

  14. Although I consider myself a South Londoner, my maternal grandmother was from Yorkshire, so I too have Yorkshire blood in me, and I’ve always loved the holidays I’ve had there. We stayed near Thirsk on the edge of the moors last time we went and it was wonderful. Never been in the winter though …

    1. Ooooh Annabel, I was desperate to stay on the moors but we had no transport so we had to stay somewhere a bit more central. Thirsk is high on my list of places – next time I go I think I might stay there.

  15. ๐Ÿ™‚ Fat Rascals. I love them.

    Looks like you had a fantastic time! I love Harrogate. As I live close to York though, I’m biased and prefer that instead – would highly recommend a visit if you get the chance too!๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Sounds like a wonderful trip. I am planning something similar with some of my friends for my 30th (rock and roll or what) I just love weekends like this. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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