Ripon

You are Here: England; North; Ripon

Leeds is a very long way away. 300miles or so, 6 hours I reckoned, and as I intended to give myself 10 hours to get there, that meant plenty of time to stop and explore en-route. Then I had the phonecall telling me I would have to work 6-10am before setting off. Plan B suddenly emerged...

The Pennines

I pulled off the Motorway at Sedburgh, and passed through the little town, resisting the urge to stop in the bookshops. Soon I was weaving my way along a narrow road that twisted and turned at every opportunity, no more often than that! A slow bus took a while to get past, but even then my journey hardly got faster. I was beginning to wish I had chosen a different route, the A66 or A65 as originally considered, not this slow country lane. I passed through Garsdale next to scenic Grisedale, under the Settle-Carlisle Railway Viaduct and from Cumbria into North Yorkshire. And what a difference it made!

The road suddenly opened up ahead of me, wider, faster with sweeping bends and as for the scenery. There had been a rainshower as I left the motorway, and the black clouds were still hanging low in the sky, with the sun shining in underneath. The damp landscape was glowing, as the sunshine picked it out. One of the features of this road, which I think is replicated across a substantial area, is that it is surrounded by small fields, fields hemmed in by drystone walls, and almost every field has a barn in it. Some are simple shelters, others quite sophisticated structures built into the hillside with two floors each having ground level access. As I flitted past these barns at 60-70ish, the sunlight was picking out every stone in exquisite detail, the recent rain still glistening on the rough stones.
It was an amazing drive, the moorland villages equally beuatiful as the road squeezed between centuries-old buildings, weaving past village greens and ancient parish churches. I just wish that I had had time to stop and admire the scenery properly rather than flicking past at great speed.

Ripon

After an hour, or thereabouts, of blissful pleasure on this beautiful road, I started to drop into Ripon. This small Cathedral City in Yorkshire was actually my second choice, as originally I had hoped to Explore Harrogate. However, with less time than originally hoped, I had opted to stop here just a few miles to the north. Ripon is a lovely little place, the Cathedral tucked away down narrow streets, a large open market square (sadly overtaken as a car park), lined with impressive market town architecture. The shops were already closing as I pulled in, but I had an enjoyable wander all the same, barely scarping the surface, and yet getting a real feel for the place all the same.

After exploring Ripon, I headed south once more, got lost briefly in Harrogate and then hit Leeds. Fortunately, rush hour was just about past and as I dropped into the city from the north on the A61, I was stunned by the view down over the centre, tall buildings looking like toys far below. I knew that Yorkshire was hilly, I just hadn't expected this! I followed signs for the station, as per my directions, and found myself 20 yards away from the hotel, but heading the wrong way on the city centre one-way Loop! After a couple of failed attempts to shortcut back, I decided to give in and follow the loop all the way round, so you could say it took me 20 minutes to drive 20 yards.