2017 Travel Goals – Mystery Trip
Once again, I’m going to document our travels. Travelling is an annual goal and as in 2015, we have set ourselves a number of places we’d like to visit in the UK. There’s a possibility that we will travel overseas later in the year, but that has yet to be finalised.
You may recall from My 2017 Goals list that we have 6 overnight/weekend trips planned for this year. The first of these has recently taken place.
Earlier in March we set out on what was a ‘Mystery Trip’ for me as my husband had made the plans in secret. He did well to keep the details under his belt until a few days before we left, which gave me just enough time to know what I needed to pack!
We set off early on a drizzly Friday morning, to head North towards Lyme House which is near Stockport. The journey would take around three hours.
Lyme Park was used as the setting for the 1995 BBC TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. I was completely obsessed by the series when it ran on TV, so this was an inspired choice of destination! This particular series was also the one that catapulted Colin Firth to fame as Mr Darcy in that lake scene!
The House stands on land that was granted to Piers Legh by Richard II in 1398, however, construction of the current house didn’t get underway until the 16th century. It retains Elizabethan, Palladian and Baroque styles and was modify and extended over a number of years. Although the house and land remained with the Legh family for many years, it was given to the National Trust by Richard Legh in 1946.
The house is probably one of the best preserved and furnished that we’ve seen on our travels so far. It’s large with a lot of rooms open to the public. It’s also a popular choice for visitors, as even though we were early in the season, there were quite a lot of people milling about.
As well as looking around and enjoying the history and ambience, we had a bit of fun and dressed up in period costume! Check out the picture!
The grounds around Lyme House are extensive and include a lake at the front of the House. It is set within (what will be) flowered gardens and shrubbery, there’s also a sunken Dutch garden with raised beds and a central fountain.
From Lyme Park, we headed 117 miles across country towards Yorkshire and the pretty market town of Helmsley for our overnight stop. By the time we arrived it was already dark, although it was possible to see that the pub we were staying in overlooked the town square and there were lots of little artisan shops dotted around.
After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast the next morning, we checked out of the pub and headed just a short distance to visit one of the main landmarks at Helmsley – Helmsley Castle.
There has been a construction of some kind on this land since around 1120 when a wooden castle was built, but it wasn’t until some 60 years later that work began to convert the castle to stone. Owned by the de Ros family for many generations, the castle was added to over the years to create a comfortable residence within the castle walls.
In 1644 the castle was besieged during the English Civil War, following which it was partially demolished so as to render it unusable as a fortress. However, the inner residence was spared and remains in a fairly good state today.
These days the castle is owned by the Feversham family of Duncombe Park, although it is in the care of English Heritage. The family live in Duncombe House which overlooks the castle.
After some lunch we headed up to Duncombe House. Unfortunately the imposing house isn’t open to the public, however the grounds and gardens are open to walkers.
We spent the afternoon at the National Centre for Birds of Prey which is set within the grounds of Duncombe Park. Whilst I’m uncomfortable with the idea of birds being caged, a number of the birds were perched outside of their living area and there was lots of activity from the keepers to maintain and clean the areas.
We also saw a number of the birds being flown in the surrounding fields. Apparently this happens every day. The Centre has an active breeding and conservation programme.
Later that afternoon we were back in the car again for the 75 mile journey to Lincoln. We visited Lincoln in 2015 as part of our 12 Cities Challenge, but were unable to visit Lincoln Castle on the day we arrived as Princess Anne was there to officially open the new castle wall and grounds which had recently been restored. Unbeknownst to us, there were only invited guests on that day! We had always said we’d come back and complete the trip one day, so here we were!
Arriving in Lincoln we made our way straight to our hotel, which looked right out towards the Castle. Our visit was planned for the next day, so in the evening we headed down the very steep hill (known to be one of the steepest hills in the UK) to have our evening meal.
The next morning, again after a good breakfast, we stepped out of the hotel and literally crossed the road into the 11th century Castle, built by William the Conqueror.
Inside the well-kept grounds, the main attractions are the restored prison, originally built in 1787, which also houses the visitor centre, whose claim to fame is to hold one of only four copies of the Magna Carta in existence. The restored Castle Walls (The Wall Walk) is also very popular with visitors and provides great views of Lincoln Cathedral and the surrounding town.
We spent around three hours exploring the castle, before heading into the town for some lunch. We seemed to naturally end up in the same coffee shop as we’d eaten in two years previously! The rickety old houses house tiny coffee shops, eateries and gift shops, all along Steep Hill. But since we’d descended and climbed the hill the night before, we chose not to do it again!
Though it had been drizzling for most of the morning, we had a lovely time in Lincoln and were pleased to have finally finished our 2015 12 Cities Challenge properly! Heading back towards the car, the sun started to shine and the journey back home was enjoyable in the light sunday traffic.
In all we covered around 650 miles over three days, but in spite of all the travelling, we really enjoyed our Mystery Trip. I must admit though that I was shattered on Monday morning!
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