Favourite York Churches to Discover

St Cuthberts

York St Cuthbert St Helen on the Walls and All Saints Peasholme is some mouthful of a name for a Church Administrative unit. Now working with St Michael le Belfrey, St Cuthbert’s is currently applying for planning permission to improve the external appearance of the surrounding grounds. Who said this Administrative unit was not in use today. Reputedly the oldest parish church in York it was reconstructed by Saxons using roman masonry.

Viking Dig

St Saviour’s Church, St Saviourgate which like many other churches in York has been re-purposed and is now put to a community and educational use. If you use a snickelway down the side of Fibbers in Stonebow you get an unusual view of St Saviour’s church demonstrating how in medieval times the church was built on a  hill.

St Michael le Belfry

St Michael’s le Belfrey was rebuilt between 1525 and 1537, during King Henry VIII’s break with Rome. John Forman, the Minster’s master mason was responsible for the Tudor gothic style with renaissance influence. It was, and still is, the largest parish church in the city, originally serving a wealthy community of merchants and craftsmen. Furnishings are nineteenth century, pews and reredos with 14th century glass in East window. Guy Fawkes was baptised at this church. It is within a few yards of The Minster.

Olaves Gate

This Marygate church, St Olave’s, was badly damaged during the Civil War. The font dates from 1673 and there is some medieval glass in the center of the east window

The Parish church of All Saints in North Street is my favourite church in York although there are many to choose from. All Saints is renown for it’s medieval stained glass windows that date from as early as 1330. The octagonal tower and spire were built around 1390 and is the second tallest in York after the minster. The 12 bells in the tower were used to ring 1260 changes in less than an hour in 2007 and this is commemorated in the bell ringers area.

To create your own tour of York churches you could also visit:

  • Holy Trinity Goodramgate,with box pews and an entrance through a small leafy garden in the heart of the city.
  • St Mary Castlegate for pre-conquest masonry,
  • Holy Trinity Micklegate part of a Benedictine priory church founded in 1089,
  • St Helen St Helen’s Square is named after the mother of Constantine the Great ,
  • St Martin-Le-Grand Coney Street which was badly bombed during the second world war.

See also Gods own County top ten West Riding Churches and top North Riding Churches

London for Yorkshire Folk


This is t’missus swimming with Dolphins on the Thames.

Local fish and chips turned out to be Eels and mash so we didn’t recon much to that.
As for the price of Beer!!! I know this is the capital but it’s punishment.
Still near Tottenham Court Road tube the is an Angel with reasonably priced Sam Smiths in an Edwardian pub setting that hasn’t been spoilt be refurbishment for yonks.

As they say you can always tell a Yorkshireman in London – but you can’t tell him much. With all the tourists asking us for directions it was worse than York on a bank holiday.

Note Ferrets are frowned on in London but Fayed flogs fancy ferrets at Harrods.


  • The Yorkshire Grey is a favourite pub in Fitzrovia. It’s a Sam Smith’s pub so the beers are reasonably priced and the bar staff are very pleasant for southerners and Australians.
  • The Cittie of Yorke Holborn grade ll listed Sam Smiths watering hole.
  • Duke of York  Harrowby Street Marylebone reopened in March 2017

Seven Man Made Wonders of Yorkshire – Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey (44)

Our World Heritage Site at Fountains Abbey is the UK’s largest monastic ruin and a fine start to our seven wonders of Yorkshire. It is the most complete example of Cistercian abbey remains in the country.

A riot at St Mary’s Abbey in York led to the founding of Fountains Abbey in 1132. After pleading unsuccessfully to return to a more devout form of worship based on 6th century Rule of St Benedict, 13 monks were exiled and taken into the protection of the then Archbishop of York. He provided them with a site in the valley of the little River Skell described as a place “more fit for wild beasts than men to inhabit”.

Fountains Abbey thrived and the economic power was felt far and wide with activities including farming, lead mining, quarrying and horse breeding. I bet the monks never thought of tourism that is today’s main activity alongside a herd of deer. Then a series of mishaps including bad harvests, Scots raids, and the Black Death exacerbated by the effects of financial mismanagement saw a significant downturn in the abbeys fortunes. By the time of Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th Century the abbey started to loose its power.

Fountains Abbey

Studely Royal

In 1767 the ruins were sold to William Aislabie, who landscaped the site and added a folly and improved water gardens that form the basis for Studley Royal.
The man made building and rebuilding over the centuries has resulted in a mosaic of architectural styles.
To become a world heritage site Fountains abbey displayed the criteria of being ‘a masterpiece of human creative genius, and an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates significant stages in human history’.

Octagon Tower at Fountains Abbey

Also See 7




Dry Stone Walls

Ruined Abbeys

All the posts on seven Wonders of Yorkshire

Bird Watching another Seven Wonders of Yorkshire

    • The walls of its ruins act as a cliff face for a colony of nesting Jackdaws. Fountains is also one of the best spots in the North of England for some of our song birds smallest birds. Hawfinches can be seen in winter months and waterfowl on the lake all year round.
    • Between April- July Find yourself a quiet spot just beside the Abbey and watch out for Goldcrests, Coal Tits, and Great Tits.’
    • Studely park is owned by the National Trust and contains mature parkland and deciduous trees and the water features.


Photo credits
Fountains Abbey (44) by roblz.com CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Fountains Abbey by flying_tiger CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Octagon Tower at Fountains Abbey by and in 9th place.CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
churches by dvdbramhall CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 ‘By St. Mary’s, Studley Royal, in the Deer Park adjacent to the grounds of Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire. The church was built between 1870 and 1878, The architect – as at Skelton on Ure – was William Burges.’

Newby Hall Gardens for Cornus & Interesting Plants

Newby hall

Back in 2009 I took a trip to see the Gardens and plants at Newby Hall. This photograph fails to do the gardens justice but see them in full flower on their web site.  Sylvia’s garden area was in fine form except for the walkway. Until recently the walkway was flanked by special beds of red Roses of Lancaster opposite the White Roses of York to commemorate the Wars of the Roses. Sadly these Roses got rose sickness and had to be replaced. Why on earth Olive trees have been selected to replace them I do not know (it still isn’t time to offer an Olive branch to our old foes.) It also seems to follow that children visiting in future will not be taught (by sight smell and notice board) about our traditional ‘Roses rivalry’.

Following the Rose theme there were some sculptures around the garden and I called this Dog Rose.

Dog rose
Whilst this was called ‘No Bark or Rose on Addingham moorside.’

dog sculpture

It is fitting that a National Collection of Cornus is held at Newby Hall as they are also called Dog Woods or Flowering Dogwoods. These trees and shrubs were worth visiting on their own and I was taken with the whole garden and would recommend a mid week visit. I guess the children’s attractions including a miniature railway will make it a busy spot at weekends.
There is a leaflet about the Plant Heritage National Collection at Newby Hall & Gardens called Cornus Trail. It highlights 15 specific trees and shrubs from over 100 individuals in 5 different beds.


This fine specimen was at least 40 foot tall and was covered in white floral bracts down to ground level. Many of the feature dogwoods were tiered like a wedding cake and looked in great form in the middle of May 2009. An interesting place to visit with something for everyone. I didn’t go inside the house so can’t comment on Georgian elegance of the Christopher Wren Richard Adams combo.

Sunken garden

2012 is the time to visit or in my case revisit to see the gardens and plants at Newby Hall near Ripon.
27 May 2012 as threatened I revisited and despite the strong sun that burned out some of the colour here are some more photographs from Newby Hall Garden.

Newby Hall gardens Strawberry
Newby Gardens flowers on a Strawberry

Newby Hall gardens Azalea
Scented Azalea Lutea in Newby Gardens

Newby Hall gardens 2012 194
Primula by the pond Newby Gardens.

Newby Hall gardens 2012 090

Bluebells of Yorkshire

Bluebells in Woods

In your garden bluebells are fine in April and May and disappear underground for 8 months of the year. However the leaves can be a soggy mess for one month after flowering.
If you want tips on how to keep garden bluebells tidy see Gardeners Tips


Our Favourite Bluebell Locations

  • Middleton Woods Ilkley – divine scent drifting above the river Wharfe
  • Nostell Priory – bluebells  line the old paths.
  •  Hardcastle Crags- the woodland floor is covered with bluebells in spring.
  • Newton Woods and Roseberry Topping for a wilder environment
  • Freeholders’ Wood  Wensleydale

White bluebells

Bluebells also come in white perhaps in tribute to our own Yorkshire Rose!
If you know of any other Bluebell walks or interesting locations please let us know.

Best Yorkshire Falconry Sites


The best Yorkshire falconry locations for demonstration, education and sport include the following:

Falconry UK

    • This birds of prey and conservation centre is in Thirsk North Yorkshire near the Busby Stoop pub.
    • 70 birds from 30 species including eagles, falcons, hawks, kites, vultures and owls are on display in an English garden setting.
    • Mothers day specials and personal event days can be organised.
    • Falconry UK works with the ambulance service.

Thorpe Perrow Falconry and Birds of Prey

      • Thorp Perrow Arboretum, Woodland Garden, Bird of Prey & Mammal Centre covers a large area near Bedale
      • Regular flying demonstrations demonstrate the breathtaking ability of eagles, falcons, hawks, vultures and owls from around the world,
      • There is a new mammal area and a tea room that I enjoyed after a long walk around the gardens.
      • Thorpe Perrow


Yorkshire Dales Falconry Centre and Hawk Experience

      • Set amongst the limestone around Settle on the road to Austwick. The birds get to fly over Feizor.
      • The Falconry Centre housed around 35 birds of prey including various species of Eagles,
        Vultures, Hawks, Falcons
      • For over 20 years they have given visitors a glimpse into the sport of falconry and helped repopulate birds of prey in various countries.
      • A compact site that offers good value


SMJ Falconry

      • Provide personal tuition and great days out in the Yorkshire Dales hunting with their birds.
      • They also provide training for the Lantra Beginning Falconry Award.
      • A small family venture based in Oxenhope link

Coniston Falconry

      • At Coniston Cold you can become the falconer with an exclusive experiences. They are not cheap but don’t open to the public and are by appointment only.
      • The experienced and professional falconers offer insights in to species and individual characters of each of the 20 or so birds and the ancient hunting sport of falconry.
      • The Coniston Estate is also home to The Coniston Hotel and the Coniston shooting ground. For the sake of the birds I hope they don’t mix the two.

Hooded Falcon

Flying High Falconry

      • Flying High Falconry was established in in Kettlewell in 2003 Link
      • They provide an opportunity to engage personally in the ancient art of hunting with trained birds of prey.
      • Start your days hunting with a hearty cooked breakfast at the Tennant Arms Hotel, Kilnsey


Yorkshire Hawking Club the Newton Arms Sprotbrough.
Lightwater Valley has a birds of prey area.
If we have missed your business or a falconry site please let us know via the comments and we will be happy to provide a link.
The British Falconers Club Yorkshire region.

Falcon by Ian Blacker CC BY-ND 2.0
Falcon by Thundershead CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Falcon by sonyaseattle CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Perigine Falcon
Hooded Falcon by hans s CC BY-ND 2.0
Falcon by Stephen & Claire Farnsworth CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Yorkshires top Twelve Birdwatching Sites


Book Cover

Falconry books available from Amazon

Parcevall Hall and Gardens

Parecvall Hall garden lies on a steep hillside near Appletreewick in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Built in 1582 as a farm house it is now a retreat leased to the Diocese of Bradford by the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. Extensively refurbished by Sir William Milner who bought the Parcevall Hall estate in 1927 he bequeathed the estate to the College of Guardians of the Shrine in 1960. Sir William was an architect and founder member and honorary director of the Northern Horticultural Society where he pioneered the establishment of Harlow Carr gardens, at Harrogate.

Not surprising with Sir Williams background and passion for plants that the grounds today are a wonderful Gardens for the public to visit. 24 acres of formal and woodland gardens command impressive views of Simon’s Seat and Wharfedale. These features and the many planted trees  create a microclimate that helps special plants to survive and thrive 800 feet above sea level. The view of the herbaceous border as you approach the house is flanked by two orchards of fruit trees containing some special Yorkshire apple varieties. All the hedges are neat and well maintained a tribute to the current head gardener and his helpers.
The Alpine garden at the rear of the house houses acid loving and limestone loving plants in close harmony due to the rocky out crops in this part of the Skyreholme valley. I also noted that the numerous Hostas had not suffered any slug damage and the gardener put it down to the birds having a good feed.

They were not the only ones having a good feed. In addition to the bees above, the cafe down by the car park was doing a roaring trade.

Despite the  ‘liquid sunshine’  during my visit these Helenium made up for any negative feelings and the whole trip was tranquil, educational and positive.  If you are invited on a retreat then it will undoubtedly be an experience. If you enjoy walking there are many places to visit close by including Trollers Gill, Stump Cross caves and Simons Seat. However for just an afternoon garden visit I can recommend the Parcevall Hall Gardens between May and August.

You can buy A Guide to Parcevall Hall by Heather M. Beaumont from Yorkshire at Amazon containing highlights from 1984.

‘As part of the retreat house and conference centre of the Church of England Diocese of Leeds it is available to private individuals as well as to religious and secular groups. Grade ll listed Parceval Hall can be booked for residential conferences and holidays or for day groups and evening functions.’

The gardens reopen after winter on 1st April

World Coal Carrying Championship at Gawthorpe Again

Every year the World Coal Carrying Championship is held in Yorkshire on Easter Monday. At Easter in Gawthorpe grown men l run the mile from The Beehive public house to the Royal Oak, known locally as t’Barracks , carrying a hundred weight sack of coal.  The 54th World Coal Carrying Championship is scheduled for Easter Monday 2017. Bookings

coal mens race 2

According to the organisers this is how the World Championship came about ‘Reggie Sedgewick and one Amos Clapham, a local coal merchant and current president of the Maypole Committee were enjoying some well-earned liquid refreshment whilst stood at the bar lost in their own thoughts. When in bursts one Lewis Hartley in a somewhat exuberant mood. On seeing the other two he said to Reggie, ” Ba gum lad tha’ looks buggered !” slapping Reggie heartily on the back. Whether because of the force of the blow or because of the words that accompanied it, Reggie was just a little put out.‘’ Ah’m as fit as thee’’ he told Lewis, ‘’an’ if tha’ dun’t believe me gerra a bagga coil on thi back an ‘ah’ll get one on mine an ‘ah’ll race thee to t’ top o’ t’ wood !’’ ( Coil, let me explain is Yorkshire speak for coal ). While Lewis digested the implications of this challenge a Mr. Fred Hirst, Secretary of the Gawthorpe Maypole Committee ( and not a man to let a good idea go to waste) raised a cautioning hand. ” ‘Owd on a minute,’’ said Fred and there was something in his voice that made them all listen. ‘Aven’t we been looking fer some’at to do on Easter Monday? If we’re gonna ‘ave a race let’s ‘ave it then. Let’s ‘ave a coil race from Barracks t’ Maypole.’

2009 was the 46th World Coal Carrying Championship and the BBC claim these facts about world champions
1. Window cleaners, builders and farmers are the most successful at winning the title
2. The best weight for an entrant to be is 10st 7lb
3. Competitors need to have strong legs and lungs

The sponsors are H.B.Clark independent brewers of Wakefield so a fourth fact  would be an appetite for beer.
coal female winner

Gawthorpe is between Dewsbury and Osset and also has a good May Day tradition. with dancing on the FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY EVERY YEAR. Gawthorpe itself can be dated back to the Romans and is believed to be named after a Viking Chief called “Gorky “. At the lower end of the village is an earth mound known as Fairy Hill. This is thought to be a Viking burial mound.

It is confirmed that a coal mine was established at Gawthorpe as long ago as 1366 during the reign of Edward III

Maypole dancing itself dates back as far as Richard II in England, and during the reign of Henry VIII reached most of the rural villages including Gawthorpe. Mayday itself became a public holiday until Oliver Cromwell (1649 – 1660) banned May Merrymaking and all such festivities. These were fortunately re-established by Charles II.

Photo credits
coal mens race 2 by SFB579 CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
coal female winner by SFB579 CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Langsett, Midhope Moor and Reservoir

History For Walkers, Birdwatchers and Cyclists

Previously known as Penisale, Langsett first appears in a charter of 1252 which tells of an agreement, whereby Walter de Houdham granted his whole manor at ‘Langside’ to Elias de Midhope now an area named Upper Midhope. It held a weekly market on a Tuesday until this was transferred to near-by Penistone.
Langsett reservoir was built between 1889 and 1905. It is around a mile long and supplies water to Sheffield and Barnsley.

Langsett Reservoir

Bird Watching Langsett Reservoir and Moor

The habitat like many Pennine reservoirs is surrounded by conifer plantations. There is extensive open heather moorland to the southwest which can be seen from the Low Moor view point.
For timing the autumn is good for Red Grouse and birds of prey. Spring and summer show most of the breeding species.
Species include a large range of ducks, Teals, Mallards and Tufted Ducks. Owls and wood peckers can often be seen and the fringes of the fields and moors have breeding meadow Pipits, Ouzels and occasional Twites.
Access from the village via a minor road sign posted Strines & Derwent valley which passes over the reservoir dam where you can watch the reservoir birds. Then move on through Upper Midhope, turn sharp right and park near a sign Privilege Footpath for Low Moor and views of the moors and paths through the woods.

Moorland Grouse

The Local Inn and Cafe

The yearly visit from Thurlston Brass Band to the Waggon and Horses takes place in June – (24th June 2012 from 12 until 5.)
Langsett independent film festival has been bringing people together for over 17 years to show and enjoy films at the inn.
The Waggon and Horses Inn is the watering hole of choice for walkers, birdwatchers, cyclists and local beer drinkers.
Langsett cafe has won cyclist cafe of the year chosen by local CTC members. ‘It serves good food at a very reasonable price and is very cyclist friendly.’


I like the vision of created by the Guardian ‘Gazing across the broad acres of Langsett Moor and the Thurlstone Moors towards the formerly “forbidden” Snailsden Moor at the head of the Holme Valley I was reminded of the words of Halliwell Sutcliffe (1870-1932). Though perhaps remembered best as a creator of historical romances, this son of the West Riding was a pioneer thinker on open access to the high country, for so long reserved exclusively for grouse shooting. He highlighted in A Benedick in Arcady the rules to be followed, tongue-in-cheek, by the “Complete Trespasser”. read the full article from a Country diary.

Photo and Other Credits
Langsett Reservoir by sheffieldhammer CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Moorland Grouse by timdifford ‘Photographs taken on a family stroll around Langsett Reservoir’ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
IMG_0835 by http://underclassrising.net/ CC BY-SA 2.0 A ‘look at The Haunted House on a Hill overlooking Penistone and Holmfirth then onto Langsett Bank Woods Moor, and reservoir Sheffield’

Yorkshires top Twelve Birdwatching Sites

Walk 1 around the reservoir and history
Yorkshire Water Langsett, Midhope Moor and Reservoir Walking.
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Visit Top Ten Gardens in Yorkshire

As the winter months loom larger I have picked out some Yorkshire gardens that have all year round interest for visitors. Then follows a review of the floral and special gardens you can plan to visit from Spring. This selection have free entry for members of the Royal Horticultural Society but have varied charges for the public.

Autumn & Winter Gardens

Thorp Perrow Arboretum and woodland garden has dramatic foliage through autumn and thousands of naturalised daffodils to see in spring. The old and venerable trees look majestic at any time and within the 100 acres there are 66 ‘Champion Trees’, that is the largest of their kind in Britain. Additionally there are 5 National Collections of Walnut, Limes, Ash, Cotinus and Laburnum. The birds of Prey and Mammal centre provides extra interest particularly when the fly the Falcons.
Ripley Castle Gardens are open until 4.30pm all year but the woods and views are the main winter features. The walled gardens contain amongst other items a national collection of Hyacinth so the scent is something to look forward too in May.
Wentworth Castle Gardens near Barnsley are shown in the photograph above. A deal of lottery and other funding has been spent on this garden in recent years and the pleached trees and stumpery are something to behold. A series of gothic follies and other structures enhance the viewing but for the fit a walk in the adjacent parkland is a bonus. If there was a speciality it is the acid loving collections of Rhododendrons, Camellias and Magnolias.
Ripley Castle Gardens are open all year except Christmas day.

Year Round Garden Visits

Harewood House gardens close at the end of October so it may have to be on the list to visit next year. It will open again in February. It will be interesting to see how the new Himalayan garden performs next spring. I expect to see plenty of Primulas as well as the old favourites. If it rains you can always visit the house or look at the various garden sculptures from the tea rooms.
A boutique garden that opens for the old gardeners charity Perennialis York Gate Garden in Adel. Laid out as 14 separate gardens in less than an acre it is bound to give you some inspiration and ideas for your own garden. Only open Thursday and Sunday afternoons it is well worth making the journey to see.
Parcevall Hall Gardens are open to the public from April to October and have 25 acres of formal and woodland garden. Some of the views of Wharfedale are spectacular but for me the prize area are the Rockery and Herbaceous beds.

In February it is a quiet time to visit these gardens but as spring starts to break out it can be a rewarding activity.

If this inspires you to renovate parts of your own garden it is still not too late to plant some Tulips for flowering in Spring 2010 from Thompson & Morgan. Gold and purple tulips in flower at RHS Harlow Carr Gardens (open all year).

Other Yorkshire Gardens to Visit

Scampston Hall walled gardens are worth a visit at Malton North Yorkshire
Millgate House in Richmond is only open in winter by appointment.
Thorp Perrow is open all year except for special event days.
Burnby Hall Gardens have great water lilies in summer
Burton Agnes Gardens have good but complex opening arrangements. Before traveling to far check out your timings.
Wentworth Castle garden is open all year.
Brodsworth Hall gardens are open all year except over Christmas.

Brodsworth Hall

To add plants to your own garden consider