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A new year in the Peaks

Bradfield, January 2014

Bradfield, January 2014

January is one of my favourite times of year in the Peaks behind early spring, when the heather is blooming and the fields are full of newborn lambs. Late autumn/early winter tends to be wet and windy – turbulent is the word that often comes to mind on those dark mornings where the rain is coming in horizontally! – but January mornings tend towards the crisp and clear and beautiful.

Mam Tor, January 2014

Mam Tor, January 2014

It’s a great time of year to head out into the hills, as long as you wrap up warm! I’m a big fan of Craghoppers fleece-lined winter trousers (men’s and women’s) which have survived both a trek through Glencoe in a Scottish winter gale and a muddy half-slide, half-fall down the summit of Mam Tor, keeping me warm and dry both times.

Strines, January 2014

Strines, January 2014

(I should probably say that I have no connection to Craghoppers whatsoever; I just like their outdoor clothes).

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Whitby Abbey and Dracula too

Whitby Abbey 5

Following on from yesterday’s post about Lindisfarne, another great place to visit is Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire.

In 1897 Bram Stoker was inspired by Whitby and the Abbey in particular to write Dracula – and it’s easy to see why! The town is incredibly atmospheric (although if you climb the 199 steps up to the Abbey from the town you may need to sit down for a while in order to appreciate it!) and the winding little streets and quaint shops below the Abbey are a world away from shopping malls and bleak urban planning.

Whitby Abbey 1

The first monastery at Whitby (then call Streoneshalh) was founded by Oswiu, King of Northumbria, in 657AD, on the possible site of a previous Roman settlement. In 664AD it hosted the Synod of Whitby.

The Abbey was destroyed by the Vikings in 867AD but later re-founded in the 11th century after the Norman Conquest. This second Abbey was destroyed in 1539 under Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the land acquired by the Cholmley family, who used stone from the Abbey to build a house on the site.

Whitby Abbey 2

By the early 19th century much of the remaining structure of the Abbey had collapsed and in 1914 the Abbey was shelled by the German Navy. The site is now looked after by English Heritage, and the much-improved visitor centre does a reasonable job of explaining the history of the site.

Getting there:
Whitby is easily accessible by car – park either in the Abbey car park or in the town (Pay and display).

Whitby is also accessible by train – on selected days you can even travel via steam train on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Also see:
The Dracula Experience – speaks for itself
The Magpie Cafe – fresh seafood on the seafront is a must
Whitby Jet – unique jewellery made from jet
Robin Hood’s Bay – former smuggler’s den and picturesque seaside village

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Bailey Hill, High Bradfield

Bailey Hill 6

For a long time I had no idea the remains of a 12th century castle were hiding behind the churchyard in High Bradfield, and it was only on the off chance that one day, out for a walk, I took a right turn at a junction of footpaths I normally continued straight on at and found myself standing in the bailey of a Norman castle.

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