Well it's been a long time getting here, too much illness, both mine and my son Mike, we very nearly lost him to a life threatening infection in his arm that required removal of flesh, he spent approximately two months in hospital and had to have plastic surgery. He is now slowly recovering.
So here is Part 4 :
Ripley Castle, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal
It is a nice day for the next part of our journey to Ripley Castle, just a few miles out of Ripon. The road passes through countryside again, and a couple of villages, it is a busy road, wider than most but still with bends to catch the unwary. It is lined with trees for the last mile or two, and most times as we pass by we will see one or two bunches of flowers and maybe a soft toy attached to one of the trees, a sad reminder marking the spot of a fatal accident. It seems people never learn, speeding round bends or overtaking on blind bends, the prominent sign beside the road recording how many accidents have occurred within the last 5 years might as well be invisible to some.
We reach a roundabout, to the left the road heads for Harrogate, the second exit leads into the village of Ripley and to the castle entrance. The castle has been lived in by the Ingilby family for 700 years, quite an achievement considering how easy it was to fall out of favour with the Kings of England in the early days and lose your castles and land as a result. The castle is open to the public and also the grounds and flower gardens. The last time I visited was when the ‘Sealed Knot’ society came to the castle, they dressed in the costumes and uniforms of the Royalist and Parliamentarians and staged a mock battle, complete with horses, rifles, cannons and pikes. They even had their camp followers, wives (and strumpets) who tended the wounded, and sometimes robbed the fallen. They even arranged to do a mock pike charge toward the spectators at the end, even knowing the roped off gap between them and us was wider than any pike, it was still quite a scary experience to stand one’s ground as those fearsome looking soldiers lowered their pikes and charged us whilst yelling their heads off!.
Time for a sit down and a cup of tea or coffee, and maybe a full cream tea in the tearoom before leaving to visit Fountains Abbey. Ripley is also famous for it’s ice cream, so we must be sure to try it out.
We leave the castle and make our way back to the roundabout and take the next turn off to the left on the Pateley Bridge road, just a very short distance and we turn right onto a narrow lane which leads directly to Fountains Abbey. Some people claim that Rievaulx Abbey is the most beautiful but I do not agree, for me Fountains Abbey is by far the most beautiful. Like most abbeys in England it suffered at the hands of King Henry VIII during the dissolution of the churches and abbeys, Henry’s revenge against the Pope who would not agree to his divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, when he wished to marry Anne Boleyn.
Fountains is a Cistercian abbey, founded in 1132 in what was then considered land not fit for human habitation, it was probably quite wild and isolated, but had plenty of wood, stone and water to hand so the monks could start to build their community. It is in the most beautiful setting, with the River Skell running through the extensive grounds.
Jim and I visited Fountains frequently during our courting days, we loved the peace and serenity of the abbey and grounds. In an inner courtyard we found old fig trees, still producing fruit, and up near the boundaries there were hazel nut bushes among the trees. Visiting during one of the moonlit evening openings at that time was very special, they would have Gregorian Chant music playing and it was just magical, unfortunately I don’t think they do that now.
One winters day Jim and I visited Fountains and the grounds were thick with snow, we wandered about well wrapped up and with our wellie boots on. I decided I was going to stamp out a huge heart in the snow, complete with our initials and an arrow through it. I jumped and leaped about and we fell about laughing afterwards. Jim thought I was crazy. A few weeks later we went back and realised that where I had been jumping and leaping about was right on top of the lake, fortunately for me the ice and snow had been thick enough to take my weight!
The Deer Park at Studley Royal dates from medieval times, it has around 500 deer, Red, Fallow and Sika. During the rutting season it is advised that visitors stay on the pathways, the deer are wild and could be dangerous if approached at that time, Studley Royal House was burned down shortly after WWII
There is so much to see at Fountains Hall, the Abbey and the Deer Park, so be sure to check out the links.
Our next trip will be a Mystery tour.