A Day Out in Skipton.

Yesterday we set off for a day out to one of my personal favourite places, namely Skipton. Known as the ‘Gateway to the Yorkshire Dales’ it also contains a medieval castle which is well worth a visit. It has a thriving market, and a canal basin from which you can enjoy a canal tour via boat. Yesterday was particularly worthy of a visit because Skipton was hosting the annual Waterways festival. We stumbled upon this annual event purely by chance some years ago when we paid Skipton a visit as the festival happened to be taking place. On arrival by the bridge that spans the canal, I couldn’t understand what all the festivities were about, but quickly found out that every year, narrowboats from other areas congregate at Skipton and then deck their boats up in various arrays of decoration. There are lot’s of attractions as well for visitors and a stage with entertainment taking place throughout the day.

Getting in the festival spirit.

On arrival, we went to book a canal tour but the first boat was fully booked by a party. So to pass the time before the next available boat at 12.00pm, we took a walk along the canal so that we could get a close look at the boats and their decorations. This years theme, because its the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year, was based on Great Britain, although some boats did seem to veer from this remit somewhat! We were also having lot’s of luck with the weather for although quite chilly, at least the rain did not show its face. We eventually arrived at the park and decided take a stroll up the path before turning around to make our way back to the marina in time to board the next boat.

View from the boat

Seating our selves at the front of the boat on boarding, we set off down the canal. It’s such a tranquil experience cruising along at a snails pace, and so removed from the usual hustle and bustle of our daily lives that I recommend everyone to take a canal cruise at least once in their lives. The boat had hot and cold drinks on board, a waitress who takes your order and of course a toilet. We were rewarded with some stunning views over the countryside before we eventually turned around to head back to the basin.

Far too much.By now it was well past one, and Kerri had already sussed out (her first job when we arrived as its top of her priorities) where we were going for our dinner, Bizzy Lizzies. This establishment is fairly new, I don’t recall it being there on our last visit to Skipton, and its conveniently sited next to the canal bridge. The service in there was excellent and a telling sign that its a popular eating place is the fact the we had to wait a while for a table.

The table manager was very friendly as he told Kerri that he had seen her dancing earlier on the Quay side to the music from the entertainment. Although it turned out that because it was a Saturday, they didn’t serve their smaller ‘pensioners portions’ which I prefer because a full serving tends to be too much for me these days, my fish and chips were amongst the best I have ever tasted, and I thoroughly recommend that if ever you are in Skipton, you pay Bizzy Lizzies a visit. Kerri had a chicken burger with chips and coleslaw followed by the inevitable chocolate cake.

DSC03391

Following our wonderful meal we made our way up to the Skipton Castle for another visit. Despite the fact that we have visited the castle many times, we never tire of exploring it again, its fascinating to see how everyone lived over 900 years ago, the kitchens, the toilet (which Kerri always enjoys trying out) the dungeon and the old St John the Evangelist chapel. Of course there’s a gift shop in the grounds so I bought my customary fridge magnet (I’m rapidly running out of space for them now, and could do with a double doored fridge) Of course I took loads of photos which you can see via the enclosed photo album. We made our way back to Skipton station and luckily our train to Bradford Forster Square was in.

Travelling on these electric Siemens trains is an experience in itself. They are electric, so they are whisper quiet in operation, lovely and comfortable though they are beginning to look well used now, although we both can remember when they were brand spanking new. I think they were the first trains we ever travelled on that used the tannoy system (and the scrolling info boards in each carriage) which state the next station, and at the end of your journey, the usual ‘this train terminates here, please take all your belongings with you’ to which Kerri always adds ‘especially your knickers’ (yes, I have to hear it every time, and she still finds it hilarious. The joke has kind of worn off for me..) It’s from this particular train that you can visit not only Skipton but also Keighley and Worth Valley railway and also Saltaire which is a world heritage site. So quite a well used route! Enjoy all of my photos of our day.

 

TG                                 (this blog is composed, formatted and edited in Windows Live Writer.)

Journey to Wales and back again.

On Wednesday, we set off on a rail excursion to Wales, an area I have never visited before in my life. It’s been quite a while since we enjoyed one of these excursions, our old providers Green Express railtours are sadly no more. This particular excursion was being run by Compass Tours, a new company to us. Picking up from our station at 06.10am meant that Kerri and I were trundling through town with all of our gear in the early hours of the morning. There were plenty of other early travellers who turned up on the platform eventually, including many familiar faces from the old Green Express tours days.

Obtain a token to pass...

The train arrived on time and we all knew the drill by now, get on and then walk down to your assigned coach (in this case E.) All carriages were well looked after, and our steward for the day Dave introduced himself and then promptly disappeared. We had lot’s of stops to do in order to pick up other passengers all the way down to Crewe,  but eventually we began the journey along the single line track known as The Heart of Wales’ railway. On this line, the driver had to obtain a token at various stretches of the line in order to continue along the route. The vista viewed as we travelled along was breath-taking, with high hills and valleys spread out before us on both sides of the train. Fields dotted with sheep and their lambs scampering away as our train passed them by. Babbling brooks meandered along the same route as ours, twisting this way and that. I did makes some attempt to take plenty of shots of it all through the window which thankfully had been thoroughly cleaned, but as always its not easy and many were very blurred.

rolling hills of Wales

We arrived at Cardiff approximately on time at 14.30pm and it was a relief to disembark the train and stretch our legs. Now where to go? It’s always difficult whenever you visit a strange venue to know where to go and which direction to set off in. Unlike our previous tours, there had been no brochures on our tables to help you plan a route around your intended destination. As you never have a lot of time to explore on these day excursions, this small detail was always an aid for planned exploration of a strange venue, and was therefore sadly missed by everyone who had done these journeys previously. We headed off in the same direction as everyone else seemed to be heading and then spent the next hour or so wandering aimlessly through shopping precincts and malls and the like before finally asking someone the directions to Cardiff Castle.

The Castle gate

We have visited many castles the length and breadth of the UK, and Cardiff Castle has to rate amongst one of the best. Firstly after making our way through a door in the left side of the castle wall, we toured around some beautifully decorated rooms complete with ornate carvings especially around the fireplaces. One room in particular was breath-taking in its carvings which adorned the walls and ceiling. Trouble is having wasted time previously, we couldn’t linger around to admire it all or visit every attraction in the castle, so we made our way across to the central tower, passing some birds of prey demonstration along the way.

Decorated ceiling inside the castle

The central tower was surrounded by a moat, currently occupied by a few ducks. Its foundations were covered in golden daffodils and the entire sight looked absolutely fantastic in the sun. Kerri was none too keen to climb all of the steps up to the tower, but she managed it and also some of the steps inside the tower, eventually calling a halt to sit inside one of the many archer slits whilst I continued on to the top of the tower to enjoy a magnificent view of the surrounding parkland. Ever mindful of the time, we both descended into the grounds where many were making the best of the sunshine. We were enjoying a spectacular day weather-wise and I remarked that we had not seen one cloud in the sky all day so far.

Surrounded by a moat

We had already purchased our souvenirs at the Castle gift shop but as we exited the castle gate and crossed the road we spied another gift shop where Kerri could have bought a t-shirt that wouldn’t bury her and I saw a much greater choice of fridge magnets. Patience is a virtue! We slowly made our way down the road towards the railway station, where we enjoyed a Burger King meal for our tea. Arriving in the station with some time to spare, I found the next book in the ‘Game of Thrones’ series that I am busy ploughing through and bought it alongside a packet of Randoms for the journey home. We made our way up to Platform 4 to await our train. At approximately 18.10 it pulled in and we all clambered on board to take our seats.

Kerri sits this climb out.

Everyone began to swop tales of where they’d been and what they had done and seen. The lady sat opposite had lost her husband and went to look down the train for him. When on a train excursion, staff always remind everyone that they will cannot wait and if anyone misses the train because they turn up late, they would have to make their own way home. Thankfully he arrived in the nick of time and we set off on the long journey back.  Once it became dark outside the return journey became tedious. There was no longer any glorious countryside whizzing past to grab your interest, but at long last we began to drop off other travellers along the way and eventually after what seemed a journey of eternity,  we arrived back at our little station at 23.36pm. Two of our friends from previous train excursions offered to kindly give us a lift home from the station and we gladly accepted their offer.

 

We had enjoyed a wonderful day out visiting an area I had never been to before in my life. I do hope you enjoy the photos I took along the way, and I also hope its not long before we are once again setting off on another train excursion to somewhere as equally exciting.

TG

Our visit to Scarborough

As the weather promised to be blustery but sunny, we decided that Tuesday was to be the day of our visit to Scarborough. Despite the fact that is was still very windy, we threw caution to the winds (pun intended) and took a ride on top of one of the open topped buses. We must have resembled a poor man’s Batman and Robin with our raincoats billowing out behind us as we braved the winds atop of the bus! At least there were blue skies and some sunshine peeping through them.

Continue reading

My visit to Scotland. Over the sea to Arran.

Over the sea to the Isle of Arran

We set off fairly early on Sunday morning as it was a fair drive to Ardrossan where we were to board the ferry to Arran. As it turned out , Cl and Cr considered that it was too expensive to take the car across (£60 for the car and £9.50 per person according to the lady in the booking office) so we left it in the car park, being assured by the lady that there was a bus service available of Arran.

Continue reading

My Visit to Scotland. Saturday.

Entrance to Balloch ParkAs Cl was working on the Saturday, it was decided that we would pay Balloch Country park a visit.  My son had taken us there the very first time we went up to Scotland, and I was eager to see it  again but this time in its summer dressage instead of a chilly October.  There was supposedly a Fair of some kind taking place, so that gave an added incentive to pay a visit to this lovely park which is situated right at the side of Loch Lomond. 

Continue reading