Thirsk and North Yorkshire


I normally go on the Ashram holiday each year with my parents (who are members). This year it was in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, in late August.


After arriving, getting settled, and eating dinner, we decided to go for a brief walk into the town. It was raining a little, so we wore raincoats. Shortly after we reached the centre, it started raining rather a lot. Despite being dressed appropriately, we still felt the need to take shelter in an alleyway.

Not quite the worst of the rain. (Picture is b/w because I didn't like the artificial light.)
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My GPS tracker, which isn't itself specified as waterproof, was in the supposedly waterproof pocket of said raincoat. When we got back, I found the pocket was half-full of rain. I took the GPS out and opened the battery component, at which point water splashed out. Ooops. It was dead - but revived on Sunday, after being left to dry out. Pretty persistent bit of kit.


Window, flowers, stones, and desk of my bedroom, which was really nice. The room was called 'Grace' - slightly confusing as there was a Grace on the holiday...
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Somebody had brought a set of walk descriptions in the area. We (family and Chris) followed one of these on a five-mile walk around Thirsk, to get a sense of the area.

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The church is large and impressive.

It also has a shiny floor.
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And slightly tacky gold angel trumpeters.
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The second half of the walk ran north of Thirsk, partly through farmland.

Picturesque farm bridge over the river.
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Dead (?) tree.
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Sunday morning

The rest of the group descended on the local Methodist church en masse, but Dad and I skived off and took a short walk southward to Pudding Pie Hill.

Mysterious paving near a village hall.
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Sharp corner warning roadsign made up of a number of poles (some of which are still left).
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Pudding Pie Hill.
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The legend is that if you run nine times around the base of the mound and then stick your knife in the top, you can hear the fairies inside. We didn't run around it, but did climb to the top, which gives a good view of the nearby A-road.

Sunday afternoon

David kindly gave us (my family plus Chris again) a lift in his car to the nearby village of Upsall. Mum had planned a route so that we could walk between several villages and then back to Thirsk.

Upsall hobbit-hole. Sorry, I mean, town hall.
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I think those pines look kind of like palm trees.
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Reflection in window of a closed-down chapel.
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Paled dyke. (Can't remember what that means... Something historical, I think.)
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The next village was called Felixkirk. It has a distinctive and interesting church with a kind of copper-roofed dome at one end.

Altar and round bit.
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Roof. (The lighting colours were ugly; this is a black-and-white/duotone version.)
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The rest of the walk passed through farmland and by Hag House (no hags in evidence) back toward Thirsk.

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Tree in field, from Hag Lane.
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On Monday, Mum and I decided to take advantage of a special bank holiday bus service (special meaning there's four buses in the day instead of basically none) to take a long walk between two abbeys in the national park. The walk wasn't quite as pre-planned as it might have been, but turned out nice anyway!

We started at Byland Abbey, but didn't go in (it hadn't yet opened yet and we wanted to make an early start).

Byland Abbey, with complimentary totally-not-by-accident lens flare.
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From Byland we walked to the village of Wass. It was uphill. I managed not to say 'Wass up' too many times.

They had a very small, and tidy, church.
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After that we walked over a couple of hills toward Rievaulx Abbey. Unbeknownst to us, there was actually a third abbey on the way, and not in ruins; I looked it up afterwards and found out that Stanbrook Abbey is newly-built, a group of nuns having moved out of a rather larger, older building elsewhere.

Abbey buildings (presumably) in distance.
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Power cables.
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Rievaulx Bridge.
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Beside bridge.
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Rievaulx Abbey is very impressive: it's massive, there's quite a lot of it still left, and they let you climb over bits of it. There's also an exhibition so you can get all educated first. It's popular; there were plenty of people around.

Through pillars.
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Grass shadows.
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Fence and tree.
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Steps (they don't go any further than where I was standing).
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We had a quick look at the local village church and, perhaps more importantly, the village hall where they were selling tea, orange squash, and pieces of cake (extremely cheaply). After that welcome interruption, we set off again following the Cleveland Way long-distance trail toward the local town, Helmsley.

Rievaulx from a distance through hedge. (Also a pile of hay wrapped in green plastic.)
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 54°15′2″N 1°7′7″W

Helmsley was also quite picturesque.

Allotment with scarecrows.
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Helmsley Castle. Somebody was supposed to blow it up with cannons, but they gave up and left the job half-done.
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We got the last bus back from Helmsley (at five thirty or something) - it was completely full and we were a bit worried they wouldn't let us on, but in fact we even got seats.

View from my bedroom window across common land to the river and road beyond.
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The morning dawned foggy.

Similar view.
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Nearby playground.
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Josie generously offered to drive some of us to visit the Aysgarth Falls, some way distant in the Yorkshire Dales.

Giant pawprint by the Lower Falls.
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View upstream just above the Lower Falls.
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Middle Falls from viewpoint. (Spikey church behind.)
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Part of the Upper Falls.
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Exposed tree roots near the Upper Falls.
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Next we stopped for an hour or so in the small town of Hawes.

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Church interior with building work and ominous red lights.
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Church steps.
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Graveyard, looking toward hills.
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No parking please.
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Somebody's back garden, with chickens.
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Big tree.
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We were preparing the evening meal on Wednesday, but we took a short walk (and visited the local museum) in the morning. The museum contained several different themed rooms of old stuff (e.g. farm implements; kitchen things), some of which was related to the area; I liked it. They also had a chair which is supposed to be haunted; apparently, everybody who sits on it dies. Nobody's sat on it since 1940-something, although Dad did point out this might be because they've got it hanging from the ceiling out of reach.

Telephone exchange.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 54°13′55″N 1°20′45″W

After dinner was ready we had another short walk.

Round gap in a wall. Somebody stole their wheel?
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Two pubs; foreground pub is less burned-out.
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Finally, in the evening some of us went for another short walk, down to see the Packhorse Bridge at World's End. (That's a real place name - there used to be a pub called that, but the pub actually did meet its end.) Dad and I had already seen the bridge on our walk to Pudding Hill. It's a nice bridge. A little hard to see in the dark, though!

Tree shadows on somebody's garden wall.
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The whole group visited Mount Grace Priory. It's a ruined Carthusian monastery. The Carthusians were very particular about how they specified their horizontal and vertical positions - no, sorry, that's just a geek joke. Actually, the interesting thing about them is that the monks lived in individual 'cells', more like houses, rather than together.

There was a more recent manor house adjoining the monastery ruins; in relatively recent years, it had been somebody's house. We looked through the house and the information in it first before heading outside to the ruins.

Manor house windows 1.
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Manor house windows 2.
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Manor house windows 3 (featuring sink).
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Outside, the ruins weren't as extensive as Rievaulx, but still quite large. One of the 'cells' had been reconstructed and furnished; it seemed a pretty decent place to live, really.

Church tower.
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Looking up a chimney at spider webs.
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Monk's bedroom.
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Arched gateway.
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Church tower, from cloister.
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We went for a shortish walk after leaving the monastery. It started off by climbing a rather large hill.

Probably wasn't actually Mum's boot that destroyed this bridge.
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Atop the hill was the village of Osmotherley, which had not one but two tea shops. There's also a village shop; and there would have been two of those as well, but the other - established 1786 - had closed down. According to a news cutting in the window, there's a condition of sale that nobody can buy it unless they're going to run a shop.

Shop ready for reopening, complete with net curtains, Victory V, and lots of drawers.
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Some of the group stopped there; four of us continued for an extra loop around the area. (Some of the public footpaths on the map don't actually exist, but we managed to find a way around in the end!)

Dad, Mum, Chris.
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Nice hedge tree and farm.
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Before leaving on Friday, I walked the (small) labyrinth in the garden.

Cute statue in centre.
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I had to change trains in Manchester. With some time to spare, I took a quick walk around the local area.

Aytoun Street Employment Exchange. Not many jobs going.
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The canal runs under buildings in a short but slightly sketchy tunnel.
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Employment Exchange again from canal side.
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The end, at long last. Thanks for your patience!

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.