Harlow Carr Garden Harrogate, formerly the top trials garden and base of the Northern Horticultural Society was taken over by The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in 2001. It is now a top class garden and visitor attraction with many new features. This is a result of volunteers hard work and from the capital investment by RHS, the nations top gardening charity. If you think this picture is a bit fishy for a garden then you may be surprised at the other modern sculpture that is being progressively introduced into Harlow Carr.
The gardens once were part of the Forest of Knaresborough, an ancient royal hunting ground. In 1734 sulphur springs were discovered on the site and remain beneath the present Limestone Rock Garden. The Streamside Garden, Scented Garden and Gardens through Time are worth a visit but the latest attraction is the new Alpine House with an extensive range of small but interesting Alpine plants.
Harlow Carr is moving with the times and is building a large new ‘green construction’ learning centre to support the educational remit of the RHS. This will incorporate an enlarged library but free book loans are still available from the existing library for RHS members. If you want more dynamic gardeners tips to help you in your own garden click here on the web. Continue reading →
As the leaves leave the trees it is easier for the amateur birder to see the birds for the woods. That is not strictly necessary at Hellifield where there are good open views.
The Hellifield Flash is an area of open floodwater between Hellifield and Long Preston. Flash is Yorkshire dialect for a pond in a field! In this case ‘The Flash’ or more specifically three flashes are important birding sites particularly for migrating species.
Hellifield Flash or Gallaber Pond is the largest then Dunbars with the smallest known as Little Dunbars. The Hellifield Flashes provide habitat for wild fowl and migratory birds as the ground seldom dries out completely. There is little vegetation other than rushes so the birds can see the ponds as they migrate donw the Aire valley.
This important zone provides a sanctuary for many species on the RSPB red list together with breeding species around the edges and in adjacent fields.
Visiting Hellifield Flash
Approaching from Skipton on the A59, pass through Hellifield and after the loop layby on the left look for a line of large sycamore trees which straddle the road. Park on the right under the trees and watch the birds with a telescope.
A public footpath runs across fields from Hellefield to Long Preston passing the line of trees and is identified by a stile in the stone wall. It is possible to watch from here without disturbing the birds.
Autumn and winter can be good but the birds are often disturbed by wildfowlers.
The spring and autumn passage March-June and July-Septemeber may allow you to see Dunlin, Ruff, Whimbrel, Sandpipers, or the waders. Swifts, Swallows,Fieldfasre and a variety of Gulls also feed locally.
The birdlife is monitored regularly by the RSPB and features high on the ‘must visit’ list of ornithologists.
More Unusual Bird Species Seen at Hellifield Flash
Red Knot, Grey Plover, Little stint, Godwits, Spotted Redshank and Turn Stone.
In winter there may be an occasional Whooper Swan, Tundra Swan, Common Pochard, Greater Scaup and White fronted Goose.
Grèbe by bpmm CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Ruddy Shelducks by Sergey Yeliseev CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Oystercatcher by Marko_K CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Whooper Swans by Richard Towell CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Christopher Timothy was one of three actors to play Alf Wight the real James Herriot. This picture was taken in the garden of Alf’s Thirsk house and surgery that is now a gem of a museum and testament to Veterinary surgery and James Herriot memorabilia.
Staffed by several garrulous local ladies my weekend visit was a bigger pleasure than I expected even though the market town was thronged due to the local Thirsk races.
James Herriot books were printed in over 20 languages and spawned feature films and the long running TV series set in the Yorkshire Dales. Filmed largely around Askrigg the real vets practice was in Thirsk but it was the Yorkshire farmers and families that provided the stories that made the series so popular. Alf’s real son Jim Wight has written an affectionate and illuminating biography of his father The Real James Herriot ‘A thoroughly entertaining book, well written by the man who knew “James Herriot” best, his son.It brings to life the man behind the stories and his son has described with love and affection the man who was his father.’ from a review by K E Beckett.
Askrigg in Wensleydale was the home of Skeldale House for theTV series, where vet James Herriot lived. The Kings Arms made many appearances as the Drover’s Arms as did the village’s tall houses and narrow, cobbled streets that are centred around the 13th centuary St Oswald’s Church. Askrigg was noted for hand knitting and clock making and there is an ancient bull-baiting ring still set in the village square next to the market cross and stone pump. Both Thirsk and Askrigg are well worth a trip or weekend away.
Mrs Pumphrey and Tricky Woo from The World of James Herriot.
So much for our summer 2012 ‘it was grand weather for ducks’ as my grandfather was wont to say. It is still not too late to enjoy a short break in one of our national parks or resorts, even Harrogate or Sheffield may help with some early Christmas shopping.
Birds Enjoying a Staycation at RSPB hotspot Bempton Cliff
To some ‘Staycation’ is a relatively new word combining the words ‘stay’ and ‘vacation’ but a staycation has been common practice in many Yorkshire households for generations. Dales farmers could no more leave their animals than they could convert to Lancastrianism. Industrial workers from Sheffield and Doncaster or miners from the pit villages would be over the moon with a seaside holiday but far more people just didn’t have the brass. There were no sunshine Hotspots on the ‘Costa Whatnot’ for these Yorkshire folk.
All that is changing and Yorkshire offers some great staycation locations and the odd hotspot for visitors and Tykes alike. For southerners and other visitors to the county here is a quick view or review of some seaside towns where you can expect exceptional hospitality.
Yorkshire Seaside Staycation Hotspots
Whitby – ‘Fish, Chips and Goths!’ Bridlington – ‘Up and Coming Back’
Flamborough – ‘Heading in the Right Direction’ Robin Hood’s Bay – ‘Walkers Paradise’ Filey – ‘Who says we don’t do Illuminations?’ Hornsey – ‘Pottery About’ Withernsea -’Twighlight Zone’ Scarborough – ‘Staycation Hotel’
Flamborough Head by Stephen & Claire Farnsworth CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Coast to Coast Walk England – 300 km from the Irish to the North Sea by dirk huijssoon CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Filey Seafront by johncooke CC BY 2.0
Hornsea Beach by histman CC BY 2.0
An english summer at the beach by mark lorch CC BY-NC 2.0
Battering by Steve Sawyer CC BY-NC 2.0
Battering is not only what happens to the fish caught to go with your Yorkshire chips but it can be what the weather does to our coastline. Visit Yorkshires hotspot coast before it erodes into the sea.
I wanted to use this photo at Robin Hood’s Bay as it set me in mind to have my own ‘Pubcation’ on the coast in the near future.
We all learn in different ways and with our senses used in differing proportions.
There may be more than a grain of truth in Edgar Allan Poe saying….“Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.” but that would be an indictment of our teachers, lecturers and parents from whom we pick up so much.
York has taken the experiential route to letting visitors get to know more about it’s history. The top attraction at Yorvik Viking centre is a major experience of hands on learning. The approach to archeology and the history of churches in York is also helping further the cause.
I have been on the ‘walk and talk tours’ of York to ‘learn’ about the ghosts and you do pick things up by osmosis even if the ghosts are just that ‘ghostly’. A better tour is the open topped bus with a bit of commentary linked to what you are looking at.
Museums have moved on during the last 20 years and the profession of curating has grown in stature. The use of audio technology, links to the exhibits via graphics and panels adds to the fun and knowhow being demonstrated.
When all is said and done you can also pick up a book that helps you delve deeper into the history of a subject. Start with an open mind and consider who is writing and for what purpose. The books selected below are not primarily for entertainment, as ‘orrible ‘istories would be, but are based on years of research, experience and learned study.
In Summary if You Want to Know More About York History
Look and listen with an inquiring mind and think about the context of what you are learning.
Experience York through your own visit and customise a trip that suits you. You learn more when experience is appropriate and you are in a positive frame of mind.
I guess Edgar Alan Poe was thinking about politicians and the media when he could have said believe nothing that you hear even if it is on TV.
Botanical tree gardens seem to thrive in North Yorkshire where we have the Kew Arboretum at Castle Howard and a replanted arboretum at Burton Constable. However one of the best Arboreta in Europe is Thorp Perrow, just a few miles from Bedale and the A1. Thorp Perrow for me is better than Westonbirt in Gloucestershire for variety, layout and the availability of information. I bought a catalogue for less than £4 listing and positioning 2400 different tree species together with maps and location within the arboretum, common names and origin of many of the other 15,000 trees.
Trees from the 16th and 17th Centuries include the impressively named ‘Catherine Parr Oak’ whilst a young oak was planted for George V’s Jubilee. There is an old saying about oaks living for 900 years, ’300 years a growing, 300 years a staying and 300 years a dying.’ The Pinetum was planted around 1850′s during the ownership of Lady Augusta Milbank. Most of the more recent development took place during the life of the then owner Colonel Sir Leonard Roper 1895-1977.
In keeping with the traditions of a botanic garden there are several National Plant Collections (NCCPG) including Ash, Lime, Walnut, Laburnum and Cotinus . The range of hydrangeas exceeds 60 varieties and is worth a visit on their own.
There is a Bark Park that I missed and must go back to see, Holly Glades, Autumn bays and Acer glades that look brilliant in the late summer sunshine.
Return to See Bark Park
I first visited in 2009 and have revisited in 2012. Not surprisingly the lay our and content is virtually the same. Most trees are three year older but when you are already a champion tree that will not say much.
The Bark park area is developing nicely and there are some great barks to see on trees in other areas. Next time I will come in winter when the bark will really stand out.
I will also be able to see more lables and relate them to the comprehensive catalogue.
Added Features at Thorp Perrow
There is a large range of activities throughout the year many based on the Falconry where birds are flown 3 times a day. There are mammals to amuse the children including Meercats and Wallabies (those well known Yorkshire inhabitants) and wooden red Squirrels.
The tearoom at the entrance/exit provides good bacon butties and I trust there is no connection to the near by pet Cemetery with stones commemorating long dead pets from 1800.
Lakes, Islands, bog gardens, wood sculptures and a small flower garden all seem to move with the times and new plantings and features are added each year. In 2012 the small nursery looks like it might fold. It certainly needs reinventing.
For details of entry visit Thorpperrow.com. If you are a member of the RHS entrance is free during September and at certain other times of the year.
We would probably all agree that the whole of Yorkshire is an area of outstanding natural beauty but some areas are more outstanding than others!
We have the three National Parks covering the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors and parts of The Peak District National Park all with outstanding scenery and an abundance of visual delight. Not to take away from these national parks we also have precious landscapes with distinctive character and natural beauty in three further areas. These are designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or AONB’s for short.
Since the ‘National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act of 1949′ there have been 33 English AONB’s created three of which are all or partially in Yorkshire. They are areas deemed to be so outstanding that it is in the nation’s interest to safeguard them and that is what AONB status seeks to do.
The hills are formed on Jurassic limestone that gives the landscape its character and irregular 600 foot ridges. They are set between York and Pickering as a southern extension of the rocks of the North York Moors.
In addition to the green agricultural plains there is a rich tapestry of wooded hills and valleys, pastures and rolling farmland with dramatic views.
Head for the high moorland on the edge of Great Whernside and the source of the river Nidd then down to Pateley Bridge. Follow the river course through lush green meadow via Brimham Rocks and the sights down to Knaresborough. There is lots to do see and visit in Nidderdale including Studley Royal and the picturesque ruins of Fountains Abbey.
Forest of Bowland
Parts of the riding of North Yorkshire lies within it’s boundaries and you can start a tour from Slaidburn or Settle to visit the important heather moorland and bog.
A large part of the site is also specially protected as a site of special scientific interest. It is home to many insect species and the birds who feed in the area.
The predominantly Lancastrian rivers of Ribble, Hodder, Wyre and Lune pass through the Trough of Bowland.
I hope this gives you the incentive to visit or revisit these AONB’s. Some of the villages and sites are well worth exploring for a day or a on a more protracted leisurely and peaceful stay.
The Arboretum Trust is a joint venture charity between Kew Gardens and Castle Howard.
Set in 150 acres of fine Yorkshire landscape of tranquility and beauty, the arboretum is tucked away in the Howardian Hills. It is 15 miles north east of York just off the A64 and whilst opened to the public for only 13 years it has been a long time in the growing.
Where do the Trusts Trees Come From?
1. The earliest trees of rare and interesting subjects are either historically important, original introductions or propagated by cuttings or grafting from such plants. The site was first surveyed in 1563! “In the first decades of the eighteenth century, it was a highly praised and very early example of a woodland garden, predating the English taste for the Picturesque by almost a generation. In 1710, it was described by Thomas Player as “a most natural wood, cut through with winding paths and decorated with summer houses, cascades and statuary……”
2. There are the many attractive plants that have benefited from the expertise at Kew such as the acid loving plants like the Red Maple, Acer rubrum ‘October Glory’. These trees look particularly pleasing and colourful in autumn.
3. The majority of trees have been raised from seed originally collected on numerous expeditions. They have been augmented by the Kew, Howick, Sunningdale and Wakehurst nurseries.
All of the collection including over 800 rhododendrons are documented on a detailed Plant Records Database. Like a similar list from Thorpe Perrow this document contains a vast amount of information for each individual plant.
Wild life benefit from the environment of mature and developing trees. There are thousands of butterflies, dragonflies and small mammals to look out for. Around the lakes are many species of birds that can also be watched from a special observatory.
Cleckheckmondsedge is Yorkshire shorthand for an area that comprises of three west riding towns, Cleckheaton, Heckmondwike and Liversedge.
Liversedge was named in the domesday book and now comprises several smaller village areas, Norristhorpe originally called Dog gus, Roberttown, Millbridge at the centre and Flush where the woollen mills stood. Towards Cleckheaton are the settlements of Hightown, Littletown and Popeley Hill. Liversedge spans the sides of the Spen Valley.
Note in 1066 a ‘sedge’ was an allium type vegetable called a ‘nonion’ hence a popular Yorkshire dish Liver………
Yorkshire folk are not shy and retiring when it comes to extolling the virtues of ‘God’s Own County’ and we encourage visitors to share some of our passion. But there is more to a stay in Yorkshire for your holidays than a quick drive around ‘The Dales’. Here are 3 different ideas to consider.
South Yorkshire has a heritage based on steel and coal and whilst the sites and sights are rapidly disappearing there is still a lot of recent history to investigate. Kelham Island Museum and Abbeydale hamlet are worth a visit (not to mention the great camera pub The Kelham Island Tavern). There is also Wortley Top Forge with Working Water Wheels, Stationary Steam Engines, Large Mill Engine & Free Guided Tours. You do not have to stay in a small cottage there are good bed and breakfasts and former mill owners mansions to consider as well.
Cottages by The Sea
Well not quite by the sea because I would recommend the cliffs on the East Coast at locations such as Staithes, Flamborough Head, Robin Hoods Bay or inland at Hinderwell. These are great bases to explore the walking on moor or coastal paths. You could try the Lyke Wake Walk or better still settle for learning the Lyke Wake Dirge
‘THIS yah neet, this yah neet,
Ivvery neet an’ all,
Fire an’ fleet an’ cannle leet,
An’ Christ tak up thy saul.’
TV Nostalgia Holidays
What is your TV programme of choice? Do you want to stay in Darrowby with the vet or Emmerdale with the need for a vet. Is it Aidensfield that gets your heart beating or a trip to the Royal to get your heart restarted? I would suggest you base yourself in a Market Town and experience the local hospitality and hostelries. Richmond, Thirsk, Pickering, Malton or Otley are all places I would consider as a base. Perhaps it is Last of the Summer Wine and Holmfirth that will float your boat but whatever you fancy give Yorkshire a break this year.