The first part of the week was spent on a break with my brother’s family in the Lake District so work this week was limited to:-
Thursday: Mercedes A200d, Leicester to Enderby, Leics and Mercedes E220d Estate Auto, Leicester to Nottingham
Friday: Nissan Juke, Leicester to Bognor Regis, West Sussex
The trip to the Lakes entailed some interesting driving in my own time. The journey up there was quite dramatic as we negotiated the A66 from Scotch Corner to Penrith in snow. The outside lane was covered and we slowed right down, plodding along through a blizzard. I have crossed the country on the A66 a few times in the past year and it is dramatic whatever the weather. A great scenic route – if you have the opportunity, try it.
The next day there was a complete change in the weather, brilliant sunshine and almost mild. The wind was a little fierce at times and one of my young nephews thought it smelt of chicken!?? We had a great drive from Keswick to Buttermere via Newlands, Birkrigg and Keskadale then back over the Honister Pass. Narrow lanes, hairpin bends, steep inclines and stunning scenery. Fabulous. In between, we had a wonderful walk around Buttermere, a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. Then there were welcome hot drinks in one of the cafes that the village of Buttermere has to offer. The drinks included hot Butterbeers for my nephews!
On our return from the Lakes, we stopped at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden – a National Trust property and UNESCO World Heritage Site near Ripon in North Yorkshire. I am amazed that this place is not more well-known in the UK. The ruins of Fountains Abbey are huge, the remains of a vast complex built up by Cistercian monks over a period of 400 years until the abbey was closed down by Henry VIII in 1539. The abbey is set in a picturesque valley with the River Skell flowing around and under the buildings. There is also the Elizabethan/Jacobean Fountains Hall, a mill and other estate buildings to explore.
The small green valley, like a broad fairway on a golf course, leads away from the abbey. On one side of the valley is the River Skell set against a backdrop of trees; on the other, a cliff of yellow rock eventually gives way to woodland. About half a mile down the valley you come to Studley Royal Water Garden. This testament to wealth and flamboyance was created in the 18th century by a former politician, John Aislabie, who also purchased the abbey ruins to incorporate into his estate. The water garden comprises ornamental canals, ponds, lawns, follies, statues, tunnels and a lake. Beyond the lake is a large deer park. Although on a grand scale, the simple lines of the water garden make it a restful place which can be enjoyed close up or from a path on a ridge overlooking the valley. At one point on this elevated path is “Surprise View” which affords a spectacular vista back up the valley to the abbey ruins in the distance.
This is a stunning place for a day out and I cannot recommend it highly enough. There are good walks to be had and a modern National Trust visitor centre with the usual shop and restaurant (great Red Thai Squash soup!).