Monday, 19 September 2016
Little Barugh Holiday:: Days 4 & 5
Morning Everyone! What a glorious morning day four of our Yorkshire holiday was. We had developed a breakfast pattern, lazily get up at about 8.30am, mooch around making toast and smothering it with butter and Pear & Brandy jam from the local Ampleforth Abbey (part of our welcome basket and utterly delicious!), then make our way outside to sit on the bench in the Lavender garden with a mug of steaming coffee in one hand and a project- my latest stitchscape embroidery- in the other. Gently scented roses grow up the wall of the house and you are just surrounded by peace, roses, lavender and some very industrious bees. What better way is there to start a morning?
When we were all packed and prepared for our day, we set off to the nearby town of Pickering, which is about a five minute drive. Our destination....the train station!! This was a day for Dad as he really enjoys riding on trains, especially ones driven by steam as they give that extra chuff chuff chuff as you click along the tracks. The carriages were all vintage with each one being slightly different which was rather nice, and formed a working museum run and owned by the North York Moors Historical Railway Trust. From Pickering you could go all the way along the coast to Whitby which would probably take a couple of hours, but we instead decided to stop off at Goathland which was about half way.
Goathland is quite a little station which appears to be in the middle of nowhere as you are pretty surrounded by moorland. As we had about an hour and a half to wait for the next steam train back again, we wandered up into the village and found ourselves in the middle of a television set!! Do any of you watch Heartbeat? It's a drama/soap set in the 1960s, rural Yorkshire, which sort of focuses on the Police force there, and it just so happened that Goathland was also Aidensfield, the town from the soap! They keep several of the buildings or signs from the show up all year round, and as I used to watch it, I recognised quite a few of the places which was a bit strange. At the back of the 'Aidensfield Garage' there are all the tools and cars of the mechanics shop, with a temporary touristy gift shop squeezed into the front. We had lunch in the 'Aidensfield Arms', and shopped in the 'Aidensfield Stores'! Quite a random find in the middle of the Yorkshire moors, but the villagers have really made the most of it with lots of gift shops and tearooms- the place was buzzing!
Back at the station we hopped back on our train and sleepily made our way back to Pickering.
The excitement of the previous few days (and an awful lot of walking) sort of caught up with us that afternoon, and we spent a little while just sitting next to this rather picturesque river, chatting to the ducks, before making our way home to our beautiful cottage in Little Barugh for some quiet stitching in the garden.
Fully recuperated, and after following our morning ritual, we made our way to another rather spectacular ruin, Rievaulx Abbey (pronounced Ri-vo). This is another English Heritage site, and is even grander than Whitby Abbey!
We got there rather early (a good thing too as the carpark is quite little and it was quickly filling up!) along with a group of keen photographers who were rushing around trying different angles and lenses to take the best images before the main touristy rabble arrived. I should think that they got quite a few rather spectacular photos, it would be quite hard to get a bad photo of such an impressive place, every part of it held some form of photographic interest.
Rievaulx was one of England's most powerful Cistercian monasteries, and the first one to be built in the North of England, established on land donated by Lord Walter l'Espec (the same chap who built Kirkham Priory, which we visited on day one). At it's height in the 1160s, it had a 650 strong community and was headed by its most famous abbot, Aelred, who expanded the monastery with several new buildings, including his own private lodgings.
It seems the building was continually evolving, as new buildings were built and other's changed usage. The lay brothers (the ones who did all the hard work for the monastery) almost entirely disappeared in the 14th century, which meant more room for the monks to start spreading out as they began to have higher standards of living, with individual or smaller rooms for sleeping in, rather than hundreds of monks in one large room on little mattresses.
It was shut down in 1538 as part of Henry VIII's Suppression of the Monasteries and was sold to the 1st Earl of Rutland who dismantled a lot of the buildings. We're quite lucky that this much was left! Excavation of the site revealed an ornate stone screen which was dismantled in the Great Church (the one with all of the arches) and set aside for collection later, but was hidden when part of the building collapsed on top of it, only to be discovered by English Heritage and safely stored in their on-site museum. I think my favourite museum artefact, was the carved stone Peacock, although it is unfortunately missing its head.
Above the Abbey, is a National Trust owned section of land called Rievaulx Terrace. Parts of the Rye Valley, including this strip of land, was sold to Sir Charles Duncombe, who built Duncome Park, about 2 miles away, and his nephew later built a posh terrace to showcase the romantic view of the Abbey ruins below, with two Classical Temples at either end of the walkway. What better way to impress your guests than have an enormous lawn miles away at the bottom of your rather extensive garden with the best ever views of an ancient monument?
The Ionic Temple (square shaped one) was essentially a stand alone dining room, built for entertaining guests. It has the most amazing painted ceiling, and is full of rather rich and decadent furniture and ornaments, designed to enthrall. As far as I can make out, there is one main room to house the table and chairs, then a couple of rooms underneath in which to prepare food and clean up afterwards.
As you walk along the terrace, which is quite a broad, well mown stretch of grass, the view of the Abbey below changes and you glimpse different parts of it through the trees, surrounded by green hills. At the other end, you reach the Tuscan Temple (the round one) which is more of a glorified summer house. You can't go inside this building as it isn't open to the public, but mirrors have been set just inside the windows so that you can easily view the rather marvelous plaster work on the ceiling. On the outside, I rather enjoyed the effect that years of graffiti have had on the yellow stone, the grooves really caught the light and made a lovely surface pattern most of the way around the back of the Temple- naughty people!
Our final stop on the way home from the wonders of Rievaulx, was to Nunnington Hall, another National Trust property. You know a place is going to be good when one of the first things you see on arrival is a pair of Peacocks- I love Peacocks!!
There were quite a few Peacocks too as we kept bumping into them in different places around the ground. Whilst we were refueling with caffeine in the outdoor part of the cafe, we had several inquisitive guests join us at our table- turns out these birds rather like flapjack! I managed to find several feathery treasures, carelessly dropped by both males and females, the iridescent blue feathers are quite marvelous, and although it appeared to be the wrong time of year for the flashy, showy 'eye' feathers, the slightly smaller, brilliant coloured ones were just as much of a reward.
Although you wouldn't necessarily believe it, looking at photos of a brilliant blue sky, sun pouring through the trees and happy nodding flowers everywhere, Nunnington Hall is haunted!! Lots of apparitions, and noises have been heard over the years, with doors opening and slamming shut in the dead of night, children's whispers coming from the attic, books flying across the room, and sometimes a terrified scream echoing through the house when no one else is there. One story is that of Lady Nunnington, who married one of the Lords of Nunnington after his first wife died. She already had a young son from a previous marriage, and the Lord also had one of his own. The two boys got on very well but the Lady didn't like the Lord's son as he would inherit everything. One night, this boy mysteriously disappeared without a trace, and his younger stepbrother (the Lady's son) searched for him endlessly, eventually falling to his death over a balcony. Lady Nunnington was distraught and is said to roam the halls weeping and searching for her own little boy, the sound of her dress is heard dragging up and down the staircase, but stops when it is investigated. Spooky.
Back outside, thoughts of ghosts firmly set aside, there is a lovely range of gardens, from a formal lawn, wild gardens, formal gardens and a very sweet kitchen garden, full of home grown produce (beans, potatoes, onions, apples) and a Mr & Mrs Scarecrow. In the orchard just outside, there is the Nunnington Wishing Tree which is a lovely, colourful idea. All those hopes and dreams blowing in the breeze.
We stayed at Nunnington until almost closing time, watching the Peacocks, searching for feathery treasures and enjoying watching the sun starting to set over the grounds, bathing everything it touched in a golden light. Join me again soon for the last couple of days of my Yorkshire holiday.