Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Local Tourist - Part One - Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire

On our recent visit to Yorkshire we got to play one of my favourite games: The Local Tourist.

You know what it's like - when you're just getting on with your daily life, you tend to go to the same places, walk down the same streets, see the same buildings and do the same things day in, day out. You can be dodging crowds of tourists taking photos of something they clearly find hugely interesting and yet not even glance up to wonder what it is or why it's interesting - you're more concerned that they're in your way and might make you miss your bus.

It's rare that we take any time out of our busy lives rushing between home and work and the supermarket and the gym to just stop and look at what's actually around us. And yet there can be so much to see and do and learn about the things we rush past every day. So every now and then I enjoy taking off my "local" hat and putting on my "tourist" hat to try and find out more about the places I think I know so well.

Please note I do not actually own physical hats for these purposes, but am now extremely tempted to buy some. Especially if they were sparkly.

Anyways, yes, so I spent a couple of years living in Yorkshire and, well, obviously the Yorkshireman is quite familiar with the area too, so we could have filled our spare time on our recent visit doing the same old things we always used to do. Instead though we went exploring!

Our first adventure was to Bolton Abbey, which, in case you're as awesome at geography as I am, I should point out is nowhere near Bolton but rather near Skipton. We spent a night at the Yorkshireman's sister's gorgeous little house and she and her other half very kindly took us on a day trip the next day. He had clearly spent some time at Bolton Abbey in his youth because he was a very good tour guide, expertly taking us north-west along the river, warning us not to get too close to the Strid in case we fell to our inevitable deaths in the violently swirling water, and then guiding us back along a higher forest path in time for lunch.

After some pretty expensive yet mediocre food in the Cavendish Pavilion restaurant, we ventured in the opposite direction, down along the river. We wandered through the fields up to the Priory Ruins and the Priory Church of St Mary and St Cuthbert. The first stones were apparently laid way back in 1154! Then we had a bit of a nosy in the shops in the little village area and contemplated buying a book entitled Know Your Sheep, purely based on the title.

On the way back we avoided cow pats, made sure we closed all the country gates behind us and I tried not to chortle at the signs that warned you to keep your dog on a leash, unless of course you're chased by cattle, in which case you can apparently let the lead go. Not really a sign you see much in the city! By the time we got back to the car, we felt like we'd had a good workout, not to mention some much-needed fresh country air - there's not much of that in Belfast either admittedly.

It was actually a really lovely place to visit. I'd love to go back for a day and have a barbeque or a picnic. When we were walking up towards the shops, there was a spot by a stone wall that looked down on this gorgeous, tree-lined bend in the river, which led to a sort of pretend beach on the bank. Kids were happily paddling away in the ominously orange (iron-tinged) water whilst their parents looked on from towels and deckchairs on the side. It was all very idyllic. I could just imagine splashing my feet about in the cool water and then stretching out in the sun, reading a good book and enjoying an ice-cream. Although maybe not the latter actually - since when does a "99" cost £2?! So out of touch clearly.

Expensive food aside, I did thoroughly enjoy Bolton Abbey and would highly recommend it for a family day out or an interesting nature walk, with beautiful scenery and plenty to see and do.

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