I’ve been everywhere, man

… I've been everywhere, man
I've been everywhere, man
Crossed the Yorkshire dales green, man
I've breathed the Yorkshire moors air, man
Of Yorkshire travel I've had my share, man
I've been everywhere

… I've been to Manchester, Skipton, Hebden, Keighley, Haworth

Gargrave, Kirkby Malham, Malham, Grassington, Cracoe

 Appletreewick, Bolton Priory and Bolton Bridge, Wharfedale

Ribblesdale, Blubberhouses, York, York again, Ripley

Rylstone, Pateley Bridge and a few more besides

 

With apologies to Geoff Mack who wrote the song in 1959 and the many singers who took it onto the charts with Australian, North America, New Zealand, UK and Texas versions.

This was the Yorkshire version; not well known but still worth humming as you zip along narrow Yorkshire roads, chauffeured by Mr D and navigated by Robyn “the compass” Duckett.

 

“I’m going to Ripley Castle outside Harrogate to make a giant hare out of willow. Do you want to join me?” I knew Robyn couldn’t resist adding this to her UK hols.

Next minute. “I’ve booked a holiday cottage in Skipton and Mr D will drive us around.”

“Excellent,” I replied, with no idea of where Skipton was or even bothering to look at the website for said cottage.

I flew out of Seville in the serene and warm early morning air, arriving in the nightmare that is terminal 3 at Manchester. It looked like a low-budget film set where they’d run out of money for the right props. Bear in mind this was before the current chaos of the mid-term school break in England.

(Aren’t you a bit late with this email? asked a friend. Mutter, mumble, mumble.)

We exited Manchester Airport and onto the motorway with Robyn navigating for Skipton, about 90 minutes away, allowing for some scenery watching on country roads.

Once we’d left the banality of the motorway for country roads, the fields appeared to have been freshly dyed a rich spring green and floofed by the agricultural version of a hairdresser, with drystone walls keeping little lambs with black faces and black legs safe. Fields of bright yellow rape, daffodils along the roadside, tulips here there and everywhere, lilac, buddleia, wisteria…Spring in all her glory,

Mr D drove without commenting on our exclamations.

“Oh, look at that!”

“Ooh, look at that!!”

“Ooooh, LOOK AT THAT!”

“Photo stop please.”

And Robyn and I would run down/up the road to take yet another shot of fields freshly dyed green and floofed, peppered with the little lambs mentioned earlier and bordered by clean drystone walls. Fields of bright yellow rape, daffodils along the roadside, tulips here there and everywhere, lilac, buddleia, wisteria…Spring in all her glory,

Sometimes, there were lines of trees, or old stone buildings, and we’d photograph them, too.

I’m sure you get the picture. We did. Lots of them. Sorry, low-level travel humour, there.

 

It was all so Jerusalem.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire.

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

Never have I seen a landscape that fulfilled that last line so well – In England’s green and pleasant land.

 

Skipton

“There’s a canal at the end of the garden!”

Indeed there was, complete with narrow boats, some clearly moored for many months or even years.

Our hostess appeared with Peggy the Jack Russell. This is a working farm, so we heard and smelt the cows. Our hostess said a short walk down the towpath would get us into Skipton for a pub dinner. It was more than a short walk, but we strode on, marvelling at trees in full blossom, impossibly eccentric gardens and people walking their dogs. A couple sat at the back of their narrow boat, drinking Oyster Bay wine and Robyn stopped for a chat and a photo.

“We don’t have the haddock. The fish didn’t come this morning,” the waitress said.

“What would you recommend?” My first pub meal in Yorkshire, so it had to be good.

“The sausage and mash. Three lovely big sausages. Made locally. The butcher around the corner.”

Said butcher did Yorkshire proud. Them saussies were excellent.

Back down the towpath and a good night’s sleep. All this travel and taking of photos tires one out.

 

Bluebell woods

“Bluebell woods,” I shouted from the back seat. “Photo stop, please.”

Mr D obligingly pulled over and Robyn and I scrambled up a weedy bank to marvel at this Spring show – a carpet of bluebells beneath leafy trees. My first English bluebell wood and I was sold!

Of course, there were many more woods and we took many photographs. Ooh, this one’s shaped like a bowl. They go right up that bank to the top. Look over there! We were like little children in the candy store.

To York

Friend Sue was back in York on family business. Would we like a tour of York? Would we ‘eck!

Coffee in the sun and within a few minutes we were already running late because a rescue group had a display of owls and raptor birds. For €4 you could don a thick leather glove and hold an owl.

“I love owls,” said Robyn.

I was showing off having learnt a lot about owls from Villager Jim on Instagram and Facebook.

“That’s a great horned owl, isn’t it?” I asked.

“She’s an eagle owl,” the young volunteer replied firmly. Her name was also Robyn.

“And that’s a snowy owl?”

No.

“And that’s a barn owl?”

No.

Failed Owl Identification 101 but took photos of Robyn with Henrietta – the eagle owl – on her arm. Henrietta was a good two-feet high and stunning. Her head swivelled almost all the way around – were there owls in The Exorcist?

Sue took us to free and hidden York, so we found places yer average tourist would never see. Inside the walls, the streets are often narrow and/or cobbled, the half-timbered buildings often lean (Harry Potter fans everywhere) and there were narrow streets and lanes called “sniggleways”. We saw The Shambles and the market; we shared platters at a café/pub called Valhalla. We came across some York Council people restoring old stone walls and got a free lesson in how you top them to protect them – grass, not concrete.

Holy Trinity Church in Goodramgate opens a couple of times a year and this was one of those times. Flagstones, wooden pews (some on worrying leans), stained glass – the whole history experience. We walked the walls, admired the free-range Spring bulbs and noted the cats on buildings. There are 50-odd of these and a map to guide you – a great way to see York.

We stopped for a cuppa on the way back to the car.

“What sort of tea do you have,” I asked the waiter.

“Yorkshire,” he replied with a tone that suggested there was no other kind.

Yorkshire it was.

We returned for an inside tour of York Cathedral and some Viking history at the Jorvik Centre where you ride little suspended gondolas through Viking scenes from old York. Interesting, but Robyn I yearned for some more context and history.

 

Haworth

Haworth has a short main street – steep by English standards but not by Wellington’s – a good brekkie at a café and then the house with the graveyard right next door.

Author Claire Dunkel says “Patrick Brontë had the trees planted to aid Haworth's sanitation; this crowded graveyard is on top of the highest point in town, and its corpses were fouling the groundwater.” Some 40,000 bodies are said to lie in that graveyard.

Yorkshire

What can I say? It blew me away. We had a week of perfect weather and I will never tire of those dales, vales and moors, the lush green grass and the endless stone walls.

 

On the road

I hopped the train at Platform 3 at Skipton, heading for Leeds and a change to get me to Manchester Airport. Of course, I should have taken the train at Platform 1. The P3 train ran late, and I set a new land-speed-record-with-carry-on-luggage from Platform 16A to Platform 6 involving an up-escalator, an overbridge over about 10 lines and a flight of stairs down which I fair flew. Made it onto the train and repeated the chaos of terminal 3 at Manchester in reverse. I made it to Berlin in one piece.

 

Comments

Tess

Tess

Go Prue! and yes great writing!

20 June 202219:36

Nicola

Nicola

Great piece of writing Prue. I did enjoy reading about your adventures and seeing the photos. Those canal boats look interesting and nice to see Robyn and Michael too. Grey and cold where I am so enjoy your Northern Summer!! Xx

18 June 20224:07

Janine

Janine

I love Yorkshire. We stayed on that steep street in Harworths Main Street. Wish I was back there.

16 June 202220:39

Jean

Jean

I’m seeing Yorkshire through new eyes!! Love it

14 June 20226:31

Jane

Jane

Wonderful article and your enthusiasm shines through! Your photos are great too. As you know, I am a Yorkshire tea girl - well, I have just taken my first sip of Yorkshire loose leaf tea and there is no comparison with the bags - I will have to bring some over, and we can have a pot when I am back in Italy! I am converted.

14 June 20223:14

Nicky

Nicky

This is a cleverly written travel piece. It makes me want to travel through the UK and particularly through Yorkshire during the spring and summer.

13 June 202212:14

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