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The blog is about places where we have stayed and been able to pursue our main activities of walking & cycling. It is not intended as a guidebook or detailed description of places which we have visited.

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England Posted on Tue, June 07, 2016 22:03:55


Though there are campsites in Ripon, we decided to stay at
Bilton Park

and take the bus from
Harrogate. The 36 bus which runs between Ripon and Leeds via Harrogate is an
absolutely superb service, with buses running every 15 minutes to late in the evening and with a luxurious
bus fleet.

The same could not be quite said for the Dales bus number
139, which we took for our trip to Fountains Abbey. This is an infrequent
service not only on the times operated but also on the number of the days of
the week but we chose Monday, which is one of their operating days, though I
understand that a different company operates a Sunday service. The bus was half
an hour late and a quick telephone call confirmed that it was on its way. The
label on the driver’s shirt claiming ‘Luxury Coach Travel’ was a bit off the
mark for this workhorse but it did the trick, the driver was incredibly polite.

In fact the delay
worked in our favour as it allowed us to arrive at Fountains Abbey closer to
12.00 and time for an early lunch. We must confess we are fans of NT lunches;
they are well prepared, tasty and always have vegetables. The Abbey is about a
10 to 15 minute walk from the visitor centre and suitably fortified for a quick
appreciation of this magnificent building before joining a one and a half hour

The Abbey is nothing but imposing, its ruins magnificent and
on par with any cathedral in the country and this together with the not so
large but impressive Ripon cathedral indicates the wealth and power that the
church occupied. The guide gave us a superb insight into the history of the
Abbey up to dissolution and beyond.

What we did not know was that the reason that this is a
world heritage site is because of its magnificent water gardens and this
occupies two thirds of the tour, though a reasonable part of that time is
occupied by walking the extensive grounds. The water gardens which were part of
the Studley Royal Mansion were created by John Aislabie in 1718 is and is one
of the best surviving examples of a Georgian water garden in England. We cannot praise our guide highly enough he
was informative, kept us interested and was witty at the same time, in a very
quietly spoken manner.

The only thing that remains of the house, burnt down by a
fire in 1946, is the stable block, which is now a private residence. An
interesting yarn was told by our guide, that the fire brigade, on receiving a
call about the fire, proceeded to the pub with a similar name and then reported
that the pub was safe and in the meantime Studley Royal Manor burnt down. Glad
to see that the firefighters had their priorities right.

The tour finishes near the other entrance to the grounds and
afternoon teas was taken overlooking the lake. The plan was to take the walk
back through the grounds, taking the higher walk to gain a different
perspective but we decided to continue and walk to Ripon, about a couple a miles
from this gateway, passing through the deer meadow on route. In any case you have to have a reason to

We approached Ripon by taking a very pleasant river walk.
The town is dominated by its cathedral and associated historical buildings and
this is a very pleasant area of town or should I say city. It nevertheless has
an attractive market square as a reminder of its importance as a market centre.
Ripon was a fitting end to a great day out courtesy of the number 36 bus.

Knaresborough,Harrogate & Ripley

England Posted on Tue, June 07, 2016 21:25:48

Harrogate,Knaresborough & Ripley

My expectation was of a rural idyll on the outskirts of
Harrogate; it is strange how the name of the site did not translate into the
illusions that I had in mind. It is an open site with park homes on one side
and statics and permanently sited caravans on the other, with a field in the
middle, which I assume would be for tents and in front of the field were two
areas for tourers.

It is nevertheless a well-kept site and we had an excellent
reception. The toilet block was always clean but there was only one shower in
each of the ladies and gents with one other which doubled as a family room and
disabled facility, though there was no ramp into the block. We experienced no
problems re delays but it could be a different ball game in busier periods.
There is no motorhome service point but there are 4 fully serviced pitches and
hard standings are available.


The real plus of the site is its position, on a direct cycle
route to Knaresborough, about 2 miles, by turning left out of the site, along
Bilton Lane. The descent into Knaresborough is reasonably steep and the ascent
from the river to the town and the castle is very steep.

An alternative is to walk but rather than taking the
cycleway, turn right out of the site and take the first footpath on your right,
signposted to Nidd Gorge. You cross open farm land before the path descends to
the river and you turn right and follow it into Knaresborough.

Alternatively you can turn left and follow the river to the
Nidd Viaduct, which took the old railway over the river and is now a cycle
route into Ripley and Harrogate. If you turn left at the viaduct you have a
circular walk back to the campsite. In May the walk by the river was stunningly
beautiful, with bluebells, wood anemones and wild garlic.

With regard to Knaresborough, you will not be disappointed;
it is a gorgeously beautiful town with cafes running alongside the river where
you can choose to eat or take a drink or if you are feeling more energetic take
a boat out, though on a beautifully sunny Sunday it was a bit like ‘Piccadilly
Circus in the Rush Hour’ and it was great fun watching the rowers trying to
navigate their boats.

The town has everything you could ask for, a stunning river
location, an impressive railway viaduct over the river, a ruined castle,
dismantled in the ‘English Civil War’ and a pleasant market square and it even
has its own ravens. As a result,
understandably it proves to be very popular and more so at the weekends and on
this weekend there was a folk dancing festival.


Turn right out of the site and walk past the pub, ‘The
Gardeners Arms’ which looks like it was
an old agricultural pub and it looks like it has not been altered in years and
was very atmospheric. It also has a large garden which proves to be very
popular; it may have something to do with the fact that it is a Sam Smith’s pub
and the beer is cheap.

You pass the pub and pick up the cycle way into Harrogate,
it is only about a 40 minute walk from the campsite.

Harrogate is a pleasant enough town, though my expectations
were somewhat higher as everyone raves about it. There is an older area,
Montpelier, which is quite

atmospheric, and some other attractive buildings and some
pleasant open spaces. There are some fine examples of wrought iron work, of
which the bus station provides fine examples but other parts of the town are
like any other high street.

It is also famous for
Bettys the iconic Edwardian café with its very attractive frontage,
though we decided to give it a miss as we hit it at the weekend and we have since given up on queuing. We found a
lovely alternative overlooking the gardens.

We had a very pleasant lunch at Timberlakes in Montpelier.


If you turn right along the cycle way, after about 3 miles
you come to Ripley. The cycle way is very attractive and as it follows an old
railway line, it is easy cycling. The village is very pretty and one of its
star attractions is Ripley Castle, a 14th century fortified house.
Entry to the house on weekdays is half the price of summer weekends an also the
gardens are free to visit on weekdays.

There is a nice café before the entrance to the castle and a
good pub, ‘The Boar’s Head’.

We also cycled up the lane past the castle and part of the
cycle route to Ripon. This is a bit up and down and it is a popular walk but it
is beautiful and some of the best bluebells seen, comparing very favourably
with ours in Bucks.