We packed up and left Sutton Hall and drove over the beautiful hills of the Dales to a small village called Sedbergh just inside Cumbria. Helen and Brian stayed in a B&B Linda and I stayed in a static caravan in the backyard which was only half the price. We had tea in a pub in the village.
We went and visited the Peacocks¹ in Malton. They have a 400 acre farm where they grow potatoes, wheat, barley, beans and rapeseed. We also visited Castle Howard, a huge stately home where [the TV series] Brideshead Revisited was filmed.
¹Rosa Peacock is a relation of mine on my father’s side. Originally a Tripp from Orari Gorge Station near Geraldine, my hometown in New Zealand, she had married an English farmer from near the town of Malton in Yorkshire.
YORK We got to York, the second oldest city in England, at 10:30 and after we had parked the car we walked up into the centre of town. We went to the information centre and got some info on the city then caught a sightseeing bus for a tour around York.
York has a history as long and as chequered as London. It was founded in the year 71AD by the Romans on the banks of the river they named The Ouse, which means The River of Clear Water. After the Romans left in the 5th century the city was occupied by various Barbarian tribes until the invading Vikings took it and renamed it Jorvik from which the name York is derived. The Normans conquered York just three weeks after they defeated Harold’s forces at Hastings and built a castle there soon after, in 1068. The only part of the original castle that remains is Clifford’s Tower.
The city is surrounded by a large wall much of which is still standing and has 4 gates or bars: Monk Bar (West), Micklegate Bar (South), Bootham Bar (North) and Walmgate Bar (East). Walmgate contains one of only three remaining intact barbicans in Europe and is the only one in England.
York Minster dominates the city. It is the fifth church to stand on the site, the first being a small wooden oratory where the Northumbrian king Edwin was baptised in 627AD. A stone church followed and this was rebuilt in 670 by King Wilfred. This building was destroyed by the fire in 1069 and the Norman Minster was begun in 1070 by Thomas Beyer, the first Norman Archbishop. This building was also damaged by fire and the present building was begun in 1220. It took 250 years to build and is the largest mediaeval cathedral in Britain. It is 524 feet long and 249 feet across the transept.
After lunch we all split up and I walked the circuit of the city walls then we all met at the foot of Clifford’s Tower. The tower stands on a grassy mound thrown up by William the Conqueror in 10 days shortly after the Norman Conquest. Henry II received the surrender of William, King of Scots, there in 1175 and in 1190, 500 persecuted Jews committed suicide there. The present stone tower was begun in 1245 during the reign of Henry III and took 13 years to complete. The tower has a quatrefoil plan (four circles) and is reached by 55 steps leading to a portcullis door. The interior of the tower was destroyed in 1684 when a fire caused a powder magazine to blow up.
Dick Turpin was tried and hanged in York in 1738.
Our last visit in York was to the Jorvik Viking Centre where I struck a pewter coin. The two dies used for the coin were unearthed in the Copper Gate excavation which uncovered the Viking remains under York in 1976. One side of the coin shows the St Peters Penny which was first struck under the Viking Kings of York (AD 910-920) and shows a cross, a sword and the hammer of Thor. The other side comes from a penny of the Anglo-Saxon King Athelstan who drove the Vikings out of Northumberland. He proclaimed himself to be “King of all Britain” and reigned from AD927-938.
HERIOT COUNTRY Northallerton Market proved to be a bit of a letdown. We wanted to go to a stock market but it had been cancelled due to lack of interest as all the farmers were at the Yorkshire Show. So Beat and I just pottered round while Helen and Linda went shopping.
About 12:30 we set off towards the town of Richmond to find the Yorkshire Dales. Richmond is dominated by Richmond Castle, an imposing mediaeval fortress built on a cliff overlooking a bend in the Swale River. The castle was begun in 1071 and over the following 500 years it was owned by numerous families of royal descent. But because it was of little strategic importance, the castle hardly played any part in the momentous events that helped shape England during that period.
Much of the original masonry is still intact and along with the White Tower in the Tower of London and the great tower of Colchester Castle is the only masonry remaining from the first 20 years after the Norman Conquest. We climbed to the very top of the battlements and looked out over Richmond and its surrounding countryside, and explored the extensive remains of the triangular outer curtain wall in which was set many small sally ports, arrow slits and other small openings. Some of the east wall has collapsed and what remains is tilting way out of plumb as the foundations have subsided over the centuries.
When we left Richmond we began following the directions from a leaflet which took us deep into the heart of the Yorkshire Dales to some of the places where All Creatures Great and Small¹ was filmed. Dark and brooding storm clouds covered the land as we drove through some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. Endless rolling hills were covered in a labyrinth of dry stone walls and everywhere we looked the neatly built walls and farm buildings covered the land.
We followed Swaledale to Gunnerside where we had afternoon tea then followed a steep road up over the tops which were enveloped in a thick mist. We stopped to look at some curious rock formations called the Buttertubs then a bit later on an old lead smelter before dropping down into Wensleydale.
The lovely market town of Askrigg stands in as Darraby in the TV program and a house called Crinkly House is the Skeldale House of the story. The local pub, The King’s arms, doubles as Darraby Drovers Arms and the Wheatsheaf Pub India by capable as we’re James and Helen spent their honeymoon. Further along the valley is Castle Bolton where James proposed to Helen and where, in real life, Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned.
That night, after tea, Linda and I went for a walk through the trees behind Sutton Hall. We met h and b on the street so we went for a drink at t’pub!
¹ The TV series All Creatures Great and Small was based on the books by James Heriot about life as a vet in North Yorkshire. The story was set in the fictional town of Darraby and the filming locations on the moors were part of a popular tourist drive.
SCARBOROUGH, CAPT. COOK AND EARLY WARNINGS. We arrived in Scarborough at 11:30 on yet another cold, overcast day and drove through the town to the sea where we spent an hour or so wandering around amongst the ruins of Scarborough Castle which occupied the large headland between the South and North bays. The site has a long military history going back to Roman times when a signal tower was built there to provide early warnings of invasion.
When we left Scarborough, we drove north up the coast to Ravenskar on the southern end of Robin Hood’s Bay. We drove around through the town of Robin Hoods Bay and into Whitby, the thriving fishing port when Captain James Cook first joined the Royal Navy and where his ships Endeavour, Resolution and Discovery were built.
We spent 3 hours in the fascinating little town which unfortunately was crawling with the most horrid English daytrippers. On the headland above the port, a statue of Captain Cook looks out over the North Sea watching over the entrance of the harbour as seagulls wheel and cry on the stiff north wind.
When we left Whitby we drove up over the moors to Beck Hole. The clouds had cleared and the sun created a beautiful picture as we drove down the steep road leading to the village which was really only a pub, a bridge and several houses. The road then took us past the early warning radar station at Fylingdale. The three radomes made a strange and sinister sight, clustered amongst the heather with a bright afternoon sun shining on their perfectly symmetrical surfaces.
We left the moors and once again got onto a main road which took us back to Thirsk and Sutton Hall.
We spent a couple of hours at Thirsk Market which wasn’t much as it was packed with tourists. After we had lunch at a pub called The Black Bull we once again drove into the moors to explore.
The first village we came to was Coxwold where we stopped to look around the charming 12th century church. Then we drove deeper into the moors to Byland Abbey. The day had turned cold and grey so we just looked at the imposing cistercian ruins over the fence. The Abbey was founded in 1177 and the church there was larger than Rievaulx or Fountains abbeys. All that remains now however are the walls and the dramatically broken circle of the rose window in the west front.
Moving on, we passed through the large market towns of Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside then we turned off the main road and drove up through the truly beautiful Farndale. We stopped and looked at a tiny country church and drove up and over another bleak, windy top through Hutton-le-Hole then back to Kirkbymoorside and from there back to Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe.
THE MOORS The day dawned cold, overcast and windy but patches of sunlight were occasionally breaking through to brighten and warm the land. We left the hall at 12:30 after having drinks in the main lounge of Sutton Hall with the other, mostly snobbish guests¹. We drove up the steep gradient of Sutton Bank and had a look through the information centre at the top.
Eager to explore the Yorkshire Moors we headed off through the rolling, windswept wheatfields, slowly climbing higher until the farmland gave way to the bleak moorland. En route we spent an hour or so looking at the impressive ruins of Rievaulx Abbey. The Abbey was founded in 1131 by Cistercian Monks from Clairvaux in France. The Abbey prospered for several centuries, but overspending by the monks on building a huge cathedral put the Abbey into debt which it never recovered from and by the time of the Dissolution only 28 monks remained of the 200 to 300 which once lived in the Abbey at its height.
Up on the moors it was cold but very very beautiful. The endless expanse of heather was reddish brown with patches of purple flowers to break the monotony. Amongst the heather grazed scraggly blackface ewes, their long coarse wool giving them ample protection from the harsh wind.
The road led down off the moors through small wooded gullies in most of which a small neat village nestled. It twisted and wound in and out of small valleys, crossing and recrossing small creeks and finally it led us back to Sutton Hall.
¹Sutton Hall is an 18th century manor house which had been converted into eight timeshare apartments.
We got up at 8 and packed up then walked down to Waterloo after saying goodbye and thanks to Lucy who was still in bed, and Alex who was an hour late for work. Over at Helen and Brian’s hotel we waited while they checked out and then we caught a black cab around to South Kensington where we picked up their hire car – a Volkswagen Jetta – from the AA hire car department.
It was reasonably easy to find our way from South Kensington through Knightsbridge and onto the Edgeware Road which led to the M1 motorway. There was a lot of traffic and we had to sit amongst a couple of tailbacks so when we got as far north as Leicester we turned off and took some of the A-roads¹ leading North through endless rolling feels of cereal crops to the Humber River. Across the huge Humber Bridge we drove into the rolling hill country of South Yorkshire. It was raining and cold but still the countryside was very pretty and soon we turned off the A19 at Thirsk and drove the last 4 miles to the village of Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe.
The huge 17th century mansion of Sutton Hall was like a palace to Linda and I after our adventures of the last 2 years. Helen and Brian’s suite contained two bedrooms, a huge lounge, kitchen and bathroom and the place was full of comfortable furniture and Nouveau antiques. As we settled in we couldn’t believe our luck!!
¹Roads in Britain are designated M for motorways, A for main roads and B for secondary or back roads.
We met Lyd, Jen and Megan Francis for breakfast at the pub when Lyd and Jen work in Mayfair. We had a great couple of hours laughing and talking there. Then we walked up to Piccadilly Circus and met H&B in the London Pavilion. First of all we took them up to the top of NZ House for a look at London then walked up Whitehall and had lunch at a restaurant by Westminster Bridge.
After lunch we sent them off on a cruise down the Thames and we sat in Parliament square for a couple of hours until they got back. It was 4:30 by then so we walked up to Westminster Abbey and got there just in time to be let in for Evensong. We sat in the front pews of the great Cathedral next to the altar where’ for a thousand years, kings and queens have been married, crowned and buried, and listened to the exquisite voices of the choir echo around the church.
When we left the Abbey, we caught a bus over to Oxford Circus and went to Break for the Border for dinner. Later, back at the nurse’s hostel we watched music videos that went to bed.
THE JOURNEY BACK…At 8:00am we got up and while Linda packed our gear I walked down to the bank and changed some money. After we had checked out of the hotel we sat outside Bob’s… in the sun talking to a couple of Aussies while we waited for our 10:30 bus to Istanbul. By the time it arrived and we were on board it was quite hot and as we headed north the fresh smell of the pine trees came to us on the hot breeze blowing through the open door. The pine-clad hills rolled away to our left and soon the land flattened out to the rolling arable land of the Northern Gallipoli Peninsula. Around 12 we left the Aegean to its memories of old wars and turned inland for Istanbul which we reached at 4:30.
The Topkapi Bus Station was as chaotic as ever but we had an idea about where we were going this time so we bought billets [tickets] into Eminönu and flagged down a passing bus. It took 20 minutes to get to Eminönu and about half an hour to find a bus over to the suburb of Şişhane where we caught the airport bus for a whopping 4,000TL each.
We were searched and had our passports checked just to get into the airport and our packs were x-rayed. Inside the airport we settled down to wait…
2:15AM, TUESDAY, 3/7. When I went to the information desk to ask where the flight check-in desk was, the woman said they didn’t know of any flight with Pegasus!! We assumed the worst but about 10:00AM a bunch of Canadians turned up with tickets for the same flight so it should be alright.
We stretched out to try and get some sleep but the hardness of the seats and floor, along with the bright lights made it nearly impossible…
6:10AM, TUESDAY, 3/6 At 4:30AM the call for check-in came and we took our gear over to the desk along with the tatty bunch of Canadian travellers on the same flight. When we got through passport control Linda and I went to the Duty Free shop and I bought her a bottle of Opium perfume and paid for it with my Visa card. It was 85DM [Deutschmarks]. After that we had a couple of miniscule cups of Coke which set us back 4,000TL for each cup and that saw the end of our Turkish money.
Then, along with our Canadian companions, we sprawled out on the horribly uncomfortable seats to await our boarding call…
6:20AM, TUESDAY, 3/6. At 6:19 our call came over the tannoy: Pegasus Airlines flight PG181 to Amsterdam will be delayed one hour!
8:30AM, TUESDAY 3/6, Still waiting…
9:40AM TUESDAY, 3/6. We finally took off at 9:20AM on board the nearly empty , brand new Boeing 737-400 belonging to the mysterious Pegasus Airlines. We quickly climbed to cruising altitude and soon the patchwork of mainland Europe was drifting slowly beneath us. The land was dry and the colours were the subtle earth tones of summer – browns, dark greens and muddy yellows. Through the landscape, twisting lines of rivers ran like the arteries of the Earth, supplying life-giving water to the parched land. Many small villages dotted the landscape below, fields radiating outwards from them along with the spider-web traceries of roads.
Breakfast/lunch was served at 10:00AM then we settled down to catch some rest…
2:40 PM (Amsterdam Time), TUESDAY, 3/6. We landed at Schipol Airport at 11:40AM local time (12:40 Istanbul) and passed quickly through passport control.
As we had flown over Germany a perfect white cover of cloud was spread from horizon to horizon beneath the steel blue of the sky, as if a new fall of snow had covered the land. But as we passed over The Netherlands the cloud began to break up to reveal the orderly patterns of the Dutch countryside. The fields were all perfectly rectangular and set in dead straight lines through which ran dozens of glinting canals and the snaking black lines of motorways. But the most striking sight was the colour of the land. Every hue of green blended and merged in patterns of exquisite beauty, the effect heightened by the patches of sunlight shining through the gaps in the towering plumes of cumulo-nimbus cloud.
We waited for ¾ of an hour for our bags to emerge and only by accident did I discover them hidden away in the corner of another baggage hall. It took us a long time but eventually we organised our passage to England via Ostend in Belgium. It wasn’t cheap but good ‘ol Uncle Visa came to our aid so the 352.10 Guilders the fare cost us didn’t come directly out of our pockets!
Once again we settled down to wait for the final leg of our journey to begin…
6:05 PM, Tuesday, 3/7. On board the first train from Amsterdam to Roosendaal we sped through the green and fertile country of Holland. The land was intensively farmed with crops of vegetables alternating with fields of wheat, corn and oats.
I slept most of the way to Roosendaal and when we got there a station attendant told us that the onward train to Ostend had been cancelled! We had to wait for ½ an hour for a train to Antwerp and when we got there we found the right platform and sat on our packs waiting for the 3rd and (hopefully) final train to get us to Ostend…
11:05PM, Tuesday, 3/7. The train was late and we missed the Jetfoil ferry service across the English Channel. We had waited in hope as the train sped through the beautiful pastoral scenes of Belgium but we knew that we wouldn’t make it in time.
At Ostend we enquired at the Jetfoil office about our options and learned that the Jetfoil tickets were valid for either of the two night ferry sailings so we decided to catch the 11:00Pm ferry and try to hitch from Dover to London. To be on the safe side, Linda rang the Red Lion [the pub where we’d been working before setting off to Greece and Turkey] and left a message with Jim [the barman] to tell Helen and Brian [Linda’s parents] not to worry if we weren’t at the airport to meet them.
Then, after changing some Pounds into Belgian money we went to a nearby café with an American guy called Dave and had the most delicious bowl of lasagne I have ever tasted washed down by a couple of beers. A couple of other American guys turned up and we all swapped yarns then Linda and I went over and boarded the ferry.
As soon as it put to sea we settled down to try and get some rest for the second night of our, by now, epic journey back…
4:45AM (GMT), WEDNESDAY, 4/7. We were sound asleep when the ferry docked and we quickly, and somewhat blearily, packed up and disembarked. Customs was a mere formality and with 1 ½ hours until the first train to London we decided to try out the very last of our luck and hitch.
Amazingly, we got a ride almost at once with a lone British guy in a truck and he took us all the way to Lewisham where he followed a Night Bus until it stopped and we were able to ride it all the way in to Trafalgar Square. We walked up to Piccadilly Circus and found the Underground still closed so we sat down outside the station entrance among the other dossers, with the light of day coming fast into the sky and the volume of traffic already building, and waited…
– Eventually the Underground opened up and along with a motley selection of dossers we went in and with the insane ranting of some crazy homeless guy echoing round the station we had another wait until 5:45 when the first train to Heathrow left.
The trip was agonizingly slow but we got there in the end and rushed into Terminal 4 where the BA flight from Singapore was just emerging from customs. And there, amongst the crowds, were Helen and Brian [Linda’s parents].
– From the beaches of Gallipoli to the joyful reunion at Heathrow Airport we had been travelling for two days and two nights non-stop; a total of 50 hours. We took the tube back into Central London and made our way round to the hotel in Lancaster Gate where Helen and Brian will be staying. Incredibly, the receptionist told them that they couldn’t check in until 1:00PM so we spent the morning in various cafes and pubs, filling in time while it rained.
Later in the afternoon, after we had got them settled into their hotel, we caught the Bakerloo Line over to the Red Lion. Because it was the European Cup Semi-final night [England lost] and it was very busy, Brain asked me if I could work behind the bar from 8:30 until 11:30.
Finally, at 12:30AM, after listening to a tape that Linda’s friend Pippa and her boyfriend Chris had sent us from New Zealand, we got to sleep…on the floor in Louie’s room.