"North Yorkshire." North Yorkshire by leics
North Yorkshire Travel Guide: 3,329 reviews and 8,476 photos
A Cistercian monastery, founded in 1132, Fountains Abbey is a wonderful and atmospheric place to visit. Set in the valley of the little River Skell, what was once one of the richest monastic houses in England lies in ruins and yet still retains its aura of tranquillity.
The abbey's wealth came originally from wool, for the monks introduced 'lay brothers' to work whilst they attended to their spiritual duties and this allowed the monastery to increase its production. By the middle of the 13th century the brothers not only kept huge flocks of sheep, but also smelted lead, worked iron, quarried stone and bred horses. Evidence for some of these activities can still be seen. The abbey was an obvious target for Henry Vlll and was dissolved in 1539, its land being sold on over the centuries until purchased by William Aislabie in 1767. It was Aislabie who incorporated the ruins into the landscaping of his water gardens. These, replete with temples, follies and hidden beauty, have been restored and both abbey and water gardens are now a World Heritage site.
The small town of Whitby built its wealth on the fishing industry (now sadly depleted). In summer it is full of visitors, its harbour buzzing with pleasure craft as well as fishing boats. In winter, however, you can still experience a little of what the town must have been like in the past.
The narrow, winding streets, steps and alleyways of the old town now contain a variety of shops, eating places and galleries (jet jewellery is a local craft, hugely popular in Victorian times but less fashionable nowadays). The imposing ruins of Whitby Abbey tower above, set high on the cliffs and exposed to all the elements.........inspiration for Bram Stoker's 'Dracula', for Whitby is where the Count's coffin is washed up.
The fossil-rich rocks which can be seen at Lyme Regis emerge here too, so that the cliffs around this coast are a rich (although potentially dangerous) hunting ground for amateur and professional alike. Whitby museum has excellent displays of local fossils, and the Magpie Cafe is justifiably famous for its fish and chips.
A small fishing village a few miles from Whitby, the tiny cottages of Robin Hood's Bay seem to tumble at random down the steep (1 in 3) cliffside. Some, indeed, have tumbled into the sea itself, before the present sea defences were built. A maze of alleyways and steps leads from 'streets' to tiny 'squares', every turn leading to a new vista.
It is not clear why the village is so-named.....before the 16th century it was not known as such. Smuggling was rife here in the 18th and early 19th centuries, a useful addition to the income from fishing. A network of tunnels and hideyholes lies under the village, and it is said that a bale of silk could travel from the harbour to the clifftop without seeing the light of day.
The cliffs here are full of fossils too, but beware the tides and rockfalls. A walk along clifftop or beach to nearby Ravenscar (supposedly, mad King George lll was sent here to recouperate) is an excellent way to spend a day, with much to see and enjoy.
- Pros:Landscape, walking, history, archaeology
- Cons:Some places can be crowded in season
- In a nutshell:Moorland, coast, history..what more can one ask?
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