Today was Easter Monday, a bank holiday here in the UK, and Kevin and I decided we were going to Do Something today. We are forever telling ourselves that we will Go Somewhere, or See Something but don’t usually get round to it, but today was different and we enjoyed a fantastic trip out over the hill to Yorkshire.
The weather hasn’t been great for the past few days but – as the seasoned campers that we are always know – there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong coat and shoes. So we prepared for a typical British bank holiday day out and packed butties, crisps, a flask of tea, some waterproofs, hiking boots, sun lotion and money for an ice-cream and set off up the M62.
We didn’t encounter any rain at all, but it was a bit cold even when the sun did break out. We were heading for Rievaulx Abbey and Terrace which is about 16 miles out of Thirsk, near a little town called Helmsley. Now then, Kevin and I have already encountered Helmsley and it brought back some rather mixed emotions and memories being there again today. It was the place on our Coast to Coast bike ride 8 years ago where we found our morale at rock bottom and where we simply couldn’t go on with our ride, until we had a cup of tea and some meat and potato pie (I swear there were magic herbs in that cup of tea) and it restored us to the extent we were able to carry on and finish the ride to Scarborough.
I’m glad to say that today’s visit was infinitely more comfortable and happy for us, and it was a lovely drive from there up to Rievaulx Terrace.
Our visit was very nearly spoiled by another family – why do parents these days seem to think that their little darlings have the right to shout and carry on disturbing the peace of others?? – but a muttered exclamation from me (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) and they soon realised that not everyone appreciates a 3 year old and a 6 year old “expressing themselves” at top volume in a peaceful garden. Isn’t it funny how the “look” I perfected with my own two children 20+ years ago works perfectly well on other people’s children now too?
Anyway. Rievaulx Terrace is a lovely place and well worth a visit. It is looked after by the National Trust and the staff there were very helpful and cheerfully welcoming.
We moved on from the terrace down to the abbey ruins at the bottom of the steep slope. You might not be able to see from the photos, but there is more or less a cliff edge separating the terrace from the abbey grounds. Too dangerous to walk down so we drove round instead.
Rievaulx Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks in the 12th Century, and over the next 400 years or so saw its fortunes rise, fall, rise and then completely fall again when Henry VIII got fed up with Rome. It is a beautiful place, and even though its many buildings are now in ruins, there is still a feeling of spirituality and peace there.
And so to the journey home. Back through Helmsley and off towards Thirsk.
On the way up, we had driven up Sutton Bank, a notoriously steep part of the A170 where the road climbs at a rate of 25%. Caravans are banned from that that stretch – up AND down! – and I have to admit that our little car did struggle a little bit going up. We thought we would stop on the way back to check out the view from the top, which we did. The sheer drop of Sutton Bank was formed with the retreat of the last ice age, and you can see the flat bottom of the valley that was formed between the bank and what is now Thirsk on the horizon. Further in the distance there is a line of (black) hills, where the mighty Whernside and Ingleborough were also formed by the forces on the earth by the advancing then retreating glacier.
The view was magnificent, and no photograph of mine could ever do it justice, but here’s a couple of pictures I took from the top of Sutton Bank.
You will notice that the sky was changeable to say the least. It’s one of the things I love about Yorkshire in general, the fact that the skies are so big and wide, and so changeable all the time. Beautiful and a fantastic reminder just how small we all are.
So, that was our day. A lovely day out in Yorkshire with a bit of history and geography thrown in for good measure. Well worth a visit and I would love to go back again. And again, to be honest. It’s a lovely place and it’s no wonder people refer to Yorkshire as “God’s own county”.