England

Focus on Fountain’s Abbey

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I very often lack focus and tend to meander through my life.  Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, in Yorkshire, were a case in point.  Looking for somewhere to admire snowdrops, I ventured there last week.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Swathes of them nestled beneath the trees.  I captured one or two shots, but I was soon drawn into the magnificence of the water gardens.

It was a gloomy old day and I stopped to read the cheerful sign inside the fishing tabernacles. They are part of the balustrade and cascade into the lake and date back to 1719.  Probably designed as a base for fishing excursions, they cleverly concealed the sluices used to drain the canal quickly in time of flooding.

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The water gardens must be one of the finest sights in England, and neither I nor the swans allowed ourselves to be depressed by the weather, while the pheasants seemed positively immune.  Not well focused though!

It wasn’t long before I was ambling among the ruins of the Abbey, smitten by the hues in the aged stones.  Snowdrops there were aplenty but I’m afraid that they played second fiddle.

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Fountains Abbey, 3 miles south west of Ripon in North Yorkshire, is one of the largest and best preserved Cistercian monasteries in England. Founded in 1132, it had an active life until 1539, when Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

A full history can be found here.  Today the Abbey and Water Gardens are successfully managed by the National Trust and they have some delightfully focused snowdrops on their site.

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Paula focused on black and white photography in her Traces of the Past on Sunday.  It’s not my forte, so I’m compromising.  But I would love to draw your attention to her very beautiful Focus in Thursday’s Special.

Jo’s Monday walk : Spring at Crook Hall, Durham

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Stroll along the river bank with me, in the heart of Durham City, and let me take you to an idyllic garden.  I intended to visit a new exhibition at Durham Cathedral but, as luck would have it, it was closed that day.  I’m a firm believer in serendipity and, as the gentle sunshine warmed my cheeks, I suddenly knew where I wanted to go.

Crook Hall dates from 13th century and is a vision in golden ivy-clad stone.  It sits back a little from the footpath and the gently elevated position makes for majestic views over Durham. Crook is a Grade 1 listed Medieval hall with a rich and colourful history.  As all such places should, it has a resident ghost, ‘The White Lady’, and has been enjoyed by such luminaries as William Wordsworth and John Ruskin.  Today I’m going to focus on the garden rooms, described on the website as each having their own personality.

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It’s impossible to ignore the constant presence of the house.  It provides a benign backdrop, yet with an almost tangible air of mystery.

Close by the house, a secret garden has been in existence for more than 700 years.

Statuary is an integral part of the gardens.  Nymphs and maidens shake out their tresses, demurely lower their eyes, or gaze seductively out.  Monks perform solemn duties, urns cast playful shadows and a rather mischievous Puck plays his pan pipes, sheltered beneath a weathered tree.

The golden lady follows me with her eyes, and what of the lady reclining, neglected, on the bare earth?  She must have a story to tell. Ornate chairs and benches invite me to linger, admiring the pure white snowdrops.  Beyond the lake, fiery witch hazel brands the limpid blue sky.

I drift from ‘room to room’, each leading to the next, yet independent and sufficient in itself.  A mighty lion bench, breathing fire, gives me pause.

Through a gate, precisely trimmed hedges in the newest of these still evolving gardens, etched with remnants of winter shadows.

Leaving the house behind, I wander down towards the rusty maze, bereft of leaves this early in the year.  Did you glimpse the koala, dangling in the tree?  And yet another selfie!  One more surprise awaits- a softly slumbering giant!

And then I’m back at the entrance and The Garden Gate Cafe. (open all day, separately from the Hall, but there are Tea Rooms inside the Hall too) The Sparkling Afternoon Tea looked very inviting but my lift had arrived and so I’ll have to disappoint you yet again.  No cake!  How come you missed this place, Jude?  It would have been a natural for the Garden Challenge.

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Down at the river bank, this scene awaits, but if you turn and walk back towards the cathedral you might just be able to catch the exhibition, Open Treasure.  And if not, Durham Cathedral is always beautiful.

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Lots of walks to share this week and I hope you can spare time to visit as many as you can. Especially as I won’t be posting a walk next week.  I will, I hope, be skip, hop and jumping (or walking) in Florence.  I don’t want to schedule a walk in my absence because it’s too hard to catch up again afterwards.  So I hope you’ll forgive me if I hang on to any walks you share till the following week?  Details are all on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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Eddy was close in my footsteps last week, but his were even cooler!

Do you want owt fromt’ shops?

There’s nothing nicer than a gentle stroll with Jude.  Treat yourself!

Historic Uphill Lincoln

Anabel ventured further up the coast from me, in some delightful villages :

Fife Coastal Path

Another coastal path for you, but Eunice is over on the other coast :

Anglesey Coastal Path- the White Arch and Tyger’s memorial

Two for the price of one from Eunice this week!

A long canal walk

Imagine my surprise on seeing Ana’s post!  Right on my very own doorstep :

Strolling along the River Wear in Durham

Quite a leap of the imagination from Durham to Buenos Aires, Ana :

Beloved Argentinian characters at Paseo de la Historieta

Jackie’s having fun down Mexico way- lovely bougainvillea!

A Mexican walk

I do love Woolly’s perspective on life!

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Lady Lee is completely at home in the Philippines :

What’s in Bohol?

And Liesbet is pretty good at balancing a budget!

Laguna Beach, CA- On a Shoestring

Amy’s back, and she’s chosen to ride, but who can blame her?

An Elephant Ride

I love Yvette’s take on life, but brrrh, those Falls look chilly!

Walk with Jo in Niagara, NY (doors and windows) 

Drake is always irrepressible.  Got to love him!

Warm feet and cold nose

Isn’t it always walking weather?  Well mostly, when you’re with Susan :

Walking, Weather or Not

And Carol has a most appropriate question :

When is a Walk not a Walk?

Rounding off with a highly informative walk from Denzil.  He’s doing a grand job promoting Belgium :

Walking from Tervuren to Bertem

And Cathy, beavering away in the States, but still found time to walk with me :

Philadelphia : the south mural arts walk 

Remember- no Monday walk next week!  But I’ll try to find you some cake in Florence.  Stay safe till the next time!

 

Jo’s Monday walk : A walk through a Pub!

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If there’s anything that really annoys me it’s leaving home in clear blue skies to drive to the Yorkshire Dales and encounter grey, dampness.  But if you’re in search of a waterfall then you can’t really begrudge a little rain.  And to visit Hardraw Force you have to pass through a pub, so you might say there are compensations.

I don’t know the village of Hawes at all but it is surrounded by magnificent, sweeping countryside, though visibility was poor on this particular day. 850 feet above sea level, it claims to be England’s highest, and has been home to a market since 1307.  Go on a Tuesday if you’re a market fan. The name Hawes means ‘a pass between mountains’, in this case endearingly-named Buttertubs and Fleet Moss.

I’m heading for Hardraw but, on Town Head, a sign for Gayle’s Mill strikes a chord with me.  In 2004 it was a finalist on the BBC TV ‘Restoration’ programme.  It was but a short diversion to take a look.

Unfortunately this was as close as I could get.  Gayle Mill is a working saw mill, and can only be visited by guided tour.  Even the craft shop was closed.  The Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre, a highly popular venue, is nearby and I gave it a wistful look.  I do love a good bit of cheese.

Water flows through the village and is harnessed by the mill, which dates from 1784.  In the 1900s it pioneered electricity generation and brought light to the valley.  Just then the sky was darkening rapidly and it seemed like a good time to move on.

You could retrace your steps down Gayle Lane, but a pretty little footpath offers an alternative route back to Town Foot.  And sheep!

Hardraw Force is clearly signed from the crossroads, so it was best foot forwards into a chilly breeze.  I told myself it was holding off the rain.

There’s often a wind off the water, isn’t there?  I turned left into the field and trod carefully till I reached the flagstones.

It’s not far till you pass through a gate and the pub is right there, in front of you.

The sign says ‘innkeeper and waterfall provider’.  That’s quite a claim, isn’t it?  At £2.50 a person, is it a little mercenary?  Let’s see if it delivers.

One of the best sounds for me is rushing water.  Rounding the corner from the Green Dragon Inn, I can already hear the tumult of the falls. England’s highest single drop waterfall sits in a great bowl of limestone, shale and sandstone.

Incredible to think that the process that produced this landscape began some 340 million years ago.  Alternating layers were laid down in the warm seas of those times, and through the rise and fall of the land and some glacial activity the Karst scenery developed.  At the back of the waterfall it’s possible to see the individual layers.

Did you wave back?  I did!  And then I crossed over the bridge and followed the path back along the opposite bank.  It was really busy in the Green Dragon Inn, so I didn’t linger, though it did look characterful.  I was surprised at how many people had ventured out on such a grey day, and can only surmise that this will be a seriously busy place in summer.  But the waterfall will be much diminished.

I just about made it back before the rain hit.  The waterfall will be thundering for a few days yet.

Hawes lies along the A684 from Leyburn in the Yorkshire Dales.  The map on this link will give you a few clues.  Time to get the kettle on!

Thanks everybody for kindly accompanying me each week, come hail come shine (but hopefully no snow!).  It’s always a pleasure to have you along. I have some more great contributions this week. Please spare a little time to go visit, especially if they’re new to you.  Details, as usual, are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  I’d love you to join me with a walk of your own.

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Lady Lee is always a few steps ahead of me!  Have you been to Dresden?

Dresden- Jo’s Monday walk

Jude has a delightful saunter in search of cake this week :

Sleaford Historic Riverside Walk

I prefer sunshine, but Shazza’s found something interesting even on a cloudy day :

Rydal Hall Sculpture Trail

I don’t think I’d do much walking in Amsterdam.  I’d hop a boat, like Woolly :

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Jackie and glitz go together, don’t you think?

More Vegas Opulence

In pure contrast, I never saw snow look more beautiful!  Thanks so much, Drake!

Colourful snow

This week we have a Wild Daffodil joining us.  Sound like fun?  Do go and say hello!

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Becky has laid on a lovely sunset for her wander round Olhao, because…

Everyone loves a sunset

And if you’ve never seen Lisbon before, Paula’s photo is a magnificent place to start :

Follow My Shadow

If you glory in wild and wonderful scenery, you will love this, from Jessica :

5.30 a.m 

And Inese shows us drama in Ireland, rain, shine and rainbow!

Magic road to the Mahon Falls

That’s it for another week.  It’s been a grey one here but I’m sure Spring is on its way.  Enjoy your life, won’t you, whatever the weather?

Six Word Saturday

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Not easy to find in Seaham?

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You’d think that a bleak north eastern beach would be a good place to find a little Solitude, wouldn’t you?  Strangely enough, that isn’t the case. This particular beach has become a mecca for sea glass hunters and gatherers.   img_6644

You could hide out in the caves with a fair chance of solitude, but they’re not very safe. Erosion has created some fascinating shapes, though.

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So your best bet is to head as far down the beach as you can go, without getting your feet wet, that is.  Even there, a far from home Devon artist was determinedly hunting through the pebbles, looking for sea glass.

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This is the lure, at the end of the beach.  A solitary and beautiful rock, leaning out to sea. Seeking its own solitude.

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There’s always a way to find solitude, if you crave it.  For me, it’s an essential part of life.  A bit like the Weekly Photo Challenge.

I hope this weekend brings you whatever you require.  Cate usually requires six words on a Saturday, but often she gets more.

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Six word Saturday

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With love, from me to you!

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It’s here and gone again, and it’s nearly time to whizz the decorations away.  I did love having my hearth flicker in candlelight, and those rosy dawns, sitting beside my Christmas tree. Usually I hang on to till twelfth night, reluctant to shed the sparkle for cold, dark mornings.  But this year I’m heading south, hoping for a little early warmth, so my tree will have to come down tomorrow.

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It was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it?  But here I am, saying goodbye to the good with the bad. Wishing, as we always do, for the peace that eludes our world.  Can’t say it better than the Beatles- “With love, from me to you”.  Want to share six words?

Happy New Year!  Feel free to go walking without me on Monday.  God bless!

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A walking retrospective

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You probably think you’re seeing double!  This is the opening photo for my most recent walk, Boxing Day Blues.  It’s hard to select favourites but my criteria is often that a photo takes you back to a moment in time. For me this was a clear, bright, quite unparalleled December day.

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Would you believe that this one was taken in August, but how could I leave out such a winning smile? Gargrave in the rain was one of the most joyful moments of my past year.  A wedding anniversary weekend!

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By contrast, Autumn this year was a riot of colour, and I can still feel that warm November sun on my back as I stood in the churchyard, surveying the magnificent ruins of Flamboyant Autumn at Easby Abbey.

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October was a time of great sadness for me.  I never could have guessed that, as I looked up at this church in Alternative Ayamonte, my Dad had only hours to live.  I was abroad in my beautiful Algarve, but my heart really wasn’t in it.

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How could it only have been a couple of weeks before that I was so joyfully walking the Water of Leith, excited to meet for the first time with my lovely friend Jude?  A landmark event!

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Can’t help but share a moment of north eastern pride with the celebrated Tall Ships Regatta at Blyth in August.  How proud Dad would have been of the Polish ships taking part.  He was always a patriot.

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Which transports me back to July, when I met a lady with a fabulous smile in the City of Birmingham.  It was my first time in the city and I loved it. Thanks, Gilly!  I know I made a friend for life.

It was a water lily Summer.  They were everywhere!  I visited many beautiful gardens, such as Newby Hall, in June.  Funny how so many of you were more interested in the cake than the flowers!

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I spent two wonderful weeks in Poland to coincide with the May Bank Holiday.  My cousin Adam is a baker but always manages a few days off that weekend for his birthday.  It was Dad’s favourite time to go, and I was so happy that I got to spend this precious time with him.  Naughtily though, I did manage to escape, into the arms of another friend for life- Meeting Meg!

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In that early part of the year I was leading a charmed life.  My visit to Poland was sandwiched with trips to the Algarve and many walking excursions. A day at Mertola in the Alentejo was particularly memorable.

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April, always the time for lambs, I threw one little chap into total panic as I held a gate open for him. Lambkins and Bikes– a winning combination?

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I was delighted to have my lovely daughter home for Easter, in March.  The highlight of that weekend was the Butterfly Trail in nearby Preston Park. They are incredible creatures, and almost as exotic as my daughter.

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February in the Algarve is synonymous with Amendoeira– Almond Blossom.  And, of course, Carnival, but that’s an entirely different story.

IMG_2245 And so we find ourselves in January, and Saltburn in Winter.  It’s a lovely seaside town on the North Yorkshire coast, a place I like to stroll at any time of year.

What a year of highs and lows it’s been.  I have Paula to thank for leading me back through the months. Thursday’s Special this week is Retrospective.  Don’t miss it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Boxing Day Blues

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I just know you’re ready for some fresh air and exercise this morning, and you’ve come to exactly the right place.  Grab a scarf and some gloves and we’ll go and dust off those Boxing Day blues.  Nothing finer than a vigorous walk along the north east coast of England.

We’re at Roker, just north of Sunderland, and smiles abound this gem of a morning.  Let’s start by the tall white lighthouse that studs the green.  In Summer this is the focal point for the Sunderland Air Show and breathing space is scarce.  Right now, we can stroll as far as the eye can see.

I’m heading south, but you can choose.  Not too many clouds in the sky this morning, but they can gang up on you when you’re  least expecting. Let’s hop down on the beach and see what we can find.

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The stories a pebble could tell!  I look back along the beach, and then ahead, into shadow.

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That’s Roker Pier you can see straight ahead.  It looks far distant but it’s no more than a good stride.

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The clouds are making the most enchanting reflections on the damp sand.

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Just around the corner, a rather strange ‘gateway’ to Roker Park.

Don’t let it put you off.  It’s rather a nice little park, especially when the Roker Lights come to town in September.

In no time at all we’re back on the sea front, and there ahead of us stands proudly curvaceous Roker Pier.

img_5490 Remember I mentioned those sneaky clouds?  Well, just for a few seconds…

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…a drop or two of rain plops on the sand.  But it’s gone in a whisper, making me doubt it was even there.  I stroll back in the direction from which I’ve come, smiling at a dog walker, and a lone maiden on a rock.

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For a moment I fancy she might just be a mermaid.  That’s what happens when you watch ‘Splash’, the movie, on Christmas TV.  Heading north again, did you spot the selfie on the beach?

There’s a good incentive to carry on around this bay.  On the edge of Whitburn, Latimer’s deli and fish restaurant is a great little spot, looking out to sea.  On a summer day you’ll be fighting to sit out on the sun terrace. Today it’s just that little bit cool, and squeezing inside is more desirable.

The lobster salad was such a good price, and looked delicious.  I modestly settled for a lovely fish chowder. Maybe next time?  I hope you’ll join me.

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Thanks everyone for spending time with me today, and the whole of the year.  I’ve loved having your company.  I’m going to be missing for a few weeks because next Monday I’ll be on my way to the Algarve.  I have 2 weeks to enjoy, and recharge my batteries.  I don’t blog while I’m away, so the next walk will be posted on 23rd January.  That seems a long way off.  You might have forgotten me by then.  If not, I’ll be open for walks as usual. Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

Let’s enjoy some great walks now, shall we?  I’ll pop the kettle on first.

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You can always rely on Anabel for a bite to eat along the way :

A walk round Overtoun Estate

Indra’s in British Columbia, and very beautiful it looks too :

Kelowna…. Nature’s Playground

Sunshine in your eyes?  And the ‘white stuff’, with Drake :

Snow in the eyes

Beautiful architecture as Jude follows in my footsteps, along the river bank :

Norwich Part III : Wensum riverside walk

I know she’d love the fruit and flowers in Lady Lee’s Philippines :

Sonya’s Garden – Urban floral displays

Jackie found lots of ice in Florida.  An unusual, if expensive, treat :

Charlie Brown’s Christmas

Not so chilly at the beach, with Geoff and Dog :

Hag Stones#poems#poetry

And where’s Woolly this week?  Dodging snakes it seems!

Jo’s Monday-Walk-06 Geelong Botanic Gardens 

Denzil always enjoys a breath of fresh air and a stretch of the legs :

Walking around Wonck

I’m quite jealous that Sophie managed to get onto these walls :

The walk on the wall of Pisa

And I’m determined to get to Cornwall next year for these scones.  Thanks, Carol!

The End

Have you come across the London Wlogger?  The lady features very informative London walks :

King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath : Unlocking London’s beauty

Finishing with a little piece of leftover Christmas magic from Drake :

Dreaming about so much

And closer to home- you’ll like this, Jude!- Jaspa shares some Cornish lights :

Mousehole Harbour Christmas Lights

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  I’ll be around till the New Year, walking of course, if the opportunity arises.  Make the most of your relaxed time, before we dive into 2017.