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Science, Photography, and Trip Reviews


Northern England Tour of Scenic & Historic Sights

North Yorkshire, North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, & Lake District

Robin Hood Bay, Helmsley, York, Keswick, Medieval Cities & English Pubs

Rievaulx Abby, York Minster, Clifford's Tower, Castle Howard & Bolton Castle

Aysgarth Waterfalls, Lakes, Flower Gardens, Buttermere Walk, & Cat Bells Walk

Robin Hood Bay in North York Moors National Park, England overlooking the North Sea.

Robin Hood Bay in North York Moors National Park overlooking the North Sea.

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Yorkshire county in Northern England is the largest county in England. The main tourist attractions in Yorkshire are North Yorkshire and the City of York. There is much to see in Yorkshire as you find Roman Ruins, medieval abbeys, castles, and stately homes.

After arriving in the Manchester airport we drove east to Leeds. That would be our base of operation for a few days. My mission was to explore and photograph Northern England.

North Yorkshire

The largest part of Yorkshire is North Yorkshire, which has an area of almost 3,500 square miles (9,065 square kilometers). In addition to gorgeous landscapes there are two important national parks. In the east is the fascinating North York Moors National Park and in the west is the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park.

North York Moors National Park

View of North York Moors National Park, England.

View of North York Moors National Park.

I headed for the North York Moors National Park and its attractive east coast. Near the town of Whitby there were magnificent views of Robin Hood Bay and the North Sea. An example is seen in the picture at the top of this page. There is a small fishing village here. I took a walk of several hours in the park and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. Note the picture above. The park has an area of 554 square miles (1,430 square kilometers), and did not become a national park until 1952. It contains one of the largest expanses of heather moorland found in England.

Rievaulx Abbey

Rievaulx Abbey in Northern England.

Rievaulx Abbey.

In the North York Moors National Park I visited the ruins of the Rievaulx Abbey, a monastery founded in 1131. It is shown above and presents great photo opportunities. The abbey is a former Cistercian abbey in Rievaulx, near Helmsley. It was one of the wealthiest abbeys in England, and was headed by the Abbot of Rievaulx. It was dissolved in 1538 by Henry VIII.

The charming town of Helmsley, England.

The charming town of Helmsley.

Throughout the region you discover small market towns that entice you to stop and walk around. The market town of Helmsley is especially beautiful and charming. It is situated on the River Rye 24 miles (39 kilometers) due north of York. The southern boundary of the North York Moors National Park passes through Helmsley such that the western part of the town is within the park

The medieval city of York

From Leads I headed by train northeast to York, which is 21 miles (34 kilometers) from Leeds and bordered by the North York Moors Nationalc Park. Going by train is one of the best ways to go to York, since the train station is within walking distance of everything that you want to see. York was founded by the Romans, and is now one of the best examples of a medieval city to be found in England. This is a walled city with medieval walls on both sides of the River Ouse. The narrow streets are lined with many shops and restaurants, and in addition to the many historical sites there are numerous museums. The Jorvik Viking Centre details the Norse occupation that took place in the 9th Century. You can spend days enjoying York.

York Minster Cathedral in York, England.

York Minster Cathedral in York.

The York Minster cathedral in York dates from the 13th century; It is very impressive and one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe. You can view the cathedral and other parts of the city by walking on top of part of the fascinating wall that was built to protect the city. The medieval stained glass windows are noteworthy. The West Window in the nave was installed in 1338 and the East Window in 1408. They have the largest extended area of medieval stained glass found in the world. The cathedral also has two bell towers.

Clifford's Tower at York, England.

Clifford's Tower at York.

On the south side of the Foss River is the ruins of a medieval Norman castle known as Clifford's Tower. Seen on a mound it is pictured above. It is a 14th century castle, and it is what remains of York Castle which was build by William the Conqueror. In the past it has been both a royal mint and a prison. From the top of the tower are great views of Old York.

Monk Bar (gate) entrance in the city wall York, England.

Monk Bar (gate) entrance in the city wall.

Four gate houses, or bars, were built in the city walls, including Monk Bar shown above. In medieval times they were used to restrict traffic and collect tolls. They were built in the 14fh century as forts to be used for defense during wars. Today Monk Bar is a museum describing the life of King Richard III.

Castle Howard

Castle Howard in Northern England.

Castle Howard.

Castle Howard does not look like a castle and is actually a family home, being one of the largest in England. The center portion of this impressive home is seen above. It is located 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of York. When I arrived there I asked the guard at the gate if I could take a picture of the stately home in front of me. The guard replied that I could take all of the pictures that I wanted, but that the building in front of me was the stables! Construction of the home began in 1699 and was not completed until 1811. There are 145 rooms. You will remember Castle Howard if you saw the British production of Brideshead Revisited, which was filmed there.

Rose garden at Castle Howard, Northern England.

Rose garden at Castle Howard.

The property of Castle Howard is extensive and much of it is covered with beautiful gardens. The gardens are very impressive as can be seen in the picture above. You definitely want to visit the home and gardens.

Yorkshire Dales National Park

A view in Yorkshire Dales in Northern England.

A view in Yorkshire Dales.

Jennifer Law, a tour operator, showed me around the Yorkshire Dales National Park in the central part of Northern England. As was the case everywhere we went, the countryside was very attractive with lush shades of green pastures and rivers. The scenes were made even more picturesque by the presence of sheep and cattle scattered here and there. Grazing sheep are seen in the picture above. The many "U" and "V" shaped valleys you see were created by glaciers during the last ice age. The high peaks are the result of the underlying limestone rock which create large areas of karst topography. There are also extensive cave systems in the underlying limestone. Many upland areas have heather moorland. All together this is a very beautiful part of England.

Bolton Castle in Northern England.

Bolton Castle.

Bolton Castle, seen above, was built by Richard, 1st Baron Scope of Bolton. Construction began in 1378 and was completed in 1399. It is located in Wensleydale within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is still owned by the Scope family. Despite damage to it during the English Civil War much of the castle remains. In the 1500s Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner in Castle Bolton.

Aysgarth Waterfalls in Yorkshire Dales, Northern England.

Aysgarth Waterfalls in Yorkshire Dales.

The interesting sights we saw included the deep limestone shafts at Buttertubs Pass and the gorgeous Aysgarth Water Falls seen above. The falls were created by the carving action of the Ure River where the land descends as limestone steps near the village of Aysgarth. This is a wooded area and you can go for walks through the valley near the river and falls. You might see deer and wild flowers in season.

Askrigg English Pub in Yorkshire Dales, England.

Askrigg English Pub.

When it came time for lunch Jennifer chose the Askrigg English Pub pictured above. Askrigg is a small picturesque village and civil parish in Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. English pubs are always great places to spend time. The food at this very charming old English Pub was very good, including cheese that was made in Northern England.

Lake District National Park

Landscape near Lake District, England.

Landscape near the Lake District.

Rebecca and I took a pleasant drive through the Yorkshire Dales on our way to the Lake District National Park in North-West England. You see so many scenic views that require a stop to take a picture, as I did for the one above. The Lake District, in the county of Cumbria is fascinating, and with the mountains and lakes together has incredible beauty. The National Park covers an area of about 912 square miles (2,362 square kilometers). All of the land in England higher than 3,000 feet (910 meters) above sea level is found there, the highest mountain being Scafell Pike. Included also are the deepest body of Water, Wastwater, and the longest body of water, Windemere. The Lake District National Park is a very popular holiday destination.

Lake of Buttermere walk

Lake Buttermere in the Lake District, England.

Lake of Buttermere in the Lake District at dusk.

One of the best ways to see much of the Lake Districy is by foot. There are numerous walks through the hills and valleys around the lakes. We did an easy walk around Lake Buttermere, seen above, which offers an attractive mountain view. It has a depth of 75 feet (23 meters), is 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) long, and has a width of 0.25 miles (400 meters).


Flower garden in Keswick in the Lake District, England.

Flower garden in Keswick in the Lake District.

We stayed at a lovely 16th century Bed and Breakfast in Keswick, which is located in the northern part of the Lake District. This English market town is 31.4 miles (50.5 kilometers) south-west of the town of Carlisle. The town has beautiful flower gardens, as can be seen above.

Bassenthwaite Lake in the Lake District, England.

Bassenthwaite Lake in the Lake District.

The very attractive Bassenthwaite Lake, seen above, was just a short walk from our Bed and Breakfast. It has a length of about 4 miles (6.4 kilomtyers), a width of about 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometers), and reaches a maximum depth of 70 feet (21 meters)

Boat ride in Derwent Waters

Boat ride in Derwent Waters in the Lake District, England.

Boat ride in Derwent Waters in the Lake District.

We also took a nice and relaxing boat ride around Derwent Water from Keswick. The lake is just south of the town, and is an important lake in the Lake District National Park. It gets its water from the River Derwent, and drains into the same river. It is about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) long, 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) wide, and reaches a depth of 72 feet (22 meters).

Cat Bells Walk

A beautiful view seen on the Cat Bells Walk, England.

A beautiful view seen on the Cat Bells Walk.

We did the Cat Bells Walk near Keswick. This walk to the top of the mountain is more challenging than the Buttermere Walk. As you walk the path you are treated to gorgeous views of the lake, mountains, and countryside. One such view is shown above.

Rebecca and Sunny at the summit of the Cat Bells Walk, England.

Rebecca and Sunny at the summit of the Cat Bells Walk.

When we reached the summit of the mountain the view was stunning. We are pictured at the summit when we did this walk a number of years ago. The Lake District is a place you want to return to often, as there is much to see and do. Indeed, all of Northern England with its rich history, famous sights to see, Ancient Ruins to visit, and its enormous beauty make this area very appealing.

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Photo of us by an unknown tourist. The remaining photos by Sunny Breeding. We sell prints and images.