Eastward Holidays in Northern England (1)

Eastward Holidays in Northern England (1)

For someone living in Carmona, Seville, Northern England in August is the most exotic holiday destination you may ever experience. But where is it? In this map, dark green represents England; if you add the light green of Wales, Scotland and North Ireland you get the United Kingdom. Northern England is the slim part starting in the upper part of light green Wales and ending north at the border with Scotland 51º North, while Carmona, Seville is 37º South. This first part will show pictures of English gardens and a road trip to the uplands of the North Sea on the northeast coast (on the right side). Part two will talk about the uplands of the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District and the Irish Sea on the west (on the left side).

Public domain: From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Public domain: From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Imagine a place in August where the hottest temperature does not exceed 30ºC, a place similar to the view you may get from the Campiña de Carmona towards Sierra Norte, Seville in spring when wheat fields are green…


The air is cool and temperate, the sky is inhabited by clouds but the rain is soft, moderate and does not last too long. Imagine cars with the steering wheel on the right because in England you drive on the left side of the highway and in the countryside parking lots and paths are all grass.






Imagine a country where 90% of the inhabitants, i.e. 50 million people, pay to visit outdoor properties while 17 million people pay to enter indoor properties, and that you could be one of them by joining The National Trust with its 3.7 million members!


That’s what happened to me the day I landed in Liverpool, the farthest South I went during my stay in Northern England. Not only did I discover flowers I had only seen in documentaries or films, but this very smiling gentleman is one of the 60,000 volunteers who work for this non governmental charity. He drove us in a silent electric car to the extensive Estate called Speke Hall with a welcome smile and a Victorian outfit enabling us to see more in a shorter time. He explained that the word “hall” simply means a large house, but what a house, one of the most famous timber framed one in England.








On this photo, you can find the extension of the whole complex… huge… big… impressive.




In the green option of Seville, I highlight my attraction for parks and gardens but I never really saw the combination of colourful shrubs and flowers so pleasant to the eyes.

I was told that any English garden is designed so that it remains in flower throughout the year!














I had the chance to visit four of these gardens and I will mention another one in Part Two but indeed, there you can spend delicious days. Just browse the link. There are 49 of these with the National Trust in Northern England.

You can also choose among 119 other places in Northern England if you look on another very important governmental institution called English Heritage.


Under Andalusian weather, in August you must water your plant pots or garden every two days if you want them to survive. In Northern England, I am sure you have to take care of them, but they don’t need to be watered frequently.









While staying at a Londoner friend’s cottage in the Yorkshire Dales, we set off on a three day road trip to the North Sea. Each day we only drove two hours to our final destination. The first day we went through the NorthYorkMoorsNational Park, with the luck of being able to see the heather in bloom which occurs every August.   Heather moorland is rare on a worldwide scale – there is probably less heather moorland in the world than tropical rainforest. Around 70 percent of the world’s heather moorland is in the UK and the largest continuous expanse of moorland in England and Wales is here in the North York Moors – a sheep could wander from Egton to Bilsdale without leaving the moor. Moorland covers a third of the North York Moors National Park and most of the higher ground is covered in heather. (source:  http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/) I highly recommend that you browse the link and fill your eyes with a beautiful landscape and photos.


Blooming heather is a flabbergasting feeling for eyes that have never seen it before. I was so surprised that I brought a sprig back to Carmona and kept it on my desk


Our destination that first day was Whitby.  Situated on the east coast of Yorkshire at the mouth of the River Esk, Whitby has an established maritime, mineral and tourist heritage… The fishing port emerged during the Middle Ages and developed important herring and whaling fleets, and was (along with the nearby fishing village of Staithes) where Captain Cook learned seamanship. Tourism started in Whitby during the Georgian period and developed further on the arrival of the railway in 1839. (source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitby )


The streets were so crowded with tourists at 2 p.m. that we dropped our suitcases at the B&B Hotel booked by my friend and drove back to a less crowded place a little way down the coast called the Robin Hood Bay ..


It was my first encounter with the North Sea.


It was neither the beaches of the Costa del Sol nor the sand dunes of the Atlantic Ocean,  HuelvaProvince  in Andalusia…. but it looked like summer indeed!


While my friend went walking up the steep streets of this downhill village, I went onto the terrace of this sea side hotel convincing myself I was not daydreaming… I was really there! I had time to learn that though Sherwood Forest was far away from there, the name of Robin Hood probably came from the fact that in ancient times, this bay was used by smugglers. That reminded me a film with Stewart Granger where smugglers hid their goods in the village cemetery!


I indeed felt on holiday far away from home… a very warm and pleasant feeling


After a late lunch at Bay Hotel we went back to Whitby via its famous Abbey.


Built in AD 657, it was destroyed two centuries later in a series of raids by Vikings from Denmark.


This enabled us to have a panoramic view on Whitby. Strangely enough, by now the crowd had disappeared and we had time to take a pleasant evening walk and eat lobsters in a restaurant at the White Horse Griffin Hotel built in 1681.





Our B&B Hotel was called Sanders Yard. It was the first B&B I had ever experienced in my life as, when staying in London, it had always been regular hotels.  I could not believe how comfortable it was, almost better than a five star hotel, and indeed, if you google it, many comments rate it 5 stars. The photo below is the view I had from my room into the courtyard!


In this room, there were tea and coffee making facilities and some biscuits to eat. Having forgotten English customs, next morning I used these items for my breakfast in my room. Big mistake as the word “breakfast” in B&B means an actual meal you are free to eat in a special guest lounge. The photo below shows the plate of my friend: a feast, a treat!


I could not believe it! … all this included in the price for the night! They also serve an incredible range of pies, I call cakes!


Knowing I was French living in Spain, I was warmly welcomed by the interested staff and they were happy to smile for my “souvenir” photo.


With only two hours drive to our next destination, we had plenty of time to visit Whitby.





Two things made me wonder. First, the fact that this town was related to Captain James Cook.


 Captain James Cook,  (7 November 1728 – 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Cook ). Why? Just because I knew that he was the first person to see Hawaiian surfers.

The second thing was my first encounter with jet gems: Jet is a product of high pressure decomposition of wood from millions of years ago, commonly the wood of trees of the family Araucariaceae. Jet is found in two forms, hard and soft. Hard jet is the result of the carbon compression and salt water; soft jet is the result of the carbon compression and fresh water. The jet found at Whitby, in England, is of early Jurassic (Toarcian) age, approximately 182 million years old.[3][4] Whitby Jet is the fossilized wood from species similar to the extant Monkey Puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana). (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_(lignite)

I knew the French expression “jet black” but ignored everything about its origins.


The above photo shows the process to work out that gem!

Up north we drove again to other surprises planned by my friend….


The sky was threatening, but no rain….


After magnificent views of the northern uplands and after opening my mouth at the fierce looking Northumberland castle in a place called Berwick (“wick” showing its Viking origins) but pronounced “Beric”, I came to understand, just by merely looking at it, how many battles the people in this area had to fight.


We finally arrived at a village by the sea called Sea Houses and left our luggage at St Cubbert’s House, a former church converted into a B&B.


We were warmly welcomed by a family with four children living in the adjoining presbytery. I was very surprised by the manicured bedrooms and designer bathrooms with organic products. An astonishing place! Again, I was “the lady coming from Spain!”…


The next day I did not make the same mistake as the previous day and savoured breakfast! Then we were en route to our two North Sea trip objectives. First, a boat trip to Farne Island :


I was surprised to have to walk down to get on board the cruise boat because the tide was so low.


I had seen seals for the first time in San Francisco Bay, CA, but it was still very emotional to observe them again.


I had the feeling I was experiencing a wildlife documentary photographing live terns. We also saw Puffins and their burrows but could not take any photos of them…



The second objective happened after siesta time, a short trip to Holy Island which you can reach by car at ebb time (afternoon).


There you can visit an impressive romantic medieval castle transformed by the architect Sir Edward Lutyens into a county mansion for the press mogul Edward Hudson in 1903, a little like in Orson Wells’ movy Citizen Kane.


This is as far as I went on the above photo though you can also look at the famous walled garden created for Mr Hudson by Gertrude Jekyll to the left of the castle. I waited for my friend at the village hotel while he explored enjoying… again… its green garden.


What I liked most about driving back from the island was not so much the three mile tidal causeway but that there was grass covering the sand dunes.



Next day, to return to Yorkshire, my friend knew that the parents of the Roman Emperor Hadrian had been posted to Italica, just 8 km from Seville, where Hadrian spent many years of his youth. He thus had the great idea to show me part of Hadrian’s Wall, the furthest North in Europe the Romans ever went where Hadrian ordered the building of a 117 km long wall to separate England from Scotland in 121 A.D.!

"Hadrians Wall with Weedkiller" by Hongking - Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

“Hadrians Wall with Weedkiller” by Hongking – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Alas the weather was not that brilliant. I could only touch the wall and take some photos of it.  Since AD 122, after the retreat of the Romans, local farmers have used the stones of the wall to build their own houses or to border their fields so the wall has lost much of its height and bulk.


All that and much more was done during one week in August 2008. Part two will cover two additional weeks’ holidays taken in Northern England in 2010 and 2013. A last flowery photo?